Peru

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Apparently Elvis once ran for mayor in Ollantaytambo

And to make matters more interesting, he now lives there as a duck (see close up below)

Commuters encountered on the hike from Calca to the Huchuy Qosqo ruins near Lamay


Just like a Martin Chambi photo, no?


Which way to las ruinas?

It just wouldn´t be a religious holiday without the self-induced suffering.  And the whipping.  Even the kids get to take part!


Get me to the Plaza on time!  (We will meet back up with these guys a little later…)


The little guy was enjoying the whip quite a bit


Often those are toy stuffed llamas on their back…these were real!


I don´t have much of a zoom lens, so I was right up on these guys.  I got pushed out of the way of an oncoming saint a few times!


Chiriuchi – the traditional food of Corpus Christi.  Yes, those are the guinea pigs in front!

To be continued… if I have time,
otherwise,
As always, more religiously uplifting photos on Flickr

I´ve entered myself into another photo/ writing contest, which again turns out to be a popularity-voting contest.  However with this one, there is no signing in or registering…you just click!  AND, you can vote once a day, every day, and keep voting and voting and voting for me!
1. just go here:
www.gadventures.com/‎
2. look for this picture of Clara´s painted face and the blue steps:
3. click and vote daily
This way I can win a new spectacular camera, and won´t have to keep battling with the stray hair I have on my sensor which is ruining my beautiful photos.
Thanks mucho!

Plaza de Armas, Cusco, 11:30am

See Flickr for additional kids in costumes, with balloons!

This monitor at the hostal is very bad so I can´t tell if I´m choosing the best exposures…
Cusco Cuzco Peru street sign

cusco cuzco peru street sign

cusco cuzco peru street sign

cusco cuzco peru street sign

cusco cuzco peru street sign

cusco cuzco peru street sign

with a stray hair on the sensor.  luckily I discovered that now and hopefully got it out of there…

Sunday was El Dia de La Madre here in Peru, which is similar to Mother´s Day in the U.S., except that here all citizens are required to go to the bakery and then carry around a cake in a box covered with hearts.  There were also a couple local celebrations going on in the Sacred Valley, so when I arrived at the bus “station,” I encountered a line running out onto the sidewalk.  Luckily Nienke had arrived earlier, and was closer to the front of the line.  I expressed that we should take a collectivo taxi instead – just a few Soles more, quicker, and probably more comfortable.  But as I was trying to convice her that there is a marginal difference of safety between the driving habits of the taxistas and the bus drivers, a bus began to depart for Chinchero, with a final call for passengers.  We boarded and fought for some standing room space for the 45 minute ride.

We succeeded in holding our somewhat comfortable spaces, as well as our belongings. Upon arrival in Chincheros, I stocked up on bananas and bread, and we negotiated with some taxi drivers for a ride to the terraces at Moray.  I laughed heartily at their first offer for 70 soles to let them know I wasn´t a sucker gringo, and we tried to get it down to 20.  None of the drivers seemed interested and they wandered off, so we stood around for a bit.  One finally re-approached, we agreed on 30, and headed off across some dirt roads, through Maras, and on to Moray.

At the site Nienke worked her magic and convinced the guard that Moray wasn´t on her Tourist Ticket, and so that is why she didn´t bring it (they just recently added it to the Tourist Ticket, and her ticket had actually expired a few weeks ago.  I never even bought a ticket yet.)  I played along, mostly kept quiet, and in the end, we both got in for free!  We had planned to hike on to Salineras, the salt making terraces, since Lonely Planet told us it was quite easy, but the nice lady who let us in for free said we would need a guide, as the trail is difficult to find along the way.  So I flaged down a car driving out, we got a ride with a couple who had hired a private taxi from Cusco for the day, and off we went to Salineras.  We walked across the terraces, I took 100 pictures that probably all look the same, and we hiked on down to the small village below.

We waited for a combi but they were passing us by, already full, so once again I flagged down a ride, this time with a large emtpy tourist bus returning to Urubamba.  As we wandered around Urubamba looking for a place to eat, we ran across some girls in costume, so I asked if there were dances going on in the plaza today.  Yes!  In a half hour!  Of course, this was one of the celebrations this weekend, el Señor de Torrechayoc.

We decided it was best to leave a little early so that we could manage to get back to Cusco at a reasonable hour.  We headed to the bus station and again discovered that the lines were out the door.  As we stood there not knowing what to do, a guy told us he could put us on a bus for Cusco without a ticket, 3.5 soles (50 cents above the typical price).  He ushered us to the bus, kicked the people out of the front seats, and put us there.  It turned out to be the bus that takes the side dirt roads all the way back to Cusco, and stops at every house along the way to pick up or drop off someone, but the scenery was beautiful and we eventually made it back.


Hmmm, how to get back to Cusco?


Marilyn with tarjeta de la Dia de las Madres:
“Happy Mother´s Day
Mommy, you are the prettiest
of all the parents, a flower that blooms
in my garden.
For this I love you
Mom.”

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Aldea Yanapay – Mi Grupo de Amor:
Arni, Roberto
Iomira, Zakhia, Naysha, Jazmin, Lucero, Me
Claudia, Rosy, Cecilia
(not shown – Cristian)

The presentation of the continents went great!  I contend that Cecilia and my group was the best, most prepared, and most creative!  We had a couple missing kids and a couple new kids, so we rearranged the roles at the last minute, including the lead role, and it still went great.  We concluded with a song:
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Hanging around before the presentations

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Clara as a half-butterfly (marisposa)

See Flickr for more photos, including more stomach-turning market photos, and a photo essay of “Nienke´s Day Out!”

Feliz Cumpleños a mi hermana, Lynn!!


Jazmin y Marita

Lots of news and developments the last few days.  I just found out I will not be going to Pilcopata to volunteer in July and August.  The volunteer coordinator just quit, for many many reasons, mostly based around how the organization is being run and how the money is being spent.  As with so many things in Peru, it always comes down to money, and it seems the woman in charge is not behaving as a professional NGO and a legitimate non-profit.  And the organization is no longer going to be sending volunteers to the jungle but will be focusing on their other project.

I also just learned that I did not win the Travelocity grant for an Amazon scientific cruise, which I had hoped to go on.  But that is OK because it conflicted with the Amazon River Raft Race that I will be going on.  And I plan to reapply for the grant again.  In other Amazon news, it the Amazon has been declared (by the Geographic Society of Lima) to be the longest river in the world.  With the discovery of its true source, it is 4,388 miles in length, and beats out the Nile by 242 miles.

At Yanapay, the one-on-one lessons with Clara are not going as well this week.  One of the volunteers is doing elaborate face painting, so of course Clara wants to do this.  And since a week of face painting is much more important than learning to read, that´s how it goes.  I have been able, after ten minutes of chasing her down and persuasion, to bring her into the classroom and do 15 minutes of work.  I made some worksheets to match the words with the pictures.  She has yet to learn what the words mean so I want to keep this up, but it is difficult to continue making it entertaining and fun.  But Sr. Tigre begged to do Clara´s worksheets.  I couldn´t refuse a kid who WANTS to do homework, so he eagerly did a set of them as well.

I also meet with a special needs teacher, who a Dutch speech therapist friend of mine happens to know, to try to find out what resources or path might be available for Clara.  This teacher, Celeste, is an American who has lived here for four years, and has set up her own school for special needs kids.  She does not work with the deaf, but has a colleague who does, and of course knows more about the system.  Celeste has also worked with a young Peruvian deaf girl who has been well educated but is currently not working.  She is going to try to bring this girl to Yanapay to meet with Clara and with Yuri and see if she can be set up as her teacher.  The problem, of course, may be that there is no money to pay the teacher a small salary.  I hope this works out, as it would be an ideal long term solution, but I´ll wait and see what happens.

Geography lessons at Yanapay have been going well, and I am paired with a wonderful Swedish volunteer this week.  We need to come up with our weekly presentation today, which I can only hope will incorporate the chorus to “We Are the World!”


Davis (El Señor Tigre) reading with wonder and awe about planet Earth!  (this is honestly not posed!)


Davis eagerly does my worksheet


Señor Tigre!!


Cecilia teaches geography with Jasmin and Zakhia


Enjoying chicha at the Chinchero Market

 
The ruins at Chinchero


Starting the hike from Chinchero


Boys with their sheep.  They asked us where we were going…In hindsight we think this is where we got distracted and “I” lost the trail!


I took the lead and, hmmmm…where did the trail go?

 
Trying to re-find the trail


Pigs in training for Marathon de Chanchos!  I had no idea pigs could run so fast for so long.


Ruins at the lower right


The long and painful (on the knees) descent


Long way still to go to get to the bottom


Walking through the little village at the valley floor

More photos on Flickr!

Bored with making friendship bracelets, one of my art class students grabbed a paper mache mask from the shelf and put it over his face. With the skill of a true comedian, he patiently sat and waited for a reaction. I turned around, saw him in the painted tiger face, and exclaimed, “Hola, Señor Tigre!” The room erupted in laughter and that´s how Davis became Sr. Tigre.

Angeline sponsored April 16 for art projects with the kids, and so her blog entry is long overdue. As head of the art room at Yanapay a few weeks ago, I was able to do my feathers project and then make friendship bracelets. On Flickr you can view the photos that I brought along for inspiration, from an exhibit at the Met of Featherwork in Ancient Peru. I prepared a presentation of the history and significance of these objects, and managed to keep their attention long enough to ask them a few questions. Doing art projects, its difficult to get them to think and work creatively, as they are so used to just copying, copying, copying in school. None the less, the class went pretty well, and we made some nice feather mosaic pictures.

However, they loved making the friendship bracelets, and wanted to do that for days. The girls, for the most part, knew how to do it or else picked it up very quickly. The boys, as a whole, were hopeless, and succeeded in making a series of irregular knots.

In general the boys are rowdy and disruptive for the entire three hours at Yanapay, and make a smooth, organized class impossible. So when Sr. Tigre came into the reading room this week, I wasn´t expecting to get him to concentrate and read. But surprises never cease, and when I wasn´t working with Clara, I had an amazing week reading with Davis. He gasped in awe as he read about killer whales (ballenas asesinos-murderer or assassin whales!) and traced his finger over the beautiful pictures in the book. Since he enjoyed that so much, we drew pictured of killer whales. Then we learned about all the animals besides hens which lay eggs, about polar animals, and about all the different types of trucks. He was quite impressed that I have seen, with my own eyes, el camion de salchicha (the Weiner Mobile!)

flash cards

At the Yanapay school there is a deaf girl, Clara.  She´s a little older than most of the kids, and no one seems too sure of her situation.  Does she go to school still?  How much can she hear and understand?  How much can she read and write?  I´ve been very concerned about her and her future even since I knew her from last year, and so I told Yuri I would like to work with her one on one, maybe start to teach her sign language.  He was very enthusiastic about the idea, but since I was needed to lead various rooms (art, reading, etc.) and English classes, I didn´t have the opportunity to start.

I wasn´t sure if he remembered or not, but this week Yuri came into the reading room and and said, “You wanted to work with Clara, right?  Here are some books, get started!”  He handed me a couple archaic, baby ABC books and a new spiral notebook, and he gestured to Clara indicating that I´d be  working with her.  She was very pleased with her own new notebook, and we opened it up and got started.  I had to think fast to start a lesson and keep her attention, as she has the habit of running off to get another pen, or an eraser, or a scissors if she is idle for a moment.  What to do?  What to do?  Let´s see, what would Anne Sullivan do?  I saw the movie once…there was a doll, a water spigot, a bad dinner scene…

I wrote the alphabet down the inside margin of the first page, then made lines for her to copy each letter five times.  After we made it through the alphabet, I pointed to drawings from the book and tried to have her write down the words.  It became immediately obvious that she didn´t want to use and be seen using the baby books.  In fact, she was very self-concious of the other kids seeing what she was doing, and covered up the page whenever other kids came near.  So I started doing my own drawings.  I began to see that she sort of knew the alphabet, but mostly seemed to be copying the letters and words.  If I made an accidental dot or line near the letter, she meticulously copied that too.

For the second lesson, I had to be prepared so that there weren´t any lulls.  Since I had no books to use, I spent the afternoon making my own flash cards, with the letters on one side and a picture and word on the other.  We went through the cards, copying the letters and the words.  She recognized and acted out all of my drawings, even the poor ones that I thought I would have to explain.  Then I had her look through magazines to find similar pictures, and cut them out and paste them and write the word again.  That was so successful that we went over our time without her noticing.  What I´m going to do next week, though, I´m not sure!

I was finally able to buy some butter at the Mega Supermercado yesterday.  All last week, lots of margarine on the shelves, but no butter.  I was trying to decide between a large one or a small one, attempting to recall how quickly I go through butter, when I realized that it made no economic sense to buy the large.  100 grams for 1.50s/ or 200 grams for 3.50s/.  The large cost more per gram!  I think I´ve noticed this with other products too.  I would have a look around the Mega and do a thorough survey to confirm my hunch, but, well, it really isn´t worth my time.  I guess this goes hand in hand with my previous observation that people here buy just enough for what they need for one day – no mas!  Sin embargo, (my favorite Spanish phrase: “none-the-less”) I see a business opportunity here:  Sam´s Club Peru – buy tiny and save!

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My hiking plans for the day fell fell through, so I jumped on a bus to Pisac to see the Big Market Day.  I was a little hesitant to go, after reading and hearing how it is swamped with tourists as well as little girls with cute lambs begging you to pay them to take their picture.  But I was on a mission:  my throat desperately needed a scarf to protect itself from the cold Cusco nights, and I wanted to get pictures of, and maybe buy, a Chancay doll.  These are reproductions of burial dolls from the Nasca area desert.  The modern versions are reportedly made from ancient fabrics that are found in desert burials.  Apparently, you can just kick around in the sand and unearth as much burial cloth material as you desire.

So the market actually wasn´t too busy, and I wandered about and successfully got a scarf and a doll from the same lady, for what turned out to be good prices and easy bargaining (perhaps I should have started lower…)  I then discovered that with taking photos, the most challenging part is to crop out all the other tourists taking photos.  That way you get more “authentic” photos of the market… ;) The other key is to sneak them quickly so that everyone in the picture doesn´t ask you for a propina, a tip.  I eventually resorted to replying, “¿a propina para la fruta?” – “what, a tip for the fruit?  I was taking a picture of the fruit!”  (As always, pictures can be seen on Flickr)

I then enjoyed a choclo con queso – giant corn on the cob with cheese, and a little later, a giant bread fresh from the oven.  Just as I was about ready to leave, I ran into some other volunteers, Katelyn and Heather, and we went for an incredible meal at a restaurant overlooking the market square.  When it was time to head back, we walked back to the bridge, and hopped on the bus with the giant CUSCO letters on the front.  It took off, and after several minutes I thought, “hmmm, did any of us ask if this is going to Cusco?”  It didn´t seem to be heading back up the mountain from where we came…  When the ticket guy came by we discovered, no, it is continuing on to Calca.  So…we had a half hour ride to Calca, and then headed back.  But as fate would have it , it turned out to be good because we had seats, and by the time the bus got to Pisac, it was standing room only all the way back to Cusco.

edit – Sept. 2009: A photo of mine from this trip to the market is a finalist in the Conde Nast $25,000 Dream Trip Contest!


My choclo con queso with the seller in the background


Chancay Dolls

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The ticket for the correct route back to Cusco

Here are some photos from trips to various markets.  Beware, some photos are not intended to be viewed by the faint of heart or vegeterians.  More market photos on Flickr after the Tipon photos.


Chicken feet like brilliant stars in the sky…


First time I asked to take someone´s pic – I couldn´t pass it up, and then her little girl poked out just at the right moment!


Meat and fish alley


Sheep heads and hearts, and strong, determined woman


I was taking a pic of the tail-up chicken in the cone when the legs moved!  I had thought it was dead…I soon realized what was coming, and I fled.


Meat section of an indoor market


“A hoof in the scale”…sound like the start of a good adage…


A few of the 5,000 varieties of Peruvian potatoes


And dried potatoes

Now don´t say i didn´t warn you…


One of a table full

 

Peru combi schoolgirl cusco cuzco
Schoolgirl waiting for combi – Cusco, Peru

There’s always that kid on the school bus who throws up one morning.  The problem is that here, the school bus is also my bus.  And the bus is actually a combi – a tiny, third-hand Toyota van with seats to hold about 18, but with standing room holds up to 25.

On a side note, one morning I was one of the standing passengers on my morning ride on the Arco Iris (Rainbow).  (Other combi routes include the Expreso el Zorro or Fox Express, Servicio Expresso or Express Service, El Señor de Cabildo or Lord of Cabildo, and the Batman, or…Batman, complete with bat logo).  This particular combi was not one with the extended height roof, so as I was pretzeled in there, my head was in the back row, and I believe my tail was in the face of the front row.  And of course I emerged with my jacket zippers mysteriously unzipped.

Nevertheless, one morning, a boy proceeded to lose his breakfast.  I could use my almost-award-winning-descriptive-writing-skills to tell you about the contents and spray pattern of this, but I’ll spare you the worst.  Maybe I won´t.  From all appearances, it seemed his mother force fed him an ENTIRE jar of grape jelly, then sent him running to the bus stop, then he enjoyed a bumpy, exhaust filled ride for a few minutes.  Unfortunately he was face to face with the backwards facing kids, and one got the worst of it on his backpack.  The next two to the right were hit a bit, and luckily I, standing further to the right, was spared.  I reluctantly donated my USA made, 2-ply, extra soft, lint free Contonelle toilet paper to the cause, which I will probably quietly regret for the next 7 months.  The girl I handed it to made a few quick wipes of her mochila, then tossed it on the floor.  In shock at witnessing such a senseless act, I picked up the precious wad, made a nice ball, and placed it next to the mess on the seat, indicated to the girl sitting there that she could continue with the dirty work, which she thankfully did.  Seconds later a woman came in a sat in the very seat, completely unaware of the morning´s excitement.

The Lunches of Pampa del Castillo street.

“Menu” on the signs means the economical, set lunch menu – typically with soup, a second, and a drink.

lunch sign board black board chalk board

More can be seen here.

Mi amiga Joetta told me we were going to “look at” some Inca terraces near Ollantaytambo (Oy-yan-tie-tom-bo), about an hour and a half outside of Cusco.  After a few hours of hiking in the sun, crossing a rushing stream, and climbing up the steep stone steps of the terraces, I realized I had not brought enough food and water for this terrace “viewing” adventure.  But there we were, hours from town, and half way up the mountainside.  We ran across a local woman, herding her sheep and collecting wood.  After we scared her sheep up the terraces, then snuck some photos of her, Joee ingratiated ourselves to her by saying hello and a few other words in Quechua.  The woman told us about some Inca ruins further on, so we dragged ourselves forward until we were able to see them, but did not have enough energy to continue on to them.  Luckily, on the way back, the woman – Sra. Ochoa – saved us from starvation with some freshly cooked choclo con queso (giant corn on the cob with goat cheese), which we ate as her angry ducks tried to protect their territory from the kittens and puppies running around our feet attempting to get the stray kernals.  After we regained some strength, the woman kindly led us to a path that took us gently back down to town (where we had to negotiate a ride back to Cusco, but that´s another story…)  (more photos on Flickr)


Starting out on the hike, heading out of Ollantaytambo


Steps going up the Inca terraces


Scaring the sheep up the terraces


A burro


Joee negotiates with another burro


The Pumamarca ruins in the distance, along the top of the hill running across the middle of the picture


Sra. Ochoa offers us choclo con queso at her home


Sra. Ochoa guides us back to a trail leading to town


Heading back to Ollantaytambo


Ruins of what appeared to be an ancient Inca drive-in theater

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