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Loping to Leipzig

4th December 2011

Exhausted from our long walk yesterday and since our rideshare to Cathleen’s home town was only that evening we had a good sleep in. Breakfast was 5 euros all you can eat and it was amazing, with hot and cold options. We also made up some sandwiches for later. The 3 Pigs Hostel in Berlin really knew how to put on a good spread:
Tea/Coffee/Juice (2 kinds)
Cereal (3 kinds)
yoghurt (2 kinds)
Jam (2 kinds)
Chocolate spread
Bread and rolls
Cheese
Cold meat (3 kinds)
Scrambled eggs (very popular)

Walking Tour Part 2

Walking past The Wall again we headed for Checkpoint Charlie. Originally termed Checkpoint C, it was nicknamed Charlie by the Western Allied forces, it is the most famous, or perhaps infamous, of the crossing points between East and West Berlin during the Cold War.

Taking full advantage of the tourist spot it has become, there were guys dressed in original WWII uniforms offering visa stamps (1 euro for 1) and in true entrepreneurial fashion one guy was offering 1st class Facebook pictures, just 2 Euros each. It was rather amusing to watch.

Visa Stamp Soldier


Since I didn’t get an entry stamp into Germany, this one will count


Facebook Photo Soldier

We wandered all over and looked into a few museums but most of them were outrageously expensive. However we did find a cool tourist shop with a great photo op.

Famous style of German car during the Cald War Era


Stunning Architecture

It might not be stunning but it comes with Gluwein!

We walked across a park and held hands with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Karl and Friedrich

Then headed into the Nikolai Quarter, Nikolaiviertal, where Berlin was founded in the 13th Century. It has beautiful cobbled lanes and old shops and a a stunning old gothic church (also with an entry fee), but we at least got a glance. I would have loved to sit and have a cuppa and watch the world go by but it was so cold we decided to get going.

Our final exploration was in and around the Scheunviertal (Berlin’s Historic Jewish Quarter). Here is where I found some of the most poignant reminders and memorials to those who lost their lives to the Nazis hysteria that swept the country. Outside apartment buildings you would find at the entry, “Tripping Stones”. Their purpose was to do just that to make you stop and notice, to read and remember. The stones showed the names of the Jews who had disappeared from that building, the dates and when known, what had happened to them. It was heartbreaking on occasion.


Please Take A Moment to Remember…

Moving on and still tripping over the stones hear and there, we found the Hackesche Hofe, a series of beautifully restored courtyards, filled with shops and cafes and apartments and a maze that requires a GPS to find your way out. Eventually finding our way out we continued our search for a Synagogue that Cathleen had visited a few years ago. Just as the the rain started again we found it, and the entry fee. So sad how things cost so much money these days. I think if we had gone into everywhere we had hoped for we could have easily spent over 100 euros each.

After 4hrs of walking and with the rain and cold creeping in we caught a train back to the hostel where we enjoyed some coffee and dry clothes. Cathleen was certainly making sure I was walking off the bratwurst I was eating. Finally it was time to head to our rideshare and less that 2hrs later we had arrived in Cathleen’s hometown of Leipzig. Another train ride, 10minute walk and 3 flights of stairs, we both collapsed into a pile.

Tomorrow we shall begin domination of Leipzig… but right now sleep is in order!

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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AmaZoonico: Days 36-42 – Week 3 in the Jungle

The management wish to apologize for any delays you might have experienced with updates. Due to technical difficulties involving internet access in the jungle we are a little behind.

April 10th to 16th 2011

Week 3 in the Jungle

The joys of things that bite in the night
In the morning I woke up at the hostel covered in small red bites. Having previously managed a hostel my first thoughts were bed bugs. But the owner assured me they had no such issue and it was most likely the beastly sand flies and mosquitoes who got me. in the end I believed him as the bites did appear more sand fly like in nature. I went back to sort out some things and suddenly his mother appeared (she is the most darling old lady ever and always calls me “mi amor”). She indicated for me to put my feet up on the side table and then proceeded to smear a green liquid that smelled like menthol all over my legs, feet and arms. Needless to say, that afternoon I went on the hunt for some of this amazing stuff.
I permanently carry a small tin of mentol chino with me when I do tours and this was like a liquid form of it. Mentol chino is about the only thing, other than copious amounts of cortizone cream, that helps the itchiness… speaking of which where the heck is my tin, ahhhh I hate sand flies!!!!

My very own room
When I got back to AmaZoonico I found out that none of the others wanted the newly available single room that was recently vacated. So I immediately started moving. It has 2 lovely windows, a shelf and a bed side “table”. Fantastic! However it is above the kitchen (which can get very noisy) and its wain wall by the bed is the one facing the popular lounge, which means talking to all hours of the night and cigarette smoke. But hey, its my own room!

A tale of a tail
When a group of woolly monkeys were due to be released we realised that one of them had an injured tail. After close inspection (involving 4 people holding him down and one looking at it) we realised it was most likely broken but as there was still blood flow we decided to bandage it and see how it healed. We believe he was sitting with his tail outside his cage when another wild monkey came up and broke it right below the part they use to grip things with (prehensile). After an initial check I headed off to do a tour and Michael (the manager) headed off to Tena for his weekend off.

Shortly after my tour ended I was called to help with Francisco again, it turns out he had started chewing on the injured section and was now causing severe damage. We bandaged it up again and called the vet in Quito we work with. His suggestion was to amputate the section before infection set in. We then called Michael to tell him his weekend off had come to an end. He returned the next day and preparations were made. We still had no vet, the vet from Quito was unable to come and so it was up to Michael to do the deed. Upto this point the only amputations he had made were on necropsies (autopsy on an animal), so this was going to prove interesting.

With limited equipment I became the monitoring machine with my stethoscope and watch. I made up a monitoring sheet to keep things in order and then we were on our way. It was really difficult cutting through tendons and moving the skin and hair away from the bone and then came the decision of where to cut. If we cut too high it would mean a redo and the wound wouldn’t heal well. If we cut too low we would remove part of his healthy tail. Luckily Michael’s guess seemed well aimed and the cut was clean. As we were starting to close up, Francisco decided to start waking up which lead to mild panic as we tried to turn up the anesthetic and hold him down at the same time. In the end the surgery appeared to be a success, Francisco woke up without problems and appeared to be leaving his tail alone. Michael was so impressed by how well it went he bought us all a soda.

Volunteer Dynamics
It is inevitable to find the occasional issue when you take a large bunch of people of different ages and cultures and push them together. At present the majority of volunteers were female and under 22 from Europe. Its never a good idea when there are too many girls barely out of highschool in a group together and they proved this when they called me into a room and sat me down and proceeded to tell me that I wasn’t working hard enough. This was a bit of a shock as I was barely on my 2nd week and still didn’t know everything, they named a few instances from that (all of which turned out to be when I was in surgery). When our head volunteer arrived she looked fairly concerned at this apparent gang up. So it turns out that I am back in highschool, and still not popular. It really took its toll on me and I seriously started considering leaving. Working with a bunch of youngsters who refuse to speak anything but spanish (great for immersion but you need someone to give you the occasional translation) and who treat you like someone who isn’t worth being there was not my idea of fun. But after chatting with Sarah I decided to stick it out and just focused on myself instead of trying to be part of the group. In the end I am very thankful to her advice, as groups change and so do the dynamics.

Tours in foreign languages
Today during fruit delivery we had a Belgium group arrive for a tour. Lukas, from Holland, could have done the tour but he is much more useful with the fruit carrying than I am. So I got to do my first tour in Afrikaans (a form of Dutch spoken in South Africa). It was a lot of fun and the most amusing part is that every time I said something they all got this look on their faces and said “oh how cute”. I switched to English after the 5th time they said this. It was all rather amusing and great practice for my Spanish.

Happy Valentines
I spent my valentines in Tena with my usual pizza and fanta. Turns out I have 2 days in a row off. the down side is that it is only 1 day after my last day off and means I will most likely have to work 7 days straight, but on the upside I really need a couple days to myself and away from the highschool atmosphere.

Stay tuned to see if I survive repeating highschool and how dynamics start changing

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lime to Quito Day 21 ->23 – A photo diary

Jan 26th 2011

Luckily I had the front window seat on the 2nd level so you get a panoramic view:

leaving Lima


Heading on the highway


Dinner: rice, chicken and some kind of drink


A view of the coastline


Driving along the coast


End of day 1 (total of 8hrs - 4pm to midnight)

Jan 27th 2011

Another 12hrs at least of driving today, before reaching the border town of Tumbes.

waking up from a decidedly strange angle


Breakfast....I think


rolling rolling rolling


rolling rolling rolling somewhere around hour 17


Pulling into Tumbes. Section 1 lasted a total of 20hrs

You are now entering Ecuador

waiting in the Ecuador Panamerica bus station


No panoramic seat this time, trying to get comfy


Entering the banana fields


the mountains, around hour 30 of trip


My bed for night 2

end of day 2

Jan 28th 2011
A landslide detained us a further 3hrs when we were only an hour from Quito…

I survived! Barely! total trip 42hrs!

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima Day 19 -> 20 – Final bus preparations

Jan 24th 2011

Cheers…for now!
I have never been a fan of farewells and often prefer to say “see you later” in the hope that friends will once again be reunited on the road somewhere.
This morning I was returning to Lima for 2 days before heading on the epic bus trip to Quito, Ecuador. But first I had to say farewell to Wilson the hostel manager, Logan the American and Cathleen, one of my best ever travel partners. When I finally got in the cab and gave another round of hugs I was on the verge of tears. I am really going to miss this place and the hostel that became a 2nd home. If only good things could last longer.

Musical Gates
I arrived at the airport, checked in and as the clerk gave me my gate pass he said “oh and I managed to get you on an earlier flight”. Awesome! I thought until I looked at the time it was leaving. Flight 101 would leave at 10.50am, it was now 10.33am and I hadn’t got through security yet. I made a mad, panicked dash towards the gate, got through security who then decided to check my bag! I glanced over at gate 1 and noticed there was no one lining up, a small surge of panic started to grow. The security check point cleared me and I skidded to a halt in front of the gate at 10.47am. I handed my pass and as a concerned look spread over their faces I feared the dreaded words of “I am sorry the gate is closed”. Instead the following discussion occurred:
“You are at the wrong gate”
“But it says gate 1”
“All the airlines use this gate”
“so where do I go”
“We don’t know we are LAN airlines”
“My flight leaves in 1minute can you call someone?”
“No we are LAN you are on Star Peru”
“I know can you call someone?”
“No we are LAN”
It was starting to feel like a stuck record.
“Do you have any suggestions?”
“Ask security”
I dashed over to the security officers showed them my ticket they mumbled something in Spanish which was possibly along the lines of “gate 1 like your ticket says, stupid tourists”.
Frustrated I went to the monitor with all the flights and gates, every flight had a gate… but mine! Of course it would never be that easy. There were 5 gates in the terminal and no Star Peru sign or person anywhere to be found, I was starting to wonder if they truly existed or if I had bought a ticket on a mythical airline.

Back at the tv monitor I waited with baited breath as more flights had gates added, all except mine (which according to my ticket had left 5 minutes ago). I noticed an older gentleman with the same befuddled expression and asked if he was seeking the same gate as me. We both went over to gate 4 (what his ticket said) and once again received the following explanantion:
“we are LAN you are on Star Peru, we can not call anyone, we are LAN”.
At this point I did exchange a few choice words (under my breath) at LAN airlines. And went to sit and look confused with what turned out to be about 50 passengers all the same limbo as I was.

Suddenly there was an announcement for Star Peru to Lima at gate 1. Woohoo this is it, we all jumped up and formed a line, just as a F@$%#*g LAN person came down the line saying “This is LAN you are Star Peru”. Just as I was considering the action of physical violence I noticed a person, surreptitiously dragging a Star Peru sign and virtually leaped on him. Once I confirmed he was indeed dragging the sign of the mythical airline towards the mythical gate I yelled out “Star Peru to Lima this way”, among much giggles from the surrounding mass we surged after him… to Gate 4.

We lined up neatly and waited, and waited and waited. It looked like my earlier flight was going to leave at the original time of my ticket. Go figure!

Well I waited I chatted with the older gentleman and his wife and discovered they were on a tour, but due to his severe altitude sickness that landed him in hospital, they had to return to Lima and wait for the group. Thank heavens I never had it that bad.

Lima
Back in Lima I grabbed a cab and relieved the fear of driving in that city. They truly have no rules and I think if you ever decide to drive yourself be sure to have a license in Defensive Driving with a major in Offensive and an emphasis in crazy! It will be the only way to survive. And yet with the insanity of it all I have not seen any accidents, only drivers proudly displaying numerous dents.

Fernando had emphasized that he did not want me waiting at the house alone, as I had no key, and to call him as soon as I arrived at the airport. I managed to borrow the taxi drivers phone and rang him, saying I would be there in about 30minutes. When I got to the house the outer gate was open, thankfully, and I ended up sitting out side the front door for almost 40minutes. Turned out he got busy. Oh well.

That night I made dinner and we just hung out, started packing and sorting for Ecuador.

Jan 25th 2011
Today was a day of errands and hanging out. I packed well Fernando went to do some work. Then we went to the historic district and I picked up some more string for jewelery and postcards. We had chicken for dinner and then head back home.

My bus leaves at 4pm tomorrow so I sorted a few more things out and was in bed by around 11pm.

Tomorrow the next adventure begins!

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima Day 7 – Emotional

Jan 12th 2011

Today was quite overwhelming, most likely due to a combination of hormones and preparing for my trip to Cusco. Turns out Fernando would most likely have to leave for the afternoon to help a friend and may not be back till the next day. Which meant we had to organize a taxi to pick me up at about 6am in the morning.

Laundry
we headed to his parents to get some laundry done, but there was a lot going on in the house and I hid in the kitchen trying to get some email work done. Just as I had decided to give up on the dryer, it was just making the wet clothes warm rather than dry, Rosa, the housekeeper announced she had made us lunch. So I went and hung everything on the line, considering the scorching nature of the day I guessed my laundry would be dry in about 10 min.

Conversations
Fernando and I started chatting over lunch and it took all sorts of philosophical twists and turns, ending in me trying to explain why I was wanting to do this trip and what I wanted to get out of it. Suddenly he said “I know you want to feel safe”, he hit the nail on the head, and I got a wee bit emotional. But sucked it up and we moved on to collecting the laundry.

Its really not about being unhappy in one place or another, its more about finding that place and or person that makes you want to stay put, or something along those lines.

We got home and Fernando headed out, I was not sure when he might return but we had booked the taxi and he had given me precise spanish instructions on how to call and confirm the taxi.

Hot Water and time Out
Thank the heavens we had hot water in at least one shower. It turned out to be more luke warm, but it took the chill away and it felt wonderful. So giving myself a time out, I had a shower, washed my hair and just generally took it easy. Made some roast chicken with left overs from the night before using some medium Nando’s Peri Peri spice I had brought with me. It was delicious. Then I watched “I am Legend” caught up on my diary and suddenly all was right with the world.

Impromptu Spanish Class
Suddenly Fernando returned with a friend in tow, who spoke very limited English, and the evening turned into an impromptu Spanish class. It was a lot of fun and good to have everyone in a light hearted mood after that morning. I was taught some basics and then also some colloquial words to use to, how should I say, get my point across.

By midnight I headed to bed and Fernando set his alarm. A good day in the end, even if the morning was a bit tough.

Stay tuned for my arrival in Cusco and discovering the real meaning of Altitude sickness.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima Day 6 – String Glorious String

Jan 11th 2011

Did not sleep very well, too much going on in my head, probably didn’t help that Fernando fell asleep with his iPod on and the faint sound from the headphones filtered through the walls. Add to that my blisters from my sandals started itching badly so then I had to root around in my med kit to find the cortisone cream… if its not one things then its another.

Volunteer in Pisco???
I was meant to leave for Pisco today for a week of volunteering, but received an email yesterday saying they no longer had space and would only take volunteers for 2 weeks. I was a little annoyed but what can you do. We decided to change my ticket to spend more time in Cusco (which turned out to be a fabulous turn of events).

String!!!!
We had a fairly relaxing morning and then headed out to the Historical District to look for the string I use for making jewelery, Katia had given Fernando precise directions. Not only did we find it but it was only 7 soles (about $2.15 US) for about a 100m roll. I bought 5 and need to buy more. Fernando said he would be my string dealer and send me some when I need it.

Chinatown
There was a big commotion in the main square as the changing of the guards proceeded, apparently it was a special ceremony but no one could tell us much about it. Wandering towards Chinatown we picked up some street food on a stick, Fernando got heart and I got chorizo sausage, delicious. In Chinatown there was a big Peruvian guy harrassing an old Chinese guy begging for money, he was acting all tough guy (obviously making up for something). Fernando gave the beggar some money and very loudly chastised the big guy.

Ticket Change
After a quick but delicious lunch we grabbed the metro bus to Miraflores to change the ticket. The Metro buses are the new fancy big buses that will eventually replace the small buses that have no time table, careen through the streets like crazy and are generally a health hazard (all be it amusing to ride). We were able to change my ticket for only a $30 charge to leave in 2 days (13th), giving me 6 days longer there. It also means the possibility of visiting other places close by like Lake Titicaca.

Going Solo
Fernando headed off and left me to sort things out on my own. Found an internet cafe and wrote a blog entry, then headed to the main square. Then returned to the internet cafe to pick up my book I had left. I am telling you one day I will forget my brain somewhere.

Kennedy Park/Cat Park
As I returned to the main square I noticed a cat in the park, then another and another. As I was taking a picture some locals gestured for me to head around the back of the church. Low and behold there is an entire community of stray cats that are cared for by local groups and the city. They have beds, get food, and are quite calm around humans. Kids regularly walk up to them and drag them around, they seemed totally unphased. In the park they will walk and just plop down in the middle of the walkway and people have to walk around them. I also noticed a large absence of bird life in the park

Flying Dog Hostel
At 5.45pm I had set up a meeting with a hostel owner to look around his hostel and potentially get a link exchange for Bootsnall.com (an independent travel site I do occasional work for). the hostel was great and the owner was very proud of it. I mentioned I was heading to Cusco and he offered me a discount to stay at his hostel there. Little did I know that that hostel would turn into home away from home.

Heading Home and Dinner with Friends
Grabbing a bus back home, feel almost like a local, I headed back. the bus got super crowded and I gave up my seat for an older gentlemen. When I got off and walked across the street with a family we all nearly got hit by a taxi zooming past. We all laughed and they intimated how you had to suck you butt in when ever you cross the road.

Fernando showed up an hour later with the first of some friends who were coming for dinner and we went to shop for food. Or rather his friend and I walked behind Fernando and carried everything he passed to us. His friends were from when he was a young boy and they had a really close bond. Around 1am I went to go pee and ended up lying down and falling asleep, they all seemed to be having a very intense conversation downstairs anyway.

All in all another great day!

Stay tuned as things get emotional and we attempt another impromptu Spanish lesson.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima day 5 – solo adventure and museums

Jan 10th 2011

Today Fernando has a business meeting out of the city and so I have the whole day to keep myself occupied. I decide that it is time to step out on my own and test my skills on local transport. Heading out to the appropriate curb I grab a bus heading to Miraflores so I can meet up with Katia and see her shop. Fernando had instructed me to catch the green, red and white bus to Barranco. However, I recognised the name of Chorillyos and knew it was after Barranco, after quickly checking with the guy if they head to Miraflores I jumped on.

The small local busses that you just grab on the side of the street have a ticket taker come intense collector of passengers. These men and women ride half hanging out of the bus announcing the destination and trying to encourage folks to ride their bus. In between these techniques to attract new customers they wander around the bus jingling change and collecting the fair. It is all rather amusing.

The ticket taker on this bus kept giving me encouraging winks (at least thats what I am going with) and when a guy came and stood right in front of me he tried to make the guy move so I could see. The guy didn’t but I appreciated the attempt. After about 30min I finally recognised the big circle and bus stop and hopped off. What a relief. After a quick call to Katia she came and met me.

Her store is fantastic, with lots of cute and …. interesting stuff made by local young designers. The best was still Katia’s jewellery and I really want to buy a pair of her earrings. We hung out at her store as she worked on updating the inventory and price stickers for the new year. Around noon we walked over to a chifa (small chinese restaurant) and met Danny for lunch. But first, bless her heart, we had an icecream, she is a girl after my own heart.

We had the ever present Inka Kola and pork/veggies and crunchie noodles. Very filling and delicious. Walking back to the bus stop I hopped on the next bus and headed home.

I had hoped to get some laundry done, but when I got back to the house, Fernando’s mom was there and I could tell she was really busy so didn’t want to ask. Instead I decided to head to the museum she had recommended. As luck would have it, Fernando’s dad was heading out the door so gave me a ride.

Larco Museum:

The museum was amazing, very well laid out and not overwhelming. The exhibits were inset into a black wall and so the lighting was perfect. They even had a small room with a library and free internet (at least I assumed it was free). There was a room for what I can only assume was the overstock, glass case after glass case of pottery all sorted into sections. It just blows your mind.

Fernando’s parents had told me there was also an Erotica exhibit of Inca pottery (which was a little weird having them telling me to check it out). It turned out to be almost hidden away with the lights off. As you enter the lights come on section by section. I had thought this was because of children, but according to Fernando it is due to the prudish nature of the catholic religion. Lets just say the Incas left little to the imagination and one could get quite hot under the collar.
WARNING SENSITIVE PICTURES BELOW

Once I was all done there I headed home and decided to just walk the 15 blocks hoping to come across a bakery I had seen on the way. I didn’t find the bakery but just when I decided to have an icecream from one of the guys selling them on bikes, there were none to be found. Go figure. By the time I got home I was exhausted and crashed for 2hrs. Fernando came home around 10pm and we watched “Descent 2”, stupid scary, but amusing all the same.

Stay tuned for further adventures through “cat park”, more new friends and string glorious string.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima day 4 – Pachacamac, seafood and wetlands

Jan 9th 2011

Fernando had got in really late, or rather early this morning, but we still managed to crawl out of bed around 8.30am. We headed over to his parents house to check email and, as usual, she fed us.

The plan for today was to pick up Danny and head out to an archaeological site. The coast of Peru is desert, with very fine sand that gets into everything, but it also means it preserves sites very well.

“Our” sense of direction got a little muddled, we found Avenido Baden Powell but kept turning the wrong way to get to Danny’s house. Eventually we figured it out and picked him up. On the way out of the city Katia called and said she would join, so we parked in the shade and waited for her to catch up in the taxi.

Before long we were speeding out of the city and all its craziness. The cultural site we were headed to is called, Pachacama, or The Sun Temple. It just rises out of the sand and is truly breathtaking. Civilization is encroaching quickly, and there are sure to be further parts of the Sun Temple under these towns.

Here is a small blurb about the temple from http://www.labyrinthina.com/pachacamac:

“Pachacamac (pronounced: pah cha kamak) lies 25 miles SE of Lima adjacent to the Pan American highway astride the Pacific coastline. “Pachac├ímac” in Quechua means “Pacha” world, and “camac” to animate — “The One who Animates the World.” The site was considered one of the most important religious centers of the indigenous peoples of the central Andes, and contains a number of pyramids. Spanish historical records, along with extensive archaeological research, have served to clarify its history and significance. Built centuries before the time of the Incas, Pachacamac is noted for its great pyramidal temples, and for the remains of frescoes adorning its adobe walls. Culturally and chronologically it is related to Chancay, and other centers of the Cuismancu empire, including Huari. At the time of the Spanish conquest it was a major Inca shrine.

According to legend – “in the beginning there were no foods for the first man and the first woman, and the man died of starvation. The Sun then fertilized the woman and she produced an offspring. Pachac├ímac became jealous of his heir, and killed the offspring, scattering the remains. These became the essential ingredients of humanity: the “teeth of man” were maize, his “bones”, yuca. Artistic images of Pachacamac do not exist, he was considered invisible. However, a wooden staff, thought to be a representation of Pachacamac, was found in 1938 during an excavation of the site. Miguel de Estete writes on the matter, “the Idol makes them [the Incas] understand that it can sink them if they anger it!” Tremors and earthquakes were expressions of his anger.”

After wandering around and exploring we headed out to get some lunch and what a lunch it was. First on the menu was lightly cooked fish in lemon juice with a yellow chilli sauce, then calamari and finishing with a sort of Paella. Delicious. Of course inka cola and beer to join and at the very start a bowl full of something similar to corn nuts, but way tastier.

Our final stop was some wetlands that even had some basic environmental education. It turned out to be cheaper, and way more fun, to row around the wetlands vs walking. Unfortunately these boats were not very easy to row and on numerous occasions we ended up in the reeds and hysterics. There were many kinds of birds, including cormorants, ducks, a type of vulture, egrets and many more. Some of the most fun I have had to date.

Before parting ways we stopped in Lima and picked up a kind of fruit shaved ice, I had pineapple and it was delicious. We dropped off Katia and Danny and then stopped by a store to pick up some things and get the car washed. Well we were there I got a long sleeved mens button up shirt, per the biologists, this is vital in the jungle as I can use that over my clothes and spray it with deet (insect repellent) instead of myself.

When we finally made it home we made some dinner (rather Fernando did) and relaxed a bit. Fernando had to go to his folks house as he had a really early morning and needed all his paperwork and such. I spent the evening watching Iron Man 2 and went to bed early..ish.

Stay tuned for my adventures as I take the bus solo, have some bad news on my volunteer work and exploring the Larco museum.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima day 3 – Tickets, Phones and a Taste of Peru

Jan 8 2011
The plan, again, had been to get up early and head out to get a whole bunch of errands done and back in time for Fernando to head out for a meeting. But needles to say we got a very late start.

We were supposed to head into Miraflores to sort out my tickets to Cusco, get me a phone and then visit Katia at her store. We only managed the first two and then had to rush home by taxi to make sure Fernando could head out in time.

As he left he ordered me to be brave and attempt to walk around as much as possible. I made it to the store up the road and bought juice, cereal, chocolate and beer :), then stopped at then stopped at the internet cafe and checked on a few things. Heading home I discovered that Fernando’s parents had stopped by and had left me note.

Later on after a delicious hotdog for dinner and a shower, I relaxed and worked on a few things. His parents showed up a couple of hours later with some things for the house and offered to show me around the neighborhoods and point out the locations of a few museums.

They then decided to take me to the area of Barranco and let me try a few Peruvian delicacies. At that point I had not known that that was where we had been the night before and after Fernando’s mom called him she was a little annoyed at the fact that I had been to the exact place she wanted to take me. Instead we went to another famous restaurant and we had 3 varieties of savory tamales and one sweet. We also had 2 very sweet and super delicious desserts, but I think I was on the verge of a sugar coma. The first was almost bread pudding like, it had bread cubes, coconut chunks, raisins and soaked in a sweet coco sauce. The other was a rich caramel base with sweetened soft meringue on top. To go along with this I was given an amazing Pisco drink that had an almost Bailey’s Irish cream feel to it, but oh so much better. Pisco Algarrobina, simply delicious!

After a short walk around the square we headed home. His parents are amazing and I really appreciated the tour. I got to bed at the early hour of around 11.30pm.

Stay tuned as the adventure continues and we head into the desert to visit old temples, eat delicious sea food and row around a wetland.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Delirium and Waiting…

January 5th 2011

The plane turned out to be quite full but luckily I only have one seat mate. As we lift off I am expecting snacks and drinks, instead all lights go out and we are plunged into darkness that offers the hope of sleep.
I ask my seat mate if I can put my feet on the middle chair, “no hablo engles..”, but sign language works and she not only says yes but also tucks my feet in under a blanket. I believe I am going to like her.

Just as sleep is blissfully around the corner all the lights come on and here comes the aforementioned snack time, and sleep was just beginning to seem like a better idea. Oh well its free food and drinks.
We eat our pretzel mix and I take the chance to practice my spanish. Through a series of questions, hand motions, me whipping out my little photo album we discover the following information:
Her name is Sandra from Guatemala, she was visiting her daughter and grandchildren in San Franscico. She has 1 granddaughter
and 2 grandsons. She fly’s into San Salvadore and takes a 4hr bus ride home across the border.
She asks why I am visiting and where, I explain the route and volunteering in Ecuador (as best I can). Asking if I was a doctor, I explain that I am a vet nurse. I show her pics of my family and pets, and also my work as a vet nurse and educator at zoos. She is down near horrified that I have worked with snakes, and she fears for me and the anacondas. I tell her I am more afraid of the spiders.

During this time two movies come and go, dinner then breakfast is served and no sleep is had. On some of the bumpier sections she looks very nervous and ends up holding my hand occasionally. At one point she digs out 3 coins from Guatemala and gives them to me as a gift. She makes me want to go to Guatemala with her kind sweet nature, I know that if I showed up at her house I would be fed very well. We land at 8am El Salvador time at the San Salvador airport. As we stand and get all our things together I am motioned/asked by an old lady to get her bag down for her! Me being asked to get a bag down… I not only reached it but am asked to get 2 more bags as well. Maybe they make these plans for shorter people???

As I exit the plane I realize I am going on close to 24hrs no sleep and am beginning to feel it. Is this airport built on the ocean because I swear this is a certain amount of pitch to it as I am walking to information. As my plane does not leave for another 7 hrs a gate has not been assigned, but glory of glories there is wifi. I call my
mummy and tell her I have made it this far and I am going to go find a corner to curl up in. The best thing is that I can take off my boots and put on some slops, my feet are praising my existence. There is no air
con in the airport and it is a rather pleasant temperature, bordering on almost balmy.

Due to all chairs having permanent, immovable arms between each, I find a section of linoleum and spread out my little blanket, make use of my neck pillow, position all gear around me so as to afford maximum security and attempt a nap.

Fading in and out over the next two hours I finally reach a point where I can see almost straight, I pop into a loo (toilet) and change certain essential pieces of clothing and head in search of grub. A ham and cheese croissant and a fruit smoothie is the ideal form of sustenance, even the melted american style cheese is just a perfect level of yumminess.

Wandering around the airport there are a number of little stores, and if the arts and crafts in Peru and Ecuador are anywhere near as beautiful as these I am going to bankrupt myself. There is a super cute christmas ornament that I can resist and I figure the amount of time I am spending in this airport I can almost class it as having visited the country. Browsing the store I come across these curios shaped like eggs and by lifting off the top half you get a view of little cermamic figurines acting out scenes of everyday life. Then I notice a series with different decorations on the eggs, lifting these I discover a series of different Karma Sutra positions… I am not sure if I should be embaressed or stop and take notes. I opt for discretely putting them back and leaving, with my little mundane ornament wrapped up safely.
Dropping mum a line of skype again we chatted for a bit before she noticed that I was swaying to and fro, and here I thought I was just moving in time to the movement of the airport. But she assured me that it was unlikely the airport was floating in the ocean… I am guessing I am still exhausted. I attempt to get some sleep on and around the chairs and have just fallen into blissful slumber when I am awoken. This very friendly lady who seems to know me keeps motioning to the phones, I think, and I think she kept repeating, among other things, “momma pappa”, I was still mostly asleep and so confused. Suddenly she leaves, goes to the ticket desk, asks a question and goes and sits somewhere else. Leaving me to wonder if I was having a very lucit dream… but no she is still sitting there about an hour later when I am more awake.

I chat to another American girl who is heading to Guatemala to do an immersion study, she has an 11hr lay over, she wins! After 2mths in Guatemala she will enter law school and hoped to focus on immigration law, a very handy to skill to know spanish with that carrer path.
Boarding begins shortly so I pop off to the duty free and decide to pick up some chocolate for Fernando’s mom and at check out I pick up a tiny bottle of Chivas Regal for his dad. Then we board and I am thrilled to see that I can move to an entire row and as soon as we level off I am nesting into a comfy spot and passing out. You know you are a traveler when the highlight of your day is getting a row to yourself. All in all a fairly uneventful flight and we land in Lima around 8pm.

After exchanging money (2.78 soles to the $), and finally getting my bag (I think they only had 2 guys unloading bags or maybe only 1 baggage carousel could work at a time) I headed to the exit. And into a sea of Peruvian faces and very insistent taxi drivers. As I walked slowly trying to find my friend Fernando (we worked at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle), I had this sudden fear that I might not recognise him after a year and a half. After wandering back and forth through the crowd and having one particular taxi driver ask me about 10 times if I need a ride, me saying I am waiting for a friend, him then saying still no friend, he offered me his cell phone. I was super grateful and once i reached Fernando I discovered he was running late.

So I hunkered down in a corner and worked on diary entries. I also snacked on sweets I had brought from home. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed 3 little girls staring at me then looking at their mother then staring at me. So I pulled a couple of sweets from the bag and motioned them to come get them. The oldest jumped up and nervously came over. They were all super cute and so excited for the sweets. About 5minutes later their older brother came back and looked a little disgruntled that he hadn’t got one, so I gave him one too. Have never seen such big smiles. Through out the next 15minutes or so they kept giggling and staring and so I decided to offer the last 6 or so in the bag, that produced much joy and an approving nod from a nearby taxi driver. Later when the family walked past to meet someone at the gate they were all nudging the girl to say something. Suddenly she blurted out “como se llama?” (what is your name), I said “Katty” (In spanish there is no ‘th’ sound), and they all smiled and walked off. Later the boy and girl came my way and stood pretending to be interested in something, but finally got the courage to ask me a bunch of questions. I think I faired quite well, she is 10 and he is 14, they live in Lima. They ask my age, my home, how long I was in Peru etc…
All in all a great experience.

Finally around 10pm Fernando arrived and apologizing profusely gave me a big hug. We headed out onto the highway and the insanity of traffic in Peru. There are not so much the concept of lanes and turning signals and such, it is pretty much a free for all, with much honking. I think the aim of the game is to see who can get the most dents in their car. I even saw a skateboarded hanging onto the back of a combi (minivan), which in itself might not be too unsual around the world, but this was on the highway at top speed with cars weaving everywhere. Pure insanity.

We grabbed a quick dinner of roast chicken, which was amazing and then headed to the house. Fernando has moved into his mom’s second house/apartment so we have the place to ourselves. It is cute and cozy and clean. However the hot water hasn’t been connected and the toilets keep running after you flush them, until you manually manuever things in the tank. We chatted till quite late and then headed to bed.

What a crazy and exhausting day, and tomorrow has promised to be a long day of exploring starting at 7am!

Stay tuned for the next round of adventures involving stunning architecture, St Francis of Asissi and heat exhaustion…

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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