Sunday, September 4, 2011


I had an amazing and long weekend!!  I haven't quite figured out how I am going to handle these blogs, but I think that I am going to go ahead and write them separately by day.  So much happened this weekend, especially at Machu Picchu, that I think it would be best to split the blog posts up.  I am going to try my best to write about Thursday and Friday today and then hopefully I can cover Machu Picchu tomorrow!

Listos?! (Ready?!)

Okay, so Wednesday night I packed very very late at night.  I wasn't going to go to bed at all, but then I decided I should probably get at least a little bit of sleep since I was heading to Cusco, which is approximately 11,100 feet above sea level and oxygen deprived.  I thought this sleep thing would be a good idea, but of course it wasn't.  For me, I would rather stay up all night then wake up early and clearly I proved that to myself when I woke up late.  I'm sure by now you're not surprised by me waking up late.  Luckily, I was all packed, showered, and ready to go out the door, so I grabbed my bag and left my house just in time to catch a cab with two other girls from my program.  Oh by the way this was all at like 3:50 a.m.  When we got to the airport (at 4:25 a.m.) we checked into Star Perú airlines and then headed to Starbucks.  I got a banana muffin and also I talked myself into getting a Frappuccino even though I dislike coffee.  Well although I thought this action would help my body it was a terrible idea!!  I think my body was rejecting the high amounts of caffeine and/or the fact that I got little amounts of sleep, so before I even got on the plane I wasn't feeling well.  I got through security okay with my big bottles of liquid, razor, etc.  Apparently it's not a big deal to have those things on domestic flights, which is kind of scary, but so much less of a nuisance at the same time.  I did get my aerosol hair spray taken away from me though, so I guess some things matter.  Anyway, besides my head and stomach hurting the 1 1/2 hour plane ride was still good.  Again, better then my flight here (got free food and drinks). :)  Anyway, we landed okay and the actual landing part was probably the smoothest landing I've ever had, but the part right before the landing was probably the scariest.  You know how usually planes gradually descend...yeah, that didn't happen.  We pretty much just angled forward straight down and then we had to take a sharp u-turn to the runway.  I was almost positive that we were going to run into a mountain between the descending and turning.  Oh, by the way, this was my first flight where I walked/bused to and from the plane so that was new.  Oh and the first time I was under the wing..  The following pictures are so you understand the ridiculous cloud coverage in Lima..

Outside of Lima

Way outside of Lima...Cusco!
Okay, so when we got to the sunny town of Cusco.. I slept!  I realize that this wounds like I was missing out on Cusco, but trust me, I wasn't.  It was still only 9ish in the morning and because of the change in altitude the smartest thing to do is rest.  Had I not, there was a huge chance of getting altitude sickness and making the rest of my trip miserable.  I wish I could explain the feeling I felt when I got off the plane, but it's kind of impossible.  We were instructed to walk like we were 80 years old (sorry to those of you reading this who are actually 80) and it's a good thing we did.  Walking a few steps took my breath away.  To acclimate to this, I slept, drank a lot of water, and drank coca tea.  For those of you thinking, isn't coca what's used in cocaine..yes, it is, but as all the tourist T-shirts say, "Coca is not a drug," which is true.  Coca has been used in Andean traditions for a long time and one thing that it helps with is altitude sickness, so it was perfect.

After the nap, some of us went out to a great and cheap restaurant in Cusco!  We got a salad, soup, entree, dessert, and a drink for 10 soles (that's $3.64!).  The juice was de maracuya (passion fruit) too, which was amazing.  Finally I took some pictures of my food..yay!!
Dieta de pollo

Lomo saltado: my favorite dish..sometimes made
with hamburger, but usually made with steak
After lunch we walked around and went to the markets.  I finally bought a chullo!! (which are the popular hats here)  I'm so excited to come back and wear it in the brisk Illinois/Wisconsin winter.  We also walked to the Piedra 12 Angulos, which is a stone in an Incan wall that has 12 sides.  It's pretty crazy because the Incans carved all the stones to fit into each other perfectly so the Incan walls are all remarkable!!
Piedra 12 Angulos
Also, we went to the Convento de Santo Domingo del Cusco (Qorikancha), which is a church/convent.  It was the main temple in the Incan empire and was dedicated to the Sun God.  However, when the Spainards came they destroyed the temple and used it as the foundation to build the Church of Santo Domingo.  It was a pretty cool mix to see the Incan architecture versus that of the colonial period.
Here you can see the Colonial versus Incan structure.
After Qorikancha, Mark, Tonisha, and I went to more markets in search of Peru soccer jerseys, unfortunately our bargaining skills weren't working out for us and nobody had the right sizes so we ended up with nothing.  However..and this is a big however!..we did find this amazing Honey twist crunch snacks at a store that are made in Korea.  I have no clue how to get ahold of them now, but they were amazing!  Now what do you think goes with Honey twist crunch snacks?  That's right a side order of cuy (guinea pig)!!  Some of us went to a nice restaurant called El Mesón and tried Cuy a la parrilla (grilled)..Warning!..the following picture is graphic...
After we got our pictures, the waiter took it back and cut it for us.  It's a finger food, you eat it like chicken, but it is full of tiny bones and of course I only took two bites and definitely used a fork!  I don't really know how to describe the taste because I've never really had anything like it, but it definitely tasted game-y.  According to two guys in my group, it tastes like duck except less greasy.  I had one bite and thought "this isn't too bad" and then I had my second bite and thought "Gross, I'm eating guinea pig..this used to be my pet."  I might have psyched myself out a little bit, but at the same time it really wasn't THAT delicious so it's okay, but the two guys in our group definitely demolished the cuy.  One guy even ate the head, which is just really gross to me considering it still had some teeth and whiskers.  Anyway, after this delicious experience, what do you think we did next? cream at Bembos!!  Bembos is Peru's McDonald's (although McDonald's is still very popular here).  Also, one thing I learned while at Bembos..they sell beer.  Can you imagine if McDonald's sold beer in the United States?  Anyway, I just thought that was a fun fact.  After this we went to bed early to get ready for the next day, which was full of visiting archeological sites.  I don't know if I will get to that blog tonight, but maybe.  I hope you enjoyed reading this and I hope you are excited for the ones to come, because I'm excited to share!


  1. I didn't know Cusco was so high, I bet it felt awesome to get back to Lima and have all that oxygen!

    And I'm glad you finally tried cuy, thats what you were so excited for!
    I think you should give it another chance, and maybe learn how to cook it, then we can go to PetsMart and have a cuy BBQ when you get back

  2. Actually, by Machu Picchu day I was breathing pretty well, but it was nice to get back to Lima minus the clouds. I wouldn't say I was too excited for cuy, but I'm glad I tried it. And no, I really don't want to get arrested at PetsMart.