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Back in the USA

And recovering....

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View Trip to South America on HolaCait's travel map.

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

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