Oh I also forgot about the llamas and alpacas that are abundant in this region. We went to an alpaca farm on the way to visiting all the amazing sites. Here are some funny pics...
Ok so back to the fun stuff right? So we went to Machu Picchu via the ferrocarril(railroad). It took us four hours to get there but we finally made it to the lost city of the Incas. The mountains in general in Peru were super impresionante,but these were on a whole nother level. We had about 4 hours in Machu Picchu, and actually Machu Picchu is more like the altitude of Quito but Cuzco, the city, is higher than both...go figure.
Our guide was great in Machu Picchu as well and my oh my was it amazing. It´s called the lost city because it was abandoned shortly after the Spanish arrived in 1532, and because it´s in the ¨cloud forest¨ bordering the Sierra with the Oriente, jungle, there´s a lot of plant growth that has to be maintained today. Because after 5 years the entire site was covered in growth and not rediscovered until the early 2oth century by yale archeologist, Hiram Bingham. But it was discovered on accident, adding to the mystery and allure of the ancient site.
About 70% of Machu Picchu represents what it looked like hundreds of years ago. Only about 30% of has been recreated and is present in the thatched roofs of some of the areas. Ok now for more pictures, and not much writing.... There were a lot of explanations of the different areas which have gone blank in my memory however, the terraces that you see and are seen all over the Incan sites are for agriculture, and are naturally irrigated. Oh and also the Incan structures are not built straight up they are built like a trapezoid so as to prevent them from being effected heavily by earthquakes. The world was made aware of this in the 1950´s when there was a catostrophic earthquake in Cuzco that destroyed 90% of the city and guess who built that 10%???? It was the architecture of the Incas that survived the earthquake and the colonial spanish churches and buildings were all razed by the quake. In the small pic above the guide is displaying how the trapezoid structure works. He had me stand straight and then pushed me over with little force and then had me stand with my feet to my shoulders and did the same, and guess what, i didn´t fall...go incas, so intelligent.
Also, an eeried tidbit of information is that all of the churches you see in Cuzco were all built in the colonial era over the most important Incan temples to display Spanish dominance.
So after Machu Picchu, the next day, the day of the Eduardian blow up, we visited some sites in and around Cuzco again before our bus at 5:30 left for Lima. Delgado told us to get tickets for the 20-31 so we did. And 4 of us ended up having to stay an extra day in Lima because of him. The others left on Sunday, we left on Monday, but we got to see so much of the actual city of Lima that we missed out on previously because of Punto Hermosa and the Kique experience.
So one of the members of our group had a brother who spent a summer in Lima at a seminary with Padre Victor who in turn spent a summer in the home town of Carlos(the friend in our group) in Wilmington, NC. He called from Cuzco, explained our situation and we got to stay at a seminary in Lima for free. Padre Victor couldn´t have been more excited to house 9 gringos and one ecuadorian at his seminary. We arrived at around 2 on Saturday and got to the seminary around 4 and went site seeing after that with him. We went to Plaza Mayor...reminiscent of the one in Madrid, Spain. It was impressive, and different from Quito.
We went back slept, the others left at 7 in the morning, and the 4 remaining had a day alone with Padre Victor. We went back to Plaza Mayor during the day but not before stopping at la iglesia de San Francisco. We payed 2 bucks and went in and the unique thing about this church is that it gave tours of it´s catacombs where thousands and thousands of bodies were layed to rest. As in we saw thousands of bones that are still there over centuries, creepy and interesting at the same time. I wish I had taken pictures...but that was illegal as you might assume.
We made sure that we got back to Plaza Mayor at 12:30 so we could see the changing of the guards that was supposed to be really really royal but wasn´t soo much. But they had a national band that marched around the plaza and played the national anthem and other music. And they had guards march around too and the did drill much like UAB´s colorguard does...which I must say is much more pleasing to watch than what I saw.
Around 6 we headed back to the church because Padre Victor had to do the padre thing for misa at 7:30. This misa was sooo much better than the previous one in Punto Hermosa, if I might say. It had nuns which had their convent across the street...literally, and padres to be singing to guitars and what not. After that, it was like he was another man and came and took us out to eat. We left in the morning around 7 like the other group...he even went and got our taxis because as we have seen with Eduardo and Kique, peruvians are pushers and want that money and if speak a lick of english it´s rip off city.
It was an interesting taxi ride back to say the least. The driver was Venezuelan and made a couple of comments about Chavez before saying,¨Espero un ratito¨(wait just one second)...stopped on the side of the street, went behind the taxi to urinate on the back. My friend Chisara said, ¨I know he´s not urinating¨, but of course he was. Soon though we were to the airport and on our way back to beautiful Quito.
I don´t think I ever wanted to be in Quito more than two weeks ago. At this point I´m sick of Quito and ready to go, it´s been great and my experiences here have been invaluable, however, I have 30 more days to go and am counting them down hard. Wow that took forever, hope you all enjoy it, feel free to email me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
PS. Click on the pictures to see a blown up high def view of them and also I´m taking a 9hr bus in 2hrs to Cuenca, the place that i mentioned and drew in a green line on the previous post with the map!!!!