Up in Thought: In the Andes #4

June 16th, 2011 by Julia

Today we had class in the morning and then we went to look at the first of the Inca ruins that we will see: Sacsayhuaman. It was amazing. First of all, the ruins overlooked the city of Cusco. It is a very impressive sight and something of itself, but then you see the stones. They must be twenty feet high and one is left in awe as to how a society without either the wheel or writing could create something like this. Not only are the rocks giant, but the placement is remarkably precise. One could not even fit a piece of paper in between the rocks. Even the modern stone creations done by Peruvians don’t hold a candle to the Incan architecture.

Climbing up the stairs to the top of the ruins was hard. You can really feel the altitude and how it affects you. We went to other ruins as well and were treated to magnificent views of the natural surroundings. Many animals were there: alpacas, llamas, donkeys, and of course the dogs. You can’t help but to fall in love with all of the dogs that walk around freely in Peru. They are wily, but they seem to be no different than the domesticated dogs I am used to.

Today we got to see a whole different side of Cusco and Peru itself. We were able to envision what life was like for the Incas before colonization. This opportunity was amazing and had a great impact on me. Knowing all I can about the past is the closest I can come to knowing what the future will bring.

-Julia

May 27th, 2011

UNE at Sacsayhuaman

Up in Thought: In the Andes #3

June 16th, 2011 by Julia

Today was an interesting day. We took a taxi to Centro Tinku, the school where we will be taking classes. As I have come to find with everything in this experience so far, it was entirely unlike what I expected. They were not kidding at all when they said that the temperature drops very fast after the sun sets. Being so close to the equator, the sun is very hot, but the altitude seems to constantly be at war with that fact.
Our professor who lectures about the Inca culture has a thick French accent, speaks to us in English, yet manages to effortlessly communicate with Peruvians in Spanish. It makes me laugh a little. After our classes, we went shopping. It was fun but at the same time really tiring. Nothing had a set price, the culture thrives on bartering, but the vendors are a lot more aggressive. Not only does each person you walk by tell you what they are selling and invite you to look, but people also come up to you on the streets asking you to buy their items. It is at lease five “no thank yous” before they wander off, much more if you ask how much they want for their items.
Everything is much different here but it has a charming quality. After only two days here it already seems to be growing on me.
-Julia
May 26th, 2011

Plaza de armas in Cusco

Up in Thought: In the Andes #2

June 16th, 2011 by Julia

Today we flew from Lima to Cusco. It was one of the most beautiful flights that I have ever been on. Again, my understanding of geography was completely changed. No longer were the Andes marked by letters and lines on a paper, but they were real, a breathtaking majesty unlike anything I have ever seen. Imagine a mountain, its only description is breathtaking with a snow capped summit at an incomprehensible altitude. Then duplicate that mountain times 500 as there are that many right next to it, each at a slightly different angle. It is wonderful.
The city of Cusco is much different than anything I expected. The city has a constant buzz, much different than anything that I have experienced. People seem to be going in their own direction, leaving the whole to be a scramble, yet it works perfectly. The people fit together like an ever-moving, ever-changing puzzle.
I met my host family today, they don’t speak English but for a few words. They fed us noodles with chicken and a green soup that I am still unable to translate to English. We got to drink coca tea, a good experience to have under one’s belt. It tasted like any other tea. After the food, we slept. The air was totally different and I could feel how much thinner it was with every breath. It was almost like the frigid days in the Northeast, but without the biting pain that usually accompanies it. All worries of “soroche” (altitude sickness) began to fade as the only thing that I noticed was a bit of trouble breathing and the tiniest hint of a headache that went away when I was preoccupied with one of the many things that this city has to offer. I cannot wait to discover what secrets the city has and explore its wonderful yet exotic beauty.
-Julia
May 25th, 2011

Host family celebrating Bethany's birthday!

Up in Thought: In the Andes #1

June 16th, 2011 by Julia

On the flight in I was struck by a number of things. First was flying over the Bahamas. Paradise. The second was Panama. At close to 40,000 feet, you can see both the Atlantic and Caribbean shores and grasp the real geography in a way that I never thought was possible. A third thing that surprised me was the lack of light on the ground. There are entire areas that are black. We were 40,000ft above Ecuador and entire portions of the earth are dark. The airplane staff then comes by with sandwiches. I opened the complimentary sandwich and absentmindedly took a bite while I pondered the darkness thinking of how I wasn’t really hungry. I looked out the window again and a strange sickness came over me as I began to realize. I’m not flying over the United States. I’m currently 40,000 feet over a country where many people are hungry. Many times in my life I have sponsored children in Ecuador, using the letter correspondence to practice my Spanish from the comfort of my own life. As I sit here with my iPhone and Kindle, surrounded by luxury even in an uncomfortable airplane seat, the lesson has never felt as real.
-Julia
May 23rd, 2011

This was the Caribbean ocean as we were flying over it at sunset.

Lima

June 15th, 2011 by blatulippe

Lima

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