Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 3: Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu... I'm sorry about the mountain of pictures in this post. Really words just can't do it justice... not that pictures are much better. Oh well, I'll give it a shot. Here we go, history lesson: Machu Picchu, the "Lost City of the Incas", is located about 8000 ft above sea level. This incredible city was built just over 500 years ago... around 1450 and abandoned 100 years later as a result of the Spanish Conquest. The city, in a word, is amazing. The architecture is incredible. Everything is dry stone... meaning they didn't use mortar, but fit the stones together in an incredible piece of craftsmanship. I know, it doesn't sound too impressive, but check out the size of the stones in one of my pics (stupid me, i didn't get a picture in front of the wall, so i'm using Rita to give you a size comparison).

I basically explored the city for the entire day. Around every corner, in every cranny...there was something spectacular. I have a ridiculously active imagination and really enjoyed imagining the people going about their daily lives 500 years ago. Some people go to Machu Picchu because they 'feel' the energy and power of the city and it's people/gods. I prefered to look out across the Andes and worhip my Lord for the incredible works of His hands... it's a beautiful world we live in for sure!

During the afternoon, i hiked up part of the Inca Trail to Wayna Picchu "young mountain" (Machu Picchu is 'old mountain'). You feel as if you're on top of the world in the city...and i climbed higher. I'm finally getting used to the altitude, so i could actually hike up the trail without stopping every five steps to catch my breath. I stopped every seven. :) haha, no, today wasn't as bad, seriously!

I really don't have words to describe the view from teh top, so I'm going to stop rambling and let you see for yourself. (and i have a million more pictures on facebook!)
I feel like i ought to be able to find some big bugs here... This little guy must be the baby. haha.

only one word for this place. WINDY! The zigzaggy line to the left... that's the road that we had to take to get to Machu Picchu. It was a crazy bus ride, let me tell you!
on top of the world... literally.


I swear this guy cocked his head at me when i went to take a picture.

Day 2: Ruins of Ollantaytambo

Woke up to this:

I could live here for a while. :)
We spent the better part of the morning in the town of Ollantaytambo, walking the streets, learning about the culture. People here use cacti for security. Everyone has cacti growing around their land instead of fences. It's really cool, especially because the cacti look like the tops of pineapple. :) Everywhere i look, it's like there are pineapple tops growing. too bad it wasn't true, cause i could have human sized pineapples if i could pull some of those cacti from the ground. In Ollantaytambo, everyone speaks Quechua. Although everyone knows Spanish as well, it was interesting to see street names and everything in Quechua first. Although i have to admit, it looks awesome! I've heard it's hard to learn though...

We walked to the ruins of Ollantaytambo, it wasn't far. Although the ruins aren't as well known as M.P. (what ruins are in Peru?) they were still pretty awesome. It was basically just terraces, but the view from the top was totally worth all the effort. I can't even tell you how hard it was to climb.... , it should have been easy. There were stairs... jaja.

After the ruins, we had free time to eat and then met back at the hotel. I went to the markets and bought a hoodie made from alpaca. It's brown, surprise! It's really cool though, and really warm. For lunch, choclo con queso! It's corn, more or less, but not as sweet and the kernels are enormous. Eaten with cheese, it's not bad. And the best part is that it only cost 1 sol 50. which, in your terms... is about 60 cents.

We went to the train station after lunch. Our train was to leave at three... we waited at the train station until almost 7:30. Peruvian time... have to love it! So, after a two hour train ride, we arrived in Aguas Calientes in time to check in at hotels and roam around trying to find a restaurant to eat dinner. Everything was ridiculously expensive! I ended up getting pancakes with pineapple (Yay pancakes!) I was so excited! But it cost me four dollars. lol. Cheap compared to actual meals...

Another freakin orange room! what is up with this???

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cusco, Machu Picchu Day 1

I'm going to rewind about a month and tell you about all of the trips i've been on. So, think back with me to Easter weekend (yeah, i know i'm late-sorry). With no classes Thursday and Friday, it seemed like a wonderful weekend to travel. So, away we went. Thursday morning, Becca and I were supposed to leave at 2:30 AM. Around 1:30, my brother Ernie knocked on my door, opened it, and switched the light on. Yeah, i wanted to protest like no one's business. I literally didn't finish packing till 11:42, so i only had two hours to sleep anyway, and he was interrupting those precious two hours. When he told me the flight was delayed and we didn't have to leave until six, i could have kissed the boy. lol. Yay for sleep!
A later flight meant less time in Cusco, but honestly, i don't think i would have enjoyed it as much if i hadn't gotten some sleep. I was actually awake when we flew into the city, so i got to see it (unlike Iquitos... still bitter about that). The Andes mountains are nothing like the Swiss Alps, but nevertheless, i love mountains! Still absolutely breathtaking!!!

Walking out of the airport, we were first offered coca leaves. Yeah, it's what you think it is. It's not considered a drug here though (although you are NOT allowed to take it with you when you leave). Tourists chew it in order to help with the altitude sickness. Or they just chew it so that they can say they had it, i'm not sure it does anything. I tried it, but I can't honestly say i felt the altitude before i chewed it, so i don't think it helped. jaja. Thankfully, i didn't get sick, but i certainly noticed it walking up stairs... I know i haven't worked out in two months (yes, i might die soon), but I have never felt so out of shape in my life!First stop was Valle Sagrado. Tons of little villages nestled in the Andes mountains. I loved the traditional clothing, but don't even want to think how long it took them to make, or how much it would cost. Mostly made from alpaca... pretty sweet, i know. It's so much softer and finer than wool... I'd love to be able to work with it, but I have a feeling it would be alot harder than these women made it seem. They showed us how to make all of the colors. It's incredible, but they can make 15 different shades of red by using 1 bug. It was quite fascinating! It takes 1 woman, 45 days to make a table runner from start to finish. I'm not exactly sure what prices were here, but trust me, they aren't making much money. For sure less than $50. That works out to just under a dollar a day. I tell you what though, if i could make myself clothes like that, i definitely wouldn't have to buy clothes!

It seems like every trip, i lose my heart to some random child... well, here he is for this one. If that's not completely adorable, i don't know what is. We traveled by bus and it was incredible to see the countryside change around every turn. This trip, pictures are going to have to speak louder than words... we ate lunch at a nice little restaurant in a nice little town that i can't remember the name of. Oops, anyway, from there we visited Seminario Ceramicas in Urubamba. The ceramics part was really interesting, but to be completely honest, i liked the flowers more. lol. It was beautiful!

After the exciting flowers we went to an Inca Bar. Yeah, i was thrilled let me tell you. There was this cool sort of game that reminds me alot of Mr. Frog. Does that game even work anymore? Anyway, i just know that it is based off of this game. It's at all of the Inca Bars, and you're supposed to play it before you drink and then after you drink. The object, of course, is to get the coin into the mouth of the frog. Good Luck. The drinks... were made of corn. Not exactly the most appealing thing i've ever heard of.

We also saw dinner... well, someone's dinner. :)

We spent the night in a town called Ollantaytambo. Yeah, try learning to spell that as a child. We stayed in an incredibly gorgeous hotel, and the best part was that since we are in high altitudes, there were three heavy blankets on each bed and an extra on the shelf. So, i had four blankets, three of which were alpaca (really warm) and a heater that i put right next to my bed. It was so unbelievably warm... i loved it! Teh only problem with the room was that everything was orange... talk about strange.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mist over Lima

Yeah, it's not uploading videos.... Nothing will upload on my computer... Go figure. Alright, i'm heading to bed since we're leaving the house at 5:15 tomorrow morning to go to the train station. :) Junin this weekend! Tomorrow, i will spend basically all day on a train. Basically, i'm psyched!

Before i go though, i have to tell you all: IT MISTED IN LIMA TODAY! Well, 'rained'. lol. sort of. I didn't think it was rain, but the security guard at Catolica (who always always talks to me) told me it was raining. And that it was cold! Last time i checked, fog is not rain, and 72 degrees is far from cold. Hahaha! I loved it! Made my day...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Classes are looking slightly better. Discovered that i need to put alot more work into understanding the readings. But basically, if i memorize everything, i do well. :) jaja. That means i need to manage my time better, we'll see how it goes.

I have officially decided that my brother Daniel... is Nathan. Only 29 instead of 17. So, if you all want to meet Nathan in 12 years, come to Peru and i'll introduce you. We all went out to eat Chifa (chinese) food one night and everything he did, from answering his phone, but not listening... to stealing food when no one was looking... to switching drinks with me because mine was full and his empty... to looking innocent when caught. It was hilarious! Unfortunately, this brother of mine has left Lima to chase him dream. He left this past week to play futbol professionally. Since his team is based in a city about 10 hours (by bus) to the north of Lima, he has moved there for the time being. he'll visit in May and periodically pass through Lima for games. Hopefully, when he's in town, i'll be able to go see a game. How totally sweet that would be!!! (p.s. check out the food! and that was only half of what we ordered! In all seriousness, chinese food in the states is nothing compared to this stuff!)

The only other really interesting thing that has happened to me, other than basic day-to-day confusion happened at the ISA welcome dinner. We had a cena de bienvenidas for the two new ISA students (their semester started even later than mine). We went to a sweet restaurant called Junius where there was a buffet. Can't lie, the dessert buffet was incredible, the food, wasn't as good. Anyway, there were dance performances during dinner. Traditional and others... some were sweet! There were these guys who danced with scissors. It was called "Scissor dance"; i know- innovative. jaja. But it was awesome, i think i have a video... i'll put it up. I took quite a few videos of stuff, sorry the quality isn't wonderful, but i'll put them up.

The fun part of the night came when one of the dancers came over to our table. I wasn't even really paying attention, until he stepped right beside my chair adn held out his hand. When i turned to look at him, he started to pull out my chair. He had my hand, so I didn't have much of a choice but to go with him onto the stage. (me, not knowing anything about dancing, I was the one chosen to dance) hahaha! It was a treat let me tell you! He was incredibly nice, and ridiculously good-looking but that couldn't hide the fact that i don't know the difference between my left foot and my right when i'm dancing. After about three minutes, he let me sit down again when everyone told me that I had done a really good job! And if i didn't know anything, they were sure surprised cause he sure made me look good. He's the trained professional, so it was more than likely his doing, but i like to think i've got some raw talent. lol. Ok, maybe not! Either way, it was sort of fun! :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


so, i just re-read the last post about school and realized just how depressing it sounds... and i can't leave you all feeling depressed when i got over that about two seconds after i wrote it. It really isn't all that bad. I do, however, have my first control/exam on Thursday for my history of Peru class. Therefore, i don' thave time to write much, as i'm currently working on reading the 120 + pages of reading that i didn't do while in Cusco this weekend.

On an up-note though, the reading is all in Spanish, so if there was any doubt of my actually practicing Spanish... no worries. Reading scholarly articles in Spanish isn't exactly the easiest 'studying' i've ever done in my life. :) Yay for Spanish! I do believe my English skills are continuously worsening, so please forgive my lack of grammatical correctness. :)

I did have a wonderful time in Cusco which i will tell you all about in a few days... aka after my control.

Monday, April 5, 2010


So, i haven't done so well at keeping up with everything, so we're going to do a post or two of review before i move on to Machu Picchu. First off, school/classes. I can literally sum up this part of my life in one word: lost.

I feel about as lost as an eskimo in the amazon. As international students, we didn't register for courses until the 22nd of March. If any of you remember, my semester did indeed start the 15th of March. Yes, i was also confused. The first week, we were able to attend whatever classes we liked in order to see what the class was like and if we wanted to take it for the whole semester. I was awfully glad for this week later, because i found out that the lit course i had gotten approved at GCC included almost 30 pages of writing, two exams, and one 30 minute presentation during the semester. Bottom line, i can't do that.

I also dropped the math class that i had wanted to take. This one didn't seem hard at all, so i was sort of sad i was dropping it. The problem was that there is a mandatory practica session every Saturday. I'm not taking classes on Saturdays, especially since that would mean missing all of the excursions with ISA. So, after a week of being lost completely, i am registered in two history courses and one religion class. Two of which will transfer to GCC, the other history is just an elective. 12 credits is technically still a full student and there is enough reading already, trust me.

The next problem that arises is that i needed four classes to transfer to GCC in order to finish both the English and the Spanish major. Yeah, obviously we have a problem. It looks like Spanish is winning out over the English, so i will graduate with a Spanish major and minors in both Bible and English.

Three weeks in right now and i can honestly say that i am still just as lost as before. I'm beginning to think that studying in Spanish isn't quite as easy as i had hoped. To top off the classes, there are no textbooks. Haha, yeah, ridiculous. Instead, they have lecturas... and a million photocopiers on campus. Basically, you have to go to the one fotocopier with the right paper and pay to get a copy made. Peruvians, to put it nicely, don't understand the concept of a line. It shows up everywhere! School, traffic... pathetic. My "oh you go ahead..." attitude doesn't work here. You either force your way in, or you wait for hours, or you don't get your assignment. Those are the only three options. I don't have time for option 2 and option 3 isn't really an option... so i push my way through and make everyone mad because i get up there and am like, "uh, i need something for this class with this prof... i think it's by this author". jaja oh well. It's quite an experience. :)