Friday, September 28, 2007

Trip through Time

I was apprehensive about going to Peru at first because of the cost of the trip, but it turned out to be simply - amazing. It was a trip through time. After an 8 hour delay in El Salvador, we finally made it into Lima at 10pm, went straight to the hotel to check in. Our first adventure was to locate the local grocery store - Vivanda (which is basically their version of Whole Foods, right down to the fake chalk written signs). Vivanda and us girls became best friends over the next few days. Water, snacks, and fruit every day. We spent our first two days, sleeping in, walking around Miraflores shopping, eating Chinese food in Chinatown, and exploring Barranco which seemed like a step into colonial history mixed with a bit of Creole culture. First day's dinner was at a restaurant called La Mar, where we were served Pisco and some absolutely amazing ceviche. We explored nearby ruins at Pachacamac, saw a Peruvian hairless dog wearing a coat, ate guinea pig and river fish, and had some of the saltiest cheese mixed with a delicious giant corn that I absolutely loved.

The next morning ended all sleeping in time, we woke at 3:30am to rush to the airport for our flight to Cusco. Cusco is located at a 12,000 feet elevation give or take 500 depending on where you're standing. It reminded me of old European countries with cobble stone streets, small alleyways where you had to hug the walls to avoid being smacked by a passing taxi or van. We happened to be there when a country wide car race was passing through. Did some more shopping and whole lot more eating and napping and prepared for Machu Picchu the next day.

We woke early again to board a 6am train, that wound its way for four hours through the mountains and down about 4,000 feet. We passed farms and waved to all the people working in the fields. When you first come upon Machu Picchu all you see is some stones and houses and walls. Then you climb up to the lookout, where you spend the entire time looking down to make sure you don't trip. When you finally reach the top, you stand up straight and it is absolutely breath taking. It is exactly as the photos picture it. A city of stones shaped into rooms and ledges against a backdrop of mountains and valleys. The mist would roll up the mountain side and over the ruins in an eerie sense of ancient times. No one knows for sure who the ruins were built by or what they were built for, hence no real signs explaining anything. We spent four hours roaming around, touching the giant rocks that seem to fit seamlessly together with no mortar. We also snuck up next to English speaking guides occasionally to get brief explanations to some of the "major sites". I still think some of these rocks happened to fall where they lay and any hope to explain them is just silly. Then again, I did press my head against the "wishing rock" and make a wish anyway. :)

We made it back to Cusco in the dark, where suddenly I began to feel a bit of altitude sickness. I spent the evening holed up in bed in our cute hotel room wishing I was down about 4,000 feet. The next morning was another early wake up call, to make sure we grabbed breakfast before heading to the airport (I loved the hotels we stayed at.. they always served breakfast of fresh fruit, bread, ham, cheese, and juices!). We flew from Cusco to Lima waited in the lounge, where I realized I left my book on the last flight..grrr.. and then flew from Lima to Iquitos.

Iquitos is a jungle city, it isn't accessible by land as there are no roads going there. The only way to arrive is by water or by air. We flew in to be greeted warmly by the Amazonia Expedition staff and scared by them about making sure we stuck close to our guide the whole time we were there. We had a nice dinner of local foods and then Cesar, our first guide, showed us a bit around the city. I had never heard so many.. pssts, china's, ni haos, konichiwa's in once place. It was a bit hard to ignore them all, but we managed. Cesar said he was there to be our "bodyguards" and that we would be his surrogate daughters during our stay. He was a very lively man, who's English could use a bit of work, but was understandable for the most part. The next morning we woke up to be greeted by our second guide, Edson. He was a lot easier to understand and his very sweet and gentlemanly behavior made all seven of us girls smitten with him by the end of the trip. That morning we did a short walk around the nicer part of the city and then jumped aboard 3 motorcarreos that zoomed us around the city. We had a quick tour of the market places, where we saw exotic fruits, fish being prepared, and vegetables of all sorts. They stopped at the edge of the river in the "shantytown". This was the area where people's homes were made out of balsa wood so that in the rainy season, they would float. It was the poorer part of town, mostly made up on people from villages in the jungle. My heart ached for them and at the same time I wondered if pity was even a proper feeling to have for these people. Wasn't it outsiders and missionaries who pulled these people into the city? Made them wear clothes and live the way we live when they had no infrastructure to do so yet? I had read Paul Beaver's book Diary of an Amazon Jungle Guide. He was the one who founded the company Amazonian Expeditions, that we were about to embark on. It talked about what life was like before missionaries and tourism and how things had changed in the last 50-60 years from the point of view of a jungle guide.

I wondered what the jungle was going to be like as we headed to the dock to board the boat that would take us to the lodge.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Everyone could use a flower from someone as long as it's not a crazy
happy birthday mom, i love you.

if you see karen and griffen hug them for me too. :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

mother's love

i was strolling virtually through the blogs of my friends this morning and i came upon a comment to a friend's blog. it was from his mother and suddenly an ache hit my heart so profoundly. she had read his blog and left him a quote about life and how she could see his joy in life grow.

i suddenly realized how i missed that. hearing her voice. being able to call her and know that whatever she would say would make me feel better. mother's give this amazing support to their children that carries us through in life, even after death. in my heart i know she's saying those things, she's telling me she sees great things in me and that my future will be beautiful, colored with bits of sadness but beautiful nonetheless. she tells me in spirit because she loved me so much, it's how i know no matter how low life can seem, i know that at some point things will be better.

i suppose it's fitting that i should feel and remember all this today. because tomorrow would have been her 57th birthday. so happy early birthday mom, i love you and i miss you...