Monday, March 31, 2008


Monday 31 March 2008
There is a Dutch girl also living at the house with me, and the two of us went to visit the ruins of Sacsahumán today, an ancient Incan homage to the god of lightening. It was pretty neat, especially since these bright yellow flowers just started to bloom and were covering a lot of the ruins (well, not in this picture, but in other places). I put this picture up with the people in it so you can see how huge those stones are. Can you imagine fitting them so perfectly? There are some stones with 8 or 10 sides, with stones fitted around them with absolutely no chinks or mortar. Incredible.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Torta en la cara

Sunday 30 March 2008
There were two birthdays in the family this weekend, so we had a great big party tonight. I learned a lot of Peruvian birthday traditions, including this one: torta en la cara, cake in the face. The birthday boy/girl has to try and take a bite out of the cake, while his/her loving relatives try to shove their face into the cake. (And then they get that piece, of course.) Great fun.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Papas rellenas

Saturday 29 March 2008
I'm learning all kinds of Peruvian cooking here at this homestay. (The food is WONDERFUL in this house!) Here is the daughter, M, teaching me to make papas rellenas, stuffed potatoes. It's mashed potato wrapped around a filling of meat, cheese, veggies, or egg. Yum!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cusco from above

Friday 28 March 2008
Nice view, huh? Cusco may be 3326 m (10912 ft) above sea level, but it is also nestled in a valley.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pears and Passionfruit

Thursday 27 March 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My view

Wednesday 26 March 2008
Ryan decided to do some hiking around Cusco, and I decided to take advantage of my time here to take some Spanish classes and do a homestay with a family. So, I am currently living just out of the center in the neighborhood of San Sebastian with a wonderful, warm, and welcoming Peruvian family. Learning a ton of Spanish (from classes, but much more from everyday life with the family) and having a lot of fun here. This is the view from my bedroom window. (That mountain way in the back has snow on it on cold mornings!)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cusco streets

Tuesday 25 March 2008
The streets of Cusco are narrow and steep, and often lined by rocks laid by the Incas themselves. It's kinda touristy, but it has a really cool vibe to it. A great city, in my opinion.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Monday 24 March 2008
Ryan and I visited the temple of Qoricancha today, an ancient Incan temple which was converted into a Dominican church by the Spanish.
Cusco was the capital of the Incan empire, and the center of the world according to them. And Qoricancha was the center of Cusco, the most important religious building. The entire empire was divided into four parts, and the dividing lines started here. They say the walls used to be covered with gold from top to bottom in some rooms, and that the whole building contained unbelievable treasure and workmanship. Today, there isn't much left from the Incas besides stones, but those are so well-fitted that the walls are still a wonder.
The modern church contained some incredible paintings, though. My favorites were done in a photographic style, modern children with angel's wings, somewhat strange but absolutely fascinating.
Oh yeah, I don't know who that woman is - she just happened to pop her head up and wave just as I was taking the picture. I liked it, though.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Sunday 23 March 2008
(Happy Easter, everyone!) Ryan and I attended a gastronomic festival today, and finally tried a Peruvian delicacy that I've been really curious about - cuy. A small rodent otherwise known as guinea pig (yes, the same kind you had as a pet), it is a very common meat here as the animals don't take up much space, live off of kitchen scraps, and breed quickly, making it perfect livestock for many poor rural families. An added bonus, I found out today, is that it is tasty! I know, looking at it, you'd think it was kind-of dry, not much meat there, but oooooh no. It was tender, juicy, suculent, wonderful. A very unique flavor, and absolutely delicious!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bus vista

Saturday 22 March 2008
I feel like I should put up one of my sweeping panoramic sunset pictures of Lake Titicaca from the other day, because it really is a gorgeous lake. But somehow, this picture feels more realistic. After all, we spent the entire day on the bus today, so really, this is the view we had of the lake today. And I feel I should somehow represent the unbelievably huge amount of time that Ryan and I spend on buses - this continent is sooooo big!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Candlelit Procession

Friday 21 March 2008
Good Friday candlelit procession. There were probably thousands of people walking the stations of the cross tonight. This afternoon, the town of Copacabana really filled up with pilgrims from all over Bolivia as well as Peru and Argentina, coming to this tiny town known for its church and its "Virgin of the Dark Lake."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blessing of the Cars

Thursday 29 March 2008
In the town of Copacabana, Bolivia, on the shore of Lake Titicaca, they have a rather curious tradition. Every day at a certain time, a priest will come out and bless any cars in front of the church. They've usually been decorated up with flowers and ribbons, as in the picture, and people also bring champagne and beer to pour over the cars after they've been sprinkled with holy water.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Flower market

Wednesday 19 March 2008
The nightly flower market outside San Fransisco church, La Paz, Bolivia.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

La Paz hillside

Tuesday 18 March 2008
Ryan and I are in La Paz, Bolivia, now, by the way. It's the highest capital in the world - Bolivia seems to hold a lot of "the highest -------- in the world" records. Here is a view of a hillside - the streets are so steep, that seen from across the valley they look like a drawing without perspective.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Monday 17 March 2008
A woman using a traditional spinning stick to spin yarn, making it thinner, finer, and more suitable for the intricate weaving Bolivia is rightfully famous for.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Sunday 16 March 2008
Alright, now for the festival I promised you. It is called Pujllay, and takes place in the tiny Bolivian town of Tarabuco the third Sunday of every March (which just happens to also be Palm Sunday this year - a great big celebration day). Pujllay means "to play" in the Quechua language, and seems to be both a day commemorating the defeat of the Spaniards in a battle in this town (after which the Tarabuco warriors ate the hearts of the Spaniards), and paying tribute to Pachamama, the Andean Mother Earth. Here you can see the offerings to Pachamama, in fact - a ladder absolutely full of food - meat, canned goods, pop, wine, bread, all kinds of stuff, and a group dancing around it.
The part of the festival we saw was mostly dancing - people danced for hours and hours in traditional costume. I don't know how they did it, in fact, in those thick ponchos in the hot sun. It was really amazing to see the colorful costumes, and the people so consumed by what they were doing. It is one of the biggest festivals in Bolivia, and a really unique experience for Ryan and I.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Festival teaser

Saturday 15 March 2008
Today was a rather uneventful day spent on the internet, so I decided to post a teaser for tomorrow. (Oooh, a photo from the future!) This is a picture from the festival Ryan and I attended . . . (to be continued!)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Castillo de la Glorieta

Friday 14 March 2008
Ryan and I visited this grand old house just outside of Sucre today. It was raining, and we were a little disappointed to find that we couldn't actually enter the building - we could only walk around it. But the grounds were really pretty, with a few fountains, some ponds, a bunch of gorgeous pink flowers, some ducks, and a few gazebos.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Heavenly clouds

Thursday 13 March 2007

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Yes, another cemetery

Wednesday 12 March 2008
On this trip, it seems that no visit to a city would be complete without seeing its cemetery! The graveyard we saw here in Sucre is green, spacious, and very quiet in an organized, formal kind of way. Almost everyone is buried in these little drawers along the walls, with a frontal section for flowers and glasses of water (in case the person inside wakes up and is thirsty?). A few giant mausoleums also dotted the manicured lawn, and in the very back there was a crowded little section for poorer people, chock full of blue and white crosses.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Potato market!

Tuesday 11 March 2008
The central market here in Sucre is a beautiful market. There are sections for meat, veggies, fruit, dried goods, flowers, yogurt, cakes, lunch, coffee, fresh juice (which Ryan and I visit quite regularly), clothes, jam, soap, and this courtyard here, my favorite - the potato market! A whole area selling nothing but pratties! They sell all different kinds (including the speckled pink Andean potatoes! None of the blue or purple ones, though) out of their big blue sacks.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sucre church

Monday 10 March 2008

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Sunday 9 March 2008
Some local men wearing ponchos from the town of Tarabuco, goods tied to their backs in the traditional Bolivian style, peeking into a window. Sorry fellas, it's closed for siesta!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Dino prints!

Saturday 8 March 2008
These are dinosaur footprints! The tracks of two 20-meter-long sauropods, to be more exact. Just outside of Sucre there is a whole giant wall full of these prints, back and forth, up and down, discovered by a cement company gradually blasting the hill apart. It is an ancient lake shore thrust upwards into a mountain during the creation of the Andes. Pretty cool, huh?

Friday, March 07, 2008


Friday 7 March 2008
We've finally arrived in the town of Sucre, the capital of Bolivia. Sucre is often known as "the white city" for all its white colonial buildings. Lucky for us, it also seems to have a nice energetic but peaceful vibe - we'll probably be taking a bit of a rest here. It's not nearly so high up as we have been lately (only 2,800 meters), so the air is a little more substancial and it's not quite as cold. The streets are all just as steep as everywhere else in Bolivia, though!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Down in the mines

Thursday 6 March 2008
Ryan and I spent the day today in the town of Potosí, Bolivia. It is a smallish, poorish town still dressed in the finery of its glorious past. Four hundred years ago, Potosí was the largest and richest city in the world, due to the "Cerro Rico," (rich mountain), the richest silver mine in the world. It was the centerpiece of the huge Spanish empire, and at the height of fashion and style. Today, the mine is a cooperative owned by the miners, and puts out much less silver than before. It continues to be exploited, though, in much the same conditions as it was 200 years ago.
We took a tour of the mine, going deep down into the earth through dusty noxious air, tight spaces, and the dark. For me, it was an extremely difficult thing to do, both physically and emotionally. I am not claustraphobic, but I found it so hard to breath with all the dust and fumes in the air that I had to stop and catch my breath sometimes. Really, I didn't want to be there at all, but seeing the miners down there, who had no choice but to work long hours underground in 19th century conditions - breaking stones with hammers, chiseling holes by hand, pushing the carts themselves, and sometimes carrying the minerals out on their backs - I knew I could tolerate the two hours we were down there. It was so hard to see the way those men (and boys - they often start coming to work with their dads around age 10) are forced to work - they do it because there is practically no other way to earn money in Potosí.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

He's got me in the palm of his hand

Wednesday 5 March 2008
Fooling around on the salt flats of Uyuni. These are the largest and highest salt flats in the world (around 3,500 meters up!) and the main reason we came to this area of Bolivia.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Laguna Colorada

Tuesday 4 March 2008
Day two of our tour. Today we saw a lot of different lagunas, of all different colors. One that is full of copper and other minerals, making it bright green whenever the wind stirred it up. One that is bright white. And this one, the Laguna Colorada, is bright red due to all the microorganisms living in the water. Hence, it is usually full of flamingos feasting on either these microorganisms or the aquatic plants on the bottom.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Monday 3 March 2008
Today, Ryan and I started a three-day tour of the area surrounding the Uyuni salt flats. Today was mostly driving through gorgeous deserty mountains, climbing ever higher. Just before the sun set behind the cliffs, we stopped in the town where we will spend the night, which boasted a rather large llama herd. In this shot, you can just barely see their owners' markers - colorful bits of yarn on their ears. They always look like bright red and orange earrings to me!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Church sunset

Sunday 2 March 2008
A pretty sunset over the town of Uyuni, Bolivia.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

All aboard the parilla bus!

Saturday 1 March 2008
Our last meal in Argentina (for a while anyway) was a big pile of meat at a parilla, which was very fitting and normal. What was not normal, however, was the fact that the pile of meat was eaten inside a bus! We saw this little city-bus-turned-restaurant and just couldn't resist.