A Travellerspoint blog

Back in the USA

And recovering....

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Ok everyone, so now I'm finally back in the US of A! Happy 4th and all that jazz. I got home on July 1st, and promptly went to the doctor the next day, where I was diagnosed with pneumonia. Hooray! It's okay, though, because here it's actually hot, and I can recover! I was given 2 weeks of antibiotics, and I'm already feeling better, day by day. I feel kind of bad about the last posting, I was just really sick and fed up with the cold weather and ready to come home. I don't want you to think I didn't have fun, though! So I'm going to expand on my time spend in Cusco, and include some MACHU PICCHU pix, of course! I'll also fill you in on what I did in Bolivia (read: World's Most Dangerous Road!).

So let's get started!

Here are some of the cute cuy (guinea pigs) that abound in this small restaurant where we got breakfast the first day of the trek. They have no idea they're going to be dinner!

Then we had to drive a little (about 2 hours) to where we would be dropped off and the walking would begin. The roads were extremely small, and this huge truck was down the road, so we all had to get out and the car had to turn around and go back to somewhere wide enough so the truck could pass. What a great way to start out the trek!

This is Jasmine and me on the morning of the first day of the trek. Don't we look so happy? Haha, we have NO idea what is coming.

These are coca leaves, a staple of Andean life. We all had them, and the horseman had a huge wad of them in the side of his mouth the entire 5-day trek. The are the leaves from which cocaine is made, but they are not cocaine. They are just the coca leaves, and you chew them and pass the juice to feel their effects. You can also make tea:

I chewed them, and my mouth went numb. I don't think I passed enough of the juice, though (it was DISGUSTING), because I really didn't feel a change in my energy level at all.

Ok, so here are just a few pix of the trek:

This is our camping site for the first night, the coldest night, -5° Celsius, 23° Fahrenheit. It was SOOO COLD! Thank God I had brought my mom's thermals (pants and a shirt). I wore those, then I wore tights, running pants, and another pair of pants over them. I furthermore wore 2 undershirts, 2 t shirts, 2 long sleeved shirts, a sweater, a jacket, a hat, a pair of gloves, a pair of mittens, and 3 pairs of socks. I still could only sleep for about an hour at a time, miserably. Then I woke up, saw the frost on the outside of the tent, and was sick. I believe THIS was the night I got bronchitis.

This is the highest point we reached on the trip, 4100 meters, or 13,500 feet, or 2.5 miles in the air.

Here is a video of it. Our guide is playing the kena (he's not too good at it; I definitely met other people who were better! Hahah, but he's trying.)

More pix from the trek:
This little boy watched us while we had lunch:
Our cook:
Us with our guide in the tent:
LAYERS WERE SO IMPORTANT! We went from freezing, to extremely hot, to freezing again within hours!
We went to a hot springs on the third day, and had a MUCH needed rest in 90° F water for about 3 hours. When we got out, we were so pruny!
This little monkey lives at the hot springs, and was very mischievous!
Having fun under the waterfall at the hot springs!
Then, to save money, we walked the train track instead of taking the train. It was only 8 km (5 miles), but I was so sick it was a really difficult walk (but pretty!).
And now...MACHU PICCHU! The pictures don't really capture it (obviously)...It's just so big and huge and so high in the mountains and wonderful!
The llamas just live there, hangin' around.
Everything was so symmetrical, even the shadows!
This is the Andean cross (the top half is stone, the bottom half is made up of the shadow). An explanation from Wikipedia:
The stepped cross is made up of an equal-armed cross indicating the cardinal points of the compass and a superimposed square. The square represents the other two levels of existence. The three levels of existence are Hana Pacha (the upper world inhabited by the superior gods), Kay Pacha, (the world of our everyday existence) and Ucu or Urin Pacha (the underworld inhabited by spirits of the dead, the ancestors, their overlords and various deities having close contact to the Earth plane).
This llama seems to be lost...

So then we took a train back to Cusco, where some lovely and lively French people (who had plenty of wine) sang us some French songs on the ride back!

Then we were back in Cusco, and I was REALLY sick. I had to stay in bed for days in a row, sadly. I wanted to explore, but I just could not. Once I finally got some of my energy back, I was able to explore, and the city was hosting the Sun Celebration, the most important celebration of the year.
SOOO many people!

Here is a video of the dancing and celebrations:

This is the 12 point stone, the most famous stone in Cusco, because 12 was an important number for the Incans (12 months in the year, 12 points on the Incan cross, etc). These stones are all held together without mortar.

I just enjoyed this:
To translate, it says Welcome tourists, natives, travellers, and extraterrestrials.

The day before we left Cusco, Jasmine and I took a horseback riding trip around and through the mountains of Cusco.
This is Sacsayhuamán, some more famous ruins in Cusco. The funny locals sometimes call it Sexy Woman (it really is pretty much pronounced like that). Again, from Wikipedia (just easier to have someone else explain it, because I probably would leave stuff out or get it wrong!).

Like much Inca stonework, there is still mystery surrounding how they were constructed. The structure is built in such a way that a single piece of paper will not fit between many of the stones. This precision, combined with the rounded corners of the limestone blocks, the variety of their interlocking shapes, and the way the walls lean inward, is thought to have helped the ruins survive devastating earthquakes in Cuzco. The longest of three walls is about 400 meters. They are about 6 meters tall. Estimated volume of stone is over 6,000 cubic meters. Estimates for the largest limestone block vary from 128 tons to almost 200 tons. The Spanish harvested a large quantity of rock from the walls of the structure to build churches in Cuzco, which is why the walls are in perfect condition up to a certain height, and missing above that point (Me: SOOOOO FRUSTRATING/DESTRUCTIVE/UNFORTUNATE. Sacsayhuamán is also noted for an extensive system of underground passages known as chincanas which connect the fortress to other Inca ruins within Cuzco.)

This is one last picture of Cusco, taken from above the city, on our way back from Sacsayhuamán.

So I thought I would put it all in one post, but it is quite a bit, so I think I will leave Bolivia for another post. But don't worry, it won't be long for me to post it! I love you all!

Posted by HolaCait 12:57 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Still in Cusco...

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Okay, so this was a draft that I kept because I wanted to upload photos, but as I have gone to about 4 different internet cafes in Bolivia and I cannot upload them, I will just post it now. Sorry guys. I am in Bolivia now and once again, sick as hell. I am coming home in a week and just spend 3 days in the biggest salt flats in the world in Bolivia. One night we spent at 4800 m above sea level, and the temperature was -15º C (0º Farhenheit). No wonder I´m sick. My mom just told me that it was 101 today in Texas, and I can´t wait to get back to warm weather. So that is my quick update now, as I have to go catch a bus, but here is the post from about a week ago that was waiting for photos. Love and miss you guys!

Okay, I know I haven`t posted in a long time, but one word should clear things up: bronchitis. Yep, I got it either on the trek to Machu Picchu or after. So once we got back, I spent about 3 days straight in bed. A very nice English-speaking doctor came to see me at my hostel (a $50 house call!) and diagnosed me. I am feeling much better now, so don`t worry. I`m on the last day of the antibiotics, and I have regained my energy (before I was so tired and just had to sleep all day long).

So I guess you´re wondering about the trek. Here are a few descriptors: nose bleeds, -5 º C at night (23º F for anybody wondering), 4300 m altitude (2.7 miles), 38 km (23 miles) walked over a 4 day period, approximately 40 (we counted) mosquito bites, and this may be TMI, but diarrhea into a hole in the ground. However, those were just the tough parts. We went to a hot springs, experienced life outside of roads and highways and people, saw the most amazing views from 2.5 miles in the air, and saw Machu Picchu, the huge Incan city built in the 1400s where the blocks of stone are cut to fit together tightly without mortar (truly exceptional). Simply amazing. I don`t know what words I can say to describe it, and the pictures don`t really do it justice either, but I`ll include some here. (update: won´t work)

Sorry guys, this is not going to be a very long post because I just found out that I have lost about 300 pictures from my flash drive from Lima, Trujillo, and Ica, so I`m pretty sad right now.

But again, you may have noticed the name change on the blog, which now says Bolivia. We have been stuck in Cusco because of a strike of the workers on the roads and highways. We thought it would only last 24 hours, so we waited a day, then another, then another, and the companies kept telling us, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. Finally, the government began talks with the strikers, and the strike will now go on indefinitely. So we have no way of going south, to get to Puno, the city right by lake Titicaca, or Arequipa, another city in Peru we wanted to visit. After those places we were going to go to south to Chile, but we had to change our plans. The cheapest and most time-efficient way of getting out of Cusco is a flight to La Paz, Bolivia. There we will be able to access lake Titicaca from the opposite side, and we are going to spend probably 2 weeks there. I only have 4 weeks left on this trip, and I`m not sure how I would leave Bolivia to get to Santiago for my flight home, so I think I may be cutting the trip short and just flying home from Bolivia. In this way, I can`t see Chile or Argentina, but I`m not too sad; South America will still be there in the future! I miss home quite a bit too, especially when I was sick and bored in my bed all day long. Going home early will give me 2 more weeks with my family and friends before I start med school, which I think is a good thing.

Posted by HolaCait 13:27 Archived in Peru Comments (1)

Màs de Trujillo, y ahora, Cusco!

This altitude thing is not too fun. Houston, I miss your -4 feet altitude!

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Well hello again friends. How I miss you all. So I was just at an internet cafe for quite a while updating this blog, and then the computer froze and I lost everything. So I`ll try to remember what I had written.

So as you may have noticed, I changed the name of the blog to 8 Weeks in Peru, Chile, and Argentina. After some more planning by Jasmine and me, we figured out that I had time to go to Argentina also! Jasmine was going to go anyway, but now I`ll go with her for maybe a week or two.

So where did I leave off last. Ah, Trujillo. We spend a few more days in the city with the friends of our former roommates, and we explored a little more. We went to the Mall in Trujillo, a fun outing and it reminded us of home. It was a huge outdoor shopping center with lots of clothing stores, like a mall in the US, but it also had a Home Depot-type store, and 2 grocery stores. They had shopping carts too, so people were walking in and out of the clothing, jewelery, and electronic stores pushing carts, which was kind of funny to see. And people were dressed up in costumes all over the mall, advertizing things or performing. These people were from Papa Johns:

And this guy was just a performer. Notice how the children are in awe of him, yet he is pointing his gun straight at him. They are enamored of this man, and I don`t know how I feel about it. He is glorifying violence, but at the same time, he is shiny and eye-catching, so maybe the children don`t fully understand and are just taken away with the bright colors and action.

So on Monday, we decided to head out to Huanchaco, a short 20-minute bus ride from Trujillo, and a wonderful beach town.



We stayed at this hostel:

How could we pass it up? And for 10 soles a night ($3.33 USD), it was a steal. We even had our own bathroom. We took long, hot showers both days we were there (and there was light!).
Here is what our room looked like:
Excuse the mess, but it was high class for us.

Then, we had surfing lessons!
It was really difficult, but Jasmine and I both got up on the board and hung 10 (is that right?) for at least 5 seconds a couple of times. Haha, we were awesome! And now we are obsessed. We went both days we were there, and I was so sore afterwards! We also just explored the beach area, which was beautiful.

These are fishermen, and they go out on these boats made of reed. They are called caballeritos because the fishermen hang a leg over either side, like horseback riding.

Once we had our fill of the beach town, it was time to hop on a bus back to Lima, so we could catch our flight to Cusco. This was not a bad bus ride, and we paid a lot less than we did to get there. We stopped for lunch, and here was the sign for the bathrooms:

We arrived in Lima around 11 pm, and our flight was not until 5:40 am, but we did not want to pay for a hostel, so we just headed to the airport. We slept a little there, but it was pretty uncomfortable. We also started our high-altitude medication in preparation for our arrival to Cusco. After the wonderful 6 hours in the airport, we finally were on our way to Cusco. Here is a shot of Cusco from the plane:

So we arrived yesterday and slept a lot. A LOT. And I didn`t have much trouble with the altitude, just my hands go numb every once in a while, but the company that is taking us to Machu Picchu on Saturday told me that that was normal and not to worry. I`ve also been drinking mate de coca, which is a leaf made from the coca plant. Yes, that coca plant. It has helped a little too. We organized the trip and paid the rest of the fee for Machu Picchu, washed clothes (hooray!) and explored Cusco.




Now I`m going to explore some more before our preparatory meeting for the Machu Picchu Trek. Apparently, the Salkantay Trek (the one we are taking) is one of the most difficult. Whoops. Wish it would have said that on the website! But we can handle it, I know we will. So until next time everyone, and get ready for some amazing pics from the top of Machu Picchu. Love and miss you all!

Posted by HolaCait 11:48 Archived in Peru Comments (7)


A short 10-hour bus ride North of Lima

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Well, here we are in Trujillo.

Hello again friends. This blogging thing is cool, but definitely time-consuming! So we are in Trujillo now, a 10-hour bus ride North of Lima. This is where one of my roommates from last year worked for 10 weeks. Its a great town, they say it`s eternal spring here. So in order to get here, Jasmine and I took a fancy overnight bus from Lima. We got the full cama seats, meaning that they seats fold all the way out to make a bed. Except that they didnt`t. Haha, they only leaned back about 2/3 of the way, but it was still comfortable. They had movie screens, brought us food and drinks, and had a welcome message just like on an airplane. The welcome video told us all about the bus, how it had wifi and a computer, how they would serve us food, and how the bathrooms are only for urinating. They repeat: Only for Urinating. I think that is a common theme here, as evidenced by the door at the internet cafe at which I am currently. 3Imagen_027.jpg

Anyway, back to the bus ride. Jasmine slept the whole time, while I woke up about every hour. I will NOT be paying for the first class full cama seats on the way back. So we got here and met up some friends of my roommates, with whom we are staying. When we got there, Pepe, the friend, said, oh and the light in the bathroom is out, I will fix it tomorrow. It`s been 3 days now, and we still have to shower in the dark. I use the flashlight application on my iPod, but it`s just not the same. We are going to move to a hostel at the beach on Monday though....looking forward to lit showers.

Here is a lovely archway in the city center of Trujillo:

A main attraction of Trujillo is Chan Chan, some awesome Pre-Incan ruins and the largest Pre-Columbian city in South America.

There were tons of tour groups of students, and we were like celebrities to them! They all asked if we could take a picture with them...

There was also a very small museum for Chan Chan, and I really enjoyed this. This one reenactment, for some reason, had a little boy with a dinosaur shirt on. I`m pretty sure they didn`t wear stuff like that in 850 A.D.

Then we went to the market in Trujillo, a HUGE place where all the vender have sooo much stuff and everyone as you walk by asks, what are you looking for, beautiful, do you want this? this? this? etc. Somewhat overwhelming, but incredibly enjoyable.
And these guys were sellng gum, and I had to take a picture. I ended up buying some. (1 sol, or 33 cents US)

The next day, we just explored the city:
And later on that night:

These cute cars are all over the city (and notice the woman smiling inside):

Today, we went to a casona, a really big house in the middle of the city. This one has been turned into a Club Privado (Private Club).

We ended our day with a trip to the....
(Museum of Toys)

Needless to say, the old dolls there were extremely creepy.
Why are they floating? you may ask. Me too.
Some were cool, though.

And so that`s it! You are updated! I am getting homesick, though. Especially at night when I`m about to sleep. I miss you all! And the cleanliness that I can maintain in the US. I always look down at my fingernails and all I can do is sigh. But my Spanish is improving vastly, and I am enjoying myself, it´s just kind of a strange feeling, knowing I will be here for 6 more weeks! I know I can do it though, and y`all will be with me the whole way! I love skyping and getting emails all the time, so don`t stop guys! Well that`s it for now, until next time! Love!

Posted by HolaCait 15:47 Archived in Peru Comments (3)

An Oasis, Paradise, then back to Lima

Jasmine`s finally here!

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At the main square in Lima:

Ok, sorry it`s been a few days, but I was in an oasis with no internet for a few days, enjoying the sun that apparently does not exist here in Lima.

I went 5 hours North by bus to La Huacachina, a small (I mean EXTREMELY small) town by Ica.

And this is the town:

Like I said, an oasis.

After staying in Lima until Saturday (a fun night out on the town with my German friend Susan and her friend Stella) I woke up and took a bus to Ica, a town recommended to me by the owner of my hostel in Lima. I go there when it was dark, so the next day when I woke up to see this as my hostel, I knew I had hit the right place.

So the town basically consisted of about 20 hostels, 1 hotel, 40 restaurants, and 1 big lake. The thing to do for fun there is sandboarding and sandbuggying, which is this:

And it was so much fun but soooooo hard! You can do it lying face down, which I did a few times, and you can also technically do it standing up, but I tried that and FACE PLANTED IT! BAD! No, I mean, I still have sand in my nose, and ears, 3 days and 3 showers later. Here was my face:
It`s kind of hard to tell, but I have sand all over it. And in my mouth. And probably in my stomach too because I`m pretty sure I ate some.

So anyway, I made a few friends there. Sarah, who likes to juggle.

That was by the OTHER pool at our hostel. Alas, I had to return to Lima to meet Jamsine, which I did on Monday.
So then we went exploring. These are of Lima, taken from Larco Mar, the main (and expensive!) shopping center in Lima:

This is taken from Lima Centro. At the top of the hill is a big cross (obv), and I think it`s dedicated to Christopher Columbus. Who knew?

This is from the catacombs in The Convent of San Fransico. There are over 200,000 people`s bones stored here, because when it was built in the 1500s, Lima was yet to have a cemetery.

Outside of the convent, there are hundreds of pigeons!

We also went to the Inquisition Museum in Lima...here`s a fun one. They also did waterboarding back then (Great idea, Bush! If it worked for the Inquisition, it`ll obviously work on the WAR ON TERROR!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Then we went to the National Museum in Lima and had a private, 2-hour tour that cost $5. For both Jasmine and me! Here are some of the artifacts held there:

And these are EARRINGS!! Haha, and only MEN wore them!

And we ended the day with a nice stroll back through Lima Centro, the moon shining...

Bueno, that`s all for now...until next time! To come: our 10 hour bus ride to Trujillo, and my first Peruvian massage!

Posted by HolaCait 19:41 Archived in Peru Comments (7)

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