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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Monday, March 09, 2009

Peru

We are back from Peru! We flew overnight from Boston, arriving in Lima early Saturday morning. Our first day in Lima, we visited the city center with its churches and bone-filled crypt and walked to the ocean. The next day, we took a taxi about 25 miles (for only $15) to Punta Hermosa, the nearest beach with surfable waves. Chris surfed and then we ate cerviche at a nearby restaurant and took the local bus back. The driver would veer through parking lots and dirt paths to go around traffic; as we neared Lima, we also had a chance to see the huge slums from our window. I hadn't realized previously that Lima is a desert city - the only green areas are aggressively watered grass.



From Lima, we flew to Cusco, a city almost 11,000 feet above sea level. I could feel my heart pounding as I walked up even a slight hill. Chris and I drank coca tea, which supposedly cures elevation sickness - I don't know if it really helped or not. We stayed three nights in Cusco at El Nino hotel, an establishment run by a Swedish woman who donates all proceeds to pay for food and housing for homeless children. All of the rooms are named after children - we stayed in the "Oscar" room. Here's are pictures of our hotel courtyard and of breakfast with coca tea and purple corn jam.

Street dogs roam everywhere in Cusco, some gaunt, some frisky and all very friendly. One dog followed us all the way from Plaza de Arma, the city center, to our hotel room. Chris wouldn't let me pet any of the dogs, but we still made friends with "Pepito" that night.
Cusco has lots of churches and museums. We walked through the Cathedral via audio tour - one story I found interesting was that when the Spanish Catholics arrived in Cusco and began building churches, they enticed the locals inside with mirrors. The Incans had never seen their reflections (except perhaps in water), and the only place to look into a mirror was at the church. As we walked through the city, little kids constantly begged for money or tried to sell us finger puppets or paintings - one kid followed us for about fifteen minutes claiming he needed money for new school shoes. He kept saying, "Why you no buy me shoes for school?" Other children dressed up in costumes carrying baby animals and willingly posed for pictures for 1 soles.

Our second day in Cusco, we rode horseback through the Andean hills. I thought Chris' horse was going to drop dead it kept puffing so much, poor thing. Mine was very ornery - it kicked another horse once and also tried to bite Chris' horse twice. We stopped for a half hour at some ruins - the day was cool with bright sunlight - perfect - and we stretched out on the grass and looked at the hills for a while.
Our third day in Cusco, we took a three hour train ride to another town and from there a bus that veered along the switchback road leading upward to Macchu Picchu. It was an incredible sight. Llamas roam the grass in the ruins, keeping it short and neat.
Macchu Picchu was a whole day event, and we didn't get back to Cusco until after 9:00. The next day we flew back to Lima and spent a couple hours in the city before catching another plane to the jungle town of Iquitos, which is only accessible by plane or boat. We stayed the night at La Casa Fitzcarraldo, where portions of the movie Fitzcarraldo were shot. The hotel has a great pool and an incredible three story tree house.


The next day our tour guide picked us up and took us forty minutes by boat into the jungle. We had previously booked a two day/one night tour of the jungle/Amazon River. On our first boat ride, we saw dolphins jumping out of the water. There were about twelve people total on the tour - everyone besides us was Peruvians from Lima. Most of them spoke English, and we all got along really well. Over the two days, we boated to a primitive village where we tried out a blowgun, hiked through the jungle, watched a shaman ceremony, hiked to another village where a woman made us fresh sugarcane and orange juice, swam in the Amazon, looked, unsucessfully, for the elusive pink dolphin and went on a night boat ride to listen to the jungle sounds. At the lodge where we stayed, monkeys crawled along the railings and parrots perched on ceiling beams. A squirrel or another small animal got into our room while we were gone and chewed holes in one of my bags, and something else (don't know what) took refuge in our bathroom overnight. It was an adventure to be in the jungle but kind of exhausting - hot and humid.

3 Comments:

Blogger Katrina Custer said...

Wow! Why didn't you stop in Ecuador?! :-) Sounds like you had a great time. Did you like coca tea? Or ceviche? Can't wait to see you in a few weeks!

7:36 AM  
Blogger rarejule said...

great photos!!! what a blast you had, it is so evident from the beautiful surroundings and smiles on your faces!

1:32 PM  
Blogger The Charlebois said...

You guys are my heroes.

9:25 PM  

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