AREQUIPA

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I came on the night bus from puno at 4am, and had not reserved a hostel so I walked about in the dark for 2 hours. Everything was occupied. Finally i found orkko wasi a clean hostel with a bed for me for 24 soles.
I did the free walking tour from Plaza San Francisco. It was a nice way to see where the main sites are located. The tour included tastning of local beer crafts. We saw a lama farm, a park, the river, the volcanos that surround the city. A small pisco sour and chica was included, so was a small potato dish and a visit to the chocolate museum.

I had an amazing dinner at Chira Dulce for 15 soles. I had a filled avocado palta rellenas, a filled bell pepper, and a glass of red wine. I can strongly recommend the place!!! The dishes were traditional but I asked for a vegetarian option. It is some of the best food i have had in Peru so far! It is opposite of Catalina monestary.
At night i went to o’cacao chocolateria in calle palacio. Angels are singing to the taste of chocolate Caliente con amerato y narranja!

Maras and Moray, Puno, Islas de Uros, Taquile and Copacabana in Bolivia

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My tour to Maras and Moray was kind of a show. The group left late, and there were only 20-30 minutes to see each site. I missed to have the opportunity to explore the landscape on my own. The reason why I choose the tour was that I was told that it would be too complicated, and properly also more expensive to take public busses and taxis. Maras are natural salt mines. All of the sudden they appeared in the landscape as a hole in the ground. Moray consists of 3 archeological sites, the circles in the ground. They somewhat remind of amphibian theaters, but the Incas made them to experience with agriculture. Each step would have a different temperature and thereby enable them to grow a different crop.

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After dinner I ran up and down the stair of San Blas neighborhood to keep warm. At 8.45 I got myself and my stuff into a taxi and rode to the Cruz del Sur bus station (6 soles). They weight my backpack and checked it in. At the station you would be able to find something to eat and drink and toilets. At 10pm the journey towards Puno by the Titicaca Lake began. I had plenty of space for legs, and the seats could lean back quite far. I was served a simple sandwich which I saved for breakfast. The first 1½ hour they played a movie which made it hard to fall asleep, but when it ended it was good. I arrived in Puno around 5am. The station was big and there were plenty of opportunities to find food. A tuktuk drove me to Puma backpackers’ hostel. At 7am I began a tour to the Uros Islands and Taquile. The Uros is an ethnic group who lives on floating islands made out of straw. It was quite amazing to see how they could build islands, houses, boats, toys, umbrellas etc. out of this natural material. They constantly have to make sure the straws are moist, and they have to add reeds on top – otherwise the island will disappear. Only 6 families lived on the tiny island my group of 30 people visited, so I felt as if I was part of an invasion. The Urus demonstrated their techniques, they pulled out souvenirs you could buy, and for 10 soles you could get a ride in their boat. By the way, the reed boat is mostly for the tourist – nowadays the Urus use small motorboats. I noted an elderly tourist who chased an infant with a camera, and after that he walked into the private homes. The scenario bothered me because I though he was objectifying them. This issue is exactly what I am going to Mexico to study and write my thesis about. I really do wonder what people like the Urus think about the tourists. We are a source of income, but lines are definitely crossed from my point of view. There are about 70 Uru islands on Lake Titicaca.

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After additionally 2½ hours of sailing we reached Taquile Island. The highest point of the island was about 4,5 km above sea level, and the lake is about 3,8 km above sea level. The landscape is generally really dry. Here are not really any plants. In the distance rise the snow peaks of Bolivia. I did not find the landscape of the island that interesting. However, people of the island indicated their social status by clothes and hats, and it was prestige for men to knit. They had a folkloric party in the main square. Locals of all ages were dancing in colorful costumes. It is as momatter where I go there is a folkloric party:) My group had about 3 hours on the island, so it was hard to get to know it to well. I really enjoyed sailing on the lake. It reminded me of summer in Denmark.

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July 28 I reached Copacabana in Bolivia. The bus from Puno is 25 soles + a 5 soles taxi + 1,5 sol tax to cross the border + a few soles to enter the town. Bolivia is one hour ahead in timedifference from Peru. The bus stopped before the border so that we could exchange money. Crossing the border took time, but was pain free. Today it is Peru’s national day and many Peruvians go to Copacabana to Celebrate. The Bolivian people celebrate a Catholic Virgin. Cars are decorated with colorful paper, and a ritual which mixes Catholicism with offerings to Pacchamama are carried out to protects families and their properties. On top of a hill, several families made little squares on the ground, which they decorated with flowers, candles and models of houses. A Sharman or priest rang a bell over each person’s head, spoke some words and sprayed beer over the “alter” on the ground.

Peanuts is the thing in Copacabana. I had peanut soup at the market for 5 bolivianos and a peanut juice on the street for 3 bolivianos.

July 29 I saw Horca del Inca on top of a hill in Copacabana. It was not really a ruin, but a few stones placed strategically. The story is that the sun goes between the stones in the morning of summer solstice. It cost 10 bolivianos to enter. I spent some time enjoying the sun on top of the hill. To be honest I had feared going to Bolivia, because everybody told me it would be cold and the weather forecast said minus 5 Celsius at night. The days here are warm (the wind is cold), and last night I wore to layers of pants + 4 shirts, a sweater, a jacket and a poncho. After dinner I went to the market to drink api (a warm drink made of corn). I haven’t suffered from the cold since the first night of the Inka trail. I have either gotten used to it, or learned my tricks. By the way, it is easier to stay warm in a sleeping back than in the blanks offered by hostels. When I sleep, I put on layers because it is easier to take of clothes than finding more in the middle of the night.

I took the 6pm bus back to Puno. There was no line at the border and no fees to pay. At the terminal in Puno I jumped on the nightbus to Arequipa. I arrived in Arequipa (by the airport) at 4am, and shared a cap to the city with some other backpackers. For once I had not booked a hostel ahead – that is first and last time! I walked around in the dark for two hours. Everything was occupied. At last I got to borrow some wifi, booked a room and took a taxi. Now I’ve been sitting at this hostel on the flor for two hours. I am very tired, but I cannot check in before 12. I think I will find a place to have something warm to drink soon.

Inka trail

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In the porters’ village I saw how the farmers separate beans from dust by throwing a showel of beans into air and then remove the dust with branches. Something to think about next time I eat beans…

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The trek was absolutely amazing. I will never be able to tell you how beautiful it was, it simply must be experienced. I love to feel that my heart beat, feeling nature around me and meeting wonderful people!

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The four days have been nurture for my soul. Being in a group of fun people, but still being able to walk off on my own and enjoy the silence and nature was just what I needed. When I reached the sun gate of Machu Picchu I became very emotional, and I just wanted to be alone. I did not know why. Maybe it was partly because the trip ended, maybe because the silence was gone, maybe because an old dream of mine had come true and had come to an end. Machu Picchu was way too crowded. As a group we felt different than the day tourists, who struggled to reach the Sun Gate. Further, we were part of the attraction. I heard several guides pointing us out as “those who had walked the Inka Trail which is a 4 day hike…”. I did not spend too much time on the site, because I had a hard time enjoying it. Each time I thought I had found a spot to enjoy the views, other tourists told me to move so that they could take a picture. Several times the guards yelled after me, apparently Machu Picchu can only be seen by walking in a preplanned direction – God forbid if you walk the wrong way. Aguas Callientes was a very touristy town, but we had to wait there for our 4pm train. Through the windows of the train, I looked out of the landscape which I had been part of, and which had been part of me. We were now separated, distanced. Who knows if and when I will ever find that beauty again?

Back in Cusco, or Cosqo (the navel of the world), I did not feel cold, and suddenly the stairs to my hostel beside Plaza de San Blas were a piece of cake. The day after the trail I had an Inka massage for 40 soles. It lasted an hour. First a woman massaged my whole body with oil, when she used hot stones. It was amazing to feel the hot stones against my skin. She circled them, and placed them so that the heat would remain on me for a while. For lunch I had some tiny eggs sold by a woman near San Pedro Market, and then a cuckle con queso. After lunch I went inside the temple of the sun, which is a church or convention build on the remains of an Inca temple. I did not find the museum particularly interesting, but I used the garden to relax.

Cusco 2

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Last night I decided to use my sleeping bag instead of the hospedages blankets and to wear wool underwear. I actually woke up at midnight because i was sweating, which i find much better than freezing! Today i bought a thermo for 30 sol, and a watch for 10 sol. Now i should be ready for the Inca Trail that beings tomorrow. I have visited Qorikancha. The building was pretty, but the museum borring. I little girl did my hair in the park, and she pretended to put makeup on me. Then i went to San Pedro Market, where you can buy souvenirs, fruits, meat, juice, food, bread you name it. I had a choclo con queso (corn cob with cheese) for 3 soles for lunch. In plaza San Francisco they had somewhat like a food festival, and in plaza de armas students were parading in band uniforms. I also visited the chocolate museum which is free ( and you can taste chokolate tea for free), and the museum of regional history. Over all i am more into the ruins than indoor museums! Back at the hospedaje i did vinyasa to stay warm. When I was just about too take a shower the electicity died out, so it became a cold shower, and now 3 hours later I still do not have light in my room… That is how it goes

Cusco

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Yesterday I took the bus (collective) from Pisac to Cusco. They run all the time and I only paied 4 soles. My hospedaje is in San Blas, and the taxi could only drive to the plaze, because the rest of the way was stairs! It is quite a workout to be in Cusco. Each time I ask for direction the answer is “arriba”.

Yesterday I hiked to temple of monkeys
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Temple of the moon. Here it was possible to enter a cave where there is an alter which at certain nights are hit by moon light.
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and Quengo. supposedly inka baths.
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I ate dinner for 10 soles at green points in San Blas which is recommandable.
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Today I walked to the main ruin site in Cusco called Saqsaywaman. The ruins were huge rocks formed as teeth and an eyes of a puma.It might be the remains of the pre-inca Killike culture. The stones used for the buildings are the biggest in pre-hispanick South America and they have been stacked so perfectly that there has been no use for cement.
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At the same place I found Roddadero hill; the throne of the Inka king.

Then I took a bus for 1 sol to tambomachay and Puca Pucara.
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The bus back to cusco was also 1 sol, but I had to walk far.

It is freezing cold from about 4pm to 10 am, and really hot during the day.
I am spending all my money on staying warm. 67 sol for a sweater, 190 sol for a poncho and 8 sol for s scarf.

Pisac ruins and festival

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Today I woke up with a mild headache – probably due to the altitude. I woke up because there was music, church bells and shooting outside around 6 am. The locals apparently wake up early to celebrate Virgin Carmen. I forced myself in the shower even though I had to put on many layers of clothes to keep myself warm enough to go to the bathroom. Luckily the water was not too cold. The sky was very clear, and the view of the mountains stunning! According to the sign on the kitchen door, breakfast would be at 8-8.30, but she only started cooking at 8.
While I waited for the food, the sun gained power. I started chatting with a girl from the US and a man from Canada. That was how I learned that Pisac is the capital of “the medicine” San Pedro or wachuma. The medicine is a drug as strong as LSD that you drink in Sharman ceremonies. It is legal because it is tradition. It would be cool to observe a ceremony, but I have no intention of drinking that kind of stuff. For breakfast I got an omelet with tomatoes and basil, bread, fruits, pineapple juice, coffee, and coca mate. The three of us ate at the roof patio while we enjoyed the view of the mountains and the locals separated maize cornels from the cobs in the field below us. The other girl had learned that the corn thing was a once a year thing that only lasts about 4 days.
After breakfast I walked to the entrance of the archeological site of the Pisac Ruins. My hearted pumped fast just by going there, so I figured it was better to move slowly. When I got to the entrance, I was sent back to the hotel for a copy of my passport and my student ID. It was annoying at the moment, but then I got to find my cap and exchange the many shirts I had brought with a T-shirt because it was getting really hot. Back at the entrance I paid 70 pen (non students pay 130. The tickets can be used for various sites in the sacred valley). I started the hike at 10.30 and was back at 14.15, but I took my time to enjoy the views. I am sure I can feel the hike in my legs tomorrow, because they were shaking when I got down. I will, however, highly recommend that you hike all the way forth and back rather than taking the bus. The part of the site closest to Pisac was the less crowded. The hike was amazing. I have seen views of nature too beautiful to be captured in words or photos. It is amazing how the Incas were able to carry the stones all the way up there, place them so preciously on top of each other to create houses, and that they made water systems!!! The site is very big. Ruins and terraces keeps popping up on every corner. I chose an alternative way back. From the part of the site which is closest to the bus stop there are signs towards Pisac, and I just followed them. I did not meet as much as one other person on my way back! It was just me, nature and silence I also got to see what looked like caves on the side of a mountain – I later learned they were thombs. The Pisac Ruins are pre inca work. It is believed they are the remains of a time when pisac was a regional capital.
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Back in town, I grabbed an empanada with spinach and cheese for 4 pen, and a glass of chichi molada (a drink made out of black corn that taste like beet juice). Shortly afterwards the plaza del armas was filled with people, and a procession in honor of the Virgin Carman came though. It was incredible to watch – a true example of syncretism. The Virgin came out of the church, but in the procession some of the dancers were wearing feathers or playing pan pipe, others were imitating the Spanish conquistadores by carrying beers and wearing big noses for the men and the women wore short sexy skirts. The big nose figures remind me of el Güegüense in Nicaraguan folk tradition.
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Tonight when I was sitting on a chair by the plaza drinking ponche de habas (Limabean punch), a sweet but warm drink made in big pots, I was offered to buy causa by a German girl who worked for a restaurant. Causa is a typical Peruvian dish made of mashed potatoes with vegetables. A man, he might have been in his 40s, came up to us and talked a mix of Quechua and Spanish. The German girl took off, and the Peruvian man called his friend over. They offered me beer and started telling me a lot about life in Peru. Due to the language mic, I find them hard to understand. They were both artist and school teachers. Especially one of them was very mad at the president, and said he wanted to make a revolution. He told me that the Peruvian president sell the country’s resources, whereas he would prefer a president like Evo Morales. The Peruvian president gives the country to foreigners, whereby the situation is similar to colonization. Peru could be rich if the natural resources were used right, he told me. Instead people are poor and the education is bad. As a teacher he earns 1000 pen a month and that is why they also work as artists. During the conversation they offered me more warm ponche. They told me that the festivals like this are important, because they preserve the nationalism and folk culture. At the same time they told me that without tourists they would have no money at all, for who would then buy their art work. I got several marriage proposals, and offered free guided tours to Machu Pichu but it was mostly just said for fun. When I told them they were too old for me, one of them suggested his 15 year old son. They also told me that when I get to Machu Pichu I have to touch the ground, because the earth there makes you powerful though its energies.

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Day 3 in pisac

The locals have been dancing, singing, playing music all night and day. It is amazing to see how the communiry gather. Street food vendors have popped up everywhere.
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I can highly recommend the vegan restaurant Abu! Good service, food and atmosphere 🙂
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Pisac

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In the afternoon I arrived in Cusco airport after a bumpy ride with great views of the Andes.

I man came up to me and said Maria (I was kind of the only blond girl there, so I guess I was easy to find).
He took my backback and showed me to the driver I had hired through the hotel. I was told to tip him, and then he left.

The drive to Pisac was about 1 hour. The driver was really nice. We talked most of the way. He taught me a few words in Quechua. diespago (or something like that) is thank you. He told me about animals, family life, San Pedro Market, and the three different types of lama (llama, Alpaca, and ?). When we drove through town I got a glimpse of the Virgin Carmen procession. The festival begins tomorrow, and on Friday there will be dance competitions.

The hotel is very nice. I have my own room that is decorated with orange colors and Peruvian patterns. There is a big maize field next to the hotel where men and woman are finishing up today’s work. Women here are mostly wearing colorful ponchos and hats, and a lot of them either carry children or straws in cloths wrapped around their backs.
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I went out for dinner when the sun was setting. Pisac is the first South American town where no one has yelled after me or made funny noises. It feels very secure.
I found a vegetarian place called Ayahuaca where I got 3 meals and a cold herbal tea for 15 pen – the waiter did not seem to friendly and did not care to wait until I had finished one meal before she served the next. The food was simple but good.

at first I had a pumpkin soup
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then quinoa with vegetables and ice cream for desert

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The town is nice and small. I bought a lama wool hat (alpaca) for 30 pen because it is rather cold up here.

The sky is covered by stars!

I just tried a coco leave – does not taste too good, and coca tea which is better.
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good night:)