Sunday, November 27, 2011

November 27, 2011 Thanksgiving, my birthday and hiking again on Sunday

This has been another week filled with life. Because we have seen most of the "usual" ruins and museums, we now have time to enjoy other aspects of Cusco....mostly making new friends and having time to get to know them better. We have some pretty regular routines now...leave the house at 7:30 to walk to yoga every day at 8, back home by 10 to eat our oatmeal (prepared by Ricardo) and then off to school from 11-1. We are enjoying our teachers and hopefully progressing with our Spanish.
Susan and the ancient ruins!

Bread in the San Pedro Market

Fountain in Plaza de San Blas

Our school, Centro Tinku surprised us by having a birthday cake for me on Thursday. It was really nice to be celebrated this way. It was also Thanksgiving and we celebrated that by calling all our family and many friends and talking together on skype. We even had a three way conversation going.
Surprise Birthday cake at Centro Tinku
Happy Birthday 

Birthday dinner 
Impromptu celebration near Mercado de San Pedro
The birthday celebration continued with each of us having a massage in the afternoon followed by dinner that night. 
Another of our routines now is a long Sunday walk with friends. Jean-Jacques has been living here for many years and knows so many interesting trails outside the city. We start in the downtown and within 15 minutes are usually in the outskirts, hiking up high into the mountains for incredible views and many times coming across ancient ruins. We have done this with him for the last 3 Sundays and each time with a few new people so our friends in Cusco are growing.
Holding up the ancient wall

She found her niche!

Ruins that we came upon during our Sunday hike

Our new friends...Anna, Chantal, Jean-Jacques
Ricardo, me and Tess. (Telma is taking the picture)

We'll be staying put here for another few weeks before traveling to several other cities in Peru. We are really happy to be settled in this town and getting to know more each day about its culture and people.

A little side tidbit....we were loaned a DVD called "No Direction Home" which is a two disc story about Bob Dylan and the folk music era of the 60's. We are really enjoying it and shall watch the second disc tonight. It was loaned to me by my Spanish teacher who loves Bob Dylan and his poetry as well as the others of that era.

Bye for now and "see" you next week.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 20, 2011 Hiking, Inca Ruins, enjoying the good life

We have enjoyed another full week in Cusco. We have a new friend, Jean-Jacques who owns the Spanish school that we are going to - Centro Tinku, and he and his dog love to walk on Sundays so we have joined him for two Sundays. In less than 15 minutes we are outside the city in amazing mountains with lush scenery.
Plaza de Armas - view from above the city,
the start of our walk last Sunday.

In this blog I am including more information on the pictures to help explain our time here.  We started last week with a city tour of all the major ruins within the Cusco area. Though we have seen some before, I do not tire of them, or the descriptions by the guides. We do some tours in Spanish and some in English and we can usually understand either! I have been reading two books simultaneously while here that have much history and modern explanations of what is going on in the area - one is "Exploring Cusco" by Peter Frost and another is a new book out this year entitled "Turn Right at Machu Piccu" and is a story of present day explorers walking the same path as Hiram Bingham who "discovered"....really...."rediscovered" Machu Piccu in the sacred valley in the 1911.

Always fun to be joined by dogs on our walk.
Our new friend Jean-Jacques has taken us to
 places we would never find on our own,
 along with his faithful companion Corey.
The other dog is Icarus - friend to Thelma.

A niche in Qorikancha - always made in this
shape to be earthquake proof. Again, notice
the stones with no mortar between them.
This site is right in the middle of the city and
is now part of a big church and convent
(minus all the gold that was taken by the Spainards)

Sacsaywaman - some of the most
incredible ruins - also right above the
city.  Some of these ruins we saw
6 years ago but always intriguing.

One of the larger stones - this gives an
idea of their size.

The beautiful colors used
for the knitting and weaving of sheep,
and alpaca yarns

Alpaca factory - shopping trips are
always included in tours.

Dinner with our friend Ru who is
from London - we meet him
at the school in Montanita, Ecuador.
Thanks to facebook - we have stayed
in touch. You might remember him
from the pictures of the mud trip - he was
our buddy there!
One of the fun things about this South American trip has been the people we met along the way in Ecuador and here in Peru and the fact that we can stay connected. Sometimes they are a few weeks ahead of us on a similar path (Fernanda from Brazil) and can advise us of hotels and sights to see; and this week we had the chance to see in person one of our friends from Ecuador. Skype allows us to talk every week with our "family" in Cuenca and some of you. I think I would feel very disconnected without technology. So, though I lived without it for many years of my life, I am very grateful for the connections it allows today.

Very old bags - used by men to hold their
coca leaves. Each is a gift from a woman - first
their mothers, then their girlfriends and
then their wives.

Typical courtyard of the colonial
houses of Cusco

Icarus, dog friend of Thelma who owns
a store with beautiful fabric items. Here he
is showing us his piece of fabric.

 Dogs are in our lives, which makes Richard especially happy. We have a dog "Danke" in our house who visits us often during the day. She has her spot on our couch.

Yesterday's very long day tour of the Sacred Valley took us to Pisac, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero. Now I think we have seen all the ruins that are on the "tourist" list and any more will be ones that we stumble upon during our weekend walks with Jean-Jacques.
Pisac - in the Sacred Valley. Again many levels
of crop planting built into the mountains. We hiked
a precarious walk up and around with a large group.

Again - amazing shapes to be seen from above at Pisac. 
Ollantaytambo - large site in the Sacred Valley built
above the town. The size of the people walking up will
give you perspective of this amazing site.

View of Ollantaytambo from above
 the ruins

Another example of these large stones - here you
can see some placed in between - again to
avoid earthquake destruction. It is possible
that these were pre-Incan.

Today's walk started at this cemetary -
working up rather than taking up
too much space underground.

One of many photos of the countryside

Corey loves the water and the mud.

A ruin in the middle of our walk.

This window/door caught my eye.

We say goodbye again this week, a special week for most of our "peeps" as it is Thanksgiving. It is always a good time to remember our family and friends and we are so thankful to have you all in our lives. We shall miss seeing you and will celebrate in some special way here, because it is also a big day for birthday of the year of medicare! Happy Thanksgiving to ALL with love from Susanita and Ricardo.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday, November 13th...a great week in Cusco

See the two flags - left is Peru and right is
Cusco - looks just like the gay flag.

This was a week of tourist activities as we purchased the 10 day tourist ticket which enables us to visit many of the sights both in and outside of Cusco. We are trying to see the sights that we did not see during our last visit. Try clicking on the above photo and see a short video of folkloric dancing - they use color and costumes so well.
Waterfall in San Blas neighborhood - love the geometric shapes

Sunday hike outside of town to local ruins -
Templo de la Luna

Seems like young girls are always asking
to take our pictures...and we took theirs
 Most of these photos are self explanatory. Incan walls are everywhere, usually the foundation for the churches and other structures in town. It is mind boggling to imagine how they moved some of these stones and how they managed to fit them together so well as to withstand so many natural disasters.
Incan walls which are usually made on an angle. Most
have withstood earthquakes. Notice the smaller stones
at the bottom which is the secret as to why they have remained
after so many mortar, just stone against stone.

Weaving...usually sheep or llama

We have been to museums, monuments, textile factory, churches along with our classes of yoga and Spanish. We are making good use of our time during these 10 days and after tomorrow will get back to a less touristy lifestyle. There is so much to see here and we are really lucky to have a whole month. We have made a few friends as we usually do and that is also nice....Al, our yoga teacher and Jean Jacque who owns our Spanish school.

Pachacutec monument -
Led the Incas in city planning, building,
administration. Walked up to the top for
a great view of town.

Love the fabric here.

Peruianas are beautiful people

Cusco at night
Salt mines at Maras

Underground saltwater - different families own
each square and work the salt mines as a
cooperative - has been going on for hundreds of years

Yesterday's visit to Maras and Moray was so interesting from a historical perspective and for me for a design and great photo opportunity. As you know by now...I love geometric shapes and here was a chance in both sites to take many photos. Again, photos do not do justice to the immensity of both sites.

Moray - deep ampitheatre like terracing - the first three were pre-Incan.
Each layer has its own micro-climate according to how deep the bowl is and
 therefore was used for crop experimentation.

Look at the steps and the people to get a feeling of how large
these circles are. So impressive.

Ricardo climbing out of the circles

The steps coming out at each level
with over one foot between in each step.
We have had a chance to talk to some of you on the phone this week which is always great - keeps us connected which we both love. Having the technology that we have makes life so much easier for communication. We do miss you and love you.