Peru pt. 4: Cusco!

October 6, 2010

Our next & final stop after Puno was Cusco, which was another 12ish hour bus ride. We stayed at this wonderful hostel owned by a Peruvian lady and her Canadian husband. Our first few days in Cusco we spent exploring the town, eating at Paddy’s Irish Pub (it holds the record for the highest elevated Irish pub), eating lots of other delicious foods, browsing the markets, half participating in riots and catching many festivals that were being put on for 28 de Julio (Peru’s Independence Day). **A little side note about Peru’s Independence Day: We were told that Cusco was the place to be. We were told that this day was supposed to all sorts of epic, so much so we skipped out on going to Bolivia so that we could be in Cusco for this wonderful day. There was talk of a giant fountain filled with beer, lots of parties and festivals, and other Independence Day type celebrations. Well, let me just say.. no beer fountain, no fiestas, people just went about their normal business. We went on a three hour horse back ride the morning of Independence Day & then went out dancing later that night. So while there no festivities during the day, we definitely made the celebration one to remember.
Cusco did have this awesome market where you could get just about any movie you wanted. One kid in the group ended up getting 50 movies for 100 soles, that’s less than $1/movie. Some people in our group also got Northface jackets for ridiculously cheap.
Two days of our Cusco trip were spent adventuring to Machu Picchu, but that story is going to be another post.
On our arrival back from Machu Picchu, the taxi driver told us that one of the churches was celebrating it’s anniversary and that we should go check out the fiesta. We ended up going the next night and it was a bunch of drunk Peruvian men dancing and having a good time. We did get to eat these Alpaca Stick Meat/Potato street food dealios though & they were quite delicious.


Peru Pt. 2: Arequipa

September 21, 2010

Arequipa is the second town that we ventured to in Peru. It was a 12 hour bus (the first of many long bus rides) ride from Pisco. We spent five days in the town, which I was totally okay with since it was one of my favorites. Most of our time here included exploring the town and the markets (Sam and I went one day and bought every fruit that we had never seen before so that we could try it), eating lots of delicious food (thanks to two girls who had been there for a month we discovered delicious falafel, crepes & empanadas), and checking out the local churches (which are incredibly beautiful inside and out). We did attempt to climb El Misti, the tallest volcano EVER (well, not really, but it sure felt like that). Unfortunately for us, we weren’t quite adjusted to the altitude just yet and well all ended up getting sick. Good thing is, we look back on it and laugh now.

The first stop on our Peru trip was Pisco Sin Fronteras (PSF), a volunteer organization located in Pisco, a town about four hours south of Lima. PSF was started about two years ago after the town was hit by a large earthquake that left the town in rumbles. Volunteers from all over the world come to help the people of the town rebuild their lives in any way that they can. A typical day at PSF involved being up and ready for breakfast at 7, a group meeting at 8 to discuss the projects going on that day and sign up for the one you wanted to work on, leaving for work around 9, returning from work between 4:30-6, dinner at 6, and the rest of the night to do as you please.
Most of the days I worked at the Ludoteca, which is the town’s daycare center. The kids are so much fun to be around. We made balloon animals, made things out of play-doh, and of course, played countless games of soccer. And let me tell you, never underestimate the soccer skills of a Peruvian child. Another day I helped teach English lessons, which was definitely a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. But, the enthusiasm that they had while learning definitely made it worth it. The craziest day of volunteering was working at Toledo’s house. We were helping him add another room on to his house, which we were making out of sugar cane sticks and poop mud (dirt, manure, water). I never knew there was such an art to making and flinging mud.
This doesn’t even begin to explain everything wonderful that was Pisco & PSF, but I’m not sure there are words that could properly do that. PSF was such an amazing experience and we met some really awesome people, I really wish we could have stayed longer.


May 3, 2010

After a wonderful adventure with a lovely friend I’ve fallen in love with this city.
A class assignment brought me here, but the food, people, atmosphere, the warm weather, the Cal campus, the Hobbit Houses and everything else will keep me coming back.

[image: Planet Berkeley by Scott Haefner]