Lima

Hi all!

Sorry I haven’t updated the blog in a while.  I’ve been up to a lot since I got back from Cusco, but primarily I have just been settling into my classes.

Last weekend I went to downtown Lima to see the historic part of town.  I saw the changing of the guards, which was a very interesting show put on by the Peruvian military in front of the government palace, pictured below:

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Also in the city center, there was this fountain in the middle of the plaza.  On National Pisco Sour Day, an official holiday to celebrate Peru’s national drink, this fountain is filled with Pisco and you can come fill a cup with pisco from the fountain for a small fee.  For those of you who don’t know, pisco is an alcoholic spirit distilled from grapes and it is mixed with sour mix to make the Pisco Sour.  Chileans would have you believe that they were the creators of the Pisco Sour, but my friends in Peru have been sure to inform me otherwise…

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Then, we made a trip to the San Francisco Convent, where they used to bury everyone’s remains since there were no cemeteries.  This was something I was looking forward to doing since before I even arrived in Peru.  I felt like Indiana Jones ducking my head down to go through the tunnels of the catacombs to see the thousands upon thousands of skeletons buried there (especially since I was wearing my adventure hat).  We were not allowed to take photos down there, but I still managed to sneak a few when the tour guide was not looking (ssshhhhh).  I turned the flash off so they are kind of dark and didn’t come out very well, but here’s the best one anyway.

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Other than that and class, I haven’t been up to too much.  I was invited to climb with the rock climbing team at the university on Monday and Wednesday nights on their rock climbing wall so I will probably go to my first session there tonight so I can keep up with an old hobby and hopefully meet some friends along the way!  I hope everything is okay back in the states, I was crushed by the news from Boston on Monday.

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Cusco

Hello everyone!  I know I haven’t done a very good job keeping my blog updated, but in my defense I have been very busy.  Last week I had to register for courses for both this semester in Peru and next semester at W&L, both of which turned out great.  Then, last Thursday I flew from Lima to Cusco to begin a weekend full of adventure!

On the first day we visited a small city called Chincheros.   The altitude in Chinceros is relatively low in comparison to the city of Cusco, so the director of our program decided it would be better to stay there the first day so we could get acclimated.  We visited a small organization of women that create various products using alpaca, wool, and baby alpaca and they showed us the process they use to create these products.  Afterwards, we were given the opportunity to buy some of their products, and I bought a wonderfully soft blanket made of baby alpaca.

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We also visited some Incan ruins called Ollantaytambo.  The ruins were impressive and the views of the mountains were spectacular, but it was all merely a warm up for our trip the next day to Machu Picchu.

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The trip to Machu Picchu on Friday was the highlight of the trip.  I am lucky enough to have visited this wonder of the world once before, and the second time was just as impressive.  Pictures really do not do this place justice, but here are some of the ones I took:

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I’m particularly proud of the picture with the llama.  I think it encapsulates Machu Picchu very well.  I also got to climb Wayna Picchu, the tall mountain behind Machu Picchu, which I didn’t get to do the last time I visited.  They only allow 400 visitors a day up Wayna Picchu  in order to preserve the ruins up there.  This was my favorite part about the trip because the views were spectacular.

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Then, on Saturday, we returned to Cusco and spent the day in the city.  I got to go horseback riding on a trail with an excellent view of the Andes and eat cuy, or guinea pig, a Peruvian delicacy.  I thoroughly enjoyed them both!  Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the cuy because I didn’t carry my camera around the city as there is a lot of theft.

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All in all, I had a wonderful time, but this week it’s time to get serious and start class.  I’ve enjoyed the first few classes I’ve attended so far and am looking forward to this upcoming semester.