(Don't forget to go see the award
winning images Michael
Seewald has created from over
40 trips around the world.!)
"Many are envious of my travels, and I have seen much.
But I was a 'semi-starving artist' for many years, traveling Europe on just $40 a
month back in '88, sleeping under bridges and bushes! All the while lugging 40
pounds of camera gear around, using it as my pillow at night. My sponsorships helped
defray only part of the airfare and film costs. Now, my 'moderate' trip budget seems
more like a 'luxury' one. Valerie says our travel is more like 'boot camp'!"
We just got back from our Peru trip on Thursday evening. It was a short eighteen day
adventure (most are usually a month).
Landing in a foreign country is always trying, as you don't know 'the value of things',
nor their costs. The vultures, I mean taxi drivers, know this. I generally ask
the locals inside the terminal how much it runs for them to get from the airport to the
area we are going, and it is generally half that of what the taxi drivers would
quote. You see, every place is different. In this case, to make matters worse,
Peru has no metered taxis. I'd hate to hear what someone paid that hadn't negotiated
the fee beforehand!
We stayed in Lima for one day, enough time to find a travel agent and get the lowdown
on local flights and prices. As I'd figured, we saved quite a bit there over
purchasing them in the U.S..
Flights over the Andes are accomplished only in the a.m., later it gets too dangerous,
weather wise. We were told that we'd have to be at the airport two hours prior to
the departure, at 5a.m.. Just what a 'night owl' loves to hear! Thieves are
rampant, they say, so keep an eye on everything, always! Love to hear this... makes
you a bit paranoid. Better that than sorry though.
The first part of our trip we figured to head to the Amazon where we hoped to team up
with a young missionary family from our church, although we'd never actually met them
before. They are members of our own church here in N. San Diego County, North Coast
Calvary Chapel- in Carlsbad, CA. We heard they, Tom and Janet Wiest, and there three young
boys, were building a home in the frontier 'jungle town' of Pucallpa. They are there with
the 'S.A.M.' missionary group (So. American Missionaries).
We e-mailed that we might visit them just before leaving, but weren't sure they'd
received it, and all we had to locate them was a street address (22 Apartado), and a
prayer. When we got to their town none of the taxi drivers had heard of their street.
(Most of the taxis were just motorcycles with covered buggies attached to them- called
'moto-carros'). We finally figured it out the next day that the address was a system
similar to a PO Box. We tracked them down via a postal clerks directions. They found us a
place to stay on the Wycliffe bible translators compound, just outside of town (room with
separate kitchen and family room) for only $12 a night. It was overlooking the
large, beautiful and jungle enshrouded Ucayali River.
It was a real blessing as the low budget place we had stayed in 'downtown' Pulcallpa
left something to be desired. Some of the Peruvians must be deaf, as they turn their TV's
up so loud in there tiny little rooms that we were sure that the tribal Indians could hear
it from out in the jungle. There were only screened windows, so the constant onslaught of
honking moto-carros drivers outside, and the guys blaring TV, combined to deprive Valerie
and I of a sound sleep. The ear plugs (a necessity for travelers) she brought for us
worked for me, but not her. Somebody was smart enough to switch off the electricity for a
moment at about 2 a.m., which switched off the TV and the signal sound which was still
blasting away at that point, while the man snored away.
It was going into the summer there, being south of the equator, and it is also their
rainy season. The town had few paved roads, and much mud was carried onto them by vehicles
coming from muddy side roads. As soon as the mud dried it turned to dust, which was kicked
up by the vehicles in front of you, making it interesting as the drivers had to close
their eyes most of the time for protection.
We had a family of iguanas the size of alligators living outside our house... along
with bats, frogs, locusts, parrots, and a multitude of other natural beings yelling and
screeching day and night! Although it was noisy, it was a 'kinder, gentler' noise than
that of the city. You get used to it fairly fast. In fact, on going to the Andes later on,
we had a hard time sleeping it was so quiet. The highlight was a trip into the jungle
after an hour boat ride up the river to a tribal Indian village called San Francisco.
Surprisingly, the country had installed tiny solar panels next to each hut, so they could
have a light via a single light bulb. The only problem was that they had no replacement
bulbs, and stole from each other the few that worked!?
After a weeks stay we'd snagged only a couple of images of any consequence. But we made
lots of friends, whom we said our good-byes to, and headed back to Lima to continue our
trip. No flights directly to Cuzco, unfortunately.
Cuzco is the closest Andean town you can fly into to get to Machu Picchu. Altitude is
the key word/problem here. At approx. 12,000 foot, headaches from lack of oxygen
were common, especially if we walked up a hill, which unfortunately were everywhere! The
second day there we hired a taxi for the entire day for only $20. We went to a few ruins
up to 40 kilometers from town! It was slow going in his old clunker, as most taxis were,
as the steepness of the Andes is something to be reckoned with.
(Note: an old '72 Volkswagen costs $5,000 there! A new anything $100,000 and up. Don't
know how they do it, especially at what they make per trip across town- $1.)
After acclimating for three days in Cuzco we took the four hour train ride (someone
from Europe needs to show them how to lay track down...ouch) to a town called Agua
Caliente and checked into a cheap hotel called Gringo Bill's. Great place for budget
travelers. Since it was still late morning we then took the half hour bus ride straight up
to the top of the mountains to reach Machu Picchu, where I worked and explored until dark.
The next morning I was to take the first bus up, which I heard from many sources was at
6:30 a.m.. I'd always envisioned the ruins being captured by me with no one 'on
them', so I wanted to get that first bus. Well, I'd noticed lots of tourists
strolling about the little towns center that morning, and wondered why the bus was so
empty when it was finally time to go up? Found out that since so many had filled it
up already it had left early, as well as a second, and a third.!? We were the
fourth!! I was so disheartened. Now I'd have 90 people crawling all over
it. Well, the night before hardly anyone had been left. The guards that swarm
the area in their bright florescent orange pants and shirts had left by then (imagine
getting these guys in all of you images?) and I was able to capture it fairly well.
I worked the place as best I could by positioning ruins between lens and them. I
think I'll (as well as the sponsors) be happy.
The place was way more spectacular than the photos in the tour books looked, and
Valerie and I realized again how much the Lord has blessed us with what we get to do!
A note from the webmaster: Photographs taken by Seewald take
him over one year to release. He studies them over that length of time deciding
which ones are the strongest from the ones he made. The sponsors then get to choose their
favorites. They will not get bored with them, as Seewald has had 'rejects'-not by
him, but by the sponsors- win museum awards!
He says he hopes to get a 'few of the snaps' from the slides he took scanned and ready to
add to this page. Just note on the guestbook that you'd like to be notified when we
put them up!
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