Tobago Keys

We set sail even earlier today – 4am departure, with breakfast at 8. I stayed in bed past breakfast hoping my constant motion sickness would settle and joined Larry on deck in time to see us pass by the tiny island of Moonhole, where stone homes have been built into and on top of the island. Many don’t even have windows, and the residents live without running water or electricity.

Our primary destination for the day was the Tobago Keys, a smattering of small uninhabited islands: white sand, clear turquoise water, palm trees. Postcard perfect. The captain offered to take us to Johnny Depp’s Island, but it would have been a good hour on the dinghy to reach it from where we were anchored, so no one went. The crew took us to our beach on Petit Bateau after a short informational chat by Captain Nervo. It was completely deserted, except for the local women that were dropped off to sell t-shirts and beach towels, and the occasional park ranger. There were picnic tables and plenty of shade. We set up our towels in a partially shady spot and spent most of the morning just hanging out, reading, enjoying the water. I particularly enjoyed lounging in the water on the floating mat.

Just before lunch Larry and I took the short trail through the middle of the island to the other side – the park rangers were setting up lunch on the beach there, which wasn’t as nice or protected. We hiked up almost to the top of the hill, which provided great views of the Keys. We were served lunch on the beach by the crew of the Diamant. Ham and cheese wraps, macaroni and cheese casserole, cucumber salad. And a fabulous avocado salad made from avocados the size of a cantaloupe.

After lunch we lounged some more, then grabbed our snorkel gear and went again to the other side of the island. We got into the water and started to make our way back around the point to our beach again. Snorkeling here was just okay, few tropical fish and we saw a turtle just as we were swimming back.

A bit more lounging (there’s a trend on this vacation), then we went back to the boat to regroup. Our next destination (same mooring, different Key) was Turtle Island (Barradal). There’s a protected area for the hawksbill turtles in the area. The island is tiny, a stretch of sand and a hill with trees and foliage and that’s it. The sand juts out like a finger into the water.

We snorkeled around for a while and saw several sea turtles and a small ray. I got out of the water and was at the end of the finger of sand when I saw a reef shark right there in the shallows. Larry saw more turtles, and we stretched out our time on the sand and were the last ones back to the boat for happy hour.

Matt and Jules, passengers from London, brought a bottle of Pimms with them and they made pitchers of Pimms Cup #1 for the rest of us. It’s refreshing, sort of like a white sangria. We were served more fruit, sausages, bacon-wrapped plantains and cucumber slices topped with tuna salad. After happy hour we set sail again, this time for our overnight spot in Mayreau. We were there in time to watch the sun set, gorgeous.

We stayed on the boat and had a dinner that reminded me of a 4th of July picnic – barbecue chicken and ribs, corn on the cob, chayote gratin. I kind of picked at my food because I was still feeling queasy. Really queasy. We opted out of the evening activity, a “culture walk” on Mayreau – otherwise known as a pub crawl. About half the passengers accompanied the Captain ashore, and Larry and I turned in relatively early.

Carricaou

The day began very early. We set sail out of Port Louis Marina at 5am. We joined the crew up top to see the sails being raised (with a bagpipe version of Amazing Grace playing on the sound system). We caught a beautiful Caribbean sunrise, and the weather was perfect. We hung out for a bit, until we got to the north end of Grenada then went back below to finish sleeping. Larry slept until around 8 and woke feeling very sick. He joined the other passengers on deck, most of who were also sick. Sailing with 3 foot swells on a 100-foot boat isn’t rough, but there’s a lot of movement. It the first time I’d seen Larry seasick.

Same story for me, though. I was feeling queasy just sitting at the dock so I expected to be sick. Mostly just nauseous, but I brought candied ginger with me to settle my stomach. I don’t think any of the passengers ate breakfast as the boat continued to rock. As soon as we dropped anchor in Carriacau, Larry felt a lot better.

We boarded the launch to Carriacau, a small island that’s still part of The Grenadines. We wandered around Tyrrel Bay for a bit. It was a little run down, and there wasn’t much to see. If we had more time there we would have ventured to other parts of the island, but instead we found an open wireless signal, grabbed email and went back to the boat for lunch.

Another 20 minutes of sailing and we were at an isolated stretch of white sand beach. And turquoise blue, crystal clear water. We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on the beach and snorkeling. Not the greatest snorkel spot, but the water felt great. Once we’d had enough sun (and bugs, they love me), we went back to the ship again for a hot shower followed by snacks and rum swizzles up on deck.

We sailed again to our overnight spot, about another 40 minutes. It was a gorgeous evening, sitting on the ship having dinner and listening to the fish splash in the water. Larry was feeling much better but I still felt nauseous. I ate most of the excellent lentil soup, but barely touched the grilled tuna and linguine alfredo.

We turned in early again (a day of doing absolutely nothing can be draining).

St. Georges & Grand Anse

Another early day planned – the market in St. Georges is at its best on Saturdays between 8 and noon. Larry and I are extremely causal and laid back travelers, but one thing we never miss is the local market. I was on the hunt for more spices and some local honey.

We started the day with breakfast on the patio again. Ever since our first trip to Spain, when we ate them on our patio in Sitges, soft-boiled eggs remind us of vacation. We had gotten mostly packed up the night before and were checked out and on the road by 8:30. Beeline for our next hotel, Grenada Grand Beach Resort, to drop off our luggage, then to the market in St. Georges. We found a great parking space on a narrow but not busy street a couple of blocks from Market Square.

St. Georges is charming, a port town busting with pedestrians and colorful buildings. The favorite pastime is strolling The Carenage, along the main harbor, which is actually the crater of an ancient volcano.

Similar to most overseas markets we go to, this one is dominated by women selling their wares. I’d say the majority of farmers in US farmers markets are men. Most of the booths were similar, selling a yam-like root, plantains, apple and other various types of bananas (called figs), mango, papaya, and fresh turmeric. The indoor portion of the market is primarily spices – nutmeg, mace, cinnamon (both ground and in bark form), star anise. Almost everyone sells nutmeg syrup and vanilla (extract and beans), and the women are very pushy! Like carnival barkers. It’s a bakers paradise, and I wanted to buy a suitcase full. I settled for cinnamon bark and a few other spice, in addition to local honey to feed my honey obsession.

We finished at the spice market and decided to explore the fish market next, which is fresh, local fish. Across the street is the Meat Market, men chopping cuts of meat with machetes and an unbearable smell (I’m guessing it’s also a slaughterhouse). Outside we saw a man holding what looked like a large dead, gutted rat. We asked if it was manicou – it was. A cross between an opossum and a large rat, and about as gross as you can imagine. But it’s a local specialty.

We stopped in at Deyna’s just before 11, too early for lunch but they were getting set up and told us to come back in 10 minutes. The woman behind the counter gave us a sample of her curry lambi to sample, but it wasn’t good enough to lure us back. It’s a favorite local spot, but it didn’t impress us. Instead, we opted for Courtyard Kitchen, a small shack and three tables located in a nondescript courtyard. We had seen the crude, hand painted sign from the street and were intrigued. It looked promising.

The woman in the shack asked us what we were looking for. Food, we told her. She described the dishes of the day – chicken roti (me), fresh fish or stewed pork (Larry). Mine came a la carte, a flavorful roti bread with whole, bone-in, skin-on chicken thigh, potatoes and curry–delicious. Larry’s pork stew was equally delicious, and it came with callalou (ick), plantains, yam, and rice. We loved it, and the setting was clean but quirky. Probably one of our favorite meals so far.

We decided to go to Annandle Falls next, a short drive from the town and the location of a supposedly lovely swimming hole. It was hot. Swimming hole sounded great. Except we couldn’t find it. We drove up the road, then back, asked for directions, and still didn’t find it. I swear I saw a sign for the yesterday, but we didn’t see it this time and weren’t in the mood to keep searching. There was a beach waiting for us.

We had decided to move closer to town for our last night in Grenada. The resort is less secluded and not as nice as Maca Bana, but still – the location can’t be beat. It’s located right on Grand Anse Beach, the type of beach that dreams are made of: soft white sand, blue water, just enough shade from surrounding trees. We had chaise lounges provided by the resort, and were enjoying our secluded, quiet spot until a bunch of rowdy local teenage boys decided to park themselves right behind us and then horse play in the water near us. We eventually moved to the pool – not a sacrifice. There are two pools here, and the more elaborate of the two has a bridge, waterfall, and swim-up bar. And wireless access. We spent the rest of the afternoon drinking cocktails, reading and napping.

Dinner was room service because neither of us particularly felt like going out – a day in the sun sipping tropical drinks will do that. We ordered grilled fish sandwich (cheaper than a hamburger) and fries; fresh fish is always good.

Grenada, Day 1

We woke early to intermittent rain and it wasn’t long before we were asleep again. Long travel days preceded by a sleepless night just isn’t that easy to bounce back from when you’re pushing middle age.

Our villa had been stocked with fruit (great local bananas, not those crappy cavendish we get I’m the US), so we had something to snack on for breakfast. We got cleaned up and decided to eat at the hotel restaurant – not something we normally do but Aquarium came highly recommended. The day was still pretty dreary, windy and rainy. Our beach prospects were looking slim. Before lunch we arranged for a rental car with the front office – not an easy decision or one we had planned on, but it seemed a lot more flexible than getting a driver for a day.

Lunch was great. We shared a salad with incredible local goat cheese, a grilled fish sandwich and fries. We caught a break in the storm and hung out on our patio reading for a while… until I fell asleep on the chaise lounge. At some point Larry had moved inside because I found him asleep when I finally got up. More reading and lounging and getting eaten alive by bugs and it was dinner time.

We settled on a small restaurant called Boots Cuisine, run by Boots and his wife Ruby out on a patio in front of their home. We called for a taxi, and on the way there Desmond gave us a bit of an overview of the island, tips on things to do the next day, and the history behind Boots (he had gained a reputation working as a chef at one of the resorts). An overpriced taxi ride, but informative. Every day I fall a little more in love with the Caribbean lilt.

Dinner at Boots is fixed price, with a choice of for the main dish. We started with a fantastic pumpkin soup that even I, a longtime hater of pumpkin, loved. Next was a crayfish wrap and then TLC (which turned out to be a tomato, lettuce, cucumber salad). Larry had the dish Boots is known for – curry lambi. Which isn’t anything remotely close to lamb, it’s what the Grenadians call conch, or sea snail. It was delicious, as was my fish in coconut cheese gravy. Dessert was a trio – nutmeg ice cream (I could have eaten a gallon), fruit cake and plum pudding,

Well-stuffed and rested, we called Desmond to pick us up and went straight to bed in anticipation of an early day of exploring tomorrow.

Lisbon – Fatima – Porto

Our last day in Lisbon – we checked out of the hotel, stored our luggage and headed straight for the Port Wine Institute in hopes they had Larry’s iPhone. We were there just as they opened, and were overjoyed to find that they still had it! Disaster averted. Time to relax – we walked back to the Graça district, far up on a hill, and enjoyed the view from the convent.

As usual we were on the hunt for food. David Lebovitz had recommended Churrasco da Graça for traditional Peruvian spit-roasted chicken. Tracking down a little neighborhood spot in Lisbon is hard work, so we stopped for pastries at Pastelaria Estrela de Graça. Delicious. Continuing down the same street, we finally found our restaurant (Largo da Graça, 43). Churrasco da Graça is a neighborhood joint full of locals, with great service and no tourists (aside from ourselves). We started off with the amazing fresh cheese (queso fresco), sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper. I had the roast chicken and Larry had the dorado and potatoes.

We finished off with cake for dessert (motofolo cake? We saw another couple get it and were intrigued). Our last meal in Lisbon turned out to be our best. On the walk back, we got our last glimpse of the castle before taking a cab to Avis to pick up a rental car.

Portugal is relatively easy to navigate in terms of finding major arteries. We easily found our way out of the city, with Larry navigating and me driving. We had toyed with the idea of stopping off at Our Lady of Fátima, and decided to go ahead. The site is famous for reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary during six consecutive months in 1917 (as reported by three shepherd children). It’s also a popular destination year-round for pilgrimages and we witnessed a number of people on the grounds on their knees, crawling towards the primary chapel.

We were there before the start of the main pilgrimage season, which peaks on the third of every month between May and October. The Pope was scheduled for a visit and there were signs everywhere. The main square is massive, bigger than St. Peter’s at the Vatican. The grounds are huge and there are multiple chapels in addition to the main one. We saw smoke in the distance and thought there was something roasting (chicken!) but once we got closer we realized it was candles, lots and lots of candles. We each lit one and then bought rosaries and visited the Basilica before continuing on to Porto.

The main highway in Portugal is modern and quick, with efficient toll collection points every so often. Navigating the main highways are easy – but the towns are a different story. How did we manage travel before iPhones? We had set up international data packages before we left so Google maps was immensely helpful in finding our hotel. Which was interesting. In a funny way, not in a luxurious, everyone must stay here way.

Located in a somewhat run-down area, Hotel Albergaria Miradouro is one of the tallest buildings in Porto and has sweeping views of the city and beyond. We were on the 12th floor in a corner room so we had an impressive view. The furnishings are clean and well-maintained, but they probably haven’t been updated since the 70s. The hotel restaurant is one of those old-school places where the waiters are very professional and experienced – service was terrific, but we were pretty much the only people in there and it felt like they were spying on us the whole time. We had a nice Duoro wine and a mix of appetizers, including a vegetable pate and boars head cheese that only Larry ate.

The best part about the restaurant was the sunset, overlooking the Duoro River and the Atlantic. Absolutely beautiful. We ended our day with a quick trip downtown via Metro to Minchoes Restaurant for Internet access.. and pastries, of course!

Lisbon

We started the morning with a little exercise – a run along the river for Larry, and I just walked since I´m not running right now. Lisbon has a nice run/bike trail next to the river, headed to Belem. We met up at the public market, which was fairly slow due to the holiday (May Day). There were still a few vendors there, selling meat, cheese, fish (including octopus), and produce. It´s a very clean, airy market.

We got back to the hotel with great intentions – get showered, see more of the town, swing by the Port Wine Institute to see if they´re open and have Larry´s phone. But when we got to the room, we both expressed a need for a nap. Still dealing with jet lag, we laid down for a nice nap and didn´t feel guilty at all. Vacations are for doing what you want, relaxing, and not being on a schedule.

After our nap we went by the Port Wine Institute to see if they had Larry’s phone, to find them closed for May Day as expected. We decided to go see the castle, which is a hike up the hill in the Alfama neighborhood. Okay, everything in Lisbon is a hike up a hill. Which is okay considering the amount of pastries we were consuming. The castle has sweeping views of the city. Not a lot to see on the grounds, just better views than the lower area before the entrance.

We used one of our tour books and did a walking tour of the Alfama. It´s a charming neighborhood, tight-knit and friendly. The confusing, crooked narrow cobblestone streets (more like alleys) were designed to confuse anyone who attacked the city. Many homes here don´t have their own laundry or even their own bathrooms.

After exploring the neighborhood, we stopped in at a neighborhood cafe (Pios Cafe) that was suggested by a food blogger I follow. It was late for lunch, but we had a terrific sandwich and salad and hung out for a while and enjoyed the atmosphere.

We left the cafe and Larry went to the tourist police station (conveniently located next to the tourist office) to fill out a police report in case the phone was turned in (there’s a central lost and found in Lisbon). I went to another tourist office to do a little research on the Internet – since we didn’t have the trip planned out to start with, it would have to unfold along the way.

May Day celebrations were being held around the city – there was a foot race in the morning, and concerts taking place around the city. We enjoyed the general festivities as we wandered around the city.

We decided to stay one more night in Lisbon, so we could hopefully get Larry’s phone on Monday, and also to see more of the area and city. We ended the day with a trolley ride to the Belem neighborhood. Our primary destination was Antiga Confeitaria de Belem, the origin of Lisbon’s Pasteis de Nata.

The original recipe for these delicious little egg custards was invented by two Catholic sisters in the convent at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. The recipe is a heavily guarded secret, allegedly only known in full by three people. The pastries sold at Antiga Confeitaria de Belem are the only ones that can be called Pasteis de Belem – they’re called Pasteis de Nata everywhere else. The bakery was founded around 1837 by clerics from the monetary and was the the first shop to sell Pasteis de Belem, and they’re really delicious here.

After enjoying our pastries, we walked around a bit and found a little grassy knoll on top of a museum that had closed for the day. I was still suffering from jet lag and laid down on the grass for a little snooze. Larry mocked me and took incriminating photos. We ended the day by just going back to our hotel and crashing for the night.

London

We arrived in London fairly refreshed after being able to stretch out on the plane overnight. We had 5 hours to get to Gatwick from Heathrow – another bit of fallout from the volcanic eruption was that our plans changed and we no longer had a connection out of Heathrow. We decided to check the Virgin first class lounge to see if we could hang there for a bit – score!  We were on the list for access to the lounge, where we had Internet access and great showers.

We already had tickets for the Gatwick Express train, so we took the Tube to Kensington South, on the hunt for lunch. Lunch turned out to be cupcakes from a terrific local bakery, Hummingbird Bakery. They were on my list of places to try to hit so I was happy there´s a branch just outside the Tube station. Then we hung out at Starbucks, where we hitched on to a wireless signal for a bit. Larry enjoyed a coffee and we people watched. Larry went down the street for a kebab and then we finally got on our way to Gatwick after waiting for a while for the train to finally leave the station.

The lines at the EasyJet check-in were horrendous. We had paid for speedy boarding and still had to wait a while. When we finally got to the front of the line, the agent surprised us by saying our flight was closed. We were speechless, looked at our watches, and at once realized we had pulled a rookie move and hadn´t paid attention to the time. Our flight was leaving in 15 minutes and the gates had just closed. We were out of luck. The agent then told us that she could get us on a flight on Saturday – but we weren´t willing to wait in London for that long, we were supposed to be in Portugal in 2 hours!

We had a joint freak-out and kept going on about how we missed our flight for no good reason. Unbelievable. We got in line at the EasyJet sales counter and started to use our phones to look up other flights, from London to anywhere in Portugal. We ended up changing to an early morning EasyJet flight into Lisbon, but out of Luton. So we gathered our things and got on yet another train, bound for our third London airport in one day. Before we left the airport, we called the hotel in Lisbon to change our arrival, then booked a cheap hotel next to the Luton airport for the night.

We finally arrived at the Ibis hotel at the Luton airport around 7:30pm, exhausted after traveling for 24 hours. No energy to even go have dinner, we munched on snacks we brought with us, set two alarms to be sure we´d make our morning flight, and went to bed.

One thing I´ll say about making a mistake like this – we´ll never forget it, and it´s not likely we´ll ever make a mistake like that again!

Tambopata, Day Two

We got up at 5AM again today. We headed down to the dock motored down the Heath River. After about 15 minutes, we got out of the boat and started hiking down the path with Leon. After getting lost yesterday, it didn’t seem like the best idea, but the path was well-worn.

After walking about 20 minutes, we exited on the edge of a lake. There was a row boat filled with water that Leon proceeded to bail out. We got in, and he slowly paddled us along the river. We saw small caiman poking their eyes and snouts barely above the water. Leon paddled us along the quiet lake in the early morning as the sun rose.

We saw swarming pools of tadpoles stirring up the water. It was teaming with life which surrounded our boat. There were large birds, we asked Leon what kind of birds they were. They were “Big Birds”. We laughed to ourselves.

On the far side of the lake, we saw some howler monkeys whose screeches filled the quiet morning. We toured the lake and finally were back where we started. We exited the rowboat and hiked back to the Heath River. Our boat met us, and back we went to the lodge.

We had lunch.

Late in the afternoon, Leon met us in the huts for our trip to the Pampas. The wind was blowing and Leon wondered if we would have to cancel our trip because of the dangers of trees falling on us, but no such luck. We finally got to the edge of the Pampas after an hour of hiking, and the trail became a path of water and mud. Because Sheri’s boots were so short (only calf-length), she couldn’t walk through the middle of the puddles, so Leon slowly traipsed through the weeds along the edge of the path. It was slow going, but we finally made it to the big tree where they had a lookout platform with a wooden stairway built up to it. The sun was low in the sky, and we just wanted to get back to the lodge, so we took a few pictures and said we were ready to go (before Leon had a chance to relate how they were trying to save the Pampas). We picked our way back through the mud, and finally re-entered the jungle. The light was waning and we were soon ensconced in darkness. Leon took the lead, Sheri behind (trying to ignore the pitch black surroundings, focusing only on the flashlights), and Larry following. It was a fast march back to lodge ignoring the surroundings and darkness that enveloped us.

We finally made it back to the lodge. We left our muddy boots outside our hut, and went inside for a warm shower. We had dinner, more people were arriving, and then we went back to rest. We packed up for our early morning departure to head back to civilization tomorrow!

Arequipa to Tombopata

We got up early and checked out of the nice hotel. The hotel packed us sandwiches which we took with us to the airport.
We took the taxi, and headed to the airport (easy commute in the early morning).
We were stopped at the guard shack at the airport and then headed to check-in.
We paid the airport tax and headed to the plane. We finally got an unobstructed view of the volcanoes that surround Arequipa that were next to the airport runway.

We headed off in the early morning and flew back to Cusco. We waited at the airport for an hour and a half. We tried the cheese sandwiches that the hotel had made us, however, they weren’t good, so we grabbed some snacks at a coffee shop. We paid yet another airport departure tax and headed out on the plane to Puerto Maldonado.

We laneded in Puerto Maldonado, and when we got off the plane, we were immediately hit with the humidity of the Amazon. We were finally at sea level, but not it was hot and sticky.
We were met at the airport and taken by bus to the check-in area. We met our guide, Leon, who explained the town as we were taken to the compound. The streets were filled with motorcycles, it seemed like everyone was on a motorcycle (a lot without helmets).

We got to the compound. We dropped off half our luggage, and then picked out wader boots. Sheri’s were kids size (barely going to the half of her calf), while Larry’s went to his knees. We grabbed some water and headed back to the van. It was quick ride to the boat. We met the driver and the assistant, and pushed off from the dock.

We headed down the Rio Madre De Dios. The clouds were looming in the sky as we headed down the wide river. We saw a lot of birds, but it quickly became monotonous, with even few boats on the river. Leon brought out our lunch. Sheri’s was vegetarian (and grilled veggie wrap), while Larry had a Chifa (Peruvian Chinese food) of a wrap with meet and vegetables in an asian sauce. It was tasty.

We finally got to Bolivia. Our boatman quickly switched the flag so that we were flying under the Bolivian flag–less problems I guess. The Bolivian Border Check-point was a small hut on the riverbank. They grabbed our passports and checked us into Bolivia.
We then started heading up the Heath River which is the border between the two two countries. Immediately we saw a large white cayman basking on the bank. We headed up the Heath River. We saw several families of capybara, the world’s largest rodent. They looked like sheep sized guinea pigs.

We finally arrived at the Heath River Lodge. There were about 15 huts spread along the lodge area. We went to our hut, which was two beds covered by the required mosquito netting. We took a shower, and finally had continuous hot water (after many showers of lukewarm water) due to the huts personal hot water heater.

We went to dinner and met several other people who had been at the lodge several days already (and were leaving tomorrow). They talked about almost stepping on a poisonous snake, and we started wondering about our stay in the jungle. We sat with Leon, and an empty place setting for Jay (who was already in Miami). Dinner was good, but we were ready for bed. We took our flashlights and headed back to our hut.

Arequipa, Day One

I started our first full day in Arequipa by sleeping in a bit, still trying to recover. Jay and Larry had breakfast together, and I snuck upstairs for some bread and fruit before breakfast ended. We ended up hanging around the hotel for part of the morning – Jay had a family emergency and it was starting to sound like he was going to need to go home early. He finally made the decision to fly home and changed his Delta flight, then we hurried in to town to the LAN office to change his two LAN flights into one going to Lima.

The LAN office was very helpful, much easier than trying to make the changes over the phone. We made sure to go to a LAN office with actual LAN agents, not a travel agent. The change was easy and Larry and I got checked in.

Next on our to-do list was to see a bit more of Arequipa before Jay left. We wanted to see Juanita, the mummy of a 14-year old girl that was sacrificed to quell volcanic activity. I thought I knew where the museum was, so we went to the pre-Andean Museum and paid admission. The museum is situated in a colonial house near the main square with parquet floors and stained glass french doors upstairs. There are ten rooms filled with artifacts – weavings, pottery, weapons, headresses. The weavings are 500 years old, excavated in the 50s, and are still colorful and very much intact.

It turns out that I had the museum wrong (I should not be allowed to make decisions while sick), and Juanita wasn’t at the museum. We figured this out as we entered the last room. Juanita is actually located at the museum of the Catholic University, just down the street, but when we went there we found out she was at the laboratory being cleaned. Oh well.

We had a quick lunch of sandwiches (Larry had a chicken burger) at a little cafe called La Covacha, then went back to the hotel so Jay could get packed up for his flight. After that, we had a little over an hour left, so we took a taxi to the Santa Catalina de Siena Monastery. The Monastery was founded in 1579 and is like a small village behind thick stone walls, with streets and cells where the nuns lived. More than 200 nuns lived there, but now only about 30 live there. In 1972, it opened to the public, but the nuns that live there now remain cloistered and separated from the tourists.

The Monastery has six streets, a square, a cemetery, an art gallery and 80 housing units. Most of the housing units include a place to sleep, a small sitting area, and a small kitchen with a clay oven. Some have small patios as well. We only had a short amount of time there, so we didn’t use a guide, but given the time it’s probably worth it to hire a guide.

We hurried back to the hotel via taxi, and Jay left for the airport. Larry and I napped for the rest of the afternoon, then went out for dinner to Ary Quepay, located in an interesting neighborhood on the outskirts of town. It’s a family-owned, casual restaurant that was pretty empty for a Friday night. We split another palta rellena (stuffed avocado is becoming our favorite thing to eat here), and I had adobo (pork stew) and Larry had the grilled pork shoulder (chancho de plancha, I think). It ended up being a very porky dinner, both were not bad but not great either.

After dinner we wandered about the neighborhood a bit, then caught a cab back to the hotel and turned in for the night.