Saturday April 2nd, 2011
Here is a review of what has changed since returning from the jungle:
First, I regret to inform that I have returned to more frequent use of chapstick. I am making an effort, however, to simply be a user and not an abuser. I try to be conscious of how much and how often…
When I first got back the weather was markedly better. Now that we are transitioning in to winter (in an autumn of sorts, but it’s hard for me to think of it as autumn without any color change…) it rains less and the sun comes out now and again. Some days the air almost actually feels warm, but most of the time it’s still cool or cold.
Sarah and I have started going to 2 salsa classes, which are back to back. The first is a beginning-intermediate class and the second is more advanced, so we’ve been learning a lot. On top of that we’ve also had a couple of private lessons—I think it’s safe to say at this point that we are salsa addicts J
As far as the media goes, for the past couple of weeks whenever we turn on the radio or television we’re guaranteed to hear propaganda or news about the candidates of the upcoming election. The presidential elections in Peru are a little different than what we have in the US. First, there are 11 candidates in total, 5 of which are the most popular and get covered by the press. With that many candidates, of course, it’s unlikely that one candidate will obtain a majority with just one election. Therefore, on April 10th the first round of elections will take place. If no single candidate obtains 51% or more, there will be a second round of voting in June between the top two from the first round. Considering that all 5 top candidates have been very close in the popularity polls, it’s very unlikely that the first round will decide Peru’s next president.
Another difference in the democratic system of Peru is voting is obligatory. If you don’t vote you are not permitted to leave the country until you have gone through the proper process to pay a fine to the government. Furthermore, you have to vote in the city where you obtained your Peruvian ID. This means that between April 8th and 12th, many people are traveling and tickets to go anywhere are hard to obtain and expensive.
This has actually had a direct impact on my own plans. I recently realized that I needed to travel out of the country before April 6th to renew my VISA. When I entered I was given a 90 day tourist VISA, which is about to expire. I was already planning to travel to Bolivia to do this, as it’s the closest and easiest to get to of all the countries surrounding Peru. Originally I planned to leave Cusco on Tuesday night to be in Bolivia by Wednesday, but then decided it would be better to avoid traveling on the days surrounding the elections and now plan to leave tomorrow night. This change also made it possible for Sarah to travel with me as well (her plans to visit Macchu Picchu next weekend would have meant I travel solo if I’d left on Wednesday) which is a big plus, too.
Speaking of Macchu Picchu, here are some pictures of my trip there, which I promised a while ago…
Plaza de Armas of Ollantantambo. After an hour and a half in bus from Cusco I arrived here and then walked to the train station on the other side of the town.
Although this picture is not all that flattering (maybe I was just in a sort of daze, what with the incredible scenery and all...) I feel that I need to share it as it's the iconic Macchu Picchu picture :)
The angles here are the bases of the roofs of the houses. The hole in the stone is used to attach the roof onto the house. Just imagine... how long did it take to put that perfect hole in that solid rock???
The train route followed this river for most of the trip. It's hard to get the magnitude from this picture, but it was absolutely roaring!
More to come after the quick visit to Bolivia!