Tag Archives: Travel

The Steps

Then up the ladder of the earth I climbed

through the barbed jungle’s thickets

until I reached you Macchu Picchu.

Pablo Neruda

The Heights of Macchu Picchu

(N.B.: Neruda’s spelling of Machu Picchu)

Door to Neruda’s Wine Cellar

Santiago, Chile

There are three ways to reach the fabled Machu Picchu: by train, by bus, or by foot. And within each of those choices, there are several options.

You can take a Backpacker train, a Vistadome train with refreshments included, or the luxury Hiram Bingham train á la the Orient Express — with cocktails and fine dining, plus afternoon tea at the sanctuary lodge.

Aguas Calientes

A bus can transport you from the nearby town of Aguas Calientes, where most travelers spend the night.

“By foot” means walking the Inca Trail, either for four days camping in tents or hiking for one day.

This is the story of one of those ways. . . .

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Beyond the Canal

“Not houses finely roofed

or the stones of walls well builded,

nay nor canals and dockyards make the city,

but men able to use their opportunity.”

—Alcaeus

I journeyed to Panama to see the canal, and ventured upriver as well. I flew to Panama City with a small University of Texas group, plus my daughter Jessica. We visited all three locks at various times — day and night. The canal never sleeps. Aboard a low vessel built for J. P. Morgan, we followed a huge container ship through Pedro Miguel Locks. At the Gaillard Cut, we crossed the Continental Divide.

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Going Out

“…we go,

Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,

Being too full of sleep to understand.”

Longfellow (Nature)

 

When Nature calls, we go. If we’re lucky, we go indoors.

Different antiquities vie for the claim to the first flush toilet several thousand years ago. King Minos of Crete had one in the Knossos Palace, and another was discovered in the tomb of a Chinese king in Shangqui county in the central province of Hunan.

We had two flush toilets in the house where I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio — one on the second floor right across the hall from my bedroom, and another down in the basement. One day, I was playing in our basement when Nature rang. I knew even at the tender age of three or so that I wouldn’t be able to make it up two flights of stairs in time. The gleaming white porcelain toilet just inside the open door to my father’s office in that subterranean world beckoned to me. Taking advantage of its proximity, I hustled over. Continue reading

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Coming Down from the Mountain

The man who removes a mountain begins

by carrying away small stones.

William Faulkner

It had started as The Great American Road Trip. We were a family of five encased in a blue minivan inching along a ribbon of highway from Texas to Canada and back. For three solid weeks. With three children.

I had begun to sense the curvature of the earth as we rolled steadily northward, making our way to Lake Louise. My husband, Jim, and I had spent a lot of time listening to The Byrds singing “In the Blue Canadian Rockies” when we were dating, and had always wanted to go there.

Jim and I had been on various cross-country car trips with our respective parents as we grew up, and wanted to give Amy, Jessica, and Margaret similar memories. It was 1995, and our daughters were then ages 14, 11, and 7. Continue reading

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Metro Mishaps

“’It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say.

‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet,

there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.’”

—J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings, Part 1: The Fellowship of the Ring (p. 83)

One sunny October day, I arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. And there was my smiling daughter, Jessica, waiting to meet me. She assisted in getting my luggage wheeled down one level below to the train station, where we hopped aboard the next departure to Rotterdam.

Once there, we maneuvered the two suitcases through the hustle and bustle of the crowded station to a little takeaway bistro/grocery she frequented. After we grabbed a couple sandwiches to munch at her apartment for lunch, we whisked out the door to head to the metro.

It was a hectic scene, made even more so by the construction going on. Commuters zipping hither and yon, travelers dragging luggage, passengers picking up snacks — it was a mélange of motion. Continue reading

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