Lazy in Lima

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We didn’t do much in Lima, but we did walk around and see some amazing fountains.

Lima coast on a cloudy day
Lima coast on a cloudy day

The walk was special. We saw many, many dogs, some of which had twins. Below us, in the ocean, we saw lots of people surfing. Most where still paddling out, but some where riding waves. When we reached the mall, we found a place to eat and had our meal. The mall was open air and really cool. We got ice cream and walked around. I was amazed.

A tunnel of water!
A tunnel of water!

Also we saw some colorful fountains and a laser light show. During the day, a couple of fountains were free for kids to play in, but we didn’t have my bathing suit, so I couldn’t play with them. There was also a tunnel made purely of water in the park. There was also a statue of Sucre, one of the South American men who had helped defeat the Spanish, in the park. The park was amazing. It was so beautiful.

DSC07709We just happened to walk around town at about the time when the presidential guards would switch at the presidential palace. They had a big ceremony, and I was kind of bored. It was still kinda cool, though.

 

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Fountain at El Circuito Mágico del Agua

Eat, Sleep, Hop, Repeat

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A small percentage of the Nazca Lines. Most can only be seen from a plane.
A small percentage of the Nazca Lines. Most can only be seen from a plane.

We got out of the bus, crossed the street, and climbed the tower. The Nazca Lines were amazing! The lines were very shallow, very thin. They were shaped into animals we know of. More or less. They were created about 2,000 years ago. But why? No one knows. They could have been made as a calendar. They could have been made to honor the local gods. But they were too perfect too have been made using a regular garden shovel or anything similar. I personally believe that aliens created them using their little lasers. They were trying to depict the creatures they’d seen during their travels around Earth. The pictures did look like animals found on Earth. A monkey, an ant, a condor, a shark, a frog… however mysterious they were, they were amazing.

Getting setup for my first ride
Getting setup for my first ride

Next, we were in Huacachina, a village built around an oasis near the city of Ica. My favorite activity was sand boarding. Imagine flying down a dune at a speed that feels like 100 mph. Would you scream your head off? Of course you would. We did, too, for the first few times. But after we got used to it, it was freakin’ addictive. We had two races. A young woman from our group won both races. Both times, I was ahead of Dad, who was last. As we took a fun, roller coaster-like ride back to Huacachina, the four women screamed their heads off as if a lion had jumped in the dune buggy. I closed my eyes tight, and one young man yelled, “Please! No! Make it stop! Make it stop! Please!”. Then, after watching the sunset, we took pictures of the village below. It was great.

Penguins!
Penguins!

In Paracas, we took a tour to some smelly islands off the coast. It was flourishing with life. Thousands, perhaps millions, of birds were either flying around the island or resting on it. Though most of these birds were seagulls, there also were some tiny penguins and pelicans. Also, the islands were home to sea lions. The guide told us about the bird poop, which was so plentiful that it formed thick rocks, was harvested for fertilizer. Years ago, they used yo harvest 10 feet of the poop every year. Now, they still harvest about the same amount of the poop, but because there are fewer birds, they don’t harvest as often. Now, they harvest the poop every 5 – 8 years. Enough talk about poop. But, man, talk about birds! There were more than you’d ever seen in your life here! There were even some small, black ones I didn’t know the name of. What a sight!

In the slave tunnels
In the slave tunnels

Hacienda de San José in Chincha was a huge mansion with lots of rooms. Today, it is a hotel with a small museum. One part of the museum were tunnels. The family had a business in agriculture, but the indigenous workers weren’t quite strong enough for the jobs. So they imported slaves from Africa. 70% had to be male, while the other 30% had to be female. Once they got there, they were hidden in the tunnels and waited. They didn’t have any candles, so the ones who tried to escape simply hit their heads on the ceiling. Down there, it was pitch-black and very dusty. Some slaves even died.The doctor would come and pick out the strongest and healthiest slaves, keeping in mind how many should be male and how many should be female. The rest would be sent on their way. We were in the tunnels in a group of about 10 and still a little cramped, but many groups of slaves were 4 or 5 times the amount. When the other South America people came to free Peru from Spanish control, they told the slaves that if they fought on their side, they would be freed. The slaves agreed to help. When Peru was free from Spanish control, the South Americans didn’t keep their promise. However, slavery ended 33 years later in Peru. Without a civil war. But the owners of the Hacienda de San José house didn’t want to free their slaves. So they kept them completely hidden from the outside world. No one from the mansion could go to the city, and no one from the city could go to the mansion. If anyone knew about the slaves hidden in the tunnels, they would lose their tongue. However, the slaves learned, after 2 years, that they were free. So then, they killed the son of the owners, and ran off, feeling free as birds.

Colca Canyon

Horse

FriendsDuring our time in Colca Canyon, we did lots of things. I played with four kids. Two were Peruvian. Their names were Diego and Santiago. The other two were German. All of the kids lived in Lima. The German kids had moved there two years ago. We played a lot (i) of foosball. The Germans had a special trick: to pass the ball back, then kick it even harder. Once, I was playing with Santiago against the two German kids. The older of our two opponents, the German boy, kicked the ball from the defense to the back offense. In the middle of pass, I gave it a good whack. The ball curved and went straight into the goal. The boy stopped with that trick after the costly interception.

ObservatoryMy favorite thing in Colca Canyon was the observatory. It was a place where we looked at stars and planets. We peeked at Jupiter. The gas giant looked about the size of the tip of my pointer finger in the microscope. Below it were four dots of bright light in perfect sequence. Each were a little smaller than my pinky nail through the telescope. They were Jupiter’s largest moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. They were a spectacular sight.

Colca Canyon
Colca Canyon

Also in Colca Canyon, we rode horses. My horse was a little naughty, but she was very gentle. Once, the reins got tied around her front leg. I didn’t notice. Instead of doing what other horses would have done, which would be to buck me of, she laid down. Thankfully, I hadn’t been balanced, but neither had I noticed, so only the flap of my shoe got stuck underneath her. If I had been properly balanced, my whole leg would have been stuck beneath her. I think that I would rather keep my leg.

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We also saw condors while overlooking the canyon. There were so many of the majestic birds. They put on a spectacular show I will never forget. What an amazing creature.

Arequipa Awesomeness

James

Market SqOne of our first days in Arequipa, we saw the Santa Catalina convent. We learned a lot. We learned about how the second children of a family had to become nuns or priests. We learned about how, for the first four years, the nuns, sent to the convent around age 13, saw no one but their teachers. We learned about how they lived and much more. We were informed about an important nun named Ana de los Angeles. She’d been sent to the convent for education at age 3, but permanently pulled out 10 years later, to be forcibly married to a man who was much older than she was. She ended up running away and permanently joining the convent. Her parents refused to give her the donation she needed, but her brother helped. She died at age 80. Centuries later, in the 1900s, a woman very sick with cancer mixed tiny portion of the ash of Ana de los Angeles with her medicine. In only a few days, she was completely cured.

BirdsAfter seeing the convent, we head a nice lunch overlooking a plaza with music in the background. Later, I fed the birds. So many! So aggressive! It seemed as if a literal sea of pigeons was swarming me. It was amazing.

IMG_5075The next day, we had a delicious lunch with the family we were staying with. I had cuy. It came with the claws, bones, head and all. It was actually kinda disgusting, but it was good. I liked it!

Bull HeadsAlso, we saw bulls fighting. This was not the Spanish style, where the man with the cape kills the bull with a spear. Instead, in this Peruvian style, bulls head butted each other, and when one was too hurt to continue and ran, the other won. During the last fight we saw, one bull pushed another into the barrier. There was an explosion of people as everyone rushed to avoid the danger. It was a little scary. Eventually, the bull with the bloodiest wounds, the one obviously losing, chased away the other and won the match. Woo!

IMG_5077We also stayed with a wonderful family in a beautiful house with lots of space. They were family of a friend of ours. Their names were Carmen Sr., Pepé Sr, and Carmen Jr. Pepé Jr, my parents’ friend, got in touch with us, and he wanted us to stay with his family.They were so nice and so welcoming! Hospitable, too!

Ollantaytambo – More Like “Oh Man”Taytambo

 

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I took another bite of the meat. It was tender, and was easy to cut and chew. I looked at the remaining meat on my plate. It was round and flat. It was long and skinny. I was suddenly suspicious. I flipped it over, saw the tiny bumps, and my suspicions were confirmed – the meat was tongue.

That’s not the only crazy food we had in Ollantaytambo. On our first day, we had an assortment of vegetables. I found one vegetable that felt fatty. It tasted like meat. Later, after we were done eating, my parents surprised me. They told me the truth: that the tasty vegetable wasn’t a vegetable at all. It was cow stomach.

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Inside the store house or Inca “refrigerator”.

We entered the ruins. We got a guide for an hour. She told us many different things. For example, at the Princess Baths, she explained to us that once a year, every June 21, the sun would rise up over the the mountain and a single dot of sunlight would appear where water trickled in from a hole in the wall. Another fact was that for palaces and other important buildings, they would use giant stones made of granite. They would be cut with high precision, niches and notches connecting, and stuck together like LEGOs, no mortar needed. Also, the windows and doors were shaped like trapezoids. In an earthquake, the building would shake, but remain standing. We loved our tour. It was amazing.

I had fun playing with Ana Christina!
I had fun playing with Ana Christina!

The family we stayed with was amazing, too. They were so nice. They greeted us like family. I played with their niece a lot, and it was simply amazing.

We also loved the old town. It was full of beautiful Spanish colonial and original Inca architecture. Beautiful. Beautifully mysterious.

 

Machu Picchu – Super Machu, Super Picchu

James at Machu Picchu

The sun burst above the mountains, and bathed everything in beautiful morning sunshine. The early morning rays washed everything in golden sunlight, including the ancient city below the mountain on which we were standing. In the midst of all the foundations of all the unused buildings was a giant field… with llamas in it! We spent lots of time at the lookout before finding the Inca bridge. It was a bridge across the valley, connected to the side of a mountain. It was made of stone and wood.

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When we got back, we went nuts exploring Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu means “Old Mountain” in Quechua, the language of the Incas. Machu Picchu was built around 1450, at the height of the Inca empire, because the Incas needed a outpost in the holy area considered to be the border between the Andes mountain range and the Amazon jungle. It was abandoned around 1570, shortly after the Spanish conquest. We saw every room, making our way to the giant field, and noticed small ditches in the rock where clean water would flow. There were two different areas, the urban area, which we were in, and the agricultural area, which was behind us. We continued onward. Soon, we reached the field. We were standing on the edge of the field, watching the llamas as they grazed and grazed and grazed. We kept on going. Not long after that, we passed the way to Wayna Picchu which means “Young Mountain”, a neighboring mountains with a couple of little sights on it. We passed through a long building, with lots of neat cuts in the walls, perfect for storing things. The whole rest of the time, I thought up a story. We were all wearing out, and fast. It seemed like only seconds before we were walking out the door, ready for the mysteries of life to overcome us once again.

Guinea Pigs, Cuy, Sightseeing, and a Tour

 

Alpacas

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Guinea Pig Palace – Pisac

I reached out to the smallest guinea, which was also the closest. It was the size of a pet guinea pig you would find in the States. Only it was a baby. The guinea pigs all scattered. Some of them were absolutely huge, maybe even more than a foot long. The were so cute, but they weren’t pets. They were food.

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Miriam, me, and a lamb – Pisac

Soon after our visit to the guinea pigs, we strolled around the Písac market. The square was full of fruit stands. It was a very colorful market. They also had a arts and crafts section. We bought a strip of natural powder-like colors for some friends. As we made our way to the shared taxi station, we saw a girl about my age with an adorable lamb. I loved on it and got a photo. But, as I’d said earlier, guinea pigs were food. And soon, they would be food for us.

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Cuy – It’s What’s for Dinner

For my parents’ anniversary, we had a special order of Cuy (guinea pig) in Cusco. Mom was feeling adventurous, so she decided to take it as her meal. She let me have a bite. It tasted like duck. I should have eaten it instead. Mom was crying as if a family member had died. Apparently, all she’d been thinking was, Poor Linny! Linny is a guinea pig in Wonder Pets, an American TV show for little kids. Eventually, after eating most of it, she let the waiter take it. But no one could take the Inca like they had taken Mom’s cuy.

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Goofin’ on the ruins of Qoricancha

The museum of sites of the Qoricancha talked about Pre-Inca settlements as well as their technology. Then they talked about the Inca, going into a lot of depth about their empire’s holdings, including the cities, and then the Spanish conquest. The Spanish conquistadors came and crushed everything in the Incas’ society. Terrible. Just terrible. Chinchero was just up the road.

Weaving
Weaving Demonstration – Chinchero

We went to Chinchero, a village near Moray. We soon got a brief demonstration of the different things used for cleaning and dying wool. Then they died the wool, pointed out a couple of nearby women who were spinning the wool into thread, and lastly wove the thread into a beautiful blanket. Soon, we’d visit the site that Chinchero was very close to.

Moray Terraces
Moray Terraces

Moray was a very interesting Inca site. It was made up of 21 different terraces, going down instead of up, used to make 3 different ecosystems. It was also used to experiment with crops. The bottom terrace was the wettest and hottest. This system of terraces was dedicated mainly towards potatoes. At least in this place. What’s Pre-Inca and involves salt water? You’re about to find out.

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Salt Pans of Maras

Next, we saw the salt mines. In was an intriguing, Pre-Inca site with loads and loads of pools. They were filled with salt water, and when the time came, after the pool turned from brown to yellow to white, all water entries were blocked off. After the water evaporated, they had a pool full of salt. What a spectacular process! Read on to find out about the spectacular gift I got in Cusco.

As we were about to leave Cusco, I got an adorable stuffed guinea pig for a present from the owners of our AirBnb apartment. I played with two really little kids, before leaving. What a great gift!

 

Island Hop

Rowing

Dressed Up
Dressed Up Against my Own Will!

The boat stopped, and we got out on the floating island of Uros in Lake Titicaca, Perú. The ground, made of reeds, was very peaty. The ground gave way a little when you stepped in it, but bounced back up. A couple of locals explained how the village was built from blocks of reed and compost. Then our guide told us of the activities in the village, which included fishing for food. Our group didn’t get to fish, though. We also dressed up and got our pictures taken. I was put in a shirt and hat against my own will that made me look like I was five years old. We took a local boat to the next floating island, which was empty. Then we got back on the tour company’s boat, went to the next island, bought some snacks, and headed to a real island.

Taquile Island
Taquile Island

The climb up to the plaza was exhausting, and during, when I had something to say, it was barely audible. Though, the Snickers bar I’d had gave me a boost, but not for long. We bought a few bracelets, and by the time we started walking again, we couldn’t even see the back of the group. When we finally reached the lunch place, I was ready to pass out from exhaustion and take a nap. The food gave me renewed strength, and we bought a bracelet for a friend.

Lamb and Sheep
Lamb and Sheep

We passed a sheep surrounded on one side by the spikiest bushes you’ve ever seen, and on the other was a steep climb. With it was the tiniest black lamb you’ve ever seen, which had to have been newborn. It was black as night, with a white splotch on its head. We tried to get a little bit closer, but the mom made a horrible noise. The message was clear: Stay away from my baby! We took some pictures, and when we got back down, we headed off towards Puno, watching the waves lapping on the side of the boat.