Saturday, July 23, 2011

El Barranco bohemio..

Barranco, Peru is south of Miraflores where I stayed while in Lima.  It's a little colonial town along the coast now filled with restaurants and bars.  It's beautiful, even at night when I was there, and provides tons of little paths and walkways on which you can stroll.  I loved the smell of the food and the sound of the music that oozed out of the restaurants as we wandered around.  Barranco is known for it's bohemian culture; it's home to artists, musicians, and all sorts of creative types.  Old. colonial homes along the paths have been turned into stores, art galleries, quaint hotels, and restaurants.  It was a beautiful place to visit and offered me a completely different taste of Peru on the same day that I had visited both Miraflores and Lima. 

A key landmark in Barranco is El puente de los suspiros or the Bridge of Sighs.  Nicole told me that you're supposed to hold your breath for good luck as you pass across.  When in Rome...err...Barranco...

Holding my breath for buena suerte (good luck) before heading across El puente de los suspiros.  I couldn't have had a better trip, so I KNOW it's must've worked!

In front of the main bridge and church in Barranco.

Iglesia de San Francisco

This church was a place that fishermen used to go to ask for help as Barranco was first a fisher's quarter.  One of the legends that I found says that there was once a group of fishermen that went out to sea, but got lost because of the winter weather conditions.  After a few hours lost, they caught sight of a shining object in the distance that lead them home to safety.  That object was the cross of the church which became an important symbol to the fishermen.

Repairs to reconstruct the church roof in Barranco.

This is one of the paths or little streets that leads you down to a mirador (lookout point) close to the beach (although this particular view shows the way back up to the bridge).  Fishermen used to use this path to go down to the ocean, but today it's mainly lined with restaurants and hiker's hostels.

The path down to the ocean with a view back up to the bridge.

The monumento (momument) to Chabuca Granda.

Chabuca Granda, known for her creole style music, was one of the most important singers and composers in Peru.  Some of her most famous songs include "La flor de la canela," "El puente de los suspiros,"  and "Fina estampa."

A restaurant that Nicole told me is famous for another typical, delicious Peruvian dish...the heart of a cow.  Umm...let's just say, she was braver than I was.

La biblioteca (library).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gracias y paciencia

Thank you so, so much for all your support.  I can't believe how many wonderful compliments you all have given me on this blog.  It makes me so happy to hear that all of you (1700 hits as of tonight) from all over the world have been enjoying reading about my magnificent Peru.

There is so much more to come.  Along the way I met some great friends with amazing photography skills and fully functioning cameras throughout the trip (especially during our frigid trek).  I am currently sifting through some of their contributions and waiting on some more while doing a bunch of research.  I wouldn't want to deprive any of you from the best blog experience possible.  :)

In the meantime, thanks to everyone who has contacted me over the newspaper articles that have run in the last several weeks.  I never, ever thought when I started this new project and my first real attempt at blogging that it would have been enjoyed by so many people.  What could be better than sharing one of the best experiences of my life and my favorite destination as of yet? 

Here's the link to one of the articles on my adventure written by Rose Lombardo of Devon Preparatory School and one of my biggest cheerleaders for all of my creative endeavors.  Thank you to Denise Gavin for the phone call letting me know on the way to the airport!  You guys are the best!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Indiana Genoveva conquista Lima...


Lima is the main city to the north of where I stayed.  When referring to Lima in this blog, it's like referring to Center City in Philadelphia as opposed to the metropolitan area. 

After flying into Lima the night before, Pilar took Nicole and I back into the city from Miraflores by taxi.  It was a short trip north along the coast, probably only about 20 minutes.  She directed the taxi driver to take us straight into "the old part" of Lima.  As we drove into the central plaza, I was incredibly surprised to see what was revealed by the first peek...everything was bright yellow!  Just like I mentioned in my previous entry, the old part of Lima was organized according to the standard plan of the main cathedral, government buildings, a museum, and all kinds of shops surrounding un zocalo with a fountain in the middle.

Interestingly enough, Pilar told me that each of these brightly colored yellow buildings used to be the homes of the important people in Lima long ago.  Miraflores was kind of like their weekend/beach getaway.

The main government building.

Main government building-not open for tours.

Me, Pilar, and Nicole on the steps inside the museum/previous home of the Catholic Archbishops.

One of the altars inside the museum.  Like many of the altars, this was actually originally carved out of wood and then covered in gold.

A door going into the main museum.

Outside of the museum.  A tiny Pilar and Nicole on the right hand side.

The cathedral in Lima.
I found the cathedral in Lima to be breathtaking.  I think the fact that Francisco Pizarro (the Spanish conquistador who captured Atahualpa and conquered the Incas) is buried there and the manificent photos speak for themselves.  What I found to be amazing was that absolutely every single thing other than the marble slabs inside of the chapel where Pizarro's tomb is held is a mosaic made out of 1" x 1" tiles.  Yes, every single thing you see within the tomb that covers not only the walls but also the ceiling and the floor.  EVERYTHING.

The home of the tomb of Francisco Pizarro off to the right hand side once you walk in through the main door of the cathedral.

Diagram of Pizarro's skeleton.

Tomb of Francisco Pizarro.

The altar across from Pizarro's tomb.  Yes, still all made of 1' x 1' tiles.

Once again, completely a tile mosaic.

A view of the main area of the cathedral.

Below the cathedral.

The skulls below the cathedral.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Las escenas de Miraflores...

Wow!  We're now up to over 1500 hits as of tonight from Brazil, Israel, Chile, Peru, Germany, France, Russia, Mexico, Latvia, and the United States!!!  Thanks everyone!

Ahhh I loved you.  Lima was the city that started off my adventure.  As I mentioned before, I spent the day with my old Peruvian friend, Pilar, and my new American friend, Nicole.  Nicole was (currently is) spending 3 whole months travelling around South America and I'm pretty sure that as I write this, the answer to the question Where is the world is Nicole? would be Chile.  :)  Nicole was an important part of my first day and the beginning of my trip.  She was travelling by herself as well, shares a determined and independent spirit, and taught me the importance of writing things down along the way as there would be so much to experience that there was no possible way I'd be able to remember it all.  Gracias.  She also plunged right along with me in the slightly daunting task of only speaking Spanish, even to each other despite both being American, and regardless of what language anyone spoke to us.  After the first day, I felt so proud of myself and knew that no matter what came up, I'd be okay.

Nicole, Pilar, and I actually stayed in a place called Miraflores.  It was along the coast and felt incredibly alive and cosmopolitan to me.  The day that I was there, the weather was overcast and a little chilly, but I couldn't have cared less.  (It was also nothing compared to what I had in store for me later on the trek!)

The coastline a few blocks from my hotel.

More coastline...

A statue en El Parque de Amor (Love Park)

A huge, tiled mural that goes up and down the coastline in El Parque de Amor.

This interesting type of tree that I saw.  I've yet to find the name, but it looked like a cross between a palm tree and an evergreen.

A lighthouse up the coastline.

Starbucks in Miraflores.  They even wrote the Spanish version of Genevieve-Genoveva (pronounced heh-no-bey-bah as v/b's in Spanish kind of meet somewhere in the middle).

The courtyard at my hotel, El Ducado.

El Ducado

Una iglesia en Miraflores.

You will notice that you'll see a lot of pictures of churches in my photos.  Churches and cathedrals have always been some of my favorite subjects to photograph (as well as old doors-don't ask me why), especially in my travels thus far to Spanish-speaking countries (actually everywhere, but let's just start here).  I remember when I travelled to Costa Rica over ten years ago and I first became captivated with photographing churches.  We spent a lot of time travelling from the center of the country in San Jose to the beaches which could be as far away as 8 hours.  Periodically, we'd stop in little towns, or pueblos, along the way and I was absolutely amazed that in the middle of nowhere, in a tiny little town where buildings were abandoned and you wondered how long it even took supplies to arrive, there would be a beautiful church or chapel stoically standing the jungle.  They were always so well taken care of and served not only as an important place to those who worshipped in them, but to an historian like myself, they were like little jewels that took you back in time.  Later on, I discovered that the Spanish had very specific plans for the cities, towns, and villages that they built and you'll see the same plan where ever you go.  The towns all feature a large church, chapel, or cathedral (and by large I mean that they are often out of scale with the rest of their surroundings) facing a center plaza or zocalo as it's often called.  Surrounding the center plaza you will often find government buildings, shops, and restaurants.  The center plazas often feature a fountain, lots of well-manicured vegetation, and ample seating for those who would like to people watch, read the newspaper, or play chess (ajedrez).  When thinking of my time spent in Merida, Mexico, the scene of its zocalo often pops into my head as I used to walk across it every day when going to work during my first months and spent many an afternoon sitting in my favorite cafe writing in my journal and drinking a cafe con leche.  Peru was no different.

Otra iglesa en Miraflores...

Ok, so changing subjects from churches to other important things one needs to know about Miraflores...There are a lot of casinos.  This was so weird.  As Nicole and I were walking around at night, we couldn't help but notice they were everywhere.  Here, there was even one named Atlantic City.  When I asked about them later on in the evening, Pilar's friend explained to me that there was a lot of foreign investment going on in Peru and that the Chinese had actually built many of the casinos.  According to her, however, the city recently put a ban on building any more.  Sorry Mr. Trump!

Atlantic City in Miraflores, Peru!

We also need to discuss this little thing Nicole introduced me to on my first day called Inca Kola.  Let me just start out by saying that I love, love, love the Diet Coke that they sell in other countries.  Anyone who loves Hispanic food in the U.S. and goes to some of the authentic restaurants knows that you can buy Mexican Coca Cola and that it has a distinctive (err...better) taste because they use a different type of sugar.  The same thing goes for the Diet Coke.  I love it!  Unfortunately, however, all they sold in Peru was Coca Cola Zero and it just didn't do the trick for me.  :(  Nicole, however, insisted that I try the popular soda that they sell in Peru called Inca Kola.  She said she really liked it.  I, on the other hand, thought it was super-gross and tasted like liquid bubble gum.  To each his own, right?  I am all about giving it a go, but liquid bubble gum just does not really appeal to me nor did that soda's toxic-looking color.   

Inca Kola and Coca Cola Zero

Last but not least, we need to talk about the cats...I know this one will put a few of you crazy feline-lovers in 7th heaven...

El parque de los gatos

Clearly, at this point in my trip, I was relying on the advice of Pilar and Nicole (who was now a pro having been in Peru four whole days more than me) to let me know all about what makes Lima (to be covered in the next blog entry) and Miraflores distinctive.  Being an animal lover myself and already missing my little companions on the first day, I couldn't help but recognize that as I walked along the coastline in the morning, a huge part of my feeling that Lima/Miraflores was a place I could live was because I saw so many people running along the trail and out with their dogs.  I would soon come to find out that were dogs everywhere in Peru for better or worse.  In the U.S., we definitely love our dogs.  In Philadelphia, dog parks can be found everywhere, often as common as playgrounds.  Nicole, however, introduced me to my first cat park.  Now, I'm still not sure what this was all about, but in the square in front of the photo that I previously included of the church taken during the day and in front of the cafe where Nicole and I met our Argentinian friends while watching the Peruvian soccer game, there lies a park FULL of cats.  By full, I mean absolutely everywhere.  People play with them, they can be found all over the grass and wandering up and down the sidewalk in amongst the vendors selling handcrafts.  I have never seen anything like this and have no idea how they maintain all of them there.  If you look closely in the photo taken at night, you should be able to see several of the cats lying in the grass.

***For those of you in the know, please forgive the lack of accents here and there in Spanish as my blog has an English-only set-up.  Still workin' out the kinks.  ;)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

La aventura termina mañana...

Today was the last full day of my trip.  Yesterday was a little wild as I changed my plans to stay in Cuzco an extra day instead of heading straight to Puno and then received a call that my night flight from Puno to Lima had been cancelled tomorrow because they are closing down the airport.  A couple of weeks ago, the airport in Puno suffered minor damage due to some strikes and they chose tomorrow night to work on it.  After a quick dinner with my new American friends, Wah and Ines from my trek, (nothing like closing out the your stay in Cuzco with a little pizza-haha), I raced back to my hotel just in time to pick up some laundry I needed to have washed and hopped on the overnight bus to Puno.  I was lucky enough to sit next to a really nice woman named Gloria, an lawyer from Puno travelling back home after visiting Machu Picchu with her two young daughters.  We talked about the book I´ve been carrying around the entire trip and finished today on the 3 hour boat ride back across Lake Titicaca, The Help (thank you Srta. Bandera!!!), and she told me all about Puno.  When we arrived at 4:30 this morning, she gave me her business card, a handfull of coca leaves for the altitude to chew, and told me not to hesitate to call her if I needed anything or just felt a little lonely.  It was so incredibly sweet.

After a quick stop in the hotel where I found an old episode of the American TV show Dawson´s Creek to fall asleep to for an hour, I was picked up and taken to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigatable lake in the world.  I´ll have to talk about this portion of my trip later when I am home and can upload the pictures because this experience was absolutely unbelievable.  No one is ever going to believe the things I saw today.

I´m back at the hotel now and exhausted.  I bought some last minute gifts in Puno and ate dinner.  I thought for a minute that since it might be my last official dinner in Peru that I should just go for it, but, man, I just couldn´t order the cuy (large guinea pig) nor the alpaca.  It was a great meal nonetheless.  As I type this, I am absolutely freezing to death.  I have now mastered wearing everything I brought in my mochila roja y negra all at once.  I have two shirts on, a North Face fleece, a jacket, a scarf, jeans, two pairs of socks, a mismatched hat and gloves.  I fit in with everyone else here, but couldn´t look more bizarre.  Despite caking on the sunblock throughout the trip, my pale Scandanavian skin has been no match for these Peruvian rays, and now my entire face is peeling.  That is, except for the two white circles I have around my eyes from my sunglasses (now on my third pair after breaking the first two).  My fingers are numb and all I want to do right now is crawl into my sleeping bag (with everything that I´m currently wearing minus the sneakers) and watch the rest of the Copa Mundial-Uruguay vs. Mexico. 

Tomorrow I take a flight from Puno to Lima in the early afternoon, then around midnight I´ll fly from Lima to Atlanta, then Atlanta to Newark, then take a train from Newark to Philly on Thursday, followed by the regional rail from 30th Street Station to 4 blocks from my house.  Haha.  What a 24 hours it will be...

As I´ve had limited access along the way to upload photos and comment in a consistent fashion, I´ve decided that when I get home, I will blog about different topics-the different people I´ve met along the way, the food, the trek, the Uros...etc. 

Stay tuned (and forgive my spelling on this Spanish-only spell-check option for this blog here)!  :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Las metas....

So, just a little to come at the end of the week to be accompanied by more information.  Also, thank you so much for sharing in my journey!  As of this morning there were over 1300 hits from the US, Germany, Peru and... Israel and Russia!  :)  How exciting!  Just wait until you see the pictures.

Peru is the most wonderful place I´ve visited as of yet.  I prepared what I could before arrival, but not wanting to have any expectations, I really just opened myself to the experience of whatever was to come.  It has been beyond phenomenal.  The burning lungs on the hike up to 15,000+ feet, the camping without modern facilities, the cold, the blisters, the Saturday I spent incredibly sick...none of those things could ruin the wonderful experience I´ve had.  I spent 4 days hiking through Peru with the most wonderful people from all over the world and have made friends that I hope to keep for the rest of my life.  I have spent days and nights speaking Portu-Spanglish (a combination of Portuguese, Spanish, and English due to the composition of my trekking group) while hiking kilometers and kilometers through the mud, ice, snow, strong wind, over more rocks than one could ever imagine, water, and jungle.  I zip lined through the Andes at heights that no one should ever think about.  I have not been lonely for a second.  I have met and had conversations in several languages with people from all around the world at every stop along the way.  I have learned that hiking downhill is far worse that hiking uphill, especially when you do so for six hours straight.  I wish that I could stay longer and am currently planning my next trip to...anywhere in South America.

I changed my plans a bit to stay in Cuzco for the day instead of heading straight to Puno after visiting Machu Picchu yesterday.  The drastic change in temperature along the hike coupled with the lack of sleep (mostly 4 or 5 AM wake-up calls), large amount of physical activity, and the busy itinerary have taken a bit of a toll on my body and I´m looking forward to spending this beautiful, sunny day in Cuzco visiting museums with some new friends. 

Lesson learned-do what you love as much as you possibly can.  You will be happy, have wonderful life-changing experiences, and find your tribe.  There will be many more adventures of this type to come...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Estoy enamorada de Lima.

I am in love with Lima.  Having prepared very little for this part of the trip because I knew that I would tour the city with my good friend, Pilar, I really had no expectations as to what the city would be like.

It's wonderful.

Every time I visit somewhere new, I contemplate whether or not I could ever see myself living there.  Usually, the places are great, but they don't really feel like home.  Lima was different.

I went exploring on my own this morning.  The people were so incredibly nice and I had conversations all along my walk up and down the Pacific Ocean.  There were people walking dogs and running everywhere.  I went to the outdoor mall called Larcomar and was shocked to see a Chili's, Dunkin Donuts, TGI Fridays, and a Starbucks!  After getting my cafe con leche in Starbucks, I went to El Parque de Amor, and then headed back to my hotel where I met up with Pilar.  She told me that a friend of her nephew, another American around my age, was visiting and was going to tour the city today.  How exciting.  She then scolded me for not having any idea how to process the exchange rate and told me not to buy any more stuff because I'd already spent too much money.  :)

So, we picked up Nicole, who is spending the next 3 months traveling around Peru, Chile, and Argentina, and headed to the old part of Lima.  Wow.  While there, we went into the museum that the Catholic Archbishops used to occupy and then to the cathedral where they house the tomb of Francisco Pizarro! 

Afterwards, we had a typical Peruvian meal and then Nicole and I headed off to visit the city on our own for awhile.  We shopped in a local mercado for handcrafted goods, drank cafe con leche outdoors while catching part of the Peru vs. Argentina soccer game on tv, and made friends with some Argentinians in town on business.  Then we walked around the city for a few more hours.

Tonight was great as well.  Pilar and a friend picked us up and we went to another interesting part of town called Barranco.  It's know as the Bohemian section of town, home to all the artists and creative types.  It was filled with really cool restaurants, several beautiful churches, a bridge covered in lights, and a path down to several miradores (lookout points).  They then took us to another typical meal, showed us some of the city, and gave me all kinds of tips for warding off altitude sickness tomorrow. 

I head to Cuzco first thing in the morning and have a camera full of pics which I will attempt to post as soon as possible. 

I couldn't have had a better day in Lima!

Estoy en Lima!

After a very long day of traveling yesterday (Philadelphia-->Newark-->Atlanta-->Lima) and surviving the LONGEST line at immigrations that I have ever experienced in my life, I am here!  I was picked up at the airport by a representative from the company that set up my trip (Peru for Less) and arrived at my hotel about 1:30 AM this morning (1-hr time difference). 

It was a beautiful ride to the hotel, even in the middle of the night as we took the highway south to Miraflores along the Pacific Coast and I realized that within the last 4 months I have driven along the Pacific Coast on vacation in two different hemispheres! 

The guide was so nice and complimented me on my Spanish.  I decided on the plane that I didn't care who tried to speak to me in English on this trip (other than my fellow backpackers along the hiking stretch), I am exclusively going to speak Spanish.  Period.  I was so proud of myself and told this to my guide.  He chuckled, "Good luck."  "Puedo hacerlo," (I can do it) I fired back defensively thinking that maybe he was taking a dig at my Spanish which he had just said was so good.  He laughed again and explained, "Maybe in Lima, but they speak Quechua in Cuzco and Amara (sp? to be looked up later) in Puno."  My heart sank a little bit as I realized that this might not provide the practice in Spanish I had hoped it would.  You know what, that's still pretty cool.  When I lived in the Yucatan in Mexico, there were Mayan words all throughout the dialect and I actually learned certain words in Mayan before even learning them in Spanish.  Tuc...(tooch) is the word they use for belly button.  :)

This morning I was woken up with a phone call from my dear Peruvian friend Pilar who lives in Philadelphia.  I met her when we we were at grad school at Temple University and now she's finishing her PhD.  I am so excited to see her today and tour the city despite the fact that it's raining during the dry season.  I'm not sure how my photos will come out today, but I am pretty pleased that I do have a raincoat. 

I leave on a flight to Cuzco early tomorrow morning at will try to update again from there.  For all those excited about the big stuff, I should be standing on Machu Picchu next Sunday afternoon.  :)  The whole city is excited about the 100th anniversary and there were amazing signs and advertisements all throughout the airport and the city.

Ok, after a filling breakfast of jugo de papaya, cafe con leche, pan con mantequilla y fruta, y juevos revueltos con jamon y queso, I'm full and am going to head out exploring before Pilar comes to pick me up at noon.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Estoy lista.

I'm ready!  Wow.  Packing was difficult.  I made a few trips to get items from friends (thanks Morgan and Drea!) and to EMS today.  I picked up some water purification tablets as well as some additional items like bug repellent, sunblock, and Eco-friendly soap for the trek.  I then tried on my hiker's pack and I sure hope it doesn't get to be too heavy.  There's so much you think you might need when you have to take everything with you, but you also have to be able to carry it all! 

A couple of notes before I go.  It looks like the weather in Lima and Cuzco is fairly similar, but definitely cooler (especially at night) than in Philadelphia.  In Puno, where I will be finishing my journey, SNOW is in the forecast for this week!  I decided that it was best to have layers, which is also why my pack is currently a little heavy.  :(  May need to rethink this again tomorrow morning.

Thank you so much to everyone for your help and support.  The calls, emails, texts, and comments really mean the world to me and I hope to see you on the next adventure! 

I will try to update during the trip if possible, but definitely stay tuned for stories and photos upon my return on July 14th. 

Next see my friend and Peruvian, Pilar, from graduate school in Lima...

Pilar and I long ago...