Tuesday, May 11, 2010

7 weeks in and I'm only 4 weeks behind! Go me!

Apparently I’m not the only one here still obsessed with the big A!

Hola chicos! Another week has come and gone!

Sunday April 18

After the horrendous ordeal known as crashing in the mountains I decided to lay low on Sunday! I found an LDS church right by my school and thought it started at 9, I got to sacrament a little bit late (weird right?) and they were singing a song so I thought perfect, it's the opening song I'm right on time, as soon as it ended they said a prayer and I walked in and sat down as the bishop was making a few comments I didn't understand and I felt like all eyes were on me, I thought it was because I was the only whitey in the place but when the bishop finished and everyone got up and walked out because sacrament was over I knew why all the staring! haha

Later in the afternoon I met Lauren and Tiago and we went to this place called Molinos, it's the Peruvian black market. They have tons of electronics and boot leg DVD's and just about anything else you could possibly want including but not limited too.....

Yep my friends that's a real life cooked guinea pig on skewer with a pepper in it's mouth, I think his name was Ted.... Yum!

My favorite part about Molinos was the big high def TV's playing high def movies!!! Seriously, it's like a joke sometimes how nerdy I am but I don't even care I loved it! :) They also have tons of knock off clothes and shoes and purses and things it's way sweet! They love to barter here as well! Almost as much as the chinese, and that's saying something!

This picture is not blurry, it's you..... In the background you can kind of see the market, but me Lauren and Tiago stopped and got some fresh made juice! You just tell them what you want and they blend it up fresh right there! And it's only 2 soles a glass! That's like 70 cents, I seriously could live on the stuff it's so amazing!

In school on Monday my new profesora was Marybel, she's really sweet and motherly! I also had another student, James, with me. He's a science teacher from New Orleans and seriously fit the bill of an awkward science teacher in every way shape and form, and he had the worst coffee breath every morning! :) Needless to say it made for an interesting week!

Yes my friends the mullet is alive and well in the great state of Louisiana!

Tuesday was such a beautiful day, I met my friend Vicky, from England at the school and after some confusion and a little broken Spanish we found the right bus stop and took a cambi up to the Cristo Blanco that overlooks Cusco. The cambis are these van like things that they shove people in to the point of no return, I didn’t realize until now but there is actually always room for one more! You get to know your neighbor real quick, whether you want to or not! It’s only 60 centimos which is like 35 cents and you’re not a real Cusquenian until you experience one of these, so I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s official, I am now one of the collective, you can call me 1 of 200,000 (and anyone laughing right now, you’ve just been exposed as the ST:TNG fan that I always knew you were)!

Oh it’s fine, I just met a real life Peruvian rock star, even got to star in her real life high budget music video! :)

It is such a beautiful view from up top and while we there this band came and set up all their instruments, I’m talking keyboards, guitars, saxophones the whole shebang! And made us move out of their way so they could shoot a real life music video, no joke! It was super classy, they had a hand held video camera to record it all and a portable tape player to supply the music! It was so funny! They recorded a couple songs and then the lady asked me and Vicky if we liked to dance and if we would be in here video. We both felt way dumb but pretty much they just played the song and she was just singing along and we were dancing right by her, luckily I naturally look so good I didn't even need to get in to costume and make up! So funny slash awkward slash I better get some royalty when that video goes straight to #1!

This day I finally realized my life long dream of.... standing next to a lady wearing a dress of sparkling jewels brighter than the sun!

I'm gonna be honest, I think this first little taste of stardom brought out the true star in me because Thursday night I went out dancing with a bunch of the students that are leaving Cusco. We were just club hopping and there were about 12 of us and we ended up in this club called Mamma Afrika that was playing lots of hip hop so of course I loved it! While we were there the song Soulja Boy Tell Em came on, it's kind of an old song but it has this whole dance that goes to it, and this one kid from Belgium is 19 and he's crazy, they all call him El Nino because he's so young but our group kind of cleared the floor and he went in the middle like he knew the dance and I was like hey I know it too, so I went out there with him and we tore it up! Literally everyone in the entire club stopped and made a circle around us to watch and it was awesome! After that, I'm not even kidding you I was a legend! Everyone was nice to me before but after I did that, they were all like, "That was amazing, I love you" this one girl just kept saying "You're so cool, I want to dance with you, you're so crazy!" hahaha I'm not even kidding you I was in my glory! Even at school the next day, a couple of the girls live with the head teacher Maike and, Maike came up to me and was like, I hear you are quite the dancer! So much fun! I'm back on cloud 9 just thinkin about it! I'm pretty sure if everyone had known I didn't even have any alcohol they would have died!

This was a big performance week for me.....

Friday April 23 is apparently El Dia De Idioma (day of language) so for the second half of the day we did all these different activities. My friend David from Texas is an awesome guitar player and he played a couple songs for everyone and I think he must have spotted how in tune I am with music because he asked me to accompany him on the maracas. Now, most of you probably aren't aware but I've actually had many extensive years of training with the maracas so I was well qualified for this job, and I mean his guitar playing was good but really I think you can guess what made the performance! :)

Sorry if you can't pick my face out of this picture, I really got in to character as Molino #3 in the back!

Also in case you didn't already figure out from the above picture I was also able to finally land my dream role in the theater that day as Molino #3 in the schools reproduction of Don Quijote for the Day of Language..... Oh yeah Molino in spanish is windmill! Hahaha It was so cheesy slash nerdy! The play was short and all I did was stand there waving my arms like a windmill, I mean it took a lot preparation on my part and without me the whole thing probably would have fallen apart but it was a pretty eventful day!

After the performances, they had us split in to 4 different teams and we had to come up with a team cheer and then we did all these competitions in Spanish. I wasn't much good at any of the Spanish stuff but I did come up with our team cheer! I may or may not have gotten the idea from a little known place called the Spectrum..... Bringing a little piece of Logan to my friends in Peru! We did the I believe that we can win chant in Spanish it was awesome!

Sunday we had a rooftop picnic at Katrine and Arianne's hostel! They have this amazing view overlooking the plaza! It was awesome, we got a bunch of bread and cheese and veggies and the avocados here are so amazing! And then we watched the sunset and Katrine jammed a little while we all sang along! Such an amazing night!

Sunday morning I went to church and found some other white people! And they were from Logan! I love that place so naturally life was good! It was a couple who worked for the church and had been living in Lima for 4 years and all there kids and some of the spouses were out visiting so they were doing so traveling! They were way nice and they loved that I lived in Logan almost as much as I loved that they weren't BYU fans! :)

After church Isabelle was sick so I was just planning on eating something in town, but she called me in to her room and apparently her nephew had gotten this take out and she wanted to share it with me.....

I'm not 100% sure about all the contents on this plate, but the dark meat is cuy aka guinea pig (surprisingly tasted nothing like chicken), I think the white things were some kind of fish egg and the green stuff tasted a lot like seaweed! Also don't be fooled, that is definitely not a hot dog! :) And on the upside the popcorn kernel looking things were amazing! And I loved getting to try so many different kinds of food and now I don't even have to waste a whole meal on Cuy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Adventures in Mountain Biking!

Yeah I kicked this mountains trash! Mount Ben Lomond I'm coming after you next!

Week 3
Holy smokes my time is seriously going way to fast! I'm having such a good time and meeting so many cool people I don't want it to end!

For the third week I finally got someone else in my class, I was kind of nervous to see how it would be with someone else, but it was awesome! I was with a girl named Shannon who is a doctor in San Diego, she is just finishing up her residency in Pedatrics! Even though she had only been there 2 weeks she was definitely keeping me on my toes! I felt like it was really good to kind of have some competition because I think it was really pushing us both! My teacher this week was Elvira and she was really great as well! Everyday in class we all kept talking about different kinds of food and it would make us hungry so on Friday we had a sharing day and we each brought in different kinds of food, naturally that was my favorite thing of the week! :) haha

Food day! These are Alfajores and they are the most amazing things ever filled with dulce de leche and strangely enough, from what I can understand from the label they're really healthy too! :)

Tuesday April 13
Isabelle made Spaghetti for lunch and was so excited to give it to me because she still thinks Italian is the most common type of food in Utah.... Oops! Went running after lunch and there's this kind of park thing that doesn't really have any grass but it has cement benches and some plants and different things, anyway after running I go there and do a few exercises lunges and tricep presses and things but it's kind of becoming a ritual that anyone within eye sight of the park just seems to stare at me as I workout, haha I'm sure to them a white girl running in the pollution is just plain weird!

Later that night I met up with the girls from Puno and we had a picture exchange party! That's sort of like a Bar Mitzvah without the whole coming of age thing....

Wednesday April 14
Wednesday night I attended a salsa class with Lauren and her host brother Tiago, he's from Brazil and is such a nice kid! The one thing I took away from Salsa lessons, I dance like a white girl!

"Hey Jayne, are you in giant land, because that corn looks ginormous?!"

Later that night we ate at Chez Maggy (I think I've been to that place 4 times in the last 8 days it's so delicious!)! They always have a traditional Peruvian band come in and play live music and it was so good! I even bought the CD and the band loved us, we were just chattin it up like it was old home week!

Oh it's fine, we're just a couple groupies hangin with the band!

Thursday April 15
Isabelle volunteers at a hospital on Thursday so she was gone in the morning and when she got home she brought us as a snack Jello in a plastic cup, it's really weird but they sell it all over the place here, and it was actually way delicious!

Went to dinner at Chez Maggy again, awkward when the band personally knows me.... It was the last night with Shannon and a couple other doctors who were here studying for a couple weeks! Afterwards went and played so more soccer, there were two americans from my school there this week too so it was pretty fun! Some of the guys didn't get the memo that it wasn't the World Cup though so there were a few fights that were pretty lame! haha

Friday April 16
For lunch I had the most amazing homemade fettucine alfredo and it was divine! Later that night I met a bunch of people for dinner! We ate at this Israeli place and it was really good! There were like 20 of us and we kind of overran the place, but it was a really good time!

Oh yeah, we're a rowdy bunch!

After dinner a few of us decided to go salsa dancing..... Although I have the grace of a swan when I walk (no?) somehow that doesn’t seem to translate in to my salsa moves! Weird! Later on we met up with a few American students who are here with their University and it was way fun

Me Lauren Tiago and Hank dancing!

I'm anticipating an invite to Dancing With the Stars in the near future so I just thought I'd brush up on my Salsa skills a little bit!

Saturday April 17

Woke up early and got to school where we were picked up by a van with 3 mountain bikes on top at 7:30! Our guide was way cool, his name was Edy and he works at a hotel but competes professionally in downhill mountain biking competitions! We got dropped off about an hour outside of Cusco in what felt like the middle of nowhere!

This is the hard core crew before we got started! You don't wanna mess with this!

This is the kind of terrain we were on for the first part of the day, maybe you think this looks soft, trust me it's not....

We rode for about an hour in the country through fields where people were working the land manually with a horse and plow, it was so cool to see! And the backdrop was these amazing mountains!

This is Moray, they're some Incan ruins they used as an experiment to grow different kinds of food, they would plant something different on each layer because the lower down you get the hotter it is! Naturally when I was standing at the bottom, it felt like the place was on fire!

We finally rode up to Moray, weird how we didn't see anyone else doing it on bikes but I sure saw a lot of tourists on buses, I guess I didn't get the memo that riding up to Moray involves a lot of up! :)

These are the big Incan steps that you have to climb down in Moray

Me and Edy the Italian stallion, did we actually call him that? Nope just made it up right now!

Behind me you can see a really steep hill that drops in to a river and then we had to climb back up, tough ride and I even passed a couple cows on my way up!

Look mom I'm flying!

So we ate our sack lunch at Moray and then headed on our way! The biking path we took in the 2nd half of the day had been part of a down hill mountain biking race trail the week before and our guide, who is a professional biker, had competed in it and was showing us all the jumps and things, he even showed off on a couple jumps for us!

Edy the Eagle (that's another new nickname I just came up with, although the only people that will get that will be my mom and any other Olympic enthusiasts, although I doubt there are many enthusiasts out there like me!)

So as we were following Edy down the steepest part of the mountain, it was some pretty gnarly terrain! Edy kept off on little tangents that were really tricky to get down but there was always a little bit easier trail for us to follow. After riding for a while I of course decided it was time to show off my mad skills, the problem with this was that I don't actually have any mad skills to properly show off..... I tried to follow Edy down one of his crazy shutes and things got ugly!

This picture does not do this monster hill justice.... Yep somehow I managed to do an endo coming down this....

Polite pain, that is the expression you're reading on my face in this picture!

Oh it's fine, I just wanted to bring a little Peru home with me in the form of a massive scar!

Somehow my ankle got tangled up in the mess that was me and the mountain and my bike!

Yep I look good, all the Peruvians want me now! I seriously have bruises up and down my body! I had some coins in my pocket and I hit so hard that they left a circular scar in my skin that is still here and it's been 3 weeks!

The worse part about this situation was not the bruises, or the blood, or the blacking out when I stood up, it was the bike pinning me down like a helpless child as I laid there in pain while Edy and Tiago looked on in horror! Tiago was so nice though and helped clean out as much of the dirt as he could! When I told him thank you so much he said, "It's ok, you are my sister!" It was so sweet! I was really glad he was there to save me!

You can kind of see the salt mines behind my giant muscles!

Needless to say the rest of the ride in to town, I was slightly more hesitant! It was still really cool though, we passed the salt mines, where there are over 400 pools of salt, and rode through this cute town and finally took a bus home! I was so exhausted and a shower never felt so good in my life! Went out for dinner that night and then fell asleep at 9 and slept almost 12 hours!

The moral of this story is, if you're going to crash in the mountains in Peru try to let someone know ahead of time so they can at least get it on video so that you don't have to keep wondering what the heck went wrong! :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

We're on a boat!

All you have to do is follow the signs on the highest largest navigable lake in the world and you should be fine!

Saturday April 10
We woke up and ate a stimulatingly free breakfast courtesy of our 27.5 soles a night for a private room hostel. It consisted of bread, jam, tea, little cubes of butter and coffee! Yum!

We headed down to the dock to try and find a tour, everyone was more than willing to help us, so much in fact that I think they were actually more so trying to help themselves! :) We found a good tour that included 3 meals and a nights stay with a host family on one of the islands as well as travel to 3 different islands!

They call this the platano (for those of you non espanol speakers that also means banana) of the sea, because you peel down the sides and eat it raw, although it tasted like a whole lot of nothing to me!

We first visited the floating islands, it's pretty crazy they've figured out how to turn all the seaweed or whatever the heck you wanna call it into islands, it's kind of weird to explain but basically they get big chunks of earth and tie them together and over time they grow together and then they take these reeds or straw or whatever it is that grows there and put layer after layer on top of the earth and that's what makes it steady enough to walk on, and then over time they have to add more layers as the bottom ones decay and die away!

Welcome to an island made purely our of straw, please watch your step!

Oh it's fine, they brought out the big guns with a welcoming party singing and dancing when we got to the island, apparently I'm not just a big deal in Utah! :)

They gave us this whole demonstration and then let us walk around look at all the dwellings and then we decided to go for a boat ride on one of these canoe looking boats made out of the straw! It was pretty cool especially when 8,000 children jumped on board with us to sing! It was really cute!

We're on a little boat!

These are just 3 of the 8,000 that jumped on with us!

Happy faces, at least face.... I paid this little girl to be in my picture and she still couldn't even pretend to be having a good time? Seriously I must be losing my touch! :)

In theory this was a good idea, but more recently they've received lots of complaints from the villagers who feel like it's a waste of a dry set of clothes every time they have to swim out and buy something!

After that we had a 3 hour boat ride to the island of Armantani, it was pretty cool, we sat on top of the boat and enjoyed the sun!

Don't even worry we just made ourselves comfortable on top of the boat in the agonizing heat, while all the smart people stayed down below in the shade!

Viva El Peru! 'Nough said!

Once we got to the island Armantani, we were picked up by our host mom for the night and had to take a 20 minute hike seriously straight up the mountain! It felt like a billion degrees and we were packin.... our clothes that is!

Twenty yards into our hike up the mountain, I found an LDS church, is it weird that such a simple building should constitute stopping the whole group to get a picture? I sure didn't think so! :)

If we wanted to know what we were having for lunch we just needed to look at what was cooking slash smoldering in the heat of the sun, yep this is their version of a stove.... No joke!

When we got to our house it was very simple, it was set up kind of with a little courtyard in the middle and then a bunch of doors around it that led to different rooms, I'm still not all the way sure but I think there were at least two families that shared the area! They have no electricity on the island at all and when it got dark we had our meals and the lights in our rooms by candlelight!

This is the kitchen....

Our beds were made of half thin mattress and half straw

After eating our simple lunch of soup with Potatoes followed by Potatoes and fried cheese, the dad told us we were going to Pachatata (some of the ruins on the island) and that we need to make sure and stick with Cynthia Illia and Royer, what he didn't mention was that they were 5 and 7..... Only on an island with no electricity would it be kosher to send your children off on a long hike with strangers from another country!

These were our tour guides, somehow they convinced me into buying them an Alpaca kebab off the street when we walked in to town, despite the lack of communication between us, they still knew how to play me like a fiddle! :) It was so cute watching them share this, especially when Royer dropped it on the ground a couple times and he just picked it up, brushed it off on his pants and kept going to town! I don't think they get to eat meat very often here because the whole way home after this they kept saying "We got meat, we got meat" talk about breaking your heart!

The hike to Pachatata was so pretty the higher we got, we could see more of the island and the surrounding islands! The pictures could never do it justice!

Oh yeah, the shirt I'm wearing is from Australia thanks for asking! Also did I mention how rough this hike was on my recently surgered knees? It's fine you don't have to tell me how tough I am, I already know! :)

Julia (Germany), Me (Utah, in the USA, maybe you've heard of it?), and Caroline (Alberta, Canada) and the kids at the top of Pachatata!

Across from Pachatata was Pachamama we kept asking the kids if we were going to it as well and they were acting really strange, saying things like "No, we'll go tomorrow" (even though we were leaving first thing) "Tourists aren't allowed" "We have to go home...." So finally this Italian girl who was with us and I decided we didn't care we were there and we wanted to go so we made plans to meet the others at the bottom. While we were gone the kids finally told Julia and Caroline that they just hadn't wanted to hike to the other side! haha

There wasn't much to see at Pachamama, but the view of Pachatata was amazing!

It always amazes me how timeless the peace sign is, I mean seriously you would probably think no way could it work in a picture with a humble lunch such as this one, but then you see this and BAM, it definitely has a presence that would be missed had it not been there!

I'm gonna go ahead and loosely refer to this as tea, because I don't know that sticking a plant you pulled off the side of the road in to hot water can truly be called tea.... We had this "tea" with every meal, the plant is called Muno and it's supposed to be really good for you, it's sorta like the Windex thing from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, they use it to cure everything!

This was the path to our luxurious outhouse, you had to have a bucket of water on hand to flush anything down, another bonus was that it was located right next to the pig sty so you were actually relieved to get in and close the door, you got the terrible smell coming out!

They had us check out all their homemade goods, they had some really sweet hats and scarfs but they were asking way too much and I didn't have the heart to barter! I tried to find a sweet beanie for my dad but apparently they've never had a head that big in Peru! :)

After dinner there was a fiesta that they put on for the tourists and you're supposed to get dressed up in traditional garb and dance around but for some reason our mom didn't dress us up, we still went for a little while and it was pretty fun!

This is Marieke, Katrine, and Ariana, the other girls we went with, all dressed up in their traditional outfits! Marieke and Ariana are from Holland and Katrine is from Denmark, they're way fun girls and they call themselves the old mamas because they're all over 28 haha (yep I know, I practically fit the bill) and so many of the students at the school are way young!

Sunday April 11

We woke up and had breakfast at 6:30 (apparently when you don't have electricity you rise with the sun) we ate these almost scone type things with sugar and it was way good! And of course another dose of plant in hot water, I feel healthier already!

Right before we were leaving the kids all came in our room playing these flutes and singing, they just wanted us to give them money but it was still really cute!

After heading back down to the boat and saying our goodbyes, we sailed away and on to the Island of Taquile, it's a smaller island but has more people. Apparently we were there on the day of some big event because everywhere we went people were dressed in these bright clothes with giant bells all over, so every time they took a step they sounded like a human cowbell, and yes there is always room for some more cowbell in my life!

Picture of said Human Cowbells....

There should have been a sign that read, "Welcome to Taquile, once you hike straight up this mountain for 20 minutes and you're exhausted to the core we're going to charge you a 5 soles entrance fee, sort of like a gym does we just don't have the fancy machines!"

Taquile was so beautiful and seemed almost Greek Islandish only without all the Abba songs!

We ate lunch on the island, if you were about to guess if it involved rice OR potatoes, then you would be wrong because it involved rice AND potatoes, I don't know why I thought they didn't go together before, I mean starch and starch, hello!

We had to climb down the mountain to get to our boat and of course we were the last ones on, and because it's such a long hike down we all kind of came in at different times, so we're just chillin on top of the boat waiting to go and as it starts to pull out we all kind of realize Julia is not there, so we look at the dock and she is running at us with this petrified look on her face! We all start yelling "Uno mos, uno mos" she literally had to jump the gap between the boat and the dock to get on, it was so funny! Luckily she made it and we were good to go, had she gotten there 5 seconds later it would have been a different story!

Once we got back in to Puno we had about 4 hours until our bus left so we went and got some ice cream and then just kind of hung out in the main square for a little while. There was this group of hippie slash musician people from Columbia selling jewelry and singing, they lived off the money they made from that and just kind of bummed around, they were way cool and had we been interested in finding drugs slash sharing any drugs we might have they were more than willing to help out!

I wish the light was better in this picture! This is in the Plaza De Armas in Puno, chillin with the groupies!

Katrine asked to borrow the guys guitar and busted out a few songs herself! She's way good!

We took a night bus back to Cusco and didn't arrive until 4 in the morning! Maybe you're worried about how cold it would be on the bus, like I was, but don't worry I actually sat on top of the heater for the entire bus! If I hadn't been sitting next to a strange man who kept sticking his elbow in my face, stripping down may not have been out of the question.... Instead I had to settle for pressing my face against the cold glass every time it got unbearable!

Chillin on the plaza steps like its our job! This time I'm not even alone in my unemployedness! :)

Coming next, adventures in crashing on a mountain bike! Stay tuned!