Monday, September 22, 2008

Paucartambo and our trip into the jungle!

Hello! This is Carter from a tiny internet cafe in a tiny city in the Amazon!

to continue from what Stacey wrote, leaving from Hanaqpacha, our frist stop, was bittersweet. We were sad to say bye to such a peaceful scenery but we were all so anxious to continue on our journey. Hugo, our coordiantor for the next 10 days, joined us in Cusco. After a four hour drive thrugh hills and hills of beautiful scenery, we got off the bus at our next stop, a brief visit for bathr00ms and snacks in the little spanish city of Paucartambo. We walked through the centry of towen with all sets of natice eyes on us. out of place was a little bit of an understatement with out keens and cameras, but nonetheless we enjoyed the stop thouroughly. We continued on our way to the farm home of a wonderful woman named Maria, where were stayed for two nights and three days. We began our stay here by helping out around the farm. The girls cleared out all the weeds, grass and plants from a garden and we all admitted that we had never done so much physical labor in our lives! The boys spent the afternoon chopping firewood which was laborious as well. The next day we cleared weeds from an entire fiel of tomatoes, already sore from the day before, followed by plowing a field in preparation for harvesting potatoes. we were bewildered to find out one person usually controlled the two bulls while it took three of us! Anxous to get to the jungle,we left for our ¨two hour¨ bus ride. We soon realized that peruvians aren´t the best time estimators when that two hour ride turne dinto an eight hour one. Carter

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Greetings from Peru! This is Stacy writing our first blog from South America. We should be updating once a week if at all possible, so keep checking in with us!

Getting to this point took some pretty strenuous travel time. Many of us spent upwards of 24 hours straight in airports or in planes, so by the time we got to Lima, we were in fairly low spirits. I know in my case, I just needed a bed! The city was vast and historically significant but the pollution and poverty gave some of us a bad vibe. We stayed overnight in a youth hostel in Lima that was very cool and we did not get to enjoy too much due to the exhaustion. We left again at THREE THIRTY in the morning to begin our flight to Cuzco and on to our retreat center.

On our flight to Cuzco we got our first glimps of the snowcapped mountains of Peru from the plane. Needless to say, that was breathtakingly beautiful. We caught our bus, but were intercepted by Hugo, our amazing guide who is taking care of the next few weeks, who swept Nick away from us to finalize some details. Poor Nick, so close yet so far! Our busride was beautiful and refreshing, and an hour and a half later we ARRIVED.

I think the first few hours at our retreat center were unanimously spent in numb disbelief. This place is BEAUTIFUL. We spotted a waterfall coming straight out of the mountain in the drive up, and a while later, we ¨rolled up¨right at the base. The landscaping is more than beautiful, and there are enormous hummingbirds fluttering around enjoying bright orange flowers made just for them. We dragged our ragged bodies up the finely crafted stone steps to enter the main lodge area, where we found a breakfast (all vegetarian organic) that I thought would be a rare joy. Overall this may be true, but I must say that I have never eaten more delicious food in my entire life since arriving here.

The retreat is a beautiful blend of culture, drawing from the worlds major religions in decor. We eat on pillows the delicious food from cook (whom I am confident I have fallen love with) Lisha and her mother MamaKia. MamaKia is an amazing woman who has seen the world and heads a local orphanage. The landscaping is supurb, a labarinth of pathways and secret hammocks.

Friday, after some of us got up to do some yoga, we went on a hike to the base of the waterfall, which had spectacular views that reminded me of why this was dubbed the sacred valley. For lunch we had THE BEST MEAL I HAVE HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE, a type of burrito buffet that we weren´t sure whether we conquered or conquered us. The evening was a nice bit of rest and recovery.

Today we went to see some incan ruins called ohantaytambo that were well worth the long flight of stairs to reach them. The city nearby, hanaq pacha, has been continuously occupied since the incan times. A few of us went to see a household that raises guinea pigs for dinner, and it was the cutest meal I have ever encountered. There were perhaps 40 guinea pigs in all.

Afterwards, we went to the salt mines that are still in use and have been for thousands of years. These are not typical salt mines, however. These come from a river that emerges from a type of underground ocean, deep within the mountain. Locals have intricate canals and that they can control to collect and dry the salty water, producing some of the finest quality salt in the world.

From there we headed back to the retreat for an enormous dinner and now we are off again to the market in Pisac to do our scavenger hunt for information and local goodies. ¨What are the colorful powders and what are they used for?¨for example.

From all of us, you all are loved and missed. We are having a blast and are well rested and well fed and well cared for. I can´t even fathom the adventures ahead! The next time you hear from us, we will have lived for a week in the jungle! Nos vemos!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Welcome to the Journey

Well, it's official, they're together and ready! The group leaders just gave me a call and they have their full group - yes, everyone is there! In about three hours they'll be airborne and embarking on a journey of three-months and a thousand experiences.

I'm sure over the next few months you'll have photos of all kinds, calls of many emotions, and growth in more angles than you could imagine. May this be the beginning of a truly momentous and transformative semester!

Yours in spirit and adventure,