So we're still in Cusco with one more week to go here. We absolutely love this town, no doubt. Any town where we can drink Boddingtons and watch the first NFL game of the season is fine by me. Oh yeah, and we ate chicken wings that night too. Met a great family from Indianapolis who was very excited to see the Colts in Peru. Swapped travel stories with the parents and their very sweet daughter, Jennifer, who lives in Prospect Heights. Great company!
But as for some more authentic Peruvian fare, we've been seeing parades just about daily (they celebrate one Catholic saint every day--which generally involves pretty tame fireworks starting at 6am and continuing throughout the day), as seen below.
Above was some child saint parade. Below was a military parade on a national holiday here (no one quite knew what the holiday was celebrating, but it was a grand fiesta). About 600 national police in full uniform marching around and around, and around the main square, Plaza de Armas. As it seems to be a recurring theme, we couldn't help to crack the "Big Ben, Parliament" joke.
So we're finally done with our first week of Spanish classes. To give you an idea of the level we're at, check out this video below. One more week to go and hopefully we'll master the language. I just have to stop speaking Italian to everyone...
Below is a picture of Deanna's purse, as mentioned in a previous blog entry. She loves it more than me (ok, maybe I'm exaggerating). We spent a full day with Evan and Eve, friends from back in NYC. Eve loved the purse so much she went and designed her own one that day. I think I might get into the import/export business when we get back to the states... Let me see if I can trademark "Vandelay Industries"
So with Evan and Eve, we went up to one of the mountains at the edge of the town to check out the Incan ruins of Saccsayhuaman (pronounced: sexy'woman). Amazing huge stones (the size of three of me) overlooking the city in the valley. While all Incan ruins now pale in comparison to Machu Picchu, Saccsayhuaman was pretty impressive...
...but what really made that special was two bottles of wine and a perfect sunset over the Andes, as seen below. Another incredible dinner of Alapca meat (mmmm) and we sent Evan and Eve off to start their Incan trail hike to MP. We're meeting up with them tomorrow in Pisaq to check out the huge Sunday market place (hopefully we'll be back in time to catch the sunday night football game--assuming I can wrestle the remote control away from the World Cup of Rugby hooligans in this town!)
Now for some good measure (if you've actually read this far), here are some more pitures of what we've been up to here. First off is the two of us with our Spanish teacher, Henry. In this picture he looks like Ethan Schwartz's clone... pretty bizzare if you ask me.
Next up is one of the Peruvian bands we've seen so far. Our favorite place is a tapas restaurant / art gallery / concert spot called Kilometre 0. The guy pictured below also had a nice Ibanez and apparently a brand new wawa pedal. He didn't quite grasp how to effectively use it, but it was very fun nonetheless. (Our favorite live music here so far was a Colombian trio--alto sax, nylon guitar and a singer with a ratchet stick percussion thingy. Only about 15 people in KM0 that night, including a Colombian guy straight out of the 70s who sat by himself, singing along to every word in complete ecstasy. The owner's wife and her sister, both around 30, were there and one of their tiny cute baby was standing on the bar dancing the whole time. A truly magical night...)
Below is an example of the Incan walls in this town... huge blocks fit together perfectly without cement or glue. Most of these were uncovered during an earthquake in the 1950s. The Spanish built directly on top of the Incan walls and the original walls were finally uncovered thanks to a natural disaster.
And lastly is a picture of the Peruvian flag (red and white in the background) and the Incan flag (rainbown in the foreground) which is just about the exact same as the gay pride flag. Oh, and in case you were wondering, we saw a sign at the far end of town that said in Spanish, "Welcome to Cusco, the Bellybutton of South America." Thanks to Henry and our Spanish lessons, we were able to translate the sign quite easily. Picture taken in Plaza San Blas, where our Spanish classes are.
So after our next week of Spanish classes, we plan on heading south to Lake Titicaca then over into Bolivia for a few days in La Paz and then off to Salar de Uyuni, the enormous salt flats of southwestern Bolivia. There is a hotel made entirely out of salt there, and supposedly there is a sign in the lobby that reads "Do not lick the walls." We'll report on the validity of that rumor in a few weeks.
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-A and D