Working on the Railroad…

Hey Friends, I don’t really remember the last time I updates I think it was a week ago? maybe? I’m trying to look up what I talked about last time but like normal the internet is slower than a fat kid running through chocolate pudding (lets face it, the only thing moving is the kid’s jaw). I guess I can tell you all about the work I’ve/we’ve been doing here.

So, a few weeks back we started a mural contest. We work closely with a Colegio (kind of like a middle school and a high school crammed into one thing). We’ve been working with themes of bullying, domestic and family violence, and drug prevention. We held a 2 hour class a few weeks back with the 5th years (seniors) and we talked about violence and things to this nature. We had the students write out anonymous confessions about violence they had experienced in their life.  We took these notes made a small booklet out of them and are giving them to the theatre director at the school. They are going to perform alternatives to these confessions and show how to resolve violence peacefully and assertively (I hope).

But back to the mural contest. About 2 weeks back we announced this contest and last Monday we declared a winner, or 2 winners to me precise. We only received 2 entries and one was copied off the internet. The winners were 2 girls that worked together to come up with a design against bullying. Their motto was “You don’t have to break the chains (of addiction) if you never get enchained” (roughly translated).

We met with these 2 girls (we including Will and I, Heather who is going to help with the theatre, and Armando and Aubrey the creative minds). We worked with the girls to develop colors and a message that was more broad. I’m really excited about the design we finished with. The image (if you can image, is a person standing in the middle breaking the chains that hold a bottle of beer and a cigarette (the bottle and cigarette are running away screaming). In a thought bubble the kid is thinking about the domestic violence that happens in his house. The bubble instead of being made of a cloud like a normal thought bubble is outlined in chains. This shows that his father (who is beating his mother) is chained to his addictions and by breaking the chains in his own life by choosing not to use drugs, this kid is also breaking the cycle of violence. I’ll try to post some pictures when I can. We’re starting that tomorrow at 9 Open-mouthed smile .

We have already completed one set of mural in the pediatric area of the hospital. They are pretty simple. We painted two walls. The smaller of the two is just a simple hand print mural. Will and I came into the Hospital one night when this part was closed and painted large blue waves on the wall.Will's Shit 903 The next day the kids painted their hands and put their hand prints on the walls. Before we arrived the walls were a mustard gas yellow and very dark. Our idea was to brighten the area and give the kids something to do while they waited the eternity for their consult. Will's Shit 913  We Even got our bosses involved. The photo here is one of the Psychologists we work with after she helped us paint the wall. Will's Shit 919The second wall (the larger of the two) is a little more artistic. We started with a large blue wave all the way across and then started by painting the Nazca Lines on the wall.  We painted the condor, the monkey, the hummingbird, a lizard, a whale, the spider, and one just called “hands.” Will's Shit 938  We then finished the wall off with more hand prints and the Viva Peru logo. Will's Shit 940

Here are a few more pictures of the kids painting and having fun. I think Will and I enjoyed this almost as much as the kids.

Will's Shit 925Will's Shit 935





Will's Shit 939  This is the monkey that I drew. I added eye brows so he’s not so angry looking Will's Shit 941

So, that’s a bit of what we have been working on. We have also visited a remote community to to self-esteem building with the kids and a vaccine drive for the babies. We never did get out to the other communities to test water but we have to save something for future students.


So, yesterday I went out to finally collect some data on my research. As most of you know, I am looking at the prevalence of disease in the informal miners in this area of Peru. Yesterday, we conducted about 16 interviews and collected what I hope to be some useful data.  Based on preliminary interviews the most common issues are with respiratory infections, difficulty breathing, and cyanide poisoning. I still need to talk to a doctor about particular symptoms. The problem here is that there are a lot of confounding variables. For example, a symptom that is commonly exhibited in patients with chronic cyanide exposure is involuntary loss of weight. However, in labor intensive jobs such as mining, someone can lose a lot weight without realizing it. This makes it difficult to tell the reason for the weight loss. But I still think I have some really sound data and can make some useful suggestions to the hospital members. Just so you guys can see, here are a few pictures of El Toro (the informal gold mine…I’ll even include a picture of the tunnel we entered on our first visit)

This is El Toro. At the very top is a formal mine but the rest is informal. They actually penetrate the mountain here so, it’s not like the more popular open-pit mining style used in Araquipa in the SouthHuamachuco 192

El Toro and Dias Patrias 002  This is from the first site. The dirt piles contain Gold Ore. Water i s ran through them with other chemicals (including cyanide) and then the Water collects the gold and binds it to  carbon in large pots. The water is then stored (with all the chemicals in an open pool seen below. You can see the hoses used to pump the water. The pots (non-photographed) contain carbon and raw gold. For every 20kg of carbon there is 3g of Gold.El Toro and Dias Patrias 004 El Toro and Dias Patrias 005                          

This is the pit we entered. it’s about 3’ tall and 20-40’ deep. Very tight, very damp, very uncomfortable. El Toro and Dias Patrias 003

El Toro and Dias Patrias 009

This is a typical mining site.


So, this is my life for another week or so. See you all soon!



Hey friends, long time no blog right? We’ll been super busy with my new internship and community engagement projects but I’m going try to sum up the last 3 weeks in one post. I don’t think this will be too long…mostly because my fingers are tired from typing up my research paper.  So, we left Cusco rather early in the morning and it was sad but kind of exciting at the same time. We flew back into Lima where we met our professor, René. From the airport in Lima we drove to René’s hotel and unloaded all of our bags and waited a few hours for lunch. Andi, Armando, and I went to find a market to buy some snakes and some food since we were starving. We found this place that looked like a smaller Meijer and higher prices but we didn’t really care. We then wandered back to the hotel where we found the rest of the people waiting for our tour guide. We sat and talked and ate our food. Our guide showed up and of course we had a city tour. We first got lunch and then started with the tour. Last thing we wanted to do (FYI) was go on a tour. While in the plaza the tour guide and met Gaston Acurio, a world famous chef. We got pictures with him. (I’ll try to upload the picture but the internet here is so slow I’m not sure if it’ll work). We then played with some pidgins in front of another church with catacombs. By played with, I mean ran through large groups of them.   The catacombs were really cool unfortunately no pictures were taken due some silly rule.  It was a little weird just seeing skulls lying around. At one point we found a well 20 meters deep full of bones; that was a little weird. We then went back to the Airport to fly to Trujillo. This was a ridiculously long day; 7am flight from Cusco to Lima, all day tours, and finally flight from Lima to Trujillo.

When we arrived in Trujillo we went straight to our hotel. I think the highlight of that night was the shower. Since getting here I haven’t had good water pressure and hot water but this shower was like standing under a hot waterfall. It was heaven! I didn’t do anything than night just because I was so tired. The next morning two of our people had food poisoning from a chicken place in the plaza. So, I spent the morning playing nurse and restoring electrolytes and trying to get them to eat something. We then proceeded to have a city tour of Trujillo. I think the phrase “No one was happy in Trujillo” was the message of this day. 3 people were sick, Amber was still on crutches, we were all tired and doing another city tour. We went to a few museums and found a protest. The museums were not noteworthy and the protest was kind of interesting. They were people protesting the municipality that wanted to cut public programs for women in general and pregnant women. We had lunch and only a few of us ate because the rest were sick. We then waited for the bus to take us to Huamachuco. The bus ride was 5 hours long and not what we were expecting. We were told there would be Wi-Fi so we were all expecting a nice couch bus but instead we got the old beater. The trip was rough to say the least. 4 hours on terrible dirty roads, we were all motion sick when we arrived. I met my parents at the bus station, Helen and Ilde. Helen is the director of a local school and Ilde (eel-day) works for the director of labor. I was exhausted but I ate dinner with them and went to bed. I found on my pillow a little bag of candy and a postcard saying welcome.

The next day (Saturday), my family asked if I had any plans for the weekend and since René didn’t tell us anything (per normal) I told them that I had no plans. They said they had a wedding in Trujillo and asked if I wanted to go. Of course I said yes. So, 4 hours later we were back in Trujillo. 2nd day with the new family and I had met the ENTIRE family. The wedding was really boring at first because no one was dancing but finally we started to dance and toast. We all had a bit too much but the next morning I was the only one who was sick. It was the worst hang over I have ever had and lasted a good 24 hours.  For lunch they tried to serve me this fish gumbo which I normally would have eaten. It had half a fish, clams, and crab legs. But the smell of it made me gag. I didn’t eat much that day and the trip back to Huamachuco was terrible. The mountain roads are terribly rough and my dad drives like a madman.

Since then everything has been going smoothly. I’ve been working at the local hospital as a mental health intern. We’ve been developing programs to prevent bullying and drug-addiction. We have two strong projects currently in the works. The first is the every 15 minutes program and dramatization. The program makes the students contextualize the consequence. If you’re interested in the actual program check out their website.

We are also working on 2 more projects. One project is called “Proyecto Simpre Vivo” (Project always living). This is a garden project that will bring medicinal herbs and flowers into the hospital. The idea is to bring color and life into the waiting areas of the hospital. We are currently fighting with the printer to print our proposal to give to the head of logistics. The other part of this project involves painting. We have a large wall to paint and we are going to put a big mural there and then in front of the pediatrics exam rooms are going to paint a solid color and have kids paint their hands and put their hand prints on the wall.

Additionally we are holding a mural contest at one of the local schools. The kids have 1 week to design a mural against bullying or drugs. We will present the drawings to different people in the hospital and they are going to vote on the drawing they like the best. The winner will have the opportunity to express their mural on the exterior wall of hospital.

We’re really starting to enjoy our work now that we’re working more in the hospitalization with inpatients. We’re administering medications and taking vitals with the nurses. It’s kind of cool.

I’ve started writing my research paper and am going to El Toro, the informal mine to collect information about the diseases and next Monday we’re visiting a few communities to collect water samples to get tested. The mining here is a lot larger than I originally thought. There are currently riots in the next province over (about 8 hours away in car). The president has declared another state of emergency. I’m not in any kind of danger but it’s still cool to study. This is after the protests after the Espinar riots.  So I’m really excited to look at these communities and the quality of water.

That’s about it. I think have another 27 days here. Missing everyone at home but at the same time it’s going to be sad to leave my families here. I’m hoping to return one day. Love you, Mom.

Mucha Stuff

La Entrada de los santos y Corpus Christi

So, this was a busy week… Kind of. Out story starts on Wednesday with a large protest. In the last couple of week there have been a lot of protests that have shut the streets down. The first was a group of students protesting something about anti-government. They were mostly university students but they were probably about 400 strong. They marched down the main street of Avenida de la Cultura and marched to the Plaza de Armas. Well Wednesday there was another protest but it wasn’t students this time. This time is was people from the communities of Espinar and a few others that were around there. All of these communities are mining communities and recently they have been fighting current mining practices arguing that it has been polluting the rivers, soil, and making community member sick. They hold the mining company Xtracta Tintaya and the government responsible and they want action to be taken on their behalf. The Mayor of Espinar was leading the protest at one of the mining sites and was arrested by the national police.  He is still being held by the national police. The incarceration only added fuel to the inferno and motivated people to move the protest to Cuzco because they were not receiving national attention in Espinar. The protestors have now added the immediate release to their mayor to their growing list of demands. The effects of the protest can still be seen in the Plaza de armas with posters supporting Espinar. Some posters have lines such as “Espinar, tu dolor es nuestro dolor” (Espinar, your pain is our pain) and “¡Basta de Muerte, contaminación, y Saqueo!” (No more death, pollution and pirating/looting). There is a lot of heated emotion about this, in today’s newspaper there were 6 articles about the protest and this topic (2 days after the actual protest and 1 day after one of the largest tourist events in Perú). But how does this relate to me because after all this blog is all about me? Well if you read my research proposal you would know that I am researching health effects of mining and how current mining practices affect the local communities…sound familiar? Espinar…mining community…protesting mining practices…yeah, so I was interested. I was told that the day following the protest the protestors would still be in the Plaza de San Francisco (2 blocks from the Plaza de Armas…Spanish colonists loved their plazas) and I should go interview a few. So, I quick threw together a million questions and my voice recorder and during lunch I headed towards the Plaza de San Francisco. I was super excited to get some firsthand opinions on mining practices in Perú and start on my research. However, when I got to the Plaza there was no one there except a million tourists. Because Today was Wednesday, the day before Corpus Christi. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to interview anyone but I stayed in the plaza to watch “La Entrada de los Santos” (the entrance of the Saints).

The entrance of the saints actually dates back to the Inka Empire when they would parade the Mallqui around the center of the empire (modern day Plaza de Armas). Mallqui or mummies were often revered after death and were thought to still have great influence on the living. People would touch the mallqui for luck and blessing. When the Spanish came, they put an end to this pagan ritual and replaced it with Corpus Christi and the La Entrada de los Santos. During the Entrada, the saints are paraded through the plaza de Armas and come from all of the surrounding communities and people still try to touch the saints for blessing. However, they are not touching the catholic images but rather the Mallquis. When the Spanish outlawed the parading of the dead, the Quechua put the images of the Saints over top of the mummies, thus, creating the illusion that they were honoring the catholic saints. So the following images are of the saints. I also used this time to do some street photography and took a bunch of pictures of random people I thought were interesting.

That night we went out for dinner and as my family says, “dancy, dancy, drinky, drinky.” I had a beer with dinner and water the rest of the night. We went to a bar called Inca Team. It was fun; the smoke makes me sick down here so, I left around 1:30. Apparently, my friend Keely met my host brother at the bar and they kind of hit it off…too bad she leaves tomorrow (Saturday).

The nest day was Corpus Christi. We met outside a bar and sat then went to the plaza to watch the procession after mass. They marched the Eucharist around the plaza in this big silver thing (see picture). Those of you who are better Catholics can probably tell me what it’s called. After the procession Charlotte (Armando’s housemate from France) and I got separated from the group and went up to the Plaza de San Francisco to try some Chiri Uchu. They called it “El festival Gastronómico de Chiriuchu.”Chiriuchu is a tradition dish comprised of many different kinds of food. It is served cold and contains pork sausage, turkey, cuy, roasted corn cornels, seaweed, fish eggs, and a “tortilla.” For those who don’t know a tortilla is kind of like a tortilla española. More like an omelet and cuy is….Guinea pig! Yes, friends I ate guinea pig this week….jealous? should be. It actually wasn’t terrible. It was kind of tough and gammy and not a lot of meat but eatable. I had a midsection which threw me. They prepare the cuy by gutting with a cut down the abdomen and then fill it with herbs. They then roast the hell out of it and serve it cold. I got a section with lots of herbs in it and at first I thought it was the guinea pig’s last meal. Honestly, I tried everything on the place, including the fish eggs. Charlotte and I then wandered back to the plaza de armas to watch the parade of saints…which was very much like the entrada. I left after about 2 hours of saints. It’s a very very slow parade and takes about 5 hours for 15 saints to march around the plaza. I met the group at Quircancha and we hung out for a while. We ate some coconut, chewed some sugar cane, and just relaxed. We then went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant and the food was really good

I then headed home to find that there was a giant party. I asked my host brother about a week ago if they did anything special for Corpus and he told me no, so this was a bit of a surprise to find 40+ people in my house. I didn’t really know what to do so I went to my room to study but I left the door open. I wasn’t really comfortable just going down there and awkwardly hanging out with a bunch of people I didn’t know but apparently my host mom was waiting for me to arrive. She told me the next morning that she was telling everyone that her student would be there “ahorrita” (soonish). She then told me that she told me about the part like 3 weeks ago and for those of you who know me I have a hard time remembering what happened 3 days ago. So, I feel bad that I didn’t go to the party and try cuy with them, I’ll have to make it up somehow.

Today I had 2 exams. The first was a normal Spanish test like we have every Friday. We were tested over the subjunctive mode. I did well so there’s nothing really to say about it. I didn’t really study for it because it was a lot of information that I’ve covered previously. The afternoon test was a little more stressful. It was worth 50% of our overall grade in the ISS course. It was 2 short essay questions. It took me about an hour to finish and I feel that I did well but we’ll see come Monday. I am still waiting for mail to arrive. Kaylee and Lawrence sent me mail but I still haven’t received either. Hopefully, they’ll come soon. This evening we went to McDonalds for dinner because it was the last night in Cusco for the students from New York and they wanted to go…I still feel greasy but oh well. I ate in the plaza with Armando and Keelie. After Heather, Armando, and I walked through the plaza and watched the kids practice typical dances for an upcoming festival. I then went home and cut out newspaper articles about the mines. Tomorrow we go to Machu Picchu and Sunday we are climbing a mountain. So, there shall be more…this is going to be a very long post.

Machu Picchu

This day started very early but totally worth it. It started at 5am with my alarm screaming at me to get up and get ready. I packed my bag with water, a hat, an extra sweatshirt, my camera, and a stuffed dog named Muttsy Fluff (or just Muttsy for short). I went down to breakfast and found some fruit, some bread, tea, and a granola-like bar waiting for me. My host mom asked if I needed anything and I said so no so she said ok I’m going back to bed, see you tomorrow. I didn’t really eat much but I packed the apple, the granola thing, and 2 rolls in my bag. I drank the tea and headed to Emily’s house so we could walk together. We arrived at the school just before 6 and waited for the bus. When it finally arrived we all got on and headed to Oyantayambo to catch a train. Train is the only way to get to Machu Picchu. Oyantayambo is about 2 hours away by bus but only about 30 miles from Cusco. When we arrived in Oyantayambo we still had an hour before the train left. So, we wandered around the little area outside the train station and had a hot breakfast. It was just a fried egg on a role but it was amazing. When it was finally time to board the train we all got our tickets and headed to the platform. While I was waiting for the train I met a woman whose sister works at the artisans’ market by my house. When I approached I asked do you have a sister that works in the market in Cusco. She kind of just looked at me for a minute and said, “Sííííí, por qué? (yeah…why?)” I explained to her that I had met her sister and practically her entire family at the market and they told me that she worked there and to say hi. It was one of the most awkward situations of my life but still kind of cool.

Any ways, we boarded the train and it was really cool. I had never been on a train before in my life. I’ve ridden people movers and metro lines but those aren’t really choo-choos. The seats were group in 4’s facing each other with a table in the middle. I was sitting backwards but had a giant window to look out. The train ride was about 2 hours long and the altitude was clearly lower. We moved from cold Cusco to semi-tropical Machu Picchu. Instead of trying to describe the view I’ll just show you instead.

When we arrived in Machu Picchu, we were actually in a town called Aguas Calientes (Hot Water) aptly named for the natural hot springs that draws in many tourists. From Aguas Calientes we took a 30 minute bus ride up the mountain to the Machu Picchu resort and hotel. There we got the tickets for entrance. Below is a picture of my ticket. Can you see what’s wrong with this photo?

The hike to the ruins is a short one but it is all uphill and in semi-tropical climate. We weren’t use to this. We were used to freezing Cusco. At this point I started getting worried about one of the girls who was really sick. She had had the flu all week and missed class on Friday. She said that she was holding a 104 fever on Friday and still wasn’t feeling well. When we made it to the top of Machu Picchu we were first met by a wall of tourists and then in the back ground the classic view of the ancient capital of the Inkas.

After taking a million and half photos our guide moved us further up the mountain to a better view. It was higher and less tourists to get in our way. At the top of the mountain he showed us the Inca trail and the sun gate. The Inca trail is one of the largest stretches of Inca roads that still exist. During their empire, the Incas built over 25,000 miles of road. The Inca trail enters the lost city through the Sun gate. This sun gate is a natural forming gate that appears between 2 mountains. During sun rise the sun light passes through the sun gate and onto a calendar rock which told the Incas when to plant, when to harvest, and when to hold special tributes to the Earth.  There are many other sun gates in Peru, like the one in Trujillo which was built by the Moche (a pre-Inca civilization). This particular gate is one of the most impressive. On the winter solstice sun passes through a small hole on the gate to what was probably a sacred chamber.

Also at the top of the mountain there was a table either used from sacrifice or mummification. But around the table was a burial site. In this particular site over 150 women were found. We walked around for what seemed like forever. Our guide told us that one of the reasons Machu Picchu is so important is because the Spanish were never there. How do we know the Spanish were never there? Because 70% of Machu Picchu is original. Only time and weather have deteriorated the ruins and they are still uncovering more structures. While we do not know why the Incas left we do know that some of the females found showed signs of European disease which suggests they were refugees after the Spanish began the conquest. Machu Picchu is important for many other reasons as well. It is said that all the energy of the universe passes through Machu Picchu. There is some scientific evidence that supports or coincides with this affirmation. Machu Picchu sits in one of the world’s magnetic pole. The other is in the Himalayas.  As we explored more with our guide he showed us reflecting pools.


These pools reflect the moon light and acted as mirrors that allowed the Quechua to observe the stars and track their movement. We also saw the temple of the condor. It was thought that only the condor could transport souls to the next world. There were bones found in the temple which suggests offerings were made to the condors. After the Temple of the Condor which was more like a severely claustrophobic cave we found the royal tomb. We do not know who was buried here but it is thought that he was of extreme importance because of the precision of the walls and general elegance of the construction. Also on top was a curved wall, like the ones found at Quricancha (the sun temple in Cusco). After we finished exploring the ruins and taking more than a million and half photos we went to lunch. It was another buffet but it was really good. It was the only restaurant in Machu Picchu. I tried ceviche for the first time and it was fantastic. After lunch we headed back down the mountain to explore the town of Machu Picchu (yes, there is a town of the same name 😀 ).

In the town Andi and I didn’t want to walk through the market, we had done a lot of that. So, we wondered through the city just exploring. We got caught by a lady and ended up in here restaurant for happy hour, 4 drinks for S/. 20 (~$7.50). So, we each had two. Andi found a cat and started playing with it….she played with this kitten for about 25-30 mins before coming back to finish her drink. After we left the restaurant we bought some juice and sat by the river to drink our piña (pineapple juice). We ended up getting called down to the river by Will and Andi and he went for a little dip in the Oribamba River. After that, we had to find more juice and some pants for Andi. Andi went into this restaurant to change her pants and when she came out one of the employees asked if she took a shower in the bathroom. She tried to explain that she just changed because she fell into the river but he was still really annoyed. We made up for by playing with this little kid. We blew bubbles and he chased. His name was Pedro Felipe. After we played with the kid it was attempt number one to leave. After sitting on the train for about 30 mins without moving, we asked someone what was going on and they told us that the engine was broken and it was going to take them another 3 hours to fix it. So, some of us got off the train and got dinner and explored a little more. We finally got back on the train and were headed back to Cusco. I couldn’t sleep at all on the train but ended up just passing out on the bus. We got back to Cusco about 12:30. I went home and promptly passed out.


Viva Perú Mountain Take 2

So, on Sunday we decided to climb the Viva Perú mountain again. It took us about 1.5 hours to climb and then we explored. When we were half way up we ran into this ceremony for the saints…I think it was a mountain mass but I’m not really sure. They were not happy that we were there. They gave us all dirty looks and said things in Quechua that we didn’t understand. When we made it to the top we noticed that the big cross was missing and when we looked down the people from the church were marching up the mountain with the cross. So we decided to get out of the way and eat lunch on an adjacent hill. When they made it to the top of the mountain we watched them chant and dance and put the cross back. We ate a lunch of avocado and cheese sandwiches, juice, crackers, and roles. It was really good so we were happy. After lunch some of the people headed back down the mountain but the rest of us pressed on and explored the other mountains. We found some awesome water channels and did some free climbing. It was amazing except for the very angry cactuses and every plant seems to have prickers. But they weren’t all giant barbs but more like burs and some were like fiberglass. I still have prickers in my pants. We must have explored more than 10 miles of mountains before heading back for milkshakes. We went to Jack’s for dinner and milkshakes and coke. It was very good but very filling. I got home from that and once again just passed out. I’ll put some photos in here of the mountain climbing when I get them. Next weekend I’m off to Lake Titicaca so that should be fun. I’ll post again next week…probably from Trujillo or Huamachuco.

Weekend post #2

Bloggy Bloggy

So if you’re one of the 3 people that actually read this, you’ll know that I haven’t really been blogging lately. This has been because of 2 main reasons: 1 been busy and 2 nothing really happened. One thing that is new is that we now have class from 3-5 every afternoon. An anthropologist flew in from Lima to teach us in the afternoon about Peruvian history and culture. We started with the Pre-pre-Inkas, moved through the Pre-Inkas and finally talked about the Inka Empire through the colonization of Peru. I don’t really want to bore you with all the details but essentially people moved into this region about 11,000,000 years ago. It’s speculated on how they arrived. One theory argues that people crossed the Bering Straits Land Bridge. This would have meant that people moved into the Americas at this time and it took about 11,000 years for them to migrate to South America. Another theory suggests that South America and Africa were closer (super continent theory) and since they were so close people were able bring boats across what we now call the Pacific Ocean. We don’t really too much about these first people because there was no real written history until the arrival of the Spanish in the 15th century and even then their accounts are heavily biased and largely unreliable. Furthermore, since there were people living in this area before the Inka Empire the Spanish offer no insight to their lives.  Since there is a gap in knowledge we have to rely on archeological information. We know that these first groups were nomadic and believed in some form of the afterlife (based on the presence of mummies). These groups were also pre-ceramic groups. Ceramics show us a lot about the history of ethnic groups and the best pre-Inka pottery comes from the Moche who was considered the masters of pottery. Much like the ancient Greeks, the Moche pottery reflected political and social order and themes of Good and Evil. Many works are also depicted with a feline God with serpent characteristics. This shows a deep spiritual connection to the animals and nature.  But I think I’ve rambled enough about the history.

Weekend post #2

So we started Friday off well. We went to the Inka Museum instead of having a normal history/culture class. It was really interesting to see the history we had been talking about. No long was the Moche just a name in a book but they were real people that left things behind. We looked at textiles that were used to wrap mummies with offerings and the ancient pottery. The museum itself is part of history. It was a colonial building that used to house Inca nobility. I think the highlight for me was seeing actual mummies!, still perfectly preserved with offerings at their feet. There was one woman with a dog another with a small child. I asked the guide if the offerings were alive when they were placed in the tomb and he said that sometimes they were but they were anesthetized. However, he explained that they had a different idea of death and it was honor to go with the dead to the next world.  After the mummies we walked through the rest of the mansion looking at colonial portraits of Incas.

After the museum we went to kuricancha, the main Inca temple in Cuzco for a ceremony simply called pago a la tierra (tribute to the Earth). This was a ceremony done almost entirely in Quetchua but it was still fascinating. They had drawn 2 ovals on the ground in white flower petals. The outer was a boundary for regular people and the inner was just for the shamans. There was a lot of chanting and singing in quetchua and burning of incense. Essentially, this ceremony was asking the earth (mama quoche) for protection and blessing. The Quetchua people are still really connected to the earth and they still recognize the sun, moon, earth, thunder, water, and other natural elements as Gods. At the beginning of the ceremony the men blow the conch shells to the 4 regions of the Inca Empire; Chichaysuo (in the Northwest), Qontizuyo (Southwest), Qollasuyo (Southeast), and Antisuyo (Northeast). They then sounded the conches to the moon and the earth calling for the Gods to enter their presence. After the called the nations and Gods to them they chanted in the inner circle then lit a fire using a special wood called Paulasanto. It burns with a very strong and fragrant odor. They then gave Coca leaves to the shamans and they all took turns blessing the fire and placing the coca leaves in the fire. After that they distributed coca to everyone at the ceremony (including us). By this point on Will, Emily, Andi, and I were left from the MSU group. After the distributed the coca, they lit 3 more fires using the flames from the original fire. We all lined up and waited to put our leaves in the fire. We were told to hold the Coca with 2 hands and as I held it, the wax that held the three leaves together started to melt. When it was finally my turn to burn my coca leaves, I knelt down with a shaman and she asked my name.  She then asked me to hold the coca to my mente (this literally means forehead but can also mean my mind or the me). She then placed both hands on my head and her forehead on my hands and said a blessing in a very low voice. I think it was Spanish but it might have also been quetchua. After she blessed me and the coca she held the leave up to my mouth and told me to breathe on them. This symbolically and in a way literally puts part of yourself into the offering. After I breathed on the leaves I handed her them to her and she placed them in the fire. This is how they make offerings to the Earth. In a way I gave part of myself to the la Mamatierra (mother earth – literally). I then slid over on (still on my knees) to a woman next to the shaman who bathed me in smoke. I think the smoke was made from burning coca but I’m not sure. She waved it over me using a condor feather. The condor was and is a sacred animal to the Quetchuas. It was a very spiritual experience that I will never forget.

After the ceremony, we went to get dinner. We ate at a place called the Mushroom Lounge in the Plaze de Armas. It was fantastic food and a very funky atmosphere and an amazing view of the plaza. Aubrey and Amber met us there but Amber left soon after. We then went in search of wine so we could sit in the plaza and have a little nip. We ended up wandering around Cuzco and San Pedro. While in San Pedro we found a group of kids dancing a typical dance in front of El colegio nacional de ciencias (the national college of science – College is more like high school thought). It was pretty cool and we took lots of pictures and videos. I’ll put them in here when I get them. We then ended up wandering back towards the Plaza but we found this awesome street painter who did amazing work with spray paint and sponges. We ended up finding a grocery store that sold boxed wine. When I say boxed wine, I mean wine that comes in what looks like a giant juice box. We ended up on the steps on the cathedral watching a bunch of young kids practice a typical dance for an upcoming festival. From there we took cabs home and went to bed.

Chincheros and Ollantayambo

We started today like every other weekend, waiting at La Academia for our bus. When it finally arrived we headed off to a small town called Chincheros (Chin-chair-ho’s) and then Ollantayambo (oye-on-tie-yam-bow). Outside of Chincheros we stopped at a small community to talk to some locals about textile production and how they lived. Out of the entire community only a handful spoke Spanish and one lady spoken English as well. Most of the people outside of the larger cities speak Quechua (Catch-wah), this includes this community. When we arrived we sat down and the woman showed us how they clean the fur from the llamas, alpacas, and vacuñas (va-cugn-ahs). They use this root that when shaved and agitated in water becomes a natural detergent. As we listened we were served Coca tea which is used from altitude sickness, nausea, and…well most things. It was a good thing they served it to us because most of us were feeling a little queasy. Some were hung over and some just weren’t feeling well (don’t worry mom, I was in the second group). But the tea helped us feel better. After showing us the natural detergent, this woman showed us how they spin the wool into yarn which can be used to make many textiles. She then showed us which plants they use and how they use them for dying the wool. Finally another woman demonstrated the weaving process. It’s a very taxing venture and they still use traditional tools, such as llama bone. We were then free to look at the textiles and the other products they had for sale. I bought a few things but was uncomfortable about bartering because I knew that the money went straight into supporting the community. So, I don’t think I got the greatest price but it’s ok because it’s for a good cause? It’s like buying $2 mints from the Lion’s Club when you know they are really only worth $0.75….right? Anyways, back on the bus we headed to Chincheros. This is kind of a strange name for a town. A Chinchero is someone that produces chincha…what’s chinch, Zac? Good question class. Chincha is fermented corn beer. In ancient times the indigenous would build giant pots, like 50-100 gal. sized pots. They would then chew corn all day long and spit the remains into this large pot. When the pot was full they would seal it and let it ferment.  When the Chincha was ready it was only drank by men (historically, you women can now enjoy the joys of fermented pre-chewed corn beer). So, it’s not surprising to learn that Chincheros was known for its…corn production. There are also non-alcoholic versions of chincha…but really, what’s the point? You need to be a little tipsy to enjoy pre-chewed corn chud, right? Now the corn is not pre-chewed but rather ground and allowed to ferment.

Anyways, we then headed into Chincheros and up to see the ruins. They town was an Inca city that converted to a colonial town and the palace there was converted to a church…well half was, the rest was torn down by the Spanish. The church was constructed on the orders of Viceroy Toledo (yes, Toledo is more than just a name for a city in Indiana and Spain). It was one of the first catholic churches built in the “new world.” You can see intricate gold-work on the altar and how the Spanish covered Inca architecture with colonial religious figures. It’s an amazingly beautiful church but before you can be baffled by its majesty you have to weigh it against the devastating destruction and systematic inhalation of a native culture. And in the face of such repression the people have so openly welcomed the religion of their oppressors…dichotomous, no?  Anywhoozle, this church/palace sits on a cliff with a majestic view of the valley below. I’ll let the photos attempt to do the view justice even though I know my words and images will never be able to.

After Chincheros we went to lunch a functioning Hacienda. Even though these represent a very dark age in Latin-American History tourists seem to love them it was a very pretty place, with a great buffet. And after we ate we fed the llamas and other camelids. We were then back on the bus to Ollantayambo. Ollantayambo, is the city with the train to Machu Pichu (fun factoid: you can’t get to Machu Pichu by car, truck, or bus, only train). It is also known for its ruins and corn production. Ollantayambo, which is named for the 9th Inca’s general houses the water temple and acts as a wall to fend off invading forces. With the mountains on both side and the river to the north, it was a strategic location for the quechua. (Side note: you’ve probably noted that I differentiate between Inca and Quechua. The term Inca refers only the Inca king. It is a title but Quechua refers to ethnic group. The Inca is Quechua but the Quechua are not Incan). Among all of the ruins, I think the most impressive part is the running water. In all the ruins we have visited they all have had running water. Where does it come from? The mountains, is the simple answer but it is more complex than that. The Quechua constructed massive systems of aqueducts both above and below ground that harnesses natural springs and distributes water among the entire area. And since this was the water temple, what is a water temple without running water? A less than exciting place. So once again I think I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. This ruin did start with a heck of a challenge, about a million stairs straight up (yes, this is a hyperbole but you get the point).

When we got back to Cusco we went to the Peruvian black market called “El Molino.” Basically, this is the place you go to for good quality knock offs, CDs, and DVDs. This place was huge, about the size of 4 city blocks and just solid venders and people. We’re going to return before we leave just because we were so overwhelmed.

Awanakancha and Pisac (with Ruins)

So we started this day by going to an outdoor market. We had been there on the previous Sunday (I think this market is only open on Sunday). I didn’t buy anything but it was fun to look at everything and get called amigo a million and half time (-_-). But the next stop was worth it. We got to feed llamas and all those fun animals. They were all super friendly. And they would come right up to you and as long as you were feeding them they would let you pet you. So here’s a bunch of pictures of us feeding them.

After feeding the animals we went to the town of Pisac and hiked the ruins. Now, when I say hiked I really do mean hiked. There are some defined paths but just because they are well tred it does not mean that they are any safer. We started by taking the bus about half way up the mountain and then hiking around and up it. The views were amazing as you’ll see below. This was a really good example of terrace style agriculture. The Quechuas knew that they needed to acclimate the plants to different altitudes in order to domesticate and produce them in large enough quantities. At the bottom of the terrace it’s at least 5 degrees warmer, this was the genius of the Quechuas. The ruins were divided into two clearly defined regions. There was the lower agricultural area where the people worked the fields and above was the temple of the sun. Common people were not allowed up here, only spiritual nobility and the Inca and a few select others.  We passed through most kinds of mountain terrain you can imagine. We passed through low caves and climbed dilapidated stone stairs that seemed to be at an angle greater than 45 degrees. It literally felt like we were on top of the world. When we found a plateau, we laid down and it was almost like you could see the curve of the world. The ruin of Pisac was the location for the Temple of the sun and it’s clear to see why. It was very bright and very warm. I think the hardest part, physically was the descent. The stairs are very narrow and steep but then we came to the last quarter mile and it was all downhill until the last 100 feet which was almost straight up. I almost didn’t think I was going to make it. We then had to walk another ¼ of a mile to our bus along a road that was destroyed in a landslide. It was like walking in a dessert. We finally made it to the bus and had lunch. Again we ate way too much then went to the market of Pisac. Pisac is known for its market. It’s a very large flee market that caters to tourists. As soon as Andi and I stepped off the bus we smelled something very familiar. Paulosanto, the incents burned during the pago a la tierra. We followed our noses to the main square where I found something I haven’t seen or tasted since Costa Rica, Guanabana (Gwah.nah.bah.nah) or as they call it here chirimouia (cheery-moo-eey-ah). Best thing I have bought to date. We then wandered some more with the sole purpose to find the scented wood. We asked a few venders and they directed us to a small store and when we found we were so elated. Andi, Will, and I bought 2 bags each. Will bought a little more too…and by a little more I mean a battle axe and a large pipe. The venders were so excited they gave us some other incents for free. We then headed back to the bus to find that no one else had returned to we reentered the market. Each time we came back to the bus (about every 15 mins) we found more people had returned. As finally we were all together again and so ended the weekend.

Weekend Post #1

Drinky, Drinky; Dancy, Dancy

So I haven’t posted in a few days and I won’t have access to the internet until Monday so expect this to be a longer post. I don’t think I’ve posted since chocolate class Wednesday night. So, I’ll start with Thursday. On Thursday we had a salsa class!!! It was just really basic stuff because it was a beginner class. We did the basic steps and lady’s right turn. I’m not sure why they didn’t teach the guys right turn because it’s exactly the same just on a different count (lady’s turn on 5 guys turn on 1). But whatever.  After the class I talked to the instructors about where I can salsa and they told me about a bar called Inca Team. Inca Team has salsa every night from 9-11 but I think it’s just beginner stuff. We went to dinner after this and ended up at a pizzeria. It was pretty good but kind of expensive. It was in the Plaza de Armas so I guess that should be expected. Not much happened after that. We were all going to go to a club but it was late and we had a test the next morning so, we all just decided to go home. When I got home I studied a bit but because I wasn’t sure what was going to be on the exam I didn’t really know how or what to study.

Friday was exam day. There was not a listening section like our teacher said or an oral section. So, that was a little frustrating but at the same time I was relieved. The exam took me about 45 mins to finish and I was the first one done. Despite being the first one done I got the highest grade in the class, I don’t think I’ve ever done that…or at least not since high school. During out break I had these fried mashed potato things. Ok imagine this: The best mashed potatoes and they make a pocket inside with spinach and cheese, and then close the pocket and pan fry it. It was slightly amazing. After class I called Lawrence but I couldn’t talk too long because I had to get home for lunch. Lunch here is the big meal of the day. Everyone comes home, all the shops close, and they eat lunch together (mostly). Cesar and Ursula are university students so they aren’t always home and Cesar Sr. works a lot so, he’s not always home for lunch or at least he eats later than I do. I usually have to go back to school so I eat kind of early to their standards.

After lunch on Friday, I read and finished the Hunger Games and took a nap then got ready to go out. I showered and got dressed and by 6pm I was ready to leave even though I didn’t have to be at the school until 7:30. The school is just a common rally point for all of us. I wanted to start a new book but thought it should at least be by a Hispanic author. I have Hundred Years of Solitude on my kindle and loved it in high school but I kind of wanted to read a book in Spanish. I had never done this so I thought it could be a fun challenge. I asked Belinda if she knew how I could get a copy of it in Spanish. She didn’t know so she asked Ursula who asked Cesar Jr. who looked through his books. Ursula then called her boyfriend to see if he had it and it turned into this giant manhunt. Turns out Ursula’s boyfriend had it but she had a copy of El Amor en los Tiempos de Colera (Love in the Time of Cholera) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. So, I’m trying to read that but it’s a slow read…meaning it takes me 20 mins to read 2 pages.

Anyways, we started the night by going to dinner. I thought it was just going to be the MSU students but then there ended up being 14 people with us. A lot of people from the school who I didn’t know came but it’s whatever. We ended up going to this restaurant in the plaza de armas. Since there was 14 of us we asked if they could separate our bills. The waiter said no, so, I knew it wasn’t going to be fun trying to dived the bill. After we all ate and sat for I while I noticed that one of our MSU guys had disappeared to the plaza. It was really loud and in the restaurant so I gave the group S/. 30 for my bill and joined him in the plaza. We ended up talking to this street vender named María. She was selling hats and gloves. As we talked to her we learned that she’s a high school student who likes math and was studying accounting. We didn’t buy anything from her just then and finally the group had figured out the bill so we all went to a club called Inca Team. It was a very loud salsa/club. We danced and had fun. I ended up meeting this girl named Katie from Ohio. She’s living in Cusco on a Fulbright scholarship and is a fantastic dancer. At about 11 Inca Team stops playing salsa music and turns into a normal club but Katie told me about another bar called The Muse that has a live salsa band. So, I was like “heck yeah” and about 11:30 we went over to the Muse. It was the smallest club I have ever been in. but once the music started it was pretty cool, except for the people smoking in the tiny, tiny bar. I danced with Katie for a bit and then I felt bad for leaving everyone at Inca Team and I couldn’t really breathe so I went back. Not before finding out that there is a salsa school right next to my school and they are looking for another instructor. I might look into this on Monday. I ended up back at Inca Team where we stayed until about 2:15am. These 3 really creepy guys kept staring at our girls and taking pictures with them. At one point, I think they were hitting on me and one guy bought me a beer. I didn’t drink it because it was already open and he was creepy. I ended up using Heather as an excuse to leave the situation and made her dance with me on away from these guys. After we left nothing too noteworthy happened. I got home about 2:45am and went to bed. I only had one drink the entire night and it was really strong.

Quatro Ruinas

Today we went to the four ruins (Cuatro Ruinas). We stated by driving up into the mountains. We made our first stop by the Cristo Blanco Statue. It’s a statue that resembles the large Crist statue in Rio de Janero. From here we could see most of Cusco.  ImageWe took a bunch of pictures and there were two girls in traditional dress with a llama. For S/. .50 you could take your picture with them.

ImageThe first we went to was really high up in the mountains, probably close to 12,000 feet above sea level. It was called Pucupucara. It was religious center for the Incas and overlooks a large portion of the valley.  It was really interesting but the sun was so powerful you could hardly stand standing in the sun for more than a few minutes. It’s a weird sensation. Being at 12,000 ft+ so it’s cold but the sun is that much closer so it’s warm….it’s kind of like putting one hand in a bowl of warm water and the other in a bowl of ice water. I think the most notable thing about this place were these men dressed in ornate clothing singing and dancing and playing musical instruments. I think they were shooting a music video.

The second ruins we visited was another religious center for the Incas. In this place they used the water to purify the mummies. It was thought that if a person was mummified and then the body was washed in this fountain/river they would be reincarnated as Mountains. Each mountain was a family’s protector. For this only the most important Incas were mummified. We only spent a few minutes here but it was still pretty cool. We got to explore a little but not enough in my opinion. I think we spent more time in line for our tickets then we did in the actual ruins. We had to give them our international IDs and our driver’s license. I don’t know why but they were being really difficult about it. But here we got out Boletos de tourism (Tourist tickets). With these tickets we can get into most of the historical sites until next month when they expire.

The third Ruin that we visited was a place of human sacrifice. These ruins were built into a large rock quarry and when you were inside it was at least 10 degrees cooler. In this cave there was three tables. The First was the table of sacrifice. This was probably the most ominous because it had a channel for the blood to run into the ground and away from the body. The Second table was for mummification. And the third was for offering. The third table was pretty interesting because the sun only hits it on the summer solstice and this is when they made their offerings of food and gold to the sun god and creator. We left this place rather abruptly as well because were behind schedule and the tour guide was getting visibly annoyed with us.

The final place that we visited was called Saquesahuaman. This was spiritual center of the Inca Empire. We walked along the outer wall and that’s about it. We took a few pictures and found some llamas but weren’t allowed to explore the area at all. I kind of felt cheated. We paid to see the ruins but instead only saw the outer wall.

We didn’t make it to the final destination, Koriquanche The temple of the sun. So, that was kind of a bust. We ended up getting back to Cusco around 5:30 and we were all really hungry so we wandered for about 45 mins until we found a chifa. A chifa restaurant is a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese food. It was kind of gross and ended up making me sick about 3:30 in the morning. That was about it for the day.

Feliz Compleaños a mí

Today was my birthday and it started rather early, 8:30am. I got to the school around 8:15 and it was just Armando and Me for a while. So, wandered a bit and he found a tomale vendor. The bus arrived almost an hour late but we finally left for Parque de papas (Potato Park). Parque de Papas is a national park that protects over 1,500 types of potatoes. Many of the people there don’t speak Spanish but rather Quetchua (the native language). It was an absolutely amazing view all the way out and I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

View from 15,000 ft

There was one point where we were at about 15,000 ft and we were driving along this mountain road with nothing but air next to us for about 500 ft. it was really kind of scary. We didn’t get to try any potatoes but we stopped a few times to take pictures alongside the road. At one point we stopped at an outdoor market and I bought a few gifts.

When we got back my host family made me a special lunch of those fried mashed potatoes that I talked about earlier and chicken soup. After lunch Andi, Will, and I decided to climb a mountain. There are two mountains close to us that have things burned into them. The mountain we climbed had the words “Viva El Perú” burned into the side (kind of like a crop circle). It was a difficult climb but we made many stops. To start the trek there were 2 sets of stairs that went nearly vertical. This was the toughest part of the climb. We had to take a few breaks just going up the stairs. After getting past the stairs there we made a shorter trek to the Pachacútec statue. Pachacutec was the 9th Inca (king). The title Inca was reserved for the kings of the empire. I think Andi put it best when she said he was the Alexander the Great of the Incas. It was under his reign that Machu Pichu was started (I think).  The statue itself was rather impressive but there was a lot of graffiti on it and a lot of broken bottles. After the statue we encountered our first real obstacle: wild dogs. In Cusco there are a lot of stray dogs that roam the streets but in the mountains they revert to a more feral state and live in large packs. We were pretty good about getting past them but we mostly just avoided them. However, if we know we were approaching an area with lots of dogs we would pick up pointed rocks. After we got past the dogs the only real challenge was the steep grade, the harsh (and often pointed) vegetation, and lack of oxygen.  We made our climb in about 2:15. We were only passed once by a family of three (of which included a little girl) but we still made it to the top. We placed flowers at the cross and the shrine to the Virgin Mary. It was a very reverent place and it just felt very peaceful.  From the top of the mountain we could see the entire city; from the airport in the east to the Cristo Blanco statue in the West. It was such an amazing view but unfortunately we all forgot to bring a camera. Well, not so much forgot but warned not go up the mountain/bring anything of value. Andi’s family told her that thieves liked to frequent the mountain but hindsight rendered this argument useless. There is nothing at the top of the mountain nor anything of value (including people). We did pass a small village community on the way up, though. After we took in the view for about 30 minutes we wanted cake to celebrate my birthday. We descended in about 1 hour.

We bought cake from a local bakery and took it back to my house to eat. We all shared in the cake (including my family). After cake I played with Agustin some more. We built things from his blocks and played with his airplane. I think my Spanish is getting better because I can understand him most of the time. Then He went to bed I did some homework and updated my blog. So, that was my weekend. I’ll have more for y’all in a few days until then Hasta Luego.

Estoy Tarde

23 de mayo de 2012

Lo siento amigos, I forgot to post yesterday but I hope this makes up for it. After today we have had 2 classes. I am with four other students for the MSU (Will, Heather, Amber, and Andi) and our professor Wilfredo. Right now it’s pretty basic stuff, simple past tenses. We’ve been telling stories and recounting fairy tales in Spanish. I was asked to retell the story of Puss in Boots…I have NEVER read it so my description was something like this: “It’s about a cat, a very suave cat that wears boots. He’s seen as a bandit and has the voice of Antonio Banderas.” Seriously, I had no idea and now I think the teacher thinks I’m an idiot…oh well less work for me (haha). But today in class we talked about pick-up lines for a good 45mins to an hour.  It was super awkward because he asked what lines I’ve used to pick up women or what lines have been used on me and I was like…uh…none? He didn’t like that at all so once again he thinks I’m an idiot and didn’t really call on me for the rest of the time. But whatever, Cest la vie?

We didn’t really do much last night but hung out at school and did homework. But tonight we had a chocolate class. There are some great pictures I’ll have to put into here to show you all. I think you’ll get a kick out it. Basically we poured melted chocolate into a mold and the put some caramel filling in and sealed it with more chocolate. I ate three and gave the other 3 to my host family.

I guess I can tell you guys about my host family since I haven’t done that yet. I live in a very busy house. I have 2 parents (Belinda and Cesar Sr.) their three kids (Adriana, Ursula, and Cesar Jr.) Adriana lives in the back part of the house with her husband and 2 kids (Nicolas – 11 months and Agustin – 3 years).  They’re really cool and Ursula and I always have really interesting conversations. Sometimes they are serious like today we were talking about the political system in Perú but last night we were watching the Kardashians (spelling? Does it matter?)but she told me about this religious ceremony that’s happening next Friday. I don’t really understand it because she used a lot of Qetchua (Inca language) but from what I gathered it’s a big ceremony with fires and you take coca leaves in your mouth. You aren’t allowed to take pictures so I don’t think a lot of tourists will be there so it’s might be really cool. But I digress.  She and Cesar are both students at one of the universities, and I think they are both studying some form of hospitality business or accounting. Last night I hung out with Agustin and played with his cars and building blocks. This kid is some damn smart it’s not even fair. His mom (Adriana) is a teacher, I believe, and they have done a lot with him and flash cards to know shapes, colors, numbers, types of animals, and a bunch of other topics. We played together for about an hour until he had to go to bed. It’s weird but I actually had a lot of fun. My Host mom, Belinda, is really sweet. She’s a home maker and stays really busy by helping to raise her grandkids and other million things she does to keep the house clean and organized. My host dad, Cesar, is a taxi-bus driver. So, I don’t see him a lot but when I do we always have long conversations, usually about photography. Last night I showed him some of my work and we talked about digital versus film cameras. It was pretty interesting.

We went out to the plaza de armas for dinner and to check it out. I bought this really cool painting. It’s a hand drawn depiction of Machu Pichu. The artist originally wanted S/. 70 ($35 USD) but after walking away he chased me down and sold it to me for S/.40 ($20 USD). Guess that’s the nice thing about street venders; you can walk away from an offer and they can chase you down with a much lower counter offer. After that they were filming a movie in front of the large cathedral and they did some local dances in really ornate costumes (I didn’t have my camera but I’ll borrow some pictures to show you guys from Emily). After that we just went to the Irish pub had a sandwich and beer and just hung out it. It was pretty cool. We spent probably 3 hours there and then went home. Guess that’s all for tonight, I’ll try to get pictures for this post but if they aren’t there tomorrow I’ll edit this post so you guys can see. 

El poder del sol


This is a short story that Will and I wrote for class and some of you might enjoy this. I’ll try to post a translation later this week 🙂

Hace mucho tiempo había una hormiga muy perezosa se llamaba Pancho. Pancho y su colonia de hormigas vivían cerca de una cueva en una pirámide de arena pura y blanca. La colonia tenía que recoger un montón de comida para sobrevivir el invierno. Aunque toda la colonia estaba trabajando muy duramente, buscando la comida y todo lo que necesitaba a Pancho no le gustaba trabajar cada año y rechazó los deseos de la reina. En vez de eso, prefería bañarse bajo el sol y relajarse. Al final del verano la reina mandó que todas las hormigas regresaran a la pirámide para preparar el hogar para un invierno más crudo. Cuando la reina le preguntó a Pancho lo que había recogido para el invierno, el la respondió “No he recogido nada de comida. Pasé el verano bajo el sol.”

La reina se volvió furiosa y gritó, “¡nos has condenado a morir! ¡Explícate!”

Pancho dijo a la reina, “Aunque no traje nunca de comida, he traído el poder del sol.” 

“¡Y donde está este poder – yo veo que no tienes nada contigo, perezoso!”

A esta, Pancho sonrió, y dijo: “Tenemos comida bastante, mi reina, pero nuestro hogar es muy frio, y oscuro. Sin embargo, lo tengo  entre mis recuerdos.”

La reina todavía estuvo enojada y dijo a sus soldados, “acompáñenlo al cárcel donde pasará en invierno solo.”  

 Este invierno era el más frío en todo la historia de la colonia. Muchas de las hormigas empezaron helarse pero con las memorias del sol en su alma, Pancho estaba muy cómodo. La reina observó que Pancho no estaba helándose y lo pidió su secreta. La respondió que el color del sol sobrevive en sus memorias y cuando relató sus memorias del sol a la reina, ella sintió el color del verano extiendo por su tórax. Inmediatamente lo liberó con la condición que Pancho compartiría sus memorias con todo la colonia. Cuando lo hizo, la colonia celebró a Pancho y disfrutó el invierno más cómodamente. Después del invierno la reina convirtió a Pancho en el guardián de los recuerdos y del poder del sol.