My Life as a Dog

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Peru / Panama 2013 - Sacred Valley

Friday, Sept 6

This day we actually didn't have to get up at ridiculous hours. I'm sure it was still early but it felt like sleeping in. They really kept up hopping on these tours. This is not what I would call a "relaxing" vacation. The hotel in Cusco provided us a buffet breakfast every morning. After breakfast we loaded up on the bus and headed out to Awama Kancha, a llama farm. There they had all the different kinds of llamas. Most of them you could walk up to and feed. So of them would get a bit friendly. They were not shy. The also showed how they make the yarn and how they dye it from natural items. They also had several people there weaving the yarns into complex patterns. The children have learned to pose for the camera and there was a cute little girl in native dress that loved seeing her photo on camera. My favorite shot was of her wearing large sunglasses from a girl in our tour group. Before it was time to get on the bus again we stopped at a shop where we could purchase items that had been created there. I bought a table runner with symbols of their culture woven into the patterns.

We rode the bus through the countryside a bit until we reached a street market in Pisac. There were all the typical touristy items that we could purchase. We were told that haggling is customary and expected. Our tour guide demonstrated how it is done with lots of drama. We were surprised that that is pretty much the way it is. Ty was looking to buy a ring and was haggling with this girl who was maybe 10-12. She was good! She would shake her head as his offering price and "no, mi amigo." So dramatically! Of course they ended up settling on a price that both were happy with.

After shopping at the market we were taken to a place out in the countryside to eat lunch, buffet style. There were lots of local dishes to try. I should have taken better notes as to what I ate, I guess because I have already forgotten. I do remember that there was some purple corn pudding for dessert which everyone seemed to think was nasty. I didn't try it.

After lunch it was off to Ollantaytambo to see more Incan ruins and to climb the mountainside upon which they were built. Getting down the road to the ruins in our large bus was no small feat. The drivers are pretty amazing because when it would drive down some of the streets people would have to step into doorways to avoid getting hit. Crazy! It was fun to hike up the terraces but it also started to register that we were at a much higher altitude than we were used to. After checking out the ruin we were taken to a family's home in the village. Part of this family's house consisted of Incan ruins. They had about 20 guinea pigs (future meals) running around on the floor, skulls of their dead ancestors, and strange things hang from the ceiling and on the walls.

Then it was back to our hotel in Cusco for the night.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Peru / Panama 2013 - Cusco

Thursday, Sept 5

We spent the early morning flying from Lima to Cusco. No rest for these travelers. Once getting into Cusco, we were taken to the hotel, Eco Inn, where we were given coca tee to drink to help with the altitude change. Cusco is at 11,000 ft above sea level. I was having a headache and a little dizziness. But it was hard to tell if that was from a lack of sleep or from the altitude. I drank the tea anyway and took a few Advil.

While several in the group opted to take a nap at the hotel, we were a little too excited to do that. Plus I was hoping that I would sleep good that night by not taking a nap. We wondered down to the Av El Sol to the Plaza de Armas where there were several large cathedrals which made me feel like I was back in Italy. A few things that we noticed right away. First there were police everywhere! Almost every intersection had a police man or woman there. Also there were tons of dogs all just running around wild. They all seemed pretty tame and not aggressive. We were later told that they actually have owners and were not strays. But they obviously were not taken care of like dogs generally are in the USA. Our guide also told us that Cusco is one of the safest cities in the country. With all the police presence I can see why.

After exploring a bit we got hungry and headed back to eat at the restaurant in the hotel. I ordered Lomo Saltado which was delicious. It was then that I realized I had pretty much ordered the exact same thing in Orem at La Careta.

After lunch the tour group boarded the a bus and when out to ruins right next to Cusco. The ruins are called Saqsayhuaman but our tour guide kept calling them "sexy woman" which made it easier to remember their name. :) There were quite a few llamas running around at the ruins. And from the ruins we could look back down to Cusco. It was pretty breathtaking and this was just the beginning. As we were leaving the ruins there were lots of people selling their goods and people dressed in traditional clothing asking for a "propino" (tip) to pose for a photo. After Sexy Woman we went to a smaller ruin site called Q'enko.

After the ruins we headed back into town and back to the Plaza de Armas. Only this time we went in Quirkancha and the Cathedral of St. Domingo.

Peru / Panama 2013 - Travel to Peru

Wednesday, Sept 4

The first day of my adventure began at 2 am. That's right I said 2 am! I thought about just staying up but decided I should try to get a little sleep. I actually woke up 10 minutes before my alarm went off. I must have been a little excited. I needed to be up to Ty's house at 3:15 am. Ty's friend Tenielle got up just to go drop us off at the airport! Not to mention she had made her Magic Cookie Bars. They were indeed magic.

Our flight out of SLC Airport was around 5:30. We got to the airport before there was anyone there to check our bags and then we were to security right as they were opening up for the day. I had no idea that they ever shut down. 

We flew to LA where we had a 5 hour layover. Then a flight to Panama City. And from Panama City, Panama to Lima, Peru. During that flight there was a girl who was supposed to be sitting by the window but was snuggled up against me chatting the whole time. She didn't really speak English and I really don't speak Spanish but that didn't stop her. I think she might have been looking for a husband. :) At least it help the time go by. We arrived in Lima just after midnight.

By the time we got settled in our hotel, which was basically at the airport, it was around 2 am and we needed to get up early for a flight to Cusco, Peru. Eek! I guess 2.5 hours of sleep was better than nothing.