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A warpus in Peru

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by warpus, Aug 29, 2012.

  1. The_J

    The_J Say No 2 Net Validations Retired Moderator Supporter

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    mmhh...helicopter cake service, that would be an idea :mischief:.

    They did not tell you what it means, did they :mischief:?
     
  2. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    We thought about that too, but.. We each paid $215 for the trip, right? $50 of that was for the entrance to Machu Picchu.. There was 5 days worth of food included, tents, sleeping mats, we had 2 guides and 2 cooks for 5 days, there was a train ride that must have cost at least $40 and a van ride or two..

    So it's not like we paid enough to justify our guide going out of his way like that for a fresh birthday cake. But we couldn't think of a reason or a way for them to have one available like that at such short notice. It *could* have been an already scheduled helicopter or overnight mule trip, but overnight mule trips don't make sense, and aircraft & helicopters are banned from operating in the area.. All the mountain peaks in the region are sacred and yeah, that's something you notice after they tell you.. It's goddamn quiet. In New Zealand when I was doing the multi-day hikes in a somewhat remote area as well - there were a lot of planes flying around.. You'd maybe see at least one every hour on the Milford Track.

    So yeah, we're not sure how that happened. I guess it's possible they baked it, but.. it looked storemade.

    Our guide was so awesome though - he made our trip incredibly memorable.. I was sure to leave him with a big tip.

    That's the thing - most of us seemed to know about this game and it was named the same thing in a couple languages. We were calling it by the English name for a while, but the German one was harder to pronounce, so everyone except the German guy were always trying to.

    And apparently the game seems to have a whole bunch of other names.. I'll call it butthead from now on to be more friendly to forum rules :scan:

    I'll post day 4 later today, as there weren't that many pictures.. Day 5 was Machu Picchu and will probably have to be broken down into a couple posts.
     
  3. TheLastOne36

    TheLastOne36 Chieftain

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    In school we called that game President. Probably one of the funner card games IMO. :)

    How did you turn it into a drinking game though? :p
     
  4. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Salkantay Trek Day 4

    Day 7 of trip - Saturday May 12th


    We woke up hungover (or at least most of us did) at 6:30am. There was a 25km hike ahead of us that day and it would take us to Aguas Calientes, the allegedly most expensive town in Peru and the closest access point to Machu Picchu (about 6km/4mi away from AC). We would first hike to the hydroelectric station and then follow the railroad tracks to Aguas Calientes, past the gates to Machu Picchu with about a half an hour left. Most of the terrain was flat so it was a fairly chill hike, but 25km is 25km and most of us were hungover and limping due to Friday's soccer game.

    Here we are gathered in a circle, awaiting instructions and advice from Nilton.



    The morning was very jungly and misty. Later on there was a bit of rain, but it wasn't very intense and it didn't last long.



    For the first part of the hike we started off walking as a group but I ended up walking with Thomas, the German guy, who happened to have a lot of similar interests as me (football, technology, travel, etc.). We were REALLY happy that there wasn't much uphill or downhill hiking because most of us were BEAT our bodies hurt, and we were aching for a real bed. Having said that, it wasn't fully flat, so we ended taking it fairly easy..

    We were walking to the hydroelectric dam, which seemed a rather extensive project and not just 1 location with a dam. Here you can see a manmade tunnel through which water was rerouted, for electricity. We ran into a couple of these on the way but this one was the most impressive.





    Here in the distance you can see another one, but I'm not sure if that one was man made or not. Used for the same purpose though



    Eventually we reached the main hydroelectric dam complex and had to show our passports and re-assemble as a group again. This meant a half an hour break or so. Lunch was maybe a half an hour away and that is when it started raining. It wasn't that bad though and actually a bit refreshing. It increased in intensity, but the worst of it happened while we ate lunch, at a restaurant.. one with insanely dangerous looking and feeling steps.. Yeah, on the way down I slipped and almost fell. Anyway, our food arrived and it was by far the most extensive and amazing looking (and tasting) lunch we have had on the trek so far.

    Here you are looking at potato things stuffed with meat and other things. I have no idea what, nor do I exactly know what the sauces were, but it was amazing. To the right are some avocados, incredibly fresh.. there was also a giant salad (just to the left), some rice dishes, and IIRC stirfry of some sort. It was just a crazy amount of delicious food.. but we devoured it all.



    After lunch we mostly followed the railroad tracks to Aguas Calientes.









    A train would pass me every once in a while (at this point I was walking solo). Here's one passing me as I'm taking a break and I think eating chocolate (mmm). I was sitting right by the tracks and had to get up and out of the way.


    Link to video.

    Our first view of Aguas Calientes was this. You can barely see a couple houses right in the middle of the picture. Machu Picchu is basically up that hill to the right.. well.. up that hill, and across another hill. Like I said earlier, around 6km away from Aguas Calientes, and very much at a higher elevation.



    It was dark but I managed some decent pictures of AC from a distance



    Once we arrived in Aguas Calientes it was pretty much too dark to take good pictures. The one exciting prospect that day was that we would be staying in a hostel and sleeping in beds! Me and Steve ended up sharing a room with Suzanne. I'm not sure if you can tell how incredibly tired and worn out yet excited about it I am


    Link to video.

    We showered, got changed, went through our bags a bit, then all went for dinner. This part was still included in the price, but this time it was in a restaurant! The food was really good, but the portions were far smaller than our lunch so a lot of us were still hungry.

    Afterwards most members of the group made plans to meet up somewhere in town for beers and something to eat. It was already dark (sun goes down at ~6pm there).. Sergei was off to his 5 star hotel, the guides had to deal with paperwork, but the rest of us ended meeting up.. But the French guys were sooo indecisive that me, Steve, and Suzanne just took off and went into the first decent looking place we saw in the main square. We ended up getting a giant pizza and a bunch of giant beers.. and.. it wasn't really *that* expensive.. not nearly as expensive as we anticipated anyway.

    Here's what was inside our restaurant. It's not all in the same shot, but that's a snake at the bottom, a puma in the middle, and a condor that you can't see above it all. Each animal represents a different level of reality, according to Inca & Quechua belief. The snake represents the underworld, the puma represents our world, and the condor represents the gods (I guess/think). This imagery showed up every once in a while on the trip, all throughout Peru.

    You can also see the pizza oven they used to bake our pizza in. The pizza turned out amazing. No surprise, they do everything "right" when it comes to food down there.. maybe not in terms of sanitation, but definitely in terms of taste ;)



    There was a mother's day celebration going on in the main square that night, with lots of people dancing, a band up on stage, people in costumes, some sort of ceremony in a church beforehand, etc. edit: This is incorrect - the mother's day party was the next evening. There was definitely *something* going on in the square this day.. I just can't remember what. We were on a patio at a restaurant, eating pizza, drinking beers, chatting, and taking in the celebrations. Jonathan joined us a bit later.. In any case, eventually everyone ended up back at the hotel, and slept in very comfy beds. It was such an amazing sensation to be finally lying in one again. We were due to wake up at 3:45am and depart the hostel at 4:30, so we didn't end up staying out too late.

    Everyone was exhausted but very excited at the prospect of seeing Machu Picchu the next day.
     
  5. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    We didn't, we just ended up drinking a lot while we played :beer: The beer was more expensive than in other parts of Peru (they did after all have to bring it there on mules from far away), but it was still very cheap for us.. There was also wine, snacks, the french guys had whiskey, which we did some shots of.. The hardest parts of our hike were behind us and we were in a very celebratory mood
     
  6. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo Warlord

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    May I posit that the sauces on the potato dish were ketchup, mustard and mayonaise?
     
  7. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    One of those is right, but at least other one isn't.. and I can't remember which. All I remember is being surprised at how it all tasted except for 1 of the sauces.
     
  8. TheLastOne36

    TheLastOne36 Chieftain

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    I remember encountering some sauces like that as well. I never learned the names of them though...

    Anyway, in Merida it was dark by 6pm pretty much every day. I'm surprised it wasn't like that everywhere in the Andes for you? (Perhaps it's because Merida is actually surrounded on all 4 sides by mountains, it's like a wall almost, whilst not all places are like that?)
     
  9. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Yeah, the sun was very close to the horizon by 5:30 and by 6 it was usually below the horizon or about to go down.. I don't remember the exact times, but it was something like that. Does something I wrote contradict that? It's possible I made a mistake; my notes are very generic and most of the things I'm writing about are coming from my memory. Most of the times should be right though - I'm going by the timestamps on the pictures for most of that.

    It's the reason why we had to wake up so early every day pretty much - If there were 11 hours of hiking, you'd need to get started super early so that you got there before it was dark. The good thing was that the tents were set up for us by someone else, so the couple times we arrived between 5 and 6 we didn't have to worry about it; we just showed up, get in our tents, unpacked, ate, and went to sleep.

    Places that were surrounded by mountains on all sides (like our first campsite) got it even worse, but while the sun's rays stopped hitting the valley floor much earlier than 6pm and it got quite cold, it was still light out otherwise.

    The whole "it's dark after 6pm or so" thing was a thing we had to plan around on the whole trip. Oftentimes it was inadvisable to be out on the streets after dark, so we had to get all of our hiking/exploring/whatever done before that. It was a huge contrast to my trip to Patagonia 4 years ago, when the sun went down closer to 10pm and came up at around 4:30am. We didn't have a guide for that hike (66km), and it was challenging, but all those extra hours of light made it a lot easier. You didn't have to worry about running out of light so you could take your time.. somewhat. We almost never had to worry about getting caught in the dark, whereas in Peru that was a worry from time to time. The one time we did we were on an 18 hour sidetrip hike that took us 10 hours uphill and back down. It was 9:30pm and we were still descending the mountain without our campsite being even in sight. We had our flashlights ready, but that was def. the only time when we were thinking "It would really suck if it got dark before we arrive back at our camp". Peru was a lot different in that regard.
     
  10. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Machu Picchu Part 1

    Aka Salkantay Trek Day 5

    Day 8 of trip - Sunday May 13th


    Before I begin, I should say that the number 13 for some reason followed us throughout the trip. It showed up on menus, bus #s, airport shuttle #s, and so on.. but the thing is that each time we ran into a 13, it was almost always accompanied by something good, and never associated with anything negative.. We took it on as our "lucky" number fairly early on in the trip and were not at all surprised when it worked out that we'll be visiting the highlight of our trip on the 13th

    On this day we woke up at 3:30am in our cozy beds in Hostel Hostel in Aguas Calientes. The day before, at dinner, our guide gave us each a "snack bag", which included a "breakfast" for today's activities and a bunch of rudimentary snacks.. I think there were even two small juice boxes. I devoured as much of this food as I could when I woke up, and after a short shower and re-re-re-re-re-checking that I had everything with me that was required, we met up with the rest of the group downstairs outside of our hostel at about 4am.

    The walk to the Machu Picchu gates took maybe 20-30 minutes. We had to wait there until 5am when the gates would open, at which point we had to show our tickets and make a very steep 1 hour long ascent to the top.. where we had to wait by another set of gates, after which we were free to explore the mystical city of Machu Picchu.

    While we waited there at the bottom Steve found a machete. I'm not sure what it was doing there, but I couldn't resist the opportunity..



    I was asked by Nilton to collect tip money for the 2 guides (Nilton & Ryan)... It's customary to tip the cooks & guides.. so it was not snobby of him or whatever.. These people make barely anything at all and they do an amazing job.. or at least these particular people did. Either way I think he asked me and Steve to do it because we were the 2 oldest people in the group.. Then again, who knows. Steve was busy with something else, so I collected all the money.. Most people were giving 10 sole bills, or 20, a couple 50s.. Screw that, I gave the guy 130.. Steve ended up giving his pocket knife, which was worth far more than that, at least in Canada.. 2.80 soles is about $1. Anyway, I put the money safely away and would give it to Nilton and Ryan during our goodbye "ceremony" after the tour. We tipped the cooked on day 4 - they got 50 each from me and Steve and decent amounts from everyone else. The looks on their faces when they saw how much they got said it all

    The climb itself was very intense and took you from about 2,040m (6,690ft) above sea level to 2,430m (7,970ft). It ended up taking about 55 minutes. The best way to go about doing it was to get your body moving in a rhythm.. The stairs you are climbing are occasionally crisscrossed by a road that went up as well - but that road was obviously not nearly as steep and very zig-zaggy and curvy... So there were obvious resting points, but you couldn't just rest at each one, as that would take way too long.. You had to keep powering ahead and stopping only when you really couldn't go any more.. IIRC me, Steve, Jonathan, and Gary (from Colorado) ended up walking the whole thing as a group, resting at the same time, etc. Everyone else got broken up..

    Either way at about 6am we were uphill and the sun was still below the mountains somewhere but it was not fully dark anymore. The French contingent from our group was standing RIGHT BY the gates with our guide.. the rest of us were invited to bud ahead and get closer to them.. not that it really mattered at that point, but we didn't want to get broken up. 400 2,500 people a day are able to visit Machu Picchu and there were well over 100 of them there. Probably way more than that..

    This is one of the first things I saw after the gates opened and I got my ticket & passport checked



    A 2 hour long guided tour of Machu Picchu proceeded, with Nilton as tour guide. (Thank God, his English was good and I had gotten used to his speaking mannerisms and could read his body language somewhat)

    I'm uploading a video of one of his first speeches to us to youtube but apparently it's going to take 4 hours.. So.. I'll post that later. For now, more pictures!

    Here's our first view of Huayna Picchu - the iconic mountain that's seen in most photographs of Machu Picchu. As you can see most people got their cameras out right away. It was a very photography & video recording intensive day.. I ended up using 4 full batteries. (the sony rechargeable ones)



    Here you can still sort of tell that the sun is only starting to come up.. You can also see the valley below, which curves around that mountain and leads to Aguas Calientes.



    The place was rather extensive - with terraces on all sides pretty much



    Here Nilton is talking about Incan stonework & stone alignment magic. We still have no idea how they did it (someone prove me wrong, I'd love to see how it's done!), but somehow all the stones in their creations (not only in MP either) are perfectly snug in terms of alignment - in 3 dimensions. All the curves of the rocks are different (it's not just the same design over and over, it's all unique) yet they all fit perfectly. It's incredibly impressive if you take a while to consider what might have gone into making sure that they all align like that.

    Now.. I say "all the rocks", but obviously the top of the wall on the left looks very amateurish compared to the one on the right. We saw that sort of thing @ a bunch of different sites in Peru - a tight bottom & amateurish top. The guides told us that one set of people who possessed the knowledge or some technology to align the stones like that must have built some of the structures and not finish.. and then years later another set of people came along and finished the structures - but didn't know how to duplicate the workmanship and making them that snug. That or the first set of people finished their buildings, but the tops were destroyed. Either way it was all very interesting





    Huayna Picchu mountain





    Terraces everywhere



    Time to say goodbye to Nilton and Ryan



    After the tour we were free to explore on our own, and had until 5pm I think. It was about 8am

    See that big pointy thing in the background? Me and Steve were going to climb that. I couldn't believe that that's what we signed up for when I first realized it was *that* mountain.. which was basically the tallest mountain in all directions as far as I could see...



    Here's a couple more "classic" shots of Machu Picchu





    Here's one with a Llama!



    and here's one of my favourites

     
  11. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Video finally uploaded! This is how our tour of Machu Picchu started

    20 minute long talk about the history of Machu Picchu, its discovery, etc.


    Link to video.
     
  12. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Dumb stealing Jail University :lol:
     
  13. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Yeah, those bastards! I would love to see their collection
     
  14. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    If you ever find yourself with a day free in Connecticut you could check it out. I should myself, the Peabody Museum at Yale is supposed to be pretty nice. This is a continuing issue. Peru has been arguing in courts for years to get artifacts returned. So your guide has a legitimate gripe, even if the courts here have not been backing him up.
     
  15. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    He did claim that they returned what, 15% of all the stuff? Was that done out of good will or what?

    Finally did some reading on the subject and I found this

    I'm a bit out of it today and skimmed through the article.. It's 2 years old but it sounds like the President of "Jail" is on his way out and he wants to return the artifacts.. and that something has been agreed? I have no idea if this is talking about the 15% that were returned or if they're getting everything back.

    Wish I had the energy or time to post more Machu Picchu pictures today but I'm beat .. and Canada's losing to Panama in world cup qualifying :(
     
  16. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Machu Picchu Part 2

    Aka Salkantay Trek Day 5

    Day 8 of trip - Sunday May 13th


    So there we were, me and Steve, exploring as much of Machu Picchu as we could.





    Here's another video of Nilton. This one's shorter - he's talking about one of the "rooms" we were in and how it was set up back in the good ol' days


    Link to video.

    We had tickets to climb Machu Picchu mountain, which we chose over Huayna Picchu mountain (that's the one you see in most pictures of MP, behind it, look above), even though the climb took 3x as long and was far more challenging. We based this solely on the recommendations of the Lonely Planet guides we had with us (for some reason they sell 2 for Peru, so we each bought one). The guide claimed that the view from MP Mountain is far more spectacular than from HP.. So based on that alone we went with MP.

    We sort of regretted that decision (and you make it before the trek begins) when Nilton pointed out which mountain Macchu Picchu mountain was. At first I thought he was pulling my leg.. which he did sometimes for laughs.. but in this case he was not kidding at all. Either way, by the time we made it to the top I was REALLY glad we went with MP. It was an experience I'll never forget.

    There was a checkpoint with a gate and guard about 15-30 minutes from Machu Picchu. You kinda walked into the trees away from the buildings and ended up at the base of the mountain.. The checkpoint didn't let any people through past 11am. It was 8am when our tour finished, so we decided to spend 2 hours exploring Machu Picchu on our own, after which we'd head down to the restaurant/entrance/bathrooms/etc. area where we would refresh and then proceed with the climb.

    And what a climb it was!

    This was the first time we could see Machu Picchu - it wasn't very far into the climb yet but it was the first clearing that allowed you to look around and down. You can see Huayna Picchu behind it as well as the temple up top.



    We took a LOT of breaks for reasons of tiredness and "HOLY CRAP, CAN YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT WE'RE HERE??"

    This guy was taking in the view at a great spot for a break. He was Brazilian and as excited & happy to be there as us.. IIRC he supported Corinthians and Fluminese, although I could be wrong about the latter.. (Yeah, that's what we talked about, football.. of course - it's the glue that binds humanity ;))



    Steve looking down on MP, which you can't see. That valley & river on the left is where we came from a day before. It's very possible that one of those greenish buildings is where we ate lunch on day 4.



    Here's Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes in one shot. You can barely see AC - follow the river on the right and you'll see a couple buildings. Most of the city is behind that mountain.



    We were already incredibly exhausted from the 4 days of hiking beforehand as well as the steep 1 hour long climb earlier that morning.. This climb was incredibly though and we had to stop a LOT.

    Can you see how incredibly tired I am? Can you also tell that I have a large wad of coca leaves in my right cheek?. That stuff seemed to help a lot - but I really have no idea if the semi-trance/zombie-like state I was in was caused by the tiredness or by the active ingredients in the leaves. Probably a combination of both.

    I also took high-altitude sickness prevention pills that I bought in Canada.. 1 a day.. I'm not sure what the side effects of that might have been, but I don't remember my doctor mentioning any.



    The path got steeper and steeper and eventually you couldn't really even call it a path anymore - it was a set of stairs after a set of stairs.. We kept thinking that we were nearly at the top only to see another crazy set of stairs in front of us.. Not only that, there were often very steep drops to the right. My legs were incredibly tired, so I had to pay extra attention and make sure that I didn't make any mistakes going up, such as tripping over something stupid or stumbling.. Usually it's no problem, but yeah.. I was beat.

    Keep to the left.. keep to the left..





    At about 1pm - GREAT SUCCESS!



    The sense of accomplishment (in terms of not only climbing the mountain, but also reaching the "end" of the trek sort to speak. I mean yeah, we still had to get down, but as far as we were concerned this was the end of the 5 day long trek) combined with the amazing views around us was just exhilarating.. I can't describe it very well because I haven't really felt quite like that ever before.



    I might not look impressed but I pretty much was



    This video has been posted before but I just can't not post it again. At the end you can hear me and Steve talking about our cameras.. We both bought new ones and were still getting used to them. They also happened to be competing travelcam models. Feature comparisons were just bound to happen


    Link to video.

    Here's a panorama of most of the peak. Warning: A lot wider than the other photos!

    If you scroll to the right you'll see the top of Huayna Picchu mountain - should give you a bit of an idea of high up we are compared to where we were @ Machu Picchu and before that @ Aguas Calientes down on the valley floor

    Spoiler :


    A shot of just Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu mountain. You can see the restaurant that's by the entrace just to the bottom-right of MP.



    A picture from the aforementioned hut



    We spent a half an hour up here, taking pictures, talking to people (there was a Polish couple up there), and just enjoying the moment. There wasn't very much room for rest, but there was the hut and a couple platforms of sort on various sides of the peak.. You can see what I mean by pausing the "on top of mountain" video at exactly 5 seconds - there is a platform in the bottom right corner. It might even be the one I used, I forget, but I ended up taking a nap right beside the edge.. obviously facing in such a way that I wouldn't be able to roll down and there was enough room between my feet and the edge that I felt comfortable just lying there and enjoying the emotions. I put my sunhat on my face and took the most enjoyable semi-nap I've ever had (I can't remember if I dozed off or just sort of drifted in and out of consciousness. As I said, I was incredibly tired and also feeling leafy). The moment was just amazing and it was just such an amazing feeling to be lying there. The fact that we had 1 and a half hour of incredibly steep downhill hiking ahead of us didn't bother me one bit. The moment was perfect.

    Eventually we had to begin our descent.. There was a park ranger up there (or a guide, I'm not sure), who was telling people that it was just about time to start going down.. It was a rather uneventful hike downhill really.. We had beer and ice cream on our minds (and stomachs) and ice cream really only because we saw an ice cream menu advertised right outside of the restaurant. Unfortunately when we got there (at 3:30pm or so) the restaurant was already closed :( We settled for overpriced (by Peruvian standards, definitely not by Canadian) beer, probably the most expensive bottle of average beer you can buy in Peru.. We then took a bus down back to Aguas Calientes. There was an option to walk but F THAT right?

    It was a very zig-zaggy ride down and often seemed rather dangerous (especially with buses going both ways), but we were used to that sort of thing by then.

    Oh and which bus did we end up on? #13 (one of the themes of the trip was the #13 if you didn't happen to read that part). We were actually in line for #12 initially, but by the time we got on there was only 1 seat free.. and there were two of us, so.. destiny?


    Link to video.

    Our train would depart at 9pm and it was only 4pm or so. We had 4 and a half hours or so to kill so we used the time to see a bit of Aguas Calientes (for the first time, really), eat, drink, and enjoy a mother's day celebration.

    Peru was a strange place. You'd be walking through a town and all of a sudden.. parade!


    Link to video.

    At the time we didn't realize this, but it was a mother's day celebration. I seem to remember mentioning it at some point and might have incorrectly attributed it to the previous day. Either way, eventually there was a band playing, people dancing in the main square, and some sort of a religious ceremony happening before all that.

    Something I noticed about the Peruvian people was that they generally seemed to just really enjoyed life. Most of them were in a crappy situation, with a crappy job, not too many luxuries, long working hours, and so on.. but everyone seemed upbeat and generally fairly happy. This did obviously not apply to everyone, but the atmosphere these people created felt very.. "we're alive! Let'd dance and enjoy the moment and crap. Here, have a beer!".

    (excuse the shaky camera work.. I was trying to capture the moment as best as I could)


    Link to video.

    It made me at times feel spoiled, even though I'm not really rich in any sort of meaningful way.. No negative feelings, but it made me think a lot about how good I have it in Canada... and yet, I don't think I'm generally as happy as the people I was running into in Peru.. I mean yeah, I have good days, and bad days.. and everything in between, just like everyone. But on average these people seemed to be getting more out of life. They have way more problems on average than me.. and yet they're happier? There's something wrong with that picture. I made a vow to try to enjoy life a little bit more every day from that point forward. Even if I'm on the bus with lots of people around me, it's hot, I'm sweaty, just had a long day, there's bills to pay.. it's a lot easier to now just forget about all my stupid and silly problems.. because they're not really problems. They're inconveniences. There's far far worse in the world than my cushy life and how could I not be grateful that I am lucky enough to live a life like this? Compared to most people in the world I live like a KING. The bus I'm on AWESOME. My sweat is AWESOME. The fat guy rubbing up against me? MY BROTHER. Okay, so obviously I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the point. It wasn't some profound or life-changing moment or anything on that level either - just something that made an impact on me and made me want to approach things a little bit differently. So far it's working out well enough :)

    But back to the party! This sort of thing seemed to happen elsewhere in Peru.. There was just *almost always* something going on.. be it a parade, some sort of a thing by a church, a band playing, or whatever.. I got the feeling that these people enjoyed spending time with each other and that they accepted the fact that they wouldn't have too many material possessions, but that in the end celebrating life with other people was a very worthy and noble goal. The sense of personal space we have here in North America (and to an extent Europe) was at times uncomfortably not present there.. People just got closer to you, they would touch you, and randomly rubbing up against a stranger wasn't viewed as taboo or negative in any way. If anything, people being closer seemed to be encouraged. I got used to it eventually, but there was a definite adjustment period.

    It explains why every city in Peru has a central square and a bunch of other squares distributed around the city. They're places where members of the community can meet, socialize, enjoy food & alcoholic beverages together, celebrate mass, enjoy the sun, dance, or whatever the hell people happened to have planned for that particular day. It seems rather obvious, but it is something that I find very lacking in most North American cities.. Which makes sense, because these squares are not only social centres, but also very friendly to pedestrians.. which a lot of North American cities tend not to be. And I suppose it also speaks a bit of the slightly more reserved nature of Anglo-Saxon or North American culture or whatever label you want to use.. Personal space is important here (Canada) and there is far less emphasis put on socializing and brotherly love. The squares go hand in hand with that and I really wish we had something like that here. I know that some cities do, but there is far more emphasis on the car and the person as opposed to the community.

    We were back at the same restaurant as the night before, and we ended up ordering the most expensive meal we ever had in Peru.. It came out to 111 soles which is about 40 bucks.. For comparison you could get a good main for 15 soles in a decent restaurant back in Lima and a great one for 30. (All prices included taxes and there is no tipping in Peru either fyi) Our order included 1 family sized pizza, an avocado dish with chicken, mayo, tomato, cheese, and cucumber that was just incredible, nachos, some pisco sours (the national drink of Peru and Chile pretty much) and a respectable amount of beer. Aguas Calientes was supposed to be the most expensive town in Peru (and some people said South America), but we weren't fazed. For a meal like that we would have paid far more than $40 here in Canada.

    Eventually we had to get back to the hostel (where we were already checked out - right after returning from MP, but our bags were waiting for us in storage there) and head to the train station. There we ran into Thomas and Suzanne, and we said our byes.. It really felt like we'd known these people for weeks! Meanwhile it was only 5 days.. how was this possible??? They got on an earlier train - the rest of the gang (minus Sergei of course, the guy must have been loaded and was likely enjoying the spoils of the Russian 1% at his 5 star hotel) showed up later.

    The train was incredibly shaky and took us as far as Ollantaytambo in the sacred valley (We would return to this place the next day). I remember waking up a couple times because my head would hit the window - and I'd see everyone else from our group sleeping. It made me smile. After getting off the train there (and there was a scary moment before we got on the train when Steve couldn't find his ticket for about 5 minutes. We were sooooooo tired and that was the last thing we needed. Thankfully the ticket turned up in some random place he "hid" it in) we jumped on a bus which ended up being INCREDIBLY packed. It was one of those minivan type things.. 10 of us or so were inside, along with our giant bags.. There was no room to move and it was incredibly uncomfortable. This was by far the worst bus ride of my life.

    When we finally arrived at our hostel at about 1:15am it was time to say bye to the French contingent of our group.. and Fabio.. and one of the Swiss guys.. Me and Steve had a room reserved for the night, but Gary was staying at that hostel too; We were all checking in at the same time and there happened to be a room available with 4 beds in a quieter part of the hostel, so we ended up taking that for the 3 of us.

    It didn't take very long for us to pass out. We could have really used a day of rest after all our adventures, but.. We pre-booked a day long tour of the sacred valley for the next day, so we had to wake up at 7am.
     
  17. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    Messages:
    45,355
    Location:
    US of A

    The issue is years old. So what I don't know is how out of date some of my info on the issue is. But there was a lot of pressure for a lot of years. So they may be giving up.
     
  18. TheLastOne36

    TheLastOne36 Chieftain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2007
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    14,045
    Warpus it might just be me but I think some of those images in your last post are broken. I don't see anything. :(
     
  19. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
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    Stamford Bridge
    I should make a point of checking out the collection before it ends up back in Cuzco.. I do have plans to one day to return to Peru, but.. that won't be for years and probably not for at least a decade.. so.. I'm not really a museum guy but I might just have to end up doing that at some point before it's too late.
     
  20. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,427
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    It could be your internet connection and not all of them loading.. I have tried to limit each post to about a dozen photos or so, but that last one ended up having that panorama and a bunch of videos.. and a couple photos over my self-imposed limit (I tried finding forum rules about this sort of thing but couldn't find anything..) So that could be why.. I can see them fine. If you want you can PM me and I can hook you up

    edit: You could also try just loading the post by itself without all the other stuff on the page. I'm indexing everything in the first post too, so if this ends up happening again and viewing a single post is a solution (or it helps) - then you can use that for easier navigation.
     

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