Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Back in Cusco

Last night we got back from our two and a half week trek around Peru. We started in Lima, and then continued on to Puerto Inca, Nazca, Arequipa, and then to Colca Canyon. I wrote an update in my journal while I was in Colca... here it is...

An update is definetely in order. Last time I wrote I was in Lima, the capital. Lima was really fun. We took a bunch of classes in different buildings like a school in Chinatown, a library, and an old mansion. Actually the classroom in the old mansion reminded me a lot of a Kenyon classroom in Ascension. Chandeliers and everything. We explored Lima a bit, and had a really cool tour in Chinatown. The interesting thing about Chinatown in Lima is that you can look and look, and you can not find a single person who looks like they are Chinese. Chinese immigration has been going on for so long that now everyone is pretty mestizo. The food in the barrio chino was great, full of fresh seafood because we were on the coast. One night in LIma we went to a pena (penya, there is supposed to be a squiggle over the n...), which is a concert type event of traditional music. It doesn't start until 10 or 11 at night, and goes into the wee hours of the morning. In between songs, the owner of the bar recites poems. At first they are just about Peru or the music, but as the night goes on the poems get dirtier and dirtier. After a while the audience starts to participate. First of all, 80% of the audience was 70 plus. And they knew the dirtiest jokes! It was funny because 2 am rolled around and a lot of us were exhausted from a really busy day. We ended up leaving and a bunch of people at least 50 years our seniors kept partying, dancing, and drinking. One day in Lima we had a whole day that was just about theater. We went to a really cool small theater and watched an amazing play whose name I can't remember right now. It was about a spirit trying to find his bones. He was travelling to Lima from the campo. It was about all of the military violence in the 80's and 90's and the desaparecidos that resulted from that violence. It was powerful and really well done. The play was actually written by Grace's advisor, a peruvian professor who now works at Brown. We then saw a really funny presentation of masks, and then we saw the workshop where the masks are made. At the end of the day we watched children's theater with a bunch of kids who had gotten out of school. It was about a mom rat and a dad rat who were trying to find a worthy husband for their daughter. They wanted to find the strongest man in the world (artie, pete and pete anyone?) to marry their daughter. They asked the sun, but the sun said the rain was stronger. This continued and they went from the rain to wind, wind to the Great wall (the story was set in China). The Great Wall was scared of rats, ,so they decided that the best partner for their daughter was another rat. It was cute, and the costumes were amazing. When we were in Lima, everyone went swimming every day at the beach and I couldn't go because it was a rocky beach and my foot couldn't handle it. I finally got to swim on a sand beach the day we left Lima. We left Lima by bus and went to Gonzalo's (the Lima director) beach house. There was a sand beach, so I could swim. It was amazing to finally swim in Peru! When I hurt my foot in the jungle, everyone went swimming in the river immediately after. I was so jealous. I couldn't swim the entire time we were in Lima, so I practically cried with happiness when I hobbled into the water near Gonzalo's. Carolina and I got swept out by a super strong current and we were trying and trying to get back to the shore. I used my lifeguarding skills to keep Caro calm (haha) and we eventually pushed through the current. The beach lifeguard was about to get us. Oopsies. We only stayed at the beach for two hours, because we had to continue on our journies. We went to an old plantation house that is not functioning as a hotel. It was beautiful and incredibly creepy at the same time. On the house level it looked lie gone from the wind, and below the slaves' quarters were like hell. We only stayed for a while, and then we continued on to Nazca. We stayed at a hotel for the night (with a pool! I swam twice) We got up early in the morning to take small planes to see the Nazca lines in the sand. They are about 1000 years old, and no one knows who made them. dum dum dummm. They were really cool, even though the tiny plane for six almost made me spew. There were designs of a spider, monkey, bird, astronaut (what? i know), hummingbird, etc. Whoever made them somehow designed them in a way that they would never blow away. After seeing the lines we got in the good old bus and travelled though the desert to Puerto Inka, an old Inca port that is nothing now but a beach with a hotel on it. We stayed at the hotel, and were there to have one class and relax! It was great. The water was frightening and scary looking that only two people braved the ocean, and it pretty much beat them up. However, there was a pool, and I got to exercise my gimpy foot once again. We ate dinner in a semi-inside room, a nd while we were eating I noticed a disco ball and varions colored lights. hmmm. After dinner they started playing disco tunes, but softly. Everyone was just sitting around chatting, but Marge jumped up and started to dance. The guys controlling the music pumped up the volume, turned off the lights, and on came the colored lights and strobe. It was hilarious because we were in such a relaxed beach setting, and all of the sudden it looks like a disco. I hopped and danced as well as I could with my damn boot. By this point, I wasn't using my crutches anymore. After dancing they turned on the tv's and we started karaoking! It was a great sober time. After a night swim in the pool, I went up to the room that I was sharing with Carolina and Pishtaco. They were both saying how their showers were the best they had in Peru. I get in, get all soapy, and the water shut off. So I hobble over to another room, and everyone's water was off. I had to shower with my giant bottle of water. The next day we got up early and travelled to the city of Arequipa. Arequipa has been my favorite city so far. Its not too big, and really pretty. It's not touristy like Cusco, or hectic and big like Lima. The architecture was amazing. We went to the convent of Santa Catalina, which was really cool. There are still nuns living there, but they are separate from the touristy parts. We saw some great art at the Modern Art Museum, and went out for Mexican food. It was delicious. They beer in Arequipa is called Arequipena, which is funny because it looks exactly like Cusquena. The Arequipean pride is very strong. We stayed in this really coold hostel which was once a massive house. Beautiful courtyards, stone walls, old furniture. Very cool We left early early in the morning on Thursday to travel to Colca Canyon. Oh! The night before we left for Colca I went to the doctor in Arequipa, and he inspected my foot. He told me to take the boot off and to start walking with sneakers and an ace bandage. Yessss. So I have been crutch, boot, cast, and wheelchair free for about a week now. My foot is a little sore, but it is getting better as I juse it more, hallelujiah. I seriously felt like I was never going to walk normally again. So we got to Colca Valley the mid-morning on Thursday, and we went straight to Chivay, the biggest town. There we split up into groups of three to go to five different towns. I stayed in Yanque, the closest town to Chivay. I stayed there because it is at the lowest altitude out of the five towns, and there is no hiking involved in getting to the town. Thanks foot. I actually really enjoyed my time in Yanque. On Thursday, Carolina, Kate and I walked around Yanque with Gloria, the woman who directs the homestays here. She took us to the school that she works at, and we saw teeny tiny babies asleep, and then we met the 3 to 5 year olds. They sand and danced for us. The next day I got up at 8 (my host father David asked me if I was alright, since I was getting up so LATE...) had breakfast and hung around with David. He is an artesano, and he makes incredible masks and other things like hats and decorations for festivals. Later in the day Carolina, Kate and I went to Kates house to ask her host father about our project. We have to do a project about the importance of water in Yanque. There are two sources of water, from two different mountain rivers. The town is split in two, and each half of the town has to use their own water supply. There is a very low level of competition between the two halves of town. It is interesting because the entire town is so small. We also learned about the war for control over a certain river between Yanque and another town, Corporanque. One person died (from Yanque), but in the end Yaque won, and now controls the water. Last night there was a procession to begin Semana Santa. A large float-like thing was carried around by a bunch of men. It was decorated in gold shiny paper, and silver platters. At the top sat a figurine of Virgen Dolores. Everyone followed her through the streets of Yanque, trowing flowers at her, carrying candles, and singing songs. The whole procession ended at the church for a short service. The whole event was really beautiful. The next day we got up early to take a bus to Cruz del Condor to see one of the deepest parts of the canyon. We actually saw condors! Two babies and two adults. They were massive, and it was incredible to watch them fly. The Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. Grace was telling us about how a lot of German tourists die at the Grand Canyon when they are taking pictures because the person tells them to back up to get more of the canyon in the photo, and they end up falling. I don't know. Dani decided to translate this into Spanish loudly for Rosanna in front of a bunch of German tourists. Good one Dani. After Cruz del Condor we went to Chivay and looked around. I went home for lunch. Sunday, our last day, we got up at 4 am to go to the hot springs. It was a long cold walk, but the springs were worth it. We had our first shower in a long time, which was incredible. We left early yesterday morning to travel 12 hours back to Cusco. And here I am! Phew that was a lot. This week we have two exams and two papers due, and then we all leave for our independent projects. I'm going to live in a town about an hour away from Cusco called Chinchero. There is a community of women who knit and make incredible textiles. I am going to live with one of them and hopefully learn how to knit they way they do with looms. I'm pooped from writing all of this... more later...


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