Bones, Notebooks, and Giggles-The Inca Trail Continued

June 12, 2008

Bones, Notebooks, and Giggles

Wonderful, wonderful day! I should probably save that opening line for an email written on the Incan Trail, or in the Amazon, but I just had to use it!

After sleeping like a log, we headed off to a magnificent set of ruins that was initially an Incan temple to the sun gods, and was later encapsulated by the Catholic Church when the Spaniards invaded Peru. The Incan temple rooms just felt so alive and I wanted to wander through them for hours. Everything was made of trapezoidal grey stones that fit together beautifully. Originally, many of them were covered in gold but the Spaniards invasion pretty much put an end to gold-plated buildings, I think!

The Catholic cathedral was gorgeous and was built in the 17th century. After seeing all of the gorgeous art, we were wandering around, and me being my mothers daughter, I started wondering about what was under the church. There is always something under these cathedrals!

Sharon approached one of the young men that worked there and he started taking us through the church and showing us the places that go down. Unfortunately, they were all closed. He answered all our questions and explained that the 100+ people that worked on the church were interred below it.

All the sudden, he looked furtively around, bent down and used his key to pry up a big piece of wood. Underneath was a inscribed piece of marble that he lifted up and under that…..lots of skulls and bones!! Piled up about five feet from the top of the hole! After letting us bend over to look, he quickly put everything back and said that he wasn’t supposed to show anyone. I am so glad that he broke the rules. !

We were, of course, completely respectful and really appreciated it. We did have a good laugh afterwards, though, when both Sharon and Julia confessed to being extra careful to hold onto their sunglasses which were perched on their heads. How awful would it have been to drop them down that hole!!

After lunch, we split up with Julia and Sharon going off in search of hiking stuff and Deb and I in search of children’s underwear and school supplies for the Hotel Ninos children. After lots of neat shopping, (neat because children’s underwear and school supplies can only be purchases at shops that are meant for locals), we went back to the hotel and gave them the stuff. The woman got teary-eyed when she saw the supplies that we had purchased along with all of the school supplies that Deb brought. Three cheers for my folks at Huthmaker Violins for providing the supplies I bought….they are very,very appreciated!

Deb and I were very excited to go on a tour of the children’s facility this evening. This email is getting tooo long, so I will have to put that in another email, but it was amazing beyond belief!! Unfortunately, part of the outreach is providing employment for poor people, so when Deb and I asked if we could come volunteer for the day, they said no. But I sure would have loved to!

The day ended with the four of us having dinner at a wonderful little restaurant with several very handsome waiters.  The meal was full of giggles and great food. Another great day at Cuzco comes to an end.

Love, Anna

Hotel Ninos Part 2-Inca Trail Continued

June 11, 2008


Subject: 6.11.08 Just a little more

Ok, so it is still Wednesday, but there is just so much to tell you! Julia showed us to the hotel and she brought a friend named Sharon, so now our little group is four!  Julia and Sharon met while doing Habitat for Humanity work in New Orleans after Katrina and then later in Australia. Are these women cool, or what!!

We headed off for dinner through the winding streets of Cuzco. The streets and sidewalks are a mixture of cobblestones, bricks and paving slabs. Most of them either go steeply up or steeply down and there are holes scattered randomly, waiting to trip up unsuspecting tourists. Needless to say, I look down ALL of the time! 

The streets are narrow, with a continuous line of shops, restaurants
and apartments. Everything is crowded and there is a constant stream of women, men and children approaching us with stuff for sale. A never-ending stream of, “Cigarettes?”, “Weaving?”, and “Candy?” pelt us from all sides. One woman asked me if I wanted to buy a scarf, and when I said “no thank you”, she replied in perfect English, “Maybe tomorrow.” I smiled and replied back, “Maybe tomorrow”. My traveling companions looked at me with exasperation and told me NOT to talk to the vendors. I didn’t understand why until she followed us to dinner, sat on the curb outside and waved her scarves at us each time we glanced out of the window. We immediately dubbed her the “stalker” and made a run for it after we paid our bill.

It turns out that if you buy one thing from a street vendor, then about two thousand of them descend on you wanting you to buy something. All in all, it is quite entertaining! I cannot tell you how hard it is for me not to be polite to these people! At least I should be able to nod and smile! But I quickly learned that eye contact was a big no-no.

Things got even funnier when a four year old little boy tried to sell Deb something. When she ignored him, he leaned his head against her rear end and just stood there. Every time she turned around, he just moved with her.  Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up!

After walking back up through the city, we finally got back to Hotel Ninos. Home sweet home. As I lay here writing this, I am under a big pile of blankets, pausing from time to time to laugh long and hard. The jokes are flying as the three of us settle into bed and I am so, so happy. Sweet dreams….

Love, Anna

to Hotel Ninos-The Inca Trail Continued

June 11, 2008

After getting up early and packing, we headed down to breakfast. Being the
Sheraton, the buffet was very fancy, schmanzy. They even had miso soup for the
Japanese tourists!

The fruit was the interesting part, though. There a good 4-5
fruits that I had never seen before. Being the first real day in Peru, I was not anxious to dive into the weird stuff. I thought I would do my best to keep my stomach on an even keel for now. Deb, however, had no such resrvations. She dug into each weird fruit with gusto! She finally cracked open something that looked like an orange on the outside, and….I am not kidding you…brains on the inside! Actually, remember the old movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers? And remember how when they cracked open the pod people, grey slime with chunky stuff came pouring out? THAT is what it looked like!! She finally convinced me to taste some, and she was right, it was very good. But I just couldn’t bring myself to eat anymore!!! 

After checking out of the hotel, we took a cab ride through some very interesting
parts of town before getting back on a plane to our final destination, Cuzco. The short flight took us over the Andes. Let me tell you, those are some big, big mountains!
I can’t believe I am actually planning on climbing some! I have obviously lost
my mind!! 

More airport stuff, more luggage, another taxi, yada,yada,yada. We finally arrived
at our wonderful hotel. If any of you come to Cuzco, you MUST stay at the Hotel
Ninos!!! Some 15 years ago, a Dutch woman visited here and was moved by the plight of the street children. She began by adopting two of them and kept adopting til she had twelve. She started a hotel in which all of the proceeds go towards feeding, clothing and educating 500 street children a day. She opened four children-only
resturants so that the kids would have food six days a week. If I ever wondered
what kind of difference one person can make, i know now.

The hotel is beautiful…two stories with a wonderful courtyard in the middle.
Cheery lime green paint and big pots full of flowers make the Hotel Ninos so cozy.
The rooms are very simple…just beds and in our case, a bathroom, but with this
much peace surrounding you, you don’t miss the tv, computer, cell phones etc.
Each room is named after one of the children, and we are staying in the Amilcare

We are going to take a tour of the childrens restaurant tomorrow and I am hoping
that they will let us do some volunteer work. I am here to acclimatize and I can do that just as easily while I am sweepng out the kitchen! 

Well, it is nap time. My friend Julia, known to some of you as Hiker Biker
Babe, will be here soon and who knows what tomorrow will bring! I will definitely need my beauty sleep.

Love, Anna aka Mud Butt

to Ti aMo Peru-The Inca Trail

June 10, 2008

Well, the sky is a brilliant blue, the air is crisp and cool, cars are swerving
every which way, old women are walking down the street wearing giant hats and 4 millon different colors…..I am in Peru!! After months of planning and dreaming, I really can’t believe that I am here!

Late yesterday, my friend Deb, (known to most of you as Silver Lining) and
I flew into Lima. The flight was 6.5 hours, but felt like 37! My favorite part
of the flight is when they stopped doing the English announcements first, and started doing them in Spanish and Quechuan first, English second. That is when you know that your trip has truly begun! 

As we waited to get our luggage, Deb, who speaks fantastic Spanish, spoke to
a grandmotherly woman in front of us. Before we knew what was happening, she was pressing her phone number into our hands and telling us to call her if we needed anything. She left in a flurry of kisses and Deb and I just grinned at each other.

We had only been in the country for 15 minutes and we already had a friend!

We headed for the hotel after jumping through several touristic hoops. There is a lot of crime in Lima…. a seriously lot…so in order to be safe, you have know who to approach for taxis and such. Lucky for us, Deb and I did all of our research, and between the two of us, can handle anything. 

Because of the safety issue, I booked our room for the night at the downtown Sheraton. It is verrryyy fancy and not the kind of place I would usually stay! But we agreed that it was worth it and that we all deserve to be treated like royalty every now and then.

After a trecherous cab ride…red lights aren’t even a suggestion in this
city and there is absolutely no center line concept…we found ourselves in our
hotel room. It is midnight and what is a girl to do after a long day of travel?
Go to the lounge for her first Pisco sour, of course!! A Pisco Sour is the national Peruvian drink and it is wonderful!! We settled into deep arm chairs, toasted to each other, and took sips of this sour, light beverage. Mmmmmmm… is good!

Seconds later, the three men at the table next to us introduced themselves and we all started talking. They were my fathers age and were so nice! Within the hour, we had three more friends! Unfortunately, it was almost 2 am at this point, so amid offers of more Pisoc Sours and tales of Macchu Pichu, we headed for bed.

Did I mention that I am in Peru? 
Love, Anna aka Mud Butt