Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Irony of Orthodoxy

I got this article published in the LiberalAmerica.org The Irony of Conservative Catholics.
If you get a chance read it and give me feedback.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rights and Responsibilities

Although there were many positive responses to my post yesterday, some found my idea to be less satisfactory, calling me a "moron" and suggesting that I should be "hung by (my) shorthairs". And although I don't believe that all gun enthusiasts are vitriolic and unreasonable, there is a definite loud, bully faction of intransigent orthodox gun rights advocates that hated the idea of bringing the capitalism into the mix as a way of checking gun ownership and responsibilities. As such, I want to explore rights and responsibilities, for it seems that only the Second Amendment orthodox don't accept that rights exist within the realm of society and come with responsibility.
Let's take the First Amendment as our example: the first amendment protects our rights of speech and to peacefully assemble. But it is well known that if you use, for example, hate speech, your right to do so is protected but you might end up with a bloody nose. Or, it might be suggested that I be "hung by my shorthairs". Although it is my right to say what I want, I would be foolish to think that I can say anything without consequences. Similarly, speech is not protected if it directly insights danger. For example, yelling fire in a crowded theater has been rejected as protected speech as it would unnecessarily cause chaos and damage. The instigator would also be liable.
Also, with our right to peacefully assemble, it is not our right to do so at the disruption of normal societal activity. For example, if we assemble in the street or on a train track, we would be removed and charged with hindering transportation. Our right to assemble is still in tact but it requires certain adherence to the greater societal good.
Unfortunately, the extreme wing of the Second Amendment advocates consider any responsibilities that are associated with the right to bear arms to also be an infringement. In no other arena of constitutional consideration is there such orthodoxy. Forget that the first part of the Second Amendment says the right to form a WELL REGULATED MILITIA. Forget that all other rights, including the right to vote, the repeal of the 14th Amendment, the First Amendment all exist with legal standards: age, distribution, consequences etc. The orthodox Second Amendment advocate interprets the second half of the amendment only and views it with carte blanche. This is not quality legal ground or a genuine interpretation of the meaning or intent behind the Amendment (which when written was referring to single shot muskets that take a minute to reload and not weapons that can fire a more than a round a second). The reason it's not a solid legal argument, is that the first part of the Second Amendment states that A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state...a well regulated militia is significantly different than anybody with bloodlust can get a gun. Secondly, it says right in the Second Amendment that the militia (however loosely defined) should be "well regulated". This means laws and oversight. This doesn't mean building a doomsday arsenal in your basement with impunity. This doesn't mean you get to own, have and use your guns ad nauseum without any consequence or societal checks on your libelist activity.
It is only through superior propaganda and lobbyist organization that this interpretation of the Second Amendment has become an orthodox reading by so many. And as such, I stand by my suggestion of introducing the insurance lobby into the fight in order to have a Goliath create the standards of liability and accountability in our current gun anarchy. And for this, you're welcome to wish to hang me by my short hairs. I do understand that my words will offend some and I accept my responsibilities with my right to express myself. I also proudly accept that having the dialogue is the first step in hammering out the potential flaws in the idea as well as bringing new ideas forth. I'm not as married to my idea as I am the hope that we can forge a better society.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Practical Thoughts on our Gun Culture

With what seems to be a massacre a week the time to discuss our gun culture in America seems to be rife with opportunity. However, when dealing with policies that have the backings of huge lobbyists and a cult mentality towards any infringement of the right of Americans to slaughter each other, the response by those who want a more reasonable gun laws tends to default to impotent rage. As much as I sympathize with this rage, I have spent a lot of mental energy recently trying to figure out how those of us who want to address the gun insanity in our nation can and do so effectively. In doing so I think I have come up with an idea that could actually work.
Historically, political behemoths, like the NRA, have enough political leverage that they can create and shape the laws that regulate and propagate our weapons. And even with the collective will of the US citizenry currently in a state of outrage where our politicians may actually accomplish something in this area, it will likely be a mere band-aid.
So, how do we fight Goliath? Do we need to motivate an army of Davids? Yes, but I think we should also enlist another Goliath in the fight. So where is this Goliath that not only could trade punches with the NRA, but would be willing to? In the insurance industry.
So, how and why would this work? Let's use the example of car insurance. When you drive a car you carry with that activity a liability: you could damage people and/or property in an accident. By virtue of this liability, you are required to pay premiums on an insurance policy to protect the public at large from the potential of you causing damage. The better you drive the lower your rates. You are also required to comply with licensing standards, vision standards. You have to license your car and register it and reregister it. You have to transfer a title when you sell the car creating a traceable footprint of ownership and liability. You are also required to show proficiency to drive the car. If you want to be licensed to drive something more complicated, like a long-haul truck, you are required to have more advanced and specific licensing. The liability is different as well and so is the insurance. All of this makes sense, because driving a car carries with it certain risks and therefore liabilities.
This is not different from gun ownership. If you own a gun, you present a liability. As such, you should be required to prove competency. You should have to register it and update your registration showing your continued competency. Selling the gun should be trackable like with a car, so those who own guns with certain profiles don't do so without proper training, insurance etc.
So, why would the insurance lobby want to involve itself in this battle? Profits. There are millions of guns and gun owners in this country and insuring them would create new revenue streams for the companies. They would of course, analyze the risk ratios and create premiums based on a profile, like with a driver. Teenagers pay higher premiums than do 45 year olds etc. History of violence would make you higher risk and the like. As such, the insurance companies would be able to help shape the laws that regulate our guns and they would do so with huge coffers and leverage. As such they would be able to make owning an AK 47 more difficult and expensive to ensure than a pistol. And all of this would be based on economics: let the market decide.
Would this mean the end of gun violence? No. Would this eliminate the those dedicated to atrocity from having any access to mass murder weapons? No. But it would require that the guns and ammunition that exists in our shoot-em-up cowboy country be tethered to some responsibility.
I think this would be a first step in the maturing of our relationship with guns. I'm sure these measures would be supported by the police and teachers and probably many other organizations. So there would be some political strength behind this.
Ultimately, I would like to stop the most hysterical and selfish elements of our society from dominating the will of whole.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Economic Desertification

Economics can be confusing.  Economics can be difficult.  Economics can be boring and economics can be dry.  As such, the majority of people (not merely Americans) have virtually no understanding of economics beyond their own checkbook balancing.  And as such, we are subject to counterfeit economic theories, like trickle-down or voodoo economics.  When George HW Bush called trickle-down economics voodoo, it was because he understood how an economy functions and it wasn’t by these dubious principles.  Unfortunately, there is enough vested interest in trickle-down economics by those who benefit from it and a clever enough story to be told underneath it, that the theory has managed to manipulate our political and economic landscape for 30 plus years now.   In doing so there has been an extreme consolidation of wealth among the very few and as such an increase in the breadth and depth of poverty.  If you understand how economics work, then you understand these are natural and obvious results.  But like I mentioned, most of us don’t.  So my attempt here is to break this down into an understandable way of seeing economics.
                First of all it is clear to me that the empirics of trickle-down economics are meaningless.  By this I mean that we have seen how they work (more accurately how they don’t work other than to funnel money to the richest) and we hear over and over how they don’t work.  But this message doesn’t penetrate.  I think it’s similar to telling someone what’s wrong with a nuclear reactor.  They may or may not believe you, but the complexity of the issue means that their belief resides purely in faith.  But I feel like if you can create a modest level of understanding, then the belief resides in something more solid. 
                So how do we get there?  I’m going to try and create some simple economic images and metaphors in a hope to relate why it’s a faulty theory.  To start with, we must understand that the money supply, although in constant expansion and contraction based on GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is essentially a finite amount at any given point (there is only so much money).  As such, if a small amount of people have a large amount of money, that leaves a smaller amount of money to be shared among a large amount of people (duh?  I know, but follow me).  So, when a small amount of people have a large amount of money and also don’t contribute to the general welfare then the money becomes stuck.  Why stuck?  Because there is no economic pressure to circulate the money.  When a poor or working class person makes a dollar, that dollar or at least a large percentage of that dollar is spent: buying food, paying rent, bills, entertainment etc.  When a wealthy person makes a dollar, that dollar goes on a pile for it is not needed.  Therefore, the working class dollar creates demand for goods and services.  Demand for goods and services, requires people to be hired to produce, deliver and distribute those goods and services.  By hiring those people to do these things you have more people with more money.  They buy things which creates demand, which necessitates hiring and the cycle builds.
                      When the dollar is on a large pile and no pressure is on that dollar to circulate in the economy, that dollar stagnates, effectively choking the economy.  When large amounts of money become stagnant, then it is difficult for an economy to grow, create jobs and more wealth because the money that does circulate in the economy is too small to feed growth.  As an analogy, look at a rainforest.  In a rainforest, the thick foliage absorbs the rain from the clouds, utilizes it and it evaporates up into the clouds again, where it becomes dense and then rains back down.  This precipitation cycle is equivalent to what an economy gets when the roots of the economy, the working class, have access to money.  If the precipitation is taken from the rainforest, somehow the water is captured, the rainforest dries up.  The symbiosis of precipitation and foliage dies.  When the plants die, then there is no longer a vehicle for the precipitation to circulate.  Once the desert is created, even if you reintroduce the water, the water is no longer useful for creating a rainforest.  It merely dissipates and the desert remains barren.  Now, removing the water from a rainforest is not a likely scenario.  But deforestation is.  And when the rainforest is cut down, what remains?  A desert.  Not because there was not water in the region inherently, but because it is the plant life that beckons the rain.  In the economy, it is the wide spread demand of the working class that fuels the economy.  And when the money all goes to a very small amount of people, then the economic desert encroaches and the ability to repair the situation becomes more difficult.
                Part of the problem with trickle-down economics is that the narrative is compelling.  “Rich people are job creators.”  And “Taxing the rich is punishing success.”  Both of these things have enough logic in them that it’s easy to fall for.  It’s like saying it’s obviously hotter on top of a mountain because it’s closer to the sun.  Or there is no gravity because of helium balloons.  If you don’t understand the nuance of these scenarios it’s easy to be fooled. 
                So, rich people are job creators.  Perhaps this has some merit, but it is not the whole story.  Like with the rain analogy, the clouds are rain producers, no?  But without the rainforest, the cycle becomes stagnant and the rain goes away…desert.  It’s the same with workers.  Workers create the demand for goods and services and as such prime the economic pump.  If people en masse don’t make enough money it becomes and economic desert.   It is also important to note here, that when a worker makes a living wage, they not only create demand for goods and services, but they have the means to create their own industry, invent new business and products.  It is completely false that only the wealthy invent industry and innovation.  But it is very difficult for someone to create when their immediate economic needs are not met or when they can’t afford the startup costs for a business, or when their credit is destroyed by financial tragedy. 
                As far as punishing success, this is the ultimate in insanity for two reasons.  First of all, like the clouds ultimately get the rain back from precipitation, the wealthy get richer from a healthy working class.  Their businesses expand due to the growth in demand.  The problem is that the working class and the poor do better as well and that seems to be some immoral aspect to the voodoo economic pundits.  It’s not enough that they win, but you must lose.  Trickle-down does this.  It’s not better for the rich, but it’s worse for the poor.  So you have winners and losers, which, for some reason, the wealthy want.
               And secondly, taxing the rich is an appropriate expectation.  Why?  Well, if you go to the store and take your kids to school and to the park, you use public infrastructure and domains.  Your taxes help pay for the roads and sewers etc. and the military that keeps you and your kids safe.  But who uses the roads and airports etc. more: you and your family or UPS?  I would think that UPS has many trucks and airplanes using the roads and airports in disproportion to you or me.  As such, they are more beholden to pay for the infrastructure that they benefit from and the military that allows their supply chains to operate unimpeded.  So asking major business to pay its fair share isn’t punishing success.  It is asking for the appropriate contribution to the civilization it prospers in.
                So when you hear that reducing the taxes of the very wealthy will create jobs, don’t believe it.  Not on faith.  Not on empirics, but from an understanding that reducing the taxation of the very wealthy removes money from the economy, shrinking it for the rest to battle over.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Inka Trail

This morning started with less tension and with warm sunshine energizing us as we ate breakfast in the most amazingly scenic place I've ever had the pleasure of dining. This makes the walk up worth it...that and the fact that we're only halfway up to the trail head, so at least we have a head start. After breakfast, everyone is excited to start the hike. Ricardo (our other guide) says we have to put on war paint first. He has some exotic fruit and uses a cotton swab to paint designs on our faces. Apparently the paint is also sunscreen.
Painted and ready for war, we hit the trail. The first half hour starts where yesterday left off...straight up hill. Switchbacks and vertical. My mind is trying to freak out, because there is no way I can do 6 hours of this.
We learn that there are two forms of time in Peru: Peruvian time and Inka time. Peruvian time is very loose. If you say an hour it could mean 4. Inka time is apparently more accurate. This uphill climb is suppose to take about a half hour. I'm praying that's Inka time. Turns out it is. It's amazing how hard this is. After climbing the second highest plateau in the world at Lake Titicaca I felt like a super hero and the altitude here is about 5000 feet lower,so it should be easy...but it's not.
After about a half hour of climbing, we see a sign that says, "Inka Trail". It has a name, but it's too foreign for me to remember which one it was. Here, the trail flattens a bit.
The path is fairly narrow, at times maybe two and a half feet wide. As the trail flattens, it also leaves the area of the jungle where the path is flanked on both sides with ground. At this point our left side is a sheer cliff that drops hundreds of feet straight down. I can't enjoy the magnificent scenery because I'm too concerned with my footing and slight worries about Dylan. He's doing fine, but if he falls my sister told me I had to bring back two kids of at least equal value. I have no idea how I'd pull this off. The walk isn't bad. The trail goes up some then down some, then flat for a bit. The path is generally made of well placed stones, but they can be slightly uneven. And considering one bad slip and you're gone, this seems pretty extreme. My mind drifts occasionally to some perverse memories (RIP Angela). I try desperately to rid my mind of any such thoughts. After a good while of hiking, we come to small area that jets out from the trail. This is a good place to stop and rest a bit although it's in direct sunlight and quite hot. Ricardo tells us more stories of the Inka past. Dylan, at 15 can't allow for such learning in the Summer so he is fooling around behind the group. I look over after a while to see what he's doing. He's balancing on a wobbly rock RIGHT FUCKING NEXT TO THE CLIFF!!! This cliff drops straight down for HUNDREDS of feet. I just about shit and have a heart attack at the same time. "Dyaln, come here please." I say as calmly as I can, trying not to startle him into falling to his death. Then I come unscrewed. "WHat the #$^* are you doing?" He seems satisfied that he had one foot on stable ground. UGH! Sun weary the group is ready for more hiking. The lunch spot is not far.
We hike for another half hour and arrive to the lunch spot. There are some hammocks and a water spigot. We wet our hair and relax a bit before settling down for lunch. What?? No chicken, rice and french fries??? This lunch was spaghetti with an appetizer of avocado and hot sauce. SOO GOOD! Especially with our hungers being what they were.
We're all in good spirits. Our group is diverse. Three English fellows, a dutch man, four Germans, two Israelis, a French couple, and a hand full of Americans.
The Dutch guy and I are hitting it off well. He's a very interesting guy who was traveling through Asia recently, stayed at various ashrams was accepted by a famous guru as a disciple, met Mother Meera twice. I really like him and we began sharing stories.
After dinner, we continued our long day of walking. The sheer cliff narrow path of death part of the trail seemed to be over and replaced by a more reasonable and relaxing path. Again the path had some ups and downs,but nothing like the extreme vertical to the villa.
After a couple of hours we come to a stream. We cross the stream via a rickety wooden bridge. On the other side our guides encourage us to stop and swim in the water. After hours of hiking in the hot sun this is welcome and refreshing. Dylan is playing at full kid level. They begin to build a small dam to pool the water for better soaking. It's never actually used, but it's enjoyable watching the construction as they slip on the rocks and splash in the cold water.
Because the day of hiking is so long, when they say it's only an hour more, that seems really close. Normally an hour walk would mean we're driving.
As we walk the last hour we get excited as we approach the town of Santa Theresa. We are on the opposite side of the river from the town and have to take a hand/gravity propelled cable cart across the river. This is mildly thrilling and on the other side there begins another vertical trek. SERIOUSLY!?!?! There are only a few switchbacks, however and we arrive at the hot springs, worn and ready to relax. There are three pools of water, each with a slightly different temperature. We all enjoy the soak for about and hour and a half. Then we crack open a few beers and reflect on the day. The sun is setting and serenity is taken us over.
We then go to dinner in Sant Theresa. I order spaghetti again (so tired of rice and french fries). At this point, our group is joined by another Israeli and a woman from Australia. They are a fun couple.
The English group asks me for permission to buy Dylan a beer. "Of course, but I doubt he'll drink it."
After dinner, I'm spent. I go to bed. I'm alone in this geriatric display, however. The rest of the group continues to party. Apparently Dylan has his first beer (maybe his second too). Word has it he was shy about buying it, but the English fellows assured him it was okay. He went to the store, order it, paid for it. Drank it, and all accounts suggest he crushed the can on his forehead in macho fashion. The group loves Dylan and his 15-year-old-ness.
Tomorrow, zip-lining. Although I'm looking forward to this, I'm particularly excited for Dylan. I think he'll love zooming across the jungle on a cable.
Viva mas amigos!

The Inka Jungle Tour

We got into Cuzco tired (as usual) and curious as to the next chapter, the final chapter really, of our adventure. After we got settled into our rooms one of our guides for the tour (Carlos) came and introduced himself and told us what to expect. There was an element to the briefing that felt like he was saying, "Are you sure you want to do this? It's hard!" We expressed our excitement, regardless of how much we had to muffle our concerns. We went to town and bought a few things for the four day adventure (flashlights, snacks etc.). I tried to go to bed early, but my mind wasn't having any of that. So the morning came extra early.
We got into the van and began rounding up the other 18 or so from their respective hotels. The morning was cold and this validated my packing of almost exclusively cold weather gear. Cuzco was warmer than Puno (shit, Antarctica probably is) but I didn't know what the trek would entail and better safe...yada yada yada.
After we gathered the other trekkers we set off for a few hours up hill. We stopped briefly for breakfast, where we began to warm up our social skills and introduce ourselves a bit. It's a good group, friendly and excited. At first glance I suspect they're all Lance Armstrongs.
Eventually we get to the top of the mountain at 14,100 feet above see level. We're in a cloud and it's so cold my fingers can't move (and I need them for a thing called breaking). We eventually get all of our safety gear on and begin the 36 mile bike ride.
At first everyone is nervous and tense. What are we doing. The safety briefing was basically, "Don't be dumb and you'll live." Comforting. As we began to ride the wind on our hands stiffened our already cold and numb phalanges. However, the cold of our bodies relented to the magic of riding bikes through the Andes mountains. It's breathtaking! I want you all to have my eyes, because there is just too much to photograph or describe. The wisps of clouds linger around the peaks and lush jungle canopy and forest densely drape the landscape in all directions. Small waterfalls provide contrast and background music to the overwhelming aesthetic. As we descend, the sun begins to break through the clouds providing warmth and illuminating the already gorgeous scenery. Wow!
Dylan, who was perhaps the most nervous at the beginning expresses, "This is AWESOME!". Yes it is.
We take breaks every 10 miles or so we can take pictures and get a collective sense of how everyone is doing. I'm cruising. I'm having no problems with this ride and I'm loving it.
As we get slightly past halfway, there is a small stream that is crossing the road. I make the brilliant decision to try and do a little bunny hop with the bike to avoid some of the water spray. I'm going a little too fast and a little to sideways when I make this decision. The bike slides out from under me and zooms to the edge of the road and then into the cement drainage. I tumble, roll and stand up, slightly skinned up and bruised. I'm okay! Whew, that was dumb. And I was worried about Dylan...
My confidence is slightly rattled and my bike isn't as tuned as it was. I continue the ride with a much slower pace and with less unhinged joy in my heart. At the bottom, we all share how awesome it was and large smiles and bright eyes have taken over everyone's faces. It's a great start to the day.
We get shuttled off to a restaurant for lunch. Chicken, rice and french fries...this will become a motif.
After lunch, those who signed up for rafting follow their guide. The rest of us (the majority) head of for a "little" hike to our cabin.
The description of this hike leads us to believe it will be 45 minutes or so of tromping around. I guess that would be the case if you're a sherpa. This hike is so vertical that it seems like we should be using ropes and harnesses. It is NOT no problem. This is definitely a problem. There are approximately 1 million switchbacks up the hill. Each one seems to require a short breather. About half way up we get to a house where we can rest a minute. Luckily, there is a monkey fucking a bear and that entertains us for 10 minutes while I get my breath back. Also, turkeys and ducks walk around looking at us like we're foreigners. Smart ass turkeys. Waite till November bitches.
We continue our 1 million switchback hike straight up hill. I fall behind a bit and get confused at a fork in the road. I was taught if you come to a fork in the road, take it. Well, I take the wrong path. I realize this quickly though and return to take the other wrong path. Through the process of elimination I get righted and Carlos finds me. I'm out of breath and somewhat daunted by the difficulty of this hike. He is so cool! He asks me, "Do you have to be somewhere later?" Knowing I didn't I began to relax and understand that my pace was fine. After what seemed like forever, we get to the little villa where we will stay (who builds a house here?) I have an acute case of runners high. I am overjoyed! My smile is as big as the Andes and I feel like a super-hero. Dylan is wound up like an 8 day clock. Everyone is his friend and he's working his 9th grade A material on these people. They are so polite and nice. He's probably a little high too.
After a couple of hours, the rafters show up. It's dark and they had the same hike, but without the pleasure of seeing in advance how fucking high and far they'd be hiking. There is some chatter about the hike but most agree, we feel great!
After dinner we are given a history of Quechua (multiple spelling options) and their religion. It's a nice story about the moon and the sun and their divorce and how the coyote got mixed up in the middle. Everyone is tired though and attention spans are thin. Eventually the story ends and there is a mad dash to bed. Tomorrow, 6 plus hours of hiking the Inka trail. (they keep saying it's the easy day). Ugh!
Viva mas amigos

Monday, June 18, 2012

Southern Cross

When you see the southern cross for the first time,
you understand now why you came this way,
cuz the truth you might be running from is so small,
but it's as big as the promise, the promise of a coming day...

We left Puno in a boat with about 20 other passengers to visit a few islands in the Lake Titicaca. Each island offered different elements of wonder. The first island was a floating island, and that is to say that they make the island and it doesn't attach to the lake floor. It is anchored by 18 small tethered weights and the island is purposely made up of thatch and mud that supports the various agriculture that is indigenous to the area. By doing this, they insure they have a built in source of irrigation and the islands last for several years (sometimes 30) before the mulch becomes too rotten.
The island is a natural source of tourist activity too, which further justifies it's creation. We took a hand paddled boat that loosely resembled an old viking ship to another floating island where our regular boat picked us up and we set off to the first of three regular islands.
We arrived at the island where we would stay the night after about three hours in the boat. There we met our host mother who was as sweet as cartoon candy. She made us some soup and tea and we (Dylan, Michael and I along with a couple from New York/India and a young woman from England) all then took a short nap before the hike.
After about an hour of down time, we meet our guide in the main square which was about a ten minute walk....straight up hill. There seemed to be some commotion with some of the other's vouchers. After waiting this out and catching our breath, we began a hike to the second highest plateau on Earth. This hike took about an hour and with the vertical challenge combined with the altitude (
13,800 feet above sea level) this was a very challenging hike. Several times I doubted my ability to complete this challenge. But we kept hiking and eventually, breathless we arrive at the top. The air is thin, the hike is brutal but we feel aglow from the hike. And, instead of feeling spent and daunted by the hike down I feel like I could finally breathe. I felt strong and my breath wasn't an issue for the first time in days. This hike seemed to expedite the acclimation to the altitude. Awesome! The view of the lake from the plateau is amazing and I arrive just as the sun is setting. This plateau is considered an ancient source of power and a place of union of feminine and masculine energy. So, when you reach the top you are to place four stones from the ground into the wall to represent a prayer for you health, love, wealth and joy. I liked this little ritual.
The hike down is easy, I can breath and gravity is doing most of the work. When we reach our home stay, the mother has made another delicious soup. After sating ourselves on the local staple, we then get dressed in traditional Cetchwa clothing to go to a dance. The dance is lively as it is full of locals and travelers dressed similar to me and my fellow travelers. The dance ends early, which is welcome despite the fun, for it's been a long day and another early rise is upon us. As we leave the dance I see the southern cross broadcasting it's sky domination to those in this hemisphere. Wow! It was truly a vision. And if that weren't enough, the whole sky was unencumbered by light and stars shone bright and they all wanted to show off at the same time. This was the brightest star display I've ever seen. Time for sleep...
The time machine is working again and I wake up several times in the night. which feels fine, especially coupled with more views of the star speckled ceiling.
In the morning we give the host family some small gifts and tips and thank them for such a nice stay. The mom makes peruvian pancakes. After breakfast we get back in the boat and head to the third island. There we hike up to another plateau. This one is not as high and I'm feeling like a machine now....altitude be damned. After we learn of the local economy of we walk down the 540 or so steps to the boat. A three hour boat ride brings us back to Puno where we are happy to rest and meet some of our fellow travelers at Machu Pizza for a nice dinner. Sleep then off to Cuzco to start the Inka (spelled like the outfitters spell it_) Jungle tour. This will be hours and hours of hiking, biking, zip-lining and hot springing on our way to Machu Picchu.
Viva mas amigos!