Friday, January 12, 2018

Lake Titicaca

Straddling the border of Bolivia and Peru at 3,800 metres (12,500 ft.), Lake Titicaca is the world's highest navigable lake.
A view of Copacabana on the Bolivian side of the lake
Breathing, even thinking clearly, at this height was a problem for me. I wasn't comfortable, couldn't sleep and avoided all unnecessary exertion.

The floating villages of the Uros people and their unique way of life are one of the must-see attractions on the lake. The villager's lives depend on the totora reeds that grow abundantly in the shallows. Their homes, boats, beds and floors are all made of the reeds. Every part of of the plant - roots, stems, leaves and seeds - are used as food and shelter.
The Uros originally moved onto the lake to escape more war-like people centuries ago. Today, they could move back onto tierra firma but choose not to. Why pay taxes and deal with all the complexity of modern life when the lake gives you all that you need? And an added bonus is that tourists come from around the world and spend money to visit you!

Ralph, Simon and Peter with Uros the ladies who were our hosts on their floating island

Always happy to give you a smile!

One of the children who rode on the reed boat with us

Monday, January 8, 2018

Machu Picchu


The classic view of Machu Picchu, taken by Heather Bell, who was in just the right spot when the clouds parted
Listed as one of the top ten wonders of the modern world, Machu Picchu attracts thousand of visitors each day to its misty perch high above the valley floor.
  Its location was a secret to all but a few local farmers until discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham on a quest for another lost Incan city.
 Since the Inca had no written language, we can only guess why they built a town that could support 750 people, with terraced fields, temples, store rooms and homes for both upper and lower classes at the top of a steep mountain.

 Whatever the reason, its mysteries and spectacular location continue to draw visitors from around the world, including me and my travel companions: Peter Jaspers-Fayer of Guelph, Ralph White of New York, and my daughter Heather Bell of Toronto. It was a memorable moment we won't soon forget!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Ollantaytambo

The ruins of Ollantaytambo where the Inca army won a battle against the Spanish
Market sellers with fresh veggies

On our way to the lost city of Machu Picchu, we stopped in the village of Ollantaytambo on the day of the fiesta called the Bajada de los Reyes, when villagers from the surrounding countryside celebrate the Epiphany with costumes, parades and a bullfight.






The animated spectacle of grotesque masks and fanciful hats, with swirling skirts and ponchos, drew thousands of spectators.














And after the bullfight - fortunately no bulls were killed - the music, partying and fireworks continued on into the night.





Friday, January 5, 2018

Cusco

My travel companion Peter Jaspers-Fayer snapping a photo of Cusco
The streets of the old quarter are all one lane

The foundations of this capital city of the Inca Empire are evident everywhere in the old quarter, with Spanish colonial buildings built on top of them.

It's now a charming town of cobblestone streets and plazas but heavy traffic and thousands of visitors from around the world are taking their toll. You can't walk far without dodging cars and touts offering trinkets, meals and massages.









To really appreciate the mastery of Incan stonemasonery, a visit to Sacsayhuaman (pronounced "sexy woman") is a must. 
 
Situated on a hill above Cusco, it was a fortress and a ceremonial site for the Inca until their defeat by the Spanish conquistadores and their allies. Each huge stone fits perfectly with the next without the need for mortar. Amazing!
 
I thought I might avoid the tourist hordes by coming during the rainy season. Guess I was wrong!
 
As well as traveling with Peter, I was joined in Cusco by dear friend Ralph White, who is organizing the Esoteric Quest to the Lost World of the Inca and my daughter Heather for our journey to Machu Picchu.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Lima


Lima's main square Plaza de Armas
Air Canada's direct flight to Peru drops you in Lima in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, our hotel had an all-night street party in full swing, so our taxi driver found us another hotel that could take us in - at twice the price, of course.

We spent the next morning visiting the main square (with seriously well-armed soldiers on every corner) and the catacombs of a Fransican monastery.
The library of the Fransican monastery with ancient books yet to be studied

A huge choir book in the monastery

The monastery's catacombs are filed with neatly arranged monks' bones

Peruvian police are everywhere and ready for trouble


Looking down on the Pacific Ocean from the cliffs of Miraflores
 Lunch in the Miraflores neighbourhood was followed by a brief trip to one of the many pre-Inca ruins that were preserved as the city grew around them.

Peter and I visiting Huaca Pucllana, a pre-Incan Lima culture ruin


















The next morning we were off to Cusco, former capital of the Inca empire!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Winter on the Speed River


It’s a winter wonderland here in Guelph Ontario. As beautiful as it is by the Speed river that runs through town, I'm looking forward to getting away to Lima Peru tomorrow!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Going to Peru!


Grampa and Dax plan a Peru trip
I'm going to Peru! Peter Jaspers-Fayer, a FON volunteer and friend, will be traveling with me for the whole month of January. My daughter, Heather, will be there already and will join us for a week around Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.

Another friend and travel companion from the 1970s, Ralph White, will also join us for the trip to Machu Picchu and then a further journey to Lake Titicaca and into Bolivia. Follow this blog for updates and photos as we explore this fascinating part of the world!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Community Acupuncture


I've recently started a series of acupuncture treatments at the Guelph Community Acupuncture Centre to deal with a low back pain issue that's been bothering me.

After two sessions of seventeen needles strategically inserted around my ears, hands, wrists and ankles, I'm feeling 80% better ...and getting better each day!

I'll still go to a physiotherapist to address the underlying cause but for rapid relief without drugs I'm now a true-believer.  I don't know how it works but it does!

The nice things about community acupuncture is that you book your own appointments online; you pay what you can; and you relax in a comfy lounging chair for up to two hours!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Thanksgiving in Alma NB


I have so much to be thankful for and in this post I want to express my gratitude for having a great sister and a wonderful extended family living in a charming corner of the world - the little village of Alma, New Brunswick.
Alex, Joanna and Karen Casey

I was able to spend Thanksgiving weekend with them, a time of beautiful fall colours.

If you're ever down that way, stop by the Parkland Village Inn and say "Hi" to these lovely ladies for me!







Monday, September 18, 2017

Algonquin Weekend




 Gail & I spent three gorgeous days in and around Algonquin Park last weekend.

We stayed at Blue Spruce Resort on Oxtongue Lake and went canoeing in the morning and for a cool dip in the lake in the afternoon.

We paddled to Ragged Falls; hiked several trails, learning about the ecology; and driving home, we saw a moose!


Friday, August 25, 2017

Double Eclipse of the Heart


I was reminded of the song Total Eclipse of the Heart when I focused the light from the eclipsing sun through my binoculars this week. Two crescent suns fell on my shadow during the partial eclipse that we experienced in southern Ontario.

The day didn't turn to night as it would along the path of totality but with 75 percent of the normal sunlight blocked by the moon it did become perceptively darker, rather like what we see when wearing sunglasses.

I'll be ready for the next eclipse around here in 2024!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Sleeping with the Sharks

How does one sleep with sharks? On an air mattress in a clear tunnel that runs through the shark tank at Ripley's Aquarium in Toronto! I did this last week with Gail (she loved it!) as my postponed birthday present. It appealed to my inner child!



I particularly liked the experience of being alone at the aquarium, after the visitors had left, free to explore the tanks, some floor to ceiling, filled with fish and jellies. So I put a short video together of some of my favourite encounters during my night at the aquarium.




Thursday, April 13, 2017

I'm a Grampa!

Daxton James MacDonald Bell was born April 11th at 7:42am at the Guelph General Hospital.

My eldest son Daniel and his wife Chelsey will be great parents for this little guy. And this old man couldn't be happier!