Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Machu Picchu

The pictures don´t really do it justice. It´s beautiful and verdant and intact but mostly we were both blown away by the sheer scale of the place. It is huge. The day we arrived by train in Aguas Caliente (or known as Machu Picchu Peublo) we found a room, donned our boots and slogged straight up Putacusi mountain (next door to Machu Picchu) just to get our first look at this ancient place. As I sweated and grunted up the mountain I kept telling myself two things, one was that I would be rewarded with an incredible view and the other was how good this must be for my butt. Well I made it to the top (where Mark was already waiting) and that first look was magical. I could hardly wait to get to bed that night so I could wake up the next morning and go exploring. At around 4:30 am the next day we woke up and got ready to go get in line for the first bus at 5:30am. Mark commented that I didn´t seem all that excited but if you know me, then you know I am only capable of smiling on the inside that early in the morning. Luckily there was awoman selling coffee and tea to those in the line so by 6am when we arrived at the gate I was raring to go. In typical Mark fashion as soon as we got in the gate he took off running in the opposite direction of everyone else. Because of this we had a rare 10-15 minutes in a deserted section of the ruins. We sat together in awe as the clouds and mist drifted across changing the view every few moments. I think we spent about 7 hours at the ruins exploring the various paths and playing with the llamas and taking photos and video. It was wonderful how the palce evolved as the day and light marched on. We even have great video of Mark trying to get the llamas to spit at him but you will have to wait for the movie someday to see that. I think I took around 100 photos. Don´t worry they are not all here. Also I am only posting a few tonight so check back for more later. Each photo takes awhile and we have an early flight in the morning. We are still on the road. Right now Chile!! It´s later (10-27) and I have posted more. Tomorrow we are off trekking 5 days in the Chilean wilderness.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tambomachay & Saqsaywaman

These were two main ruins that overlooked Cusco. We got dropped off 8 Km from town and then had a wonderful walk back seeing the ruins and many free range animals along the way. Saqsaywaman or ¨sexy woman¨as people have taken to calling it was huge and the Inca walls were amazing. Flawless seems in these ancient walls. Tambomachay was used for bathing rituals and a natural spring still runs through it.

Cusco, the city that takes your breath away....literally

At over 10,000 feet a flight of stairs can stop you dead in your tracks gasping. Aside from it´s lack of oxygen it has an abundance of colonial architecture and old world charm. It´s central Plaza de Armas is abustle during the day with international tourists and ubiquitous street vendors hawking everything from fingerpuppets to 5-day tours. Walking around at night in large third world cities is usually a no no except in tightly controlled tourist areas. Cusco is no exception but here the plazas and quaint cobbled back streets practically beg to be strolled in the evening before or after a great dinner in one of a thousand restaurants. Insert a llama for a donkey and the souvenirs are much the same as you would find in Mexico or Central America. The town is long accustomed to tourists to prices for crafts are higher than you would expect to pay in less visited areas. Cusco is a gateway to the Andes and many of Peru´s treasures, most notably the mountain redoubt of the Incas, Machupicchu. Cusco has several significant Inca ruins, some just a short hike into the surrounding hills and others incorporated into more modern structures. It has been the custom of the Spanish to build their cathedrals on top of existing Inca temples, this not before looting their culture to melt down the gold. The result being a sort of religious, cultural layer cake. It is truly thought provoking to see the Dominican houses of worship built on top of the distinctive masonry of the Incas. I didn´t say they were good thoughts. Hell, the Incas were no angels themselves. I guess every dog has it´s day. As an aside, the word dominican is derived from domini and canus, the guard dogs of god. I don´t know about you but it makes me want to carry pepper spray. Mark Next of the ruins around Cuscoo

Sidetracked in South America

At 11:30 pm on a Saturday night we headed to the Bahia bus station for the first leg of our journey. At the bus station we met our friend Leni, a German student who was going home after months doing six months of community organizing in Bahia. Together we we shook rattled and rolled for six hours to Guayaquil, Ecuador. Our heads all bobbed in unison as we unsuccessfully tried to sleep through the cold and bumpy night. The next morning at an ungodly hour (around 4am) we were dumped off the bus bleary-eyed into the deserted urban blight of the Guayaquil bus station. The only other place open at such an uncivilized hour was the airport. Coffee did nothing to penetrate the fugue we were in and when we stretched out on the benches in the quieter end of the terminal we were abruptly told to sit up straight and that there would be no sleeping in their pretty new airport. Their sense of decorum was lost on the weary travelers we were. Soon the sun rose and we said goodbye to our friend( she actually had a reason to be at the aiport as she was off to the Galapagos), and lit out for the next leg of our journey. The twenty-four hour bus ride to Lima was punctuated by a border crossing and a few well lit beach towns along the coast. Liz at one point snapped a photo from inside the bus in the general direction of a Peruvian border policemen and was surprised when he boarded the bus to find out who the offender was. He seemed more bored than upset and forgot the whole thing as soon as his cell phone rang. The rest of the trip was third world subsistance farming, half finished buildings and then the most bleak and desolate moonscape that made the Arizona desert look like old growth rainforest. Lima was one of those schizophrenic cities where abject poverty snuggles with glitzy oceanside malls. Mud huts perched over garbage dumps ring the inner sanctum while the more well-heeled play tennis and drink Starbucks. Don´t think for a minute we didn´t enjoy that coffee after going a year without in the land of Nescafe. In a restaurant in a mall built into the side of a high bluff overlooking the Pacific, we were delighted by the para-penters soaring at eye-level. Their slip turns looked out of control but I suspected they were happy as condors up there.

The view from Miraflores in Lima

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bahia & Miguelito

I arrived back in Ecuador on September 26th and about a week later Mark and I were on the road once again this time to Peru. We did however have time in Bahia for me to get unpacked, host a really fun dinner party, do some walking and biking on the beach and see the famous Miguelito. Miguelito is a 100-year-old Galapagos turtle who lives at the local elementary school in Bahia de Caraquez (in case you haven´t been keeping up, this is where Scholarship is living for now). He is amazing and more amazing is the intense and genuine welcome we recieved from the kids and the administration. They are very proud or their resident and we even got to see the pictures from his 100th b-day party. Below, pictures from the beach (yes it´s pretty much always cloudy there and we love it after the sunny summer we had), as well as several of Miguelito and some of the cutest little boys in town. And for the record...the teacher made me sit on Miguelito. She practicaly held me down and then Mark convinced me he is like a coffee table once he is lying down, so no harm done I guess. That is all for now. Miss you all.
xo Liz

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The rest of the photos from my trip home.....

Here are more photos from my trip to the states. I hope you all think it´s fun to be on the website. I sure like seeing someone else besides us all the time. I am actually writing this from Peru as we are on our way to Machu Piccu in the manana. Okay next blog..back to South America.

1 with the girls at Richardsons....mmmmmm
2 liz and andie
3 keri and dan
4 my favorite new family..ames, kev and little aiden

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Where Did September Go?

Seriously unless you are in my immediate family or one of the many people I visited while home this blog will seem uneventful. I left Mark in Ecuador for almost three weeks while I did a whirlwind tour of Wisconson, Minnesota and Phoenix. After living in such a small town it was a bit overwhleming at first, but I got right back into the swing of things and did lots of shopping and eating and general celebrating life during my visit. What was Mark doing you may ask? Well when we parted company in Quito he was on his way to Cotopaxi Volcano (18,000 ft. or so) to do some climbing. After that he made his way back to Bahia where Scholarship currently lives and did projects. I can say that it took him at least and hour to show me all he accomplished while I was at home. Don´t feel sorry for him though, I brought him 100 lbs worth of boat parts and pressies from the US. I know it was exactly 100 because I was still reshifting my baggage at Delta check in because that it the max they allow. Anyway it´s wonderful to be back home on Scholarship and Mark and I are leaving in the manana for a month long trip to Peru and perhaps Chile if we don´t get sick of strange beds too soon. Oh and I just got my first third world shot for yellow fever and Mark was filming..what gripping footage. Hasta Luego for now. Enjoy the pictures. You know who you are..... More photos in the next entry.