Leaving Trujillo and all the kids was a very sad time for us, well, bitersweet really. We were a bit homesick and looking forward to mexican food, real milk, soap in bathrooms, and of course family and friends. We were also excited for a new adventure and seeing a new part of Peru; Machu Picchu, one of the most spectacular places in the country! I first learned about Machu Picchu in a Spanish class in college. When congagating an irregular verb, my professor would always say in a Spanish accent, "Oh, it's Machu Picchu verb." After visiting Machu Picchu, I am now even more confused by what she was trying to imply! Before I jump too far ahead of myself let me begin with leaving Trujillo.
While at the orphange we became very close with Julisa, one of the 'madre' workers. Our first real conversation with her, we asked what was her favorite thing to do. She said she loves to travel. After elaborating on places she has visited, it would be the equivalent of going from Alamosa to Denver, at the most. Without disscussing it first, Adam and I both had the idea to bless Julisa by taking her with us to see Machu Picchu. Although somewhat expensive, we knew this would be an incredible, once in a lifetime opportunity for her. Needless to say she cried and screamed when we asked her to accompany us to Cusco.
After an 8 hour bus ride, where I of course was carsick the entire trip, we arrived in Lima. Once at the airport we were told that they over sold the flight and there was no way we where getting on the plane for Cusco. I, of course, had a little 'conversation' with the airline management. Although they did not put us on the plane, they did accomodate us by putting us up in the Sheridon Hotel for the night and provided all meals during our stay. At first I was very disappointed, as we only had five days in Cusco and with the delay we would be cut back to only four days. This turned out to be an amazing blessing I was happy to welcome soon after.
Once we arrived to the Sheridon we immediately felt like royalty. Now, the Sheridon in Lima is an exquisit hotel. One of the most glamorous hotels I have stayed at, and the meals were amazing! We walked straight to our rooms. The reaction on Julisa's face is one I hope to never forget. She was in awe. She fell to the bed, spread out her arms, and shouted, "I feel like a diva!" We continued to explore the hotel and worked our way to the restaurant.
During our dinner, Julisa and I went to the bathroom together; like girls normally do. Ahhhh, finally a nice bathroom, with soap, paper towels, self-flush toilets, and seat guards! Now we're talking- a little taste of home! As we finished up (I know you want to hear all about my bathroom experience, huh?) a little girl, I am guessing from the States, was showing Julisa how to turn on the sink and use the soap dispenser. I then had to show her how to get a paper towel, since it was all automatic. She was amazed; as was I that bathrooms were something I take forgranted and would actually be considered a luxury in many areas of the world. All night she was in awe and repeated over and over that she was a diva. It was really neat to see her excitement. It was eye-opening to realize that I often have the means to stay in a nice hotel when I travel. And yet, this was an incredible experience for Julisa! Nearly as exciting as Cusco itself.
The plane was also fun to experience with Julisa. Her head was plastered to the window the whole flight. Obviously, it was her first time in a plane. During the hour and a half flight she kept repeating in nearly perfect English, "My country is so beautiful!" I think she took close to 50 pictures while in the plane.
Altitude? What is that? Although Adam and I lived at sea-level for three months, we still had what it took to handle altitude. Cusco's elevation is at 10,859 ft, so it is understandible that Julisa had a hard time aclimating after living at sea-level all her life. Of course we still gave her a hard time about it, but Adam took good care of her. here is a photo of Dr. Runyan equipping Julisa with water and meds for altitude sickness. I had to surrender my warm clothing, as she is used to warmer weather being from the costal area of Peru. She froze the whole trip. Living in Colorado and then spending three months south of the equator during thier summer months, Adam and I were happy to cool down in Cusco.
Cusco is such an amazing place. Truly one of the most beautiful and breathtaking cities I have ever seen. There I saw some of the most elegant Catholic churches, brightly colored clothing, incredible artisians, and amazing scenery and landscape. Quite touristy though. There were people from all areas of the world. It turned in to a fun game trying to quess who was from what region. Because we were pointing out people we thought were from our region, we had to explain to Julisa that people from the States come in many sizes, shapes, and ethnicities.
Cusco is a ways from Machu Picchu, so we took a train to Aguas Calientes where we stayed for two nigths. This was such a fun town. There we met people from around the globe and ate great food! We could get a five course meal for about three dollars. Most restaurants would give you a 'regular' menu, but if you asked for the ten sloes (three dollar) menu you could get great food with a four to five course meal for about half the price of the regular menu.
Machu Picchu was discovered in 1911. It is considered the world's finest example of landscape architecture. Machu Picchu means "old mountain" in Quechua, the ancient language of the Incas (although many still speak the language in Ecuador and the Andes of Peru). It was a center of worship and astronomic observatory. The peak you see in the photo is called Hayna Picchu, "young mountain" in Quechua. Many climb the peak to get a good workout and a fantastic view of the forest and ruins.
It was the only Inca establishment to survive the Spanish conquest. It was known as the lost city of the Incas.
Machu Picchu is also known as the cloud forest. It is where the Andes meets the Amazon rain forest, giving it an interesting climate. It was the most beautiful place I have ever been!