Monday, May 23, 2011

Wedensday April 20th, 2011
The rest of my time in Peru went by faster than I can describe in an absolute blur of studying, traveling, touring ruins, dancing, shopping, packing and goodbyes. On Saturday Sarah and I visited two towns in the Sacred Valley, Calca and Pisac and explored the ruins there and on Sunday I went to another town in the Valley called Ollantaytambo with a couple friends from the school. There I saw some more ruins and then watched as one friend participated in what appeared to be a semi-official Peruvian soccer game.

Here’s a sampling of the photos:

Oh wait, before the day of the Sacred Valley I want to see Sacsayhuaman-the major ruins just outside Cusco-with a friend from salsa class.

This was a ways away from the main ruins, and I didn't get what it was at first, so I asked. According to my friend/informal guide the archeologists' best guess is that sites like this is where they cut out the stones to use for construction. Boy do I wish they could tell us how the heck they did that…

A part of the main ruins site. There aren’t any upclose photos because we didn’t want to have to pay to get in… yeah, I'll admit I was getting pretty cheap by the end of my stay.

Ok, now into the Sacred Valley:

Potatoes! I was trying to be sneaky about this picture (so I wouldn’t get caught and asked to pay—they do that) but if this dude wasn’t in the way you’d be able to see the incredible amount and variety of potatoes they were selling in this part of the market in Calca.

We found this area called a “park” but as you can see it was really just a cemetery. What you see are the tombs. If I remember correctly, the rich people can afford to be buried underground and the poor people go into the above-ground tombs.

This begins our tour of the ruins of Pisac. Terracing was definitely a common (and impressive) theme…

That’s right, we managed to get a picture of the two of us all on our own :P

The plant in the foreground=really cool! I saw others of this plant growing upside down clinging to rocks like this.

This looks like a crazy fake block city, right?? Nope, real stone.

From above the next big ruin site.

This begins the ruins of Ollantaytambo. Freddy (friend from Centro Tinku) and I are inside a house just up the mountain a bit.

Ruins and tourists! Good thing we came in the back way (once again to avoid paying) and didn’t have to deal with the crowd so much :D

Danny, other friend from Tinku.

After touring the ruins Danny and I watched Freddy’s soccer game. Or more accurately, Danny watched and tried to help me understand the slang/Quechua the people behind us were yelling and I mostly just appreciated the scenery J

After this fun weekend I had a couple more days of class and an exam, and then I sadly arrived at my last night in Cusco. After a fun going away get-together in the evening with the Centro Tinku family Sarah and I went to salsa class. It made me sad to think how long it may be before I get to dance salsa again L

In Café Tinku with peeps.

Salsa friends! Yep, that’s me in the red :D

Being my last night and all, some of my favorite people put aside the fact they had work/school/volunteer stuff in the morning and went out with me anyway for some more salsa and fun.

The early morning found me short on sleep but full to the top of wonderful memories of Cusco. I then proceeded to fill my suitcases to the top as well (and then some) and now find myself sitting in the Lima airport waiting for my just-past-midnight departure to the US.

My next stop is Albuquerque, New Mexico where I will finally get to see my sister again after what feels like years of separation!!! Ok, it’s really only been months, but still, I’m allowed to be excited, right? And despite the pride I feel for having worn clothes washed only by my own industrious work for 3 and a half months, I have to say I’m excited to use a washing machine and dryer again. I’m not really excited to start seeing a McDonald’s on every corner and start forgetting my Spanish, but there are always tradeoffs, eh?

Sunday May 22nd, 2011
 I could go on and blog about the wonderful time I had in Albuquerque and how great it was to see family and friends in Michigan after that, but the objective of this blog was to document my experiences in South America, so I won’t continue to bore you with the details of my life. Instead, let me just say in conclusion of all this that the title of this blog ‘Getting to Know the Other America’ is a complete misnomer. After spending 3 and half months in Peru and about a day and a half in Bolivia, I barely feel like I ‘know’ Peru. And from talking to other travelers of South and Central America I learned that each country is often quite distinct from the others, like the fact that there are some European-like countries in South America that, as I understand, are VERY different from Peru. Essentially what this means is that I will have to go back and do a more thorough tour and give all of Latin America the time and attention it deserves, but the truth is that not even in my wildest dreams could I hope to truly ‘know’ all that is our southern neighbor.

Thanks for staying tuned—I hope that at the least this blog was mildly interesting to you and at the most was eye-opening and inspiring!

Hasta la próxima vez, queridos amigos y parientes J


  1. Love the red dress. You didn't wear it during the short time you were in Michigan.... the plant is the second coolest after your red dress.

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