Adventures

I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

P.S. All material on this blog, words and photos alike, are copyrighted by me. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. If you decide that this material is worth re-publishing, please give me credit and lots and lots of money.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Viva Mexico



I've fallen in love with Mexico. Again. Not that I ever fell out of love with the country, but when you can climb a tree in your backyard and see Mexico, or drive for 20 minutes and be in Mexico, or go to the neighborhood grocery store that feels like Mexico, or just live in San Diego, it is easy to take the country for granted. However, the past 10 days have been surreal and I've enjoyed every minute (except for a few unpleasant ones spent in the bathroom but even those could have been worse). 


I've gotten really good at spending time in airports. Kera and my goodbye beers. 

Kera and I said goodbye to each other in Costa Rica and went out separate ways. My flight to Cancun had a "technical stop" in El Salvador which turned into a pleasant layover just long enough to snap a photo and grab a coffee. As we took off I saw how close the airport was to the coastline, which is dotted with beaches and points, and noted it for my next Central American surf trip. 

The flight from El Salvador was short but felt long because I was so excited to meet friends and family in Cancun. After getting through the circus that was customs I waited and waited for like 30 minutes for my amiga Nadine to pop through the Customs doors. Alas, there she was. We grabbed our bags and headed to our hotel to catch up before meeting the rest of the family, all of whom I was very excited to see. 

You see, about two years ago my sister Caity started planning a family reunion for the entire Schneider family - aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins.. you name it they were there. She booked us an amazing house on the beach in Akumal (south of Cancun) that all 23 of us could live in as one big happy family for 5 days. The reservation started Monday, but a few of us arrived Saturday to get the party started.



After a few very fun days in Cancun we piled into vans and headed to our sweet ass house in Akumal. The house was over the top luxurious, with 16 private bedrooms, bathrooms, balconies, rooftop deck, pool, spa, swim up bar, coconut palms and a beach with beautiful, warm aquamarine water just steps away, not to mention a chef and his crew of four that cooked us breakfast, lunch and dinner. 



But seriously, and I'm not trying to win points or be maudlin or mushy, but by far the best part about the trip was being with my family. There are some of my family members that I don't see very often, but I really like each one of them - even the uncle that makes us count off every time we go for a family outing - and enjoy spending time with all of them. And while nobody wants to read about how great someone else's family is (although I have a hunch that my family are the only people who read this) I have to say that every single person in my family is successful, which is an inspiration to me. We have business owners, journalists and reporters, world travelers, teachers, intellects, social activists and artists; everyone is well-read and up to date on current politics, engaged and hard working. It is an inspiring family to be a part of and makes me realize that I better get back to work or my slack ass will be the black sheep of a very successful family. 



So yeah, great family aside, we spent a week touring ruins and cenotes, playing games, eating and drinking tons, hanging out at our beautiful house, laughing, sharing stories and genuinely enjoying each other's company. Even when I got a touch of the stomach flu (or something unpleasant of the sort) I couldn't help but think how lucky I was to get sick in the comfort of my own room with my own bathroom (big win) and have my family to fawn over me. I felt very smug that I traveled all through Peru and Costa Rica without having to take Imodium once, camped, stayed in some really crappy hostels and ate some very suspect food, and then got sick in the most luxurious place I stayed, but hey, life is a funny thing. 


There are worse places to have the 24-hour flu

It was sad to say goodbye to my family at the end of five magical days together, which is rare. Most families I know would be at each other's throats by day two but as far as I know, there was no drama to speak of (kinda boring right?) Who knows when we will all be together again, but it was an unforgettable week during which I got to get to know the younger generation better and party with the older. The blow was also softened by the fact that I was headed to Mexico City with two cousins and an aunt and uncle, where I am now. I'll save that adventure for another day. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

La Vida Buena



Costa Rica is dreamy. If you're looking for a destination with warm weather, warm water, nice waves, good infrastructure and easy accessibility and the exotic experience of monkeys, parrots, rainforests and waterfalls, Costa Rica is the spot. It is a beautiful, tropical country that is very easy to travel to and around. 

Back in Mal Pais, which is more off the beaten path (as far as Costa Rica is concerned) people wrinkled their noses when Kera and I told them we were going to Jacó for a few nights. "Watch your valuables", they told us. "Don't go out alone at night. Lots of people come from San Jose to steal from tourists there. It's the Las Vegas of Costa Rica. You might as well be in Miami." So we heard lots of good things about the place before we even left Mal Pais. 

However, you never truly know unless you go, and we weren't about to change our travel plans based on some haphazard opinions. Plus, it made for a nice loop through the country, was on the way back to San Jose and my friend Marie who I met in Peru was meeting us there, so we ventured out. We took the jet boat from Montezuma to Jacó on a hot and glassy morning which was a fun and easy ride. It took about an hour to get across to the mainland, and you can't argue with door to door service. 


Jacó

Kera and I arrived in Jacó clutching out passports and watching our backs, but after walking down the Main Street we both had the same thought, "This place is cute!" Sure, kind of touristy, lots of kitsch shops all selling the exact same thing, bars and strip clubs, a few high rise hotels and casinos, but it reminded me of Rosarito or any other beach town that caters to tourists on a quick getaway from knee deep snow. 

We checked into our hostel, Room2board -  your classic backpacker's hostel - waterslide into the pool, happy hour from 5-7, drinking games at 8, pizza on Wednesdays and a host of activities to do during the day. Everybody was friendly, our room was clean and cheap, and it was right on the beach. The surf was small but easy and friendly, which lends itself to drinking beers poolside all day while the tide comes up and surfing glassy waves at sunset. I know, it's a tough life, but someone has to support the local economy. 

We went out for Lady's Night that night (girls drink free) so you can imagine I was feeling fantastic for our 7am surf after three hours of sleep. A quick surf, a quick nap and then Marie showed up. Upon her arrival my hangover magically disappeared, so we spent the afternoon reminiscing about our time on the Inca Trail, drinking beers and going for an evening glass off surf session under an epic sunset. Like I said, Costa Rica is dreamy. 

The next day we surfed in the morning before getting ready to head back to San Jose. I was a bit melancholy as leaving Jacó meant the end of an epic stint in Costa Rica, but the blow was softened by Marie hosting me and Kera at her flat for our last night. Kera made us a nice dinner and we enjoyed each other's company for the last night for a little while. 

Costa Rica was great - surf eat drink sleep repeat - but it was absolutely the people that I met and spent time with that made it so special. There is something about meeting people from all over the world in an exotic location, sharing experiences and then making plans to do it again in the future that is so special. 

And now off to Cancun where I will meet up some of the people that I love most in the world. My sister Caity organized a Schneider family reunion over a year ago, and the time has come for us all to spend a week together in the lap of luxury. Just when I was getting a little homesick, my family is coming to me. It's hard to express how grateful I am for everything. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Pura Vida Mai



I've been shit about writing, not because I've been particularly busy (although surfing twice a day and napping in between takes up a lot of time), but because this leg of my trip has seemed a bit mellow compared to Peru. I'm not complaining by any means - surfer's paradise is exactly what I wanted - but I've come to realize that I prefer the more exotic, culturally intense experiences. 

To be fair, I'm at a hostel on the beach in Montezuma, with monkeys (vile little creatures) racing nimbly around the thick jungle canopy above, drinking a piña colada (happy hour special) while mosquitoes feast on my ankles, which I suppose is pretty exotic. But in spite of all this, there is something about Costa Rica that seems too... easy. 



Maybe it is the 80 degree water, the 80 degree air, the Pura Vida spirit, the hoards of English speaking tourists, the lackadaisical local surf "instructors", or the ability to book a tour to the extent that one could go to the beach without getting their feet sandy, but my stay here has been serene and time seems to slip away without fuss or fight. 

I arrived in San Jose after a quick plane ride from Lima and was taken aback at the 2.5 hour customs line at the airport. People were absolutely pouring into the country for the holidays from all over the world - Europe, Asia, the US, Canada - so I fit in nicely for a change. Speaking of not wanting to get my feet sandy at the beach, the place I was to stay in Mal Pais had arranged for a shuttle to take me to a hotel, pick me up the next morning and take me to the surf camp. I felt kind of guilty not figuring it out on my own, you know, being the intrepid traveler that I am, but it was too cushy to pass up. 

After a shuttle, a ferry and another shuttle I was dropped off at the entrance to Mal Pais Surf Camp, my home for the next week. I fell in love with the place immediately. The restaurant/bar is also the front desk, as well as common hang out place. There is a funky pool table, ping pong, a baby swing for the little tykes, a small library, a couch and TV that constantly plays surf flicks. Paradise. 



I was greeted by Doug, the owner, who showed me to my little cabina, which had bunk beds and room for absolutely nothing else. But it was screened in, clean and relatively bug free so I was stoked. After getting acquainted with my surroundings (drinking a beer at the bar) I set off to find a board to rent for the week. Mal Pais Surf Camp has a quiver of boards one can rent for half or a full day, but they are all pretty beat up (shitty) but there's lots of surf shops in town with decent rentals. 

Mal Pais is located on the south west tip of the Nicoya peninsula. Why it is called "Mal" Pais I have no idea, but I would call it Buen Pais if I was going to name it. There are miles of long, white sand beaches lined with coconut palms, soft rolling waves and thick green jungle in the mountains above. Because it is the dry season the dirt road that runs through town is dry and dusty, and everybody rides around on quads or motorcycles with bandanas around their mouths and goggles on to keep the dust out, which gives it a Mad Max meets paradise kind of feel. 

Although Mal Pais is typically a quiet surf town, I picked the biggest week of the year to be there - unbeknownst to me New Year's week is huge. Within an hour of being in town I was offered weed, coke and ecstasy, all of which I declined, but it made me wary of going out alone at night. Good thing my friend Kera was meeting me a few days later for surf adventures, and she has been my partner in crime. 



Kera arrived a few days after me and we've had a great time surfing, eating delicious food (CR kills it with the food game), meeting cool people from all over the world, surfing some more, cooking in the communal kitchen, napping, surfing some more, drinking lots of Imperiales, and enjoying the Pura Vida lifestyle. 

We spent yesterday climbing around  h waterfall in Montezuma, which was fun and refreshing. My body was also happy to take an afternoon off of surfing. Montezuma has much more of a rainforest, jungly feel than Mal Pais, but no surf, so we only stayed one night. Today we head to Jacó for more waves and to meet up with an amiga I met in Peru. Jacó sounds like a bit of a shit show from what I've heard, but hey, you never truly know unless you go. And so, as they say here, pura vida mai. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Hasta Pronto Peru

I've fallen in love with Peru. It seems like everywhere you look there is another glacier capped peak or an ancient Incan ruin casually on the side of the road, a cosmopolitan city or a charming village, amazing surf, climbing, biking, geological phenomenons and really good cheap food everywhere. 

The people of Peru are quiet, humble, gentle, generous and kind. They work extremely hard but will share whatever they have without expectation of any return. They use terms of endearment with one another and complete strangers alike, which could come across as being overly friendly but I sense a genuine curiosity and openness instead. 

The first three pillars of the Incan symbol stand for love, knowledge and work. I can't think of any three tenets of society more noble than that. Peruvians are the antithesis of helicopter parents which has bred generations of self sufficient, hard working people. One day walking through a village I saw a girl of no more than three years old doing laundry by hand. She wasn't crying about it, as I would be. I've seen groups of kids roaming the streets, entertaining themselves with simple toys and the company of one another, or selling trinkets for their families. Yes, there is poverty in Peru and crime as well (although I did not experience any) but there is a sense of responsibility and creating one's own fate. 

Last night, just when I thought I was seeing a nastier side of Peru, I had a little encounter that changed my attitude. I landed in the Lima airport and had a reservation at a cheap hotel close to the airport for my flight to Costa Rica this morning. I got in a taxi which should have been a 10 minute drive, but the driver didn't want to pay the fee to leave through the normal entrance, so he took the roundabout way. We ended up sitting in traffic for an hour and a half and I arrived at a rather dingy hotel in an undesirable part of town cranky and hungry. 

After fighting with the receptionist that yes, I had a reservation and it was paid for (gracias adios that I had it printed out... thanks mom), they allowed me to check into my cubicle of a room. After killing all the mosquitos I could find I set out for some food. The neighborhood around the airport is quite shit to be frank, and being used to touristy places where everybody smiles at foreigners and tries to sell them stuff, I was taken aback at being essentially ignored. 

I walked to a restaurant where they accepted credit cards (had to save my last soles for the taxi the next morning), and had to flag down a waiter to get a menu. Nobody seemed particularly interested in serving me, but finally a guy came up to take my order. I drank a beer and ate alone, thinking that I was absolutely ready to get out of the country, when one of the waiters stopped by my table to ask me where I was from. We started to chat and he asked if he could sit down and talk, as he loves to learn about people from other countries. I was happy to chat and we ended up having a nice conversation. He works 7 days a week to save money for school and hopes to travel outside Peru one day. At one point a lady walked through the restaurant selling arroz con leche and he bought one for each of us because he wanted to be sure I tasted a typical dessert of Peru before I left. Maybe I'm a push over, but considering how hard he works for how little he makes, I thought it was a very sweet gesture. 

I'm now at the Lima airport waiting to board my flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. I spent 3 weeks in Costa Rica 12 years ago and have heard the country has been Americanized and is expensive, but I'm still traveling solo so wanted to go somewhere on the beaten path for a surf adventure. Chicken, I know. I've made friends who live in Costa Rica that I'm looking forward to meeting up with, as well as my friend Kera who is flying down to meet me in a few days to surf surf surf, so the adventure continues. I'll keep you posted. 

Christmas on Lake Titikaka



Solar rant aside (see previous post) I was staying with a family in a rural village on an island out in the middle of Lake Titikaka and it was Christmas Eve. We had been told that there would be a celebration at the village hall starting at 10pm and going til midnight, when (allegedly) baby Jesus was born. Not only were we to attend this party that was way past my bedtime, but we were to be dressed in traditional local garb by our hosts. Oh joy. 

After dinner I had a few hours to kill before the fiesta, so I sat out on the balcony dividing my attention between the meteor shower in the sky above and the lightning show going on across the lake in the mountain range of Bolivia. The stars were so incredibly clear and bright at that altitude with no moon that I could almost see the llama and alpaca of local lore, not to mention the Southern Cross and Orion's Belt upside down. 

Soon enough 10pm came around and our hosts brought out the traditional skirts, shirts and shrouds to dress us in. The three of us roommates had a good laugh at ourselves wearing poofy skirts and bright scarves sinched tightly around our waists, which didn't help with the whole breathing thing. Then we followed our host mom up in the pitch dark through the paddocks, over the stone wall, across the path and finally to the town hall, breathing heavily by the time we arrived. 


Musicians at the party

What ensued was one of the weirdest parties and certainly the most different Christmas Eve party I ever attended. Not many of the local villagers showed up but most of our tour group was there, all dressed in traditional clothes with regular pants and shoes sticking out from under panchos. There was a band of two flute players and one drummer who played traditional songs which we all danced to. Fortunately my roommate Clarey brought a bottle of vodka to share so the five minutes in between songs where everybody caught their breath in complete silence (dancing at 13,000 feet is no joke) were a bit more bearable. Like I said, it was a weird scene. But fun and heartfelt. 

At midnight our host families presented us with necklaces of fresh flowers and around the village fireworks that could easily blow off a finger or two shot off from random locations. Our host mom walked us back to our house through the paddocks and over the stone walls, which I was grateful for because I never would have found my way alone. I took off the traditional clothes with a breath of relief, took two sleeping pills, fell into my moderately comfortable twin bed and fell blissfully asleep. 


Rofino's house

The next morning was Christmas, which didn't seem to be different than any other morning except that Clarey shouted Feliz Navidad!! and gave me a big hug when I came down for breakfast. Gotta love the Brits. Our breakfast consisted of fried bread and instant coffee, and shortly after Rofino headed out to work in the fields. Christmas isn't really a big deal in Peru and this village only started celebrating a few years ago. Carnival, which coincides with the indication of how their crops will fare for the year, is their big celebration. I found their lack of enthusiasm for Christian holidays delightfully refreshing. 


Our host mamas

After saying our goodbyes to our families, all 23 of us piled back into the boat and headed to the island of Taquile, which is famous for their knitting men. We took a beautiful walk around the island, learned about some of the rather archaic traditions of the islands (at church men sit in the pews and women sit on the ground, women always walk 5 meters behind their husbands, they can't drink alcohol or chew coca leaves until they're married...), had a nice lunch, piled back into the boat and headed back to Puno. 


1 sol for a bracelet and a photo (about $0.30)

The group that I was thrown in to for this portion of my trip have been traveling together for weeks and are all quite close. They made arrangements to do a Secret Santa and go for dinner afterwards. I didn't want to impede on their family celebration but in spite of the fact that I am somewhat of a Grinch, I really didn't want to spend Christmas night alone in my hotel room. I asked if I could join them for drinks after their festivities and of course they welcomed me with open arms. I arranged to meet them at their hotel, went and had an alpaca cheeseburger for dinner by myself, had a nice chat with mom and dad, and headed back to my hotel to clean up. 

When I showed up to the group's hotel they were wrapping up their Secret Santa with bottles of champagne and Cusqueña beers, and they informed me that Santa had come for me as well. I got to sit on Santa's lap (an Aussie bloke with a big beard and a pillow under his shirt) and open a little gift. I was truly touched by this gesture of being included by this close knit group of people who I had only known for two days. 

Wanting to return the favor (and being the little shit that I am) I convinced a few of them that it is an American tradition to shotgun a beer on Christmas night, so a few of us went out on the street and sprayed beer everywhere. I had forgotten that at high altitude carbonated drinks are even more fizzy, so chugging a whole beer at once was a painful but fun experience. Good times. 

After drinks I joined them for my second Christmas dinner and felt very loved and included by this cool and interesting group of travelers. I'm now in the airport of Juliaca - the bus ride here was much better than the previous one, thanks for asking - and head to Lima for one night before leaving for Costa Rica tomorrow. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Lake Titikaka Homestay (and the virtues of solar)



Panaroma from the deck of Rofino's house and my home for the night

The area around Lake Titikaka is harsh. A cold dry wind sweeps across the massive lake, which sucks the moisture out of one's skin and lips and makes the land dusty and brown. Life isn't easy for these people, as I'm learning through my brief homestay. 

This afternoon after our arrival at the island of Amantani we were divided into groups of three and met our respective families. We went home with them, ate a quiet lunch and then reconvened with the group to hike to the top of the mountain on island for a better view of the lay of the land, which also put us at above 4000 meters, again. 

Snow capped peaks of Bolivia in the background 

As I sat atop the mountain, freezing, hungry and thirsty I wondered why I chose to do a homestay instead of, say, go check out Chicama, the longest left (wave) in the world or head to the party/surf towns of the north. The view was beautiful, with the snow capped mountains of Bolivia across the lake in the distance, but this wasn't exactly my idea of vacation. Except that I'm not on vacation, I'm traveling to learn more about other cultures and they way people live. Vacation comes next in Costa Rica and Mexico. 

After an hour atop the mountain waiting for the sun to set behind the Andes, we headed back down the mountain to our homestays. The two girls and I watched the stars come out with a brilliance that I haven't seen since sailing across the South Pacific. Then we were called to dinner which was held in the humble little dining room with four rough benches and a dirt floor. A plastic tarp made the ceiling and a wire poked through for a single fluorescent lightbulb to hang down. The itinerary had said the village has no electricity so this surpassed my expectation. 

Typical lunch - rice, potatoes, fried cheese and tea

Rofino, the father/grandfather of the house ate with us and was soft spoken but curious. The families here speak Quechua with one another but Rofino also speaks Spanish so were able to communicate. He asked each one of us what we do - I translated for the other girls - and his eyes lit up when I told him I work in the solar industry. He told me this story (all in Spanish):

"When I was young we only had candles made of animal fat for light at night. We made the doors to our houses very small and low so the cold winds from the lake wouldn't blow out the candles at night. Then, when I was older, kerosene lamps came to the village, but those made a lot of smoke and hurt our eyes. And still, when the wind came it would blow out our lamps and we would be blinded in the dark. About 10 years ago the first solar panels came to our village, but it was very very expensive. One house got them, and we saw how it improved their lives. Then another and another. The tourists who would stay at our house asked why we did not have electricity like the other houses and I told them it was because we could not afford it. But slowly I saved enough money to buy two panels and the materials for them. Now we have electricity at night. Now we can work at night, and no matter how hard the wind blows we still have light. It has made our lives so much better."

Geeking out on the inverter inside the thatch hut on the floating village

And then I remembered why I was here - to share in other people's lives - to gain a greater appreciation for everything I have and get a greater perspective on life. It made me feel proud to work in an industry that, while it might not affect the people who I am selling solar to, can vastly improve certain people's quality of life. 

First off, to everybody who has solar, thank you, especially if you got it through me. Going solar won't change your life. You already have electricity in your house. But consider the fact that you have the option to go solar, to power your home with an infinite resource that will save you money along the way, and let's have a chat when I get home. If people on a floating reed village with thatch roofs can power their homes with solar energy then you can too. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

From Cuzco to Lake Titikaka



Floating village of Uros, Lake Titikaka

I'm currently on a boat crossing Lake Titikaka, heading to an island where I will stay the night with a local family, and coincidentally share Christmas morning with them. That should be interesting. I left off at Machu Picchu and have gone quite a ways since then, so let's back up a bit. 

After finishing the Inca Trail and visiting Machu Picchu, our group had a nice meal and a few drinks in the town of Aguas Calientes before taking the train and a bus back to Cuzco. We were all in quite good spirits after finishing the trek so there was lots of singing and joking on the train. On the train I met a guy from California named Scott, who told me his group was going down to Lake Titikaka, so maybe we would see each other. 


When you hike the Inca Trail you have no choice but to become very close with those you're hiking with, so the 16 of us became good pals. Back in Cuzco we had a farewell dinner and, as most of us were leaving the next day, said our goodbyes - with some people flying home, others to Ecuador, Colombia or wherever, and me down south to do a homestay at Lake Titikaka. I made arrangements with one cool British chick to meet up in Costa Rica - she lives there and teaches English so we will go for a surf and have a night out. That's the beauty of meeting new people while traveling. 

The next morning I packed my bags and said my final goodbyes, except that I wasn't leaving until the next day, which I didn't realize until I got to the airport. Oops. Fortunately the airport in Cuzco is in town, cheap and easy to get to, so I walked right out and returned to my hotel. It turns out I had an extra day in Cuzco (which I had really wanted) and spent it with others who had the day there as well. That night the Irish couple from our group invited me out for drinks at their hostel which turned into quite a night, i.e. they drank me under the fookin table. Combine happy hour, beer pong, mini Guinness shots, tequila shots and being at 13,000 feet above sea level, and you can imagine that my flight from Cuzco to Juliaca the next morning really, really sucked. My fault though. Of course the Irish folks and I made plans to do it all over again in Dublin someday. If hangovers are the only illness I get on this trip I will be one lucky chica. So far so good. 

After a quick flight and a very bumpy bus ride to Puno (ow my head) I checked into my hotel and promptly went to sleep, getting up only to get some dinner and watch Spanish TV. I thought about going out to try and make friends but I was being picked up by another tour group the next morning so really couldn't be bothered. After all, I've been going hard the past few weeks so I felt one night of pizza and TV was acceptable.

The next morning I woke up feeling like a million bucks, had the free hotel breakfast (which I'm a huge fan of) and got picked up by a tricycle bike taxi (scary) to meet up with my group. Sure enough, when I met up with my new group it was Scott and his pack of Brits and Aussies that I was to do the homestay with. They have all been traveling together for months but it wasn't too hard to fit in and make some new friends. 

If these people have solar then you should too. No excuses!

Our first stop was the floating village of Uros. These people live on legitimate floating islands made of roots and reeds. Walking on the island felt like walking on a water bed but I could sit on the ground without getting my butt wet. We chatted with the local family, learned about their way of life, bought trinkets and went for a little reed boat ride. What I was most impressed with was the fact that these little reed huts had solar panels installed on the thatch roofs, and inverters and small battery banks inside. I figured the solar panels improved quality of life because now these people could watch TV if they wanted, but later in the day I learned of the greater impact solar has had on these people's lives. 

While this could possibly be one of the weirdest places I have ever visited, I'm glad I did because I can't imagine people will continue to live this way much longer, even if solar panels are one of the few modern conveniences they currently have. And so, after the quick visit we headed off on the boat again for a three hour boat ride to the island of Amantani (where this post began).