Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Perú & my Mama!
Okay, we did about a hundred billion fun things and I couldn´t be more grateful that she came to visit and travel with me (and I´m sorry that I was a poo-head daughter sometimes!) so I´ll try to sum things up the best I can!

Lima- We cracked ourselves up doing the cheesey Mirabus- one of those double-decker city tour busses that points out the obvious, and then went for Bubble Tea! Yep, they have delicious "té burbuja" in Lima, along with a large Asian population, which fortunately means Barrio Chino (aka: China Town)!!! We also went to a fancy-schmancy restaurant one night and had an amazing Malbec from Mendoza and and insane seafood dish.

Cusco- Took a plane from Lima and got there in a bit of rain, and found a fine place to stay with a llama outside the front door. That night we hung out in a cozy little pizzeria owned by a man with a bomb moustache, where we had alpaca pizza-Yum, seriously! After quite an ordeal at the ticket-station we took a fun train-ride the next day to Aguas Calientes, which is the town nearest to Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu- As soon as we got settled into our hostel we headed up the railroad tracks, to where a trail starts... haha, this is where Mom and I start laughing about the word "trail." More specifically it was a series of never-ending wooden ladders between whihch you climbed up super steep dirt and rocks. But the view from the tops was phenomenal- you can see the whole side of Machu Picchu and the zig-zag road that leads up to it.
The next morning we headed out about 5 and joined the masses-tons of people waiting for the busses up, and then waiting to get into the actual ruins (which you apperently buy tickets for in advance, haha). Took "the picture," you know the famous view, and then hiked around to the Inka bridge where they´re wasn´t a single other person.From there we explored the main complex, and took a nap at the bottom of Wayna Picchu- where the the llamas harassed us and then eachother... The Sun Gate was our hiking option instead of Wayna Picchu and had an amazing view- I still cané beleieve I went to Machu Picchu!!!

Ollantaytambo- Ollantaytambo has to be the greatest town int the Sacred Valley! We took the train there from Aguas Calientes and ended up staying an extra day. Our first dinner at KB was ají de gallina (a chicken dish prepared with ají chilies and a nutty sauce) , chicken kabobs, and a real salad! Bought a couple hats from a sweet man there, on his way to sell stuff in Cusco, and stayed at the Chaska Wasi hostel.
The next morning we woke up to the neighbor´s donkey, then headed out to the market. We had a banana bread snack before catching a colectivo to Urubamba and from there another to desvío for Maras. From there we got a shared taxi to visit the Moray ruins-circular terraces used for agricultural reasearch, and salinas/salineras- a massive hillside divided into rectangles where locals harvest salt. It´s visually stunning with all the shades of shining white broken into little squares and piles of drying salt scatteres around. On the was back we played with the giant, sweet pop-corn I´m obsessed with and took silly pictures in the taxi.
When we got back we climbed up the unrestored ruins opposite the Ollantaytambo ruins in the valley and ready about them from that side. It was chilly, so we headed down the hill and found a house with a red, platic flags to advertise that they had chicha (the chewed, fermented corn beer). I stuck my head into the doorto make sure that they had it, and sure enough they did and insitsted on us coming in to drink. So Mama and I went in and visited for at least half an hour. There was a sweet wife, half-deaf husband, two older sisters, a little boy, and they all spoke spanish in addition to Quechua. There were tons of guinnea pigs basically running wild in the house (the chair didn´t do much to keep them caged in), and when I told the woman I had had on as a pet she couldn´t believe we didn´t eat it. She proceeded to tell the man how funny she thought that was. We talked about travel, the US, languages, education, food, everything, payed our 50 cents or so, said thank you´s, and went on our way. So much fun, and dinner again at KB- build your own massive burritos this time.

Lake Titicaca- From Ollantaytambo we took buses toCusco and then a tourist bus to Puno, on lake Titicaca. The bus stopped at the "Sistine Chapel of the Andes", the town where they make the ceramic, good-luck bulls, a beautiful mirador for the snow-caped peaks, and passed pink flamingos in the shallow river. On the lake we visited the floating islands of Uros, they are constructed completely from layer upon layer of reeds, but now exist more or less for tourism. On Amantaní we stayed with a family, whose adorable son played his little recorder/flute int eh fiels with the sheep, and went to a "dance" loaded up in our traditional dress for the evening. With the family we mostly ate quinoa soup, half a dozen typed of potato, and once we even had fried cheese. The views to the mountains on the Bolivian side were beautiful!

Cusco (again)- People said it was horrible touristy, and there are heaps of tourists, but its still a nice city to explore! We took pictures with (and got yelled at for touching) the 12-sided stone, did some shopping for hand-made llama and alpaca scarves and hats, wrote post-cards in cafés, made multiple trips to the Bolivian Consulate to get my visa (he had run out of them from Nort Americans- of course, haha!), got really good massages, and walked around a ton and visited the markets. This is also where we tried cuy (guinnea pig) for the first time- they brought it out whole for us to take pictures with and then brought it back again all chopped up. Oh man, we were laughing so hard! Oh yeah, we named him "Freddy." We also had pisco sours a couple of times at the fancy Inka Grill right on the plaza a couple of times, and me some really nice travelers there.
Speaking of the incredible Pisco Sour:
2 oz pisco brandy
1 oz line juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
1/2 egg white
1 dash Angostura Bitters
-Shake ingredients vigorously with ice. Strain into a champagne flute, and add the bitters as an aromatic garnish.

Huaraz- In Huaraz we did a 5 day trek called Santa Cruz, which was one of my top things to do in Perú. Even though the fact that rainy season clouded a number of out views and we woke up wet some nights, we had a great time. I loved being out and hiking, especially with Mama, who kicked ass! Our group had people from Holland, Germany, South Korea, and Denmark, plus our awesome guide Orlando. Some of the translations and explanations of cultural differences were hilarious, and we had some good laughs in the kitchen tent.

Thanks Mama!!! TQM


One of my dreams came true in Bogota!
I got to play in "Silver Clouds!"
It´s a way-too-entertaining Andy Warhol instalation piece, consisting of huge, rectangular, silver helium-filled balloons- and you actually get to go in and play with them!

Safety First...

Southern Colombia-
Few tourists, beautiful landscapes, and unbelieveably nice people- amazing combo!!!
Let me start by saying that I know I did things that I wasn´t "supposed" to do, but I always went with my gut and came out safe and sound (except for when I thought I was going to get attacked by a rabbid dog-beast...).
So anyway, from Popayan went to Puracé National Park to attempt the ascent of the volcano, which I am not embarrased to say that I did not complete- it was barely above freezing, pouring rain, and the wind coming in at 90 degrees and strong enough to knock me over. So yeah, after I recovered from my hypothermia I went out to see 3 enormous condors flying in one of the nearby valleys. The national park also had hot springs surrounded by rainbow-colored grass, beautiful plants that onle grow 1cm/year, incredible landscapes, and wonderful people. I hitched rides everywhere (I know that some of you are rolling your eyes), sometimes on motorcycle, and unfortunately always on roads that are more pot-hole that road. It was fun and I never even got attacked by Guerrilas or FARC members!
After Puracé I hitched a ride in a potato truck to some really nice hot springs in a nearby valley (walking in the fields there is where I almst got attacked by the dog.)
Then I took a real bus to Tierradenro (which had a lunch-stop in a tiny reataurant at the top of one of the enormous valleys and would fry whichever of the varried dried meats you picked from the selections hanging on strings from the roof), some very underrated ruins that consist mainly of enormous, painted, underground tombs. I did tons of hiking there and climbed down into most of the tombs, they would put bons of elite community members in ceramic containers in the tombs as their second burrial, with belingings and natural paintings on the walls around them. There are usually sprial-style stairs down into the tomb and then a half-moon/horseshoe shape room with a few columns. The town intself may have been the bets part, though! I stayed with an older couple, and the wife was adorable and always craking me up. She made me drink coffee every morning and would go on and on about how much better panela is than sugar-which it is. Panela is a caramel-colored dried block of sugar-cane juice used to sweeten almost anything. One afternoon on my way into town I started talking to a tiny little old lady on the path and she ended up introducing me to all her friends in town, and the next day I helped her pick oranges and she made me lunch. One of the ladies she introduced me to in town tought me how to make Gelatina de Pata- yes friends, that means "foot gelatin." You boil the hooves in water for forever and then on the mix it together with a panela syrup. The mixing sounds easier than it is though- a wooden plank with a pole sticking out of it is tied to a pole (or lightpost if you´re in the city) and you have to beat the whole enormous glob of gelatin on it until it fills with tons and tons of air- it´s heavy though and you can´t let it fall!
That sums up Southern Colombia, from where I went back up North to do some
-caving- there were parts where you had to float on your back and sort of kiss the top of the passage, cause there was only 1" for breathing.
-hiking- between beautiful teracotta tiled villages that sold goat milk, cheese, and yogurt, caliming that it´s better than Viagra.
-bumper cars- yeah, thats right, bumper cars!