Sunday, October 24, 2010

Islands in the sun

I'm a little behind on posting, but a week ago I went to Puno and Lake Titicaca. What's great about my study abroad program is that we all live separately in Cusco but get to go on trips and excursions together all over the country. Transportation, meals, and lodging is all arranged for us so it makes traveling really stress free. We even get stipends for the meals that we don't eat together.

Another bonus of the trip was the hot shower and internet that we get in the hotels. It is so funny everybody immediately checks their emails and facebook upon getting the password from the hotel worker. It is amazing how much I take these things for granted at home. Never again.

But those were not the highlights. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and it also happens to be the pretty beautiful to look at. We were lucky to have such great weather(hard to come by in the almost rainy season) and the floating island of Uros and the island Taquile were unforgettable. The man-made Uros Islands are over 300 years old and constructed entirely of reeds. There are 48 islands and the people on them uses these reed boats as transportation. Take a look:

I think that I would like to use those as my primary form of transportation too.

We also went to Taquile, which is a much bigger island. Everybody there is required to wear their traditional clothing that indicates their marital status. For example, married men wear red hats and single ones wear white. This seems useful and must eliminate a lot of guessing.

That's all for now, take care!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountain

The past few weeks here have been a complete blur. So much has happened that I am struggling with choosing something to write about. I will start with my bout of salmonella and an intestinal parasite upon our return from the jungle. I hadn't been feeling well for a few days and I went to the hospital. Along with eight others in my group, I have been blessed with the disease that comes from eating raw egg/uncooked chicken. Five antibiotics later I think that I am healed (almost, cross your fingers). Here is my hospital roomie, Beth, and I post hospital. I think we look pretty good:

On a slightly more happy note, my friends and I all went to Moray last weekend. Moray is an Incan agricultural experiment. It was well worth the two hour hike it took to get into the site. Hiking here for me means panting all the way uphill and then being so thankful and full of energy on the downhill. I'm not in the Adirondacks anymore.

Tomorrow my lovely group and I leave for a 17 day excursion to Puno, the Colca Canyon, Lima and Arequipa. I am beyond excited, mostly for Colca Canyon where I will be living in a rural home-stay. Hoorah!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Welcome to the jungle

Hello everybody, I know it's been a while. Almost two weeks!! Well, in this time I have came and gone to the Amazon jungle and celebrated my 20th birthday. We visited the indigenous towns of Huacaria and Los Queros. It was quite the experience, and I would love to go back to the jungle under one condition- no more yuca. You see, the Amazon is beautiful, green, and the air is warm, which is a welcome change from Cusco. However, the food is limited and I ended up eating yuca for 3 meals a day for 5 days. These kinds of setbacks have to be tolerated when there is a river as beautiful as this to swim in-
It was the best thing to do before starting my day after a hot night's sleep in my tent. We also didn't really have showering opportunities, so the cleanliness the river provided was more than necessary.
The last day in the first village we all went through ceremonial hair washing to restore balance in our system. It was great, but I had leaves in my hair for the next two days. Check it out-

Besides this I was able to do so many interesting things like going night fishing with the town president. It was so much fun casting the net in the river and then pulling the tiny fish out of it. We ate them for breakfast the next day. I also worked on a banana farm and used a machete. I even have a blister to prove it, I swear.
Some of the most exciting time of our jungle trip came in the form of transportation. We all had to stand or sit in the bed of this truck to go anywhere. The novelty of this wears off after an hour and whenever the rain comes. It's not surprising, but in the rainforest there is a lot of rain.

Look at this truck and imagine crossing a three foot high river in it. It was like the modern day version of the Oregon trail. Well I must be off, after all I still have homework to do!