Day 17 – One last fling in Peru

September 1, 2013

We woke up, had breakfast and packed our bags then hopped on the bus to the airport. The flight to Lima was an hour long. When we arrived in Lima we took a short bus ride to our hotel. We are staying in the “Hotel Dazzler”, which opened on August 12th, so it is brand new and looks really expensive. All the girls were jumping around excited to have mirrors, hot showers,  and hard wood floors.  We heard that Lorraine, Denise and Tamara were jumping for joy at the site of their room.  After we arrived we walked a couple of blocks to the supermarket to buy lunch and snacks. After that we spent the rest of the afternoon hanging around the hotel in our rooms or at the sauna until we went for dinner. On our way to dinner we enjoyed a nice leisurely walk along the ocean walkway, everyone was so excited to see the ocean, and we were all impressed with how beautiful Lima is-  we had been told that  Lima  was not as safe as Bolivia and could be quite dangerous. However, after about 20 minutes, we soon realized what a beautiful city Lima  is as we walked along the walkway with a superb view of the ocean.  We arrived at a mall and after a couple minutes of deciding and debating, we decided we would eat at TGI Friday’s.  We all enjoyed a nice, quick American style meal. We all packed up the leftovers of our huge portions and headed back to the hotel.   On our way home we took a slightly wrong turn and spent an extra fifty  minutes walking around the neighborhood, which was actually really nice because we got to see more of the city. We saw statues, parks, people playing guitar on the sidewalk and an  outdoor painting display at one of the squares.  Eventually we returned to the hotel, excited but sad to spend our last night in South America before we begin our journey home.

Andrew 

Hanging out  in the hotel

Hanging out in the hotel

 

View from the Mira Flores walkway

View from the Mira Flores walkway

 

View from the Mira Flores walkway

View from the Mira Flores walkway

 

View from our hotel room

View from our hotel room

 

View from our hotel room

View from our hotel room

 

Time for a small group photo before heading down to explore the ocean waterfront

Time for a small group photo before heading down to explore the ocean waterfront

 

Cole having some fun in the brisk water

Cole having some fun in the brisk water

 

A great trio

A great trio

 

Day 16 – Machu Picchu!

August 31, 2013

Today our day started bright, early and freezing, at 3:30 AM. We were woken up and had a quick breakfast of bread and jam before being ushered out the door, into the freezing air and onto a bus. Most of us slept through the ups, downs, turns and bumps of the hour and a half ride to the train station. Once we arrived we groggily got off the bus and, once our tickets and passports were checked, hopped on board a PeruRail train. There we found our seats, which were comfy and surrounding a table, and admired the mountains, glaciers and villages that we passed. We were served a snack of either a muffin or dried plantains as well as a drink, coffee being the favorite.

After an hour and a half, the train pulled into the station in Heua Caliente and our excitement was at an all time high, we were almost at our destination, Machu Picchu! However, before we could celebrate, we had to board yet another bus, this time with our guide Mario. Twenty minutes and a hundred pictures later, we were finally there, well almost. First, because there are no bathrooms in Machu Picchu, we had to pay a whole sol to use the ones outside the gate. Then, finally, we flashed our passports, had our tickets stamped and entered the ancient city. Star struck, we gawked at the amazing town. After a few quick pictures, Mario led us to a set of stairs. Now these stairs looked innocent enough, they weren’t too steep and there weren’t too many, little did we know this was just the beginning. Not even half way up we were sweaty, out of breath, and wondering if it was possible to get hypothermia and heat stroke in the same day. Then, we reached halfway up, a beautiful spot where you could see all of Machu Picchu. While most of us posed for our own pictures, Ashlee, being a blond haired, blue eyed, fair skinned girl had people asking to take pictures with her. After the fans had cleared, we were back on the stairs headed to the top with the promise of an even better view and the guardhouse. We weren’t disappointed.  We got there, looking down you could see all the way down to the river, and looking up you could see all of the surrounding mountains.

Now that we were at the top, there was only one thing left to do, go back down. This time though, we got to go through the city. Entering through the main gate, which is higher than the rest, we headed toward the temple zone. On our way we stopped at one of the Inca houses, which is slightly sloped toward the center and has closed windows, protection from earthquakes. Carrying on we saw the most important building in all of Machu Picchu, the Temple of the Sun, which is round and has the best stonework, all perfectly rectangular. Right beside that is a long building with a straw roof, the Water Temple, which is the start of sixteen fountains that go through the city. Not far from that was the Temple of the Three Windows. Three is a very important number for the Incas, as they represent the Snake, the Puma and the Condor.  We then headed to the Temple of the Condor, which are two rocks representing the wings and a rock carved in the ground that represents the head. Finally we headed to the last stop of our tour, the Ceremonial Rock. This rock is the exact shape of the mountain behind it, as well as two of Peru’s delicacies, fish and guinea pig. After answering our questions and saying our goodbyes, Mario left us saying that Incas don’t say goodbye, they say, “See you later”.

Once we were on our own, there was something we had to do, with Stacey home by herself on her first wedding anniversary we had to let her know we hadn’t forgotten. So, with Wren guiding us, we spelled  HAPPY ANNIVERSARY with our bodies, showing off our flexibility, gymnastic skills and patience. Not to mentions all the strangers laughing, pointing and taking pictures. After we had finally figured the “A” and taken the picture, we had an hour of free time to explore. Some of us took the opportunity to sit and have our empanada lunch and take pictures, while others walked to a building on one of the highest points. Unfortunately our hour was over much too soon, and we were quickly back on the bus to Haue Caliente. With the time we had to wait for our train we browsed the small market picking up a few souvenirs and adding to a seemingly ending collection of sweaters and blankets. After we had enough souvenirs to prove that we had actually been to Machu Picchu, we walked to the train station and boarded. This time our seats were in groups of two and our snack was a spinach pastry and cinnamon bun. This time though, our ride came with entertainment, a masked man dancing up and down the aisles. He asked Alyssa for a dance, and got Emma to model some of the clothes for sale on the train. After our new friend was finished we quickly pulled into the station and got on our last bus of the day, back to Cuzco.     

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Day 15 – Cochabamba to Cusco

August 30, 2013

Today we had a lot of traveling to do. We woke up at six and took a bus to the airport. On the way, a car tried to squeeze between our bus and another bus. After risking getting his car squished he stopped trying to pass us. We arrived at the airport and said our last good byes to Juan Carlos.  

We flew from Cochabamba to La Paz.  From above, La Paz looked like a city of Lego covered in snow. We got off our plane and saw a snowman built just outside the building. After going through security to leave the country we headed outside and got onto the exact same plane we had just arrived in. We then flew from La Paz to Cuzco and on the way we flew over Lake Titicaca, which is huge. We landed in Cusco and took a bus to our hotel.

After settling in, we were all starving so we walked to a pizza place for lunch.  The pizza was delicious! Some of the Interactors tried a pizza with alpaca meat. Afterwards, we had five hours of free time to explore the area around our hotel and go into shops. Many students found lots of stuff in the side markets off the street.  A group of girls had a day at the spa and manicures whereas another group got offered to have their hair dreadlocked. For dinner we bought out all the empanadas in a bakery. The students returned and had hot showers. Actually, so many people were showering at the same time that some of us had cold showers! We knew we would be getting up at 3:30 a.m. so we were all in bed early.

Cathedral in Cusco

Cathedral in Cusco


Snow on the top of an airport vehicle in La Pa

Snow on the top of an airport vehicle in La Pa


Alley way on the way to lunch in Cusco

Alley way on the way to lunch in Cusco


Typical street in Cusco

Typical street in Cusco


Houses on the hillside in Cusco

Houses on the hillside in Cusco


View of La Paz from the plane

View of La Paz from the plane


Cusco here we come

Cusco here we come


Temple of the Sun about 3 blocks from our hotel

Temple of the Sun about 3 blocks from our hotel


Franciscan Monastery

Franciscan Monastery

 

 

Day 10 – A Day off

August 25, 2013

Today we got to sleep in because it was our day off, it was also one of the coldest days we have had since being in Bolivia. We were planning on leaving around nine o’clock to travel about an hour to the old town of Tarata with a couple of Rotarians and Roteractors.

When we arrived in Tarata we were to witness part of a Catholic Mass service, which was pretty interesting considering the whole service was in Spanish.  Then we toured a convent that was built in 1796. We first saw where the Priests and Missionaries lived, made wine, and had meetings with the public. We also saw many different old and modern paintings about religion. There were also beautiful hand woven robes that some of the priests that lived there actually wore. By the time the tour of the church was over most people were starting to get hungry, so we stopped in town for a snack.  We all enjoyed some sausages and bread. Where we stopped to eat there was a bridge that had no water underneath it. The bridge was built when there was a river that ran in the middle of the town; it was built because a President didn’t want his horse to get wet when crossing the river.

After we had our snack we travelled to the town square which we learned was typical of a square you could find in Spain. We learned that for more than two hundred years the Spanish ruled Bolivia. In the square there was a statue of General Estebn Arze who was one of the heroes for Bolivia’s independence from the Spanish.  We learned that Tarata used to be where the Parliament was, but since the road to Santa Cruz was built the Parliament was moved. Also in the square there were statues of four Presidents of Bolivia whose home town was Tarata. The square also held a church that was very beautiful and had the remains of General Esteben Arze.  We left the square and the town of Tarata to have lunch at a resort that had paddle boats and a zip line. For lunch there was a selection between 5 different kinds of fish and chicken. Everything on the menu looked delicious even the exotic fish some people had.

After lunch we were allowed to walk around and use the zip line and other activities around the resort. Some of us bought chocolate covered strawberries for our dessert, they were really good. When we were done at the resort we drove back to Cochabamaba and got ice cream at Dumbos.  Back at the hall it was a free night which meant for some people washing some clothes, catching up with their journal, or just hanging out and doing nothing.  We had a short presentation by Phoebe who is the lady who has arranged for us to go into one of the Prisons, later on this week.

Tomorrow we are back at the work.  Can’t believe we only have four more days in Cochabamba!

-Sera

Pot of meat cooking at the restaurant

Pot of meat cooking at the restaurant


Group picture on the bridge with no water

Group picture on the bridge with no water


Guess what this is?  You are right!  The washroom!

Guess what this is? You are right! The washroom!


Some of our group outside the restaurant we had our snack

Some of our group outside the restaurant we had our snack


Mass in progress

Mass in progress


Group picture taken in the garden at the covent

Group picture taken in the garden at the covent


Cantuta flower-the national flower of Bolivia

Cantuta flower-the national flower of Bolivia


Our snack being served

Our snack being served


Street in Tarata

Street in Tarata


Andrew on the zipline

Andrew on the zipline


Derek enjoying the zipline

Derek enjoying the zipline

 

Day 8 – A surprise outing!

August 22, 2013

Today was just one of our regular working days, to start.  Everyone who had been feeling sick said they were feeling better and we started the morning with our whole group working!  We were spreading dirt and hauling gravel, and a few boys were helping the three Bolivian workers make the concrete slabs for the “concha”.  At around 9, we were surprised with the fact that we would only be working until lunch today!  Half the group went back to the Scout’s hall to shower and eat, and the other half of the group went back a half hour later, and by around 1-1:30 we were ready to go.

 Our afternoon consisted of us getting to the top of the hill that holds “El Cristo”, or what our group calls “Big Jesus”, due to the fact that it is the biggest Jesus statue in the world!  About 10 of us decided to climb the steps up to the top, and the rest took a gondola up.  The ones who walked were all really happy they did since you could see your progress and the view was amazing, but the ones who took the gondola enjoyed the ride as well.  The view from the top was beautiful and Jesus really was BIG!  Unfortunately we could not go into the statue due to it being locked, but it was still really worthwhile to go up.  After we had all taken as many pictures as possible, everyone went back down either walking or taking the gondola. 

We then took cabs to a pretty little square and from the square we decided to walk and see the types of shops along the way. We even stopped for some ice cream. When we were done our treat we headed back to the Scout’s hall at 6:00.  After dinner, a group of athletes from the Special Olympics Cochabamba team came to play a variety of games with us.  There was tennis, bocci, soccer, and basketball, and we were all terrible at every game compared to them.   We were presented with certificates, and thanked for spending our evening with them.  Once they left around 8:30, many from our group were exhausted and decided to go to bed after our very eventful day.

 – Svetlana

Some of the group with some friends

Some of the group with some friends


Lorraine and a new friend on the gondola at El Christo

Lorraine and a new friend on the gondola at El Christo


El Christo

El Christo


The group in front of El Christo

What a great looking group


Winners of the Bocci tournnament

Winners of the Bocci tournnament


Time for some gymnastics at El Christo

Time for some gymnastics at El Christo


Wren, Sophie and Emma

Wren, Sophie and Emma


The warning posted at the bottom and top of gondola ride to El Christo

The warning posted at the bottom and top of gondola ride to El Christo


Happy girls taking the gondola instead of the stairs

Happy girls taking the gondola instead of the stairs


Time for ice cream

Time for ice cream

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