Thursday, July 23, 2009

Machu Picchu

I don't have much time to post right now but here's some highlights from Machu Picchu. We hiked 5 hours the first day and about 2 hours up Waynapicchu the next day (it's the huge mountain behind the Machu Picchu ruins in the all the pictures). I can't believe we made it all the way up there. It was a great trip, sooo beautiful.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

community service projects

We had our last community service project yesterday out of 4 total. They were all hard work, some days were more physical labor than I've ever done but it was fun at times and felt good afterwards. The community service aspect of the trip is important while being in a third world country. It makes me glad I chose to come to a third world country out of lots of places because it's such a different experience and there's even a chance to help out.

Here is the stove Jillian and Jake and I made yesterday. It's just mud, rocks, bricks and ceramic pieces on top. The families have to cook on an open fire without the stove and this stove is much better for them and the environment. It was cool to see the families and their houses out in the more rural places.

This is the stove we made last week...

The other 2 days of the projects we dug irrigation ditches and reservoirs so the community's water supply could get to them and their crops. We had shovels and pick axes and had to hike down to the work site. It was a dusty and a lot of work.

This is the view from where we dug the first day...
The view but our teacher Jim got in my picture. I've really grown to like Jim. He's super nerdy and awkward and funny. It's cool to just hang out with him outside of class. Yesterday we all went to his apartment for drinks and food before going out to a nice dinner. He has an amazing view of the city, it was really fun.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Amazon!

Here are some pictures of the lodge we stayed at in the Amazon. From Cuzco, we took at 45min plane ride, then a half hour bus ride then an hour and a half boat ride down the river then a 10 minute walk up to the lodge. It was a really nice lodge too. All meals included and they were all wonderful. We were very busy each day but it was worth it.

NO hot water at all.

The rooms only had 3 (very very thin) walls and this was the forth one.

This is the dining room and bar we ate our meals at, it was very nice.
All the food there was amazing and buffet style.

Lunch we had wrapped in a leaf on the way there sooo good.

Turtle with butterflies on his face
Monday afternoon after we got there we went on a hike to the canopy tower way above most of the trees. Every time we left the lodge they gave us big rainboots to wear because it was so muddy everywhere.

At the top...

The next morning we had to wake up at 4am because they said that's when all the wildlife is out even though we were very tired it was cool to see the sunrise and be up before it got too humid and hot. We went to a lake and floated around on a boat and looked at wildlife. Before we left we saw the human size otters that live in the lake off in the distance. There were about 4 of them playing and swimming around and making funny noises. I couldn't get good pictures from far away but that and the piranha fishing were the highlights of the morning.

We fished for piranhas, not man-eating like they are in the movies but they do have very sharp teeth. Here's the one we caught, we threw it back afterwards.

We also went to a medicinal farm where there's plants they make medicine out of

They make Pisco, the alcohol of Peru, out of this plant.
We got facepainted with one of the plants the indigenous people use it too
The shaman with the ayahuasca plant

Biggest tree I saw there!
A bunch of trees had these weird trunks...
Wednesday we got up at 5am to go to a parrot lake and unfortunately we waited around and only saw one bird that's just the way wildlife is sometimes I guess can't always plan on it. The one we did see was cool though...
A sunset from the river

Huge spider
We went to a farm where they grow bananas and papayas and avocados and more. Very different from farms in the US.
Here's a banana tree...

The last night we went on a night hike to the top of the canopy tower way up above the trees. The stars were amazing I thought I'd seen a lot camping before but this was totally different no light pollution anywhere I wish I could have taken pictures. We saw the Milky Way and the Southern Cross and lots of shooting stars
We saw some creepy crawlers along the way too
I saved the best for last
Wednesday we were getting ready to go to watch a soccer game between the guides, the cooks and our group but then we saw monkeys right outside of our room! it was definitely the highlight for me. I was later told they were spider monkeys, they were very small and cute and just eating leaves and jumping around. We ended up seeing about 4 or 5 around the lodge when we started looking around. The wildlife always comes when you're not expecting it

I took so many pictures but these are just the highlights. Each day was very long after getting up so early. It was basically get up go hike come back and rest then eat then hike again then rest again then another activity. It also rained one day we were there which was cool. I was worried about bugs but the beds had mosquito nets over them which made me feel better at night even though you could still hear bats above us in the room. ewww. Parts of it looked like we were in a movie, I still can't believe we were there It was so cool

Thursday, July 9, 2009

school, strikes and slides

Today and yesterday we had to walk to school because of transportation strikes and it's about a 50 minute walk, luckily we got taxis on the way home because the strikes die down in the afternoon. Today was also the last class for the next 1o days or so. We only have 1 more class and then finals.
Tomorrow we are going to a rural town about 2 hours away to dig irrigation ditches and Saturday we're building stoves for our community service project. Sunday we have a "free" day but most of our free time in the next 2 weeks will be spent writing our final essays and doing homework. Sunday our family is taking us to Tania's (our host mom) parents house about an hour away; should be interesting, her younger brother lives there too. (Then Monday is the AMAZONS!)

There's this really cool park near our house. There's actually really cool parks all around Cuzco with huge slides and stuff. This one has slides that look like snakes and a trampoline! I haven't been inside yet but I was anxious to post pictures so here are some from the outside...

Here's just another random picture. It's from the first week we were here, a bunch of us went out to the main plaza to the discotecas. It was fun, I wish we could all go out and hang out more but we're so busy and tired all the time it's hard. (You can see the little girl on the left who followed us around trying to sell us stuff for a while. She was out really late too.)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Lake Titicaca

This weekend we went to Puno, the town at the edge of Lake Titicaca, and a couple islands in Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. It's on the border of Peru and Bolivia.
We basically spend two days traveling and one full day there but it was worth it...

On the verrry long bus ride on the way...

snow covered mountains!

market on the way

baby alpaca!

I was afraid of getting spit on when it got too close, another girl in our group Haley had just got spit on.

Once we got to Puno, it was time for dinner. We went out to a restaurant and I decided I need to stop ordering American food here when I crave it because Peruvians just don't make it the same. Two people in our group ordered cuy (guinea pig) and it comes with the whole animal...teeth, eyes, brain, claws and even a little fur. I could never order that!

The next morning we took these tricycle rides to the boat before going to the islands. They were lots of fun to ride through traffic with.
on the boat

view of Bolivia in the distance from the boat..
The huts on the floating island we stopped at. (Only this one had a solar panel.)
They demonstrated how the islands are constructed. It takes years and it's just reeds on top of reeds on top of those big brown bricks of plants on the bottom. They have to add reeds every few weeks. And the islands do move a bit.

The husband and wife live in this hut with their 5 kids.
They gave us their traditional clothes to try on!

We took these boats to a different floating island.
We stayed the night with families on an island called Amantani.
This is the view of the lake from the family's house.
And here are some shots of the house we stayed electricity besides one lightblub in the kitchen, which was separate from the rest of the rooms. They had 4 sheep, a chicken and a cat.

Our host mom Rebecca cooking in the kitchen. We helped peel potatoes too. It was some of the best food I've had since being here, just veggies and rice but super tasty. They spoke Spanish but their main language they spoke to each other was Quetchua, an indigenous language.

This was the daughter, Lupe. She's only 3 and was very shy but very cute too.

All their doors are super tiny, they're all short too.After lunch there was a soccer game with gringos and Peruvians. One of our Cal Poly professors was goalie. It was fun to watch, those Peruvians are intense.

Then we hiked to the highest point on the mountain for sunset. The altitude is weird, it was really hard to breath and stuff but it wasn't a hard hike.

That night there was a fiesta. All the families gave us their clothes to dress up in and we all danced. It was so much fun. One of our teachers, Kevin, was very drunk. We get a very different relationship with the teachers being on this trip together. The dancing was very fun, everyone held hands in big circles and jumped and ran around.

Our teacher, Jim, brought fireworks to celebrate the 4th! We lit them during the dance and everyone came outside, including the band. It was really coool.

The band..

The next day we had a 3 hour boat ride to Puno then a 6 hour bus ride back to Cuzco..a very long day. But at least on the boat ride about half of us decided to jump in the lake. We were told it was 42 degrees F, sooooo cold. But we're only going to be at Lake Titicaca once, right? I didn't take pictures but other people did. It was fun. Even our teacher Jim jumped in, in his underwear! He was swearing because of the cold as he tried to climb back on the boat.

It was a great trip. I'm really glad we got the experience of living on the island for one night but I don't know if I could do it for much longer than that. We all missed our Cuzco families too, kind of funny.