With the brief internet breaks I´m using, it´s easier to just send a message to everyone rather than respond personally. Don´t take offence, and please keep writing back, great to hear from home.
Anywho, here we are in Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incan Empire. I´m sure those Incas would be rolling their collective eyes at the amount of panhandling / harrassing going on here! It´s nuts. I mean, I don´t mind getting a restaurant suggestion, but getting swarmed by 5 different people at once yelling about their menus to me just gets to be too much! But, given that over 60% of this city´s population of >300,000 has only tourism as their income, I guess I don´t blame them.
So we´ve spent several days now at high altitudes (right now, i´m sitting at 3462m above sea level!). We went direct from Lima to Puno, which is on Lake Titicaca (and over 4000m up!). That caused me a bit of a problem on the first night, which resulted in my going to bed around 8:30. Luckily, the one good night sleep fixed me up. Well, that and the coca and mint tea that I was sucking back!
We spent 2 days in this region, with one of the nights being spent on and island called Amantani, living like the locals. Whew, what a unique (read intense) experience. Our family of 9 lived in 2 little shacks (about 7ft x 14ft), the third shack was for us. We were treated like family, which meant zero privacy, with fairly frequent ´visits´ by some of the children. On this island, we also hike up to the top, which sits at about 4180m. That´s almost as high as our Inka trail will take us (4198m). We also got a chance to dress in the traditional clothes of the island inhabitants, and attend a fiesta, with local live music (wouldn´t buy the CD), and lots of bailar (dancing).