Friday, December 31, 2010

Pisac, Saqsaywaman and Co.

a.k.a My $1 poncho is better than your North Face rain gear

After Macchu Picchu we kept exploring the surroundings of Cuzco, including part of the sacred valley through Pisac. It is a little town 1 hour of bus away from Cuzco that houses a very big craft market as well as fantastic ruins a little higher up in the hills.
We took the bus from Cuzco with all the locals, so that we could save money and get a slice of real Peruvian life. The bus depot is really just a few buses waiting in the mud but everything went smoothly.
With the locals, but we got in early enough to have a seat!
We got to Pisac on time and after a lunch at a very pretty place called Blue Lama. We took a cab up to the Pisac ruins; the goal was to be dropped at the top and hike all the way back down (around 3 hours)
The day had been beautiful up until then but right when we exited the cab it started to rain heavily. Suddenly the hike didn't seem like such a good idea anymore....

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Inca trail to Macchu Picchu

We decided to do the 4 day trek of the 42kms of the Inca trail to reach Macchu Picchu, instead of the 3 hours train ride. It was recommended by some friends who had done it.  We used the services of a company that provides a guide and porters to carry our food and tents. We also hired an extra porter to carry most of Denise's stuff like her mattress, sleeping bag and most of her clothes. Frankly we highly recommend using that option considering the minimal extra cost, because parts of the trek are pretty darn hard.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas in Cuzco

Today is the 25th of December so first, Merry Christmas to you all!

We've just witnessed what happens for Christmas here in Cuzco and it's definitely a crazy and festive experience. First, on the 24th the whole Plaza de Armas (the heart of Cuzco) is closed to traffic and completely filled with stalls for people to sell their stuff. What do they sell you ask? Anything you could need to build a nativity scene (la creche de Noel) next to your christmas tree.
Plaza de Armas

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I Love Food! -and a bit about Cuzco shopping.

From Peru - Cuzco

Most of you know this.  I religiously go to the farmers market in San Francisco every weekend I'm in town.  I love the fresh fruits and veggies, and I love finding new ingredients and making interesting dishes.  The market is one of my favorite places not only because it's pretty, but also because I can't really feel guilty about buying food (like I can about buying myself a new pair of shoes that are smokin' hot ...but that I don't REALLY need).  
Once, when I discovered my grapes were missing from the refrigerator at work, I  sent out a really nice email to everyone at the company telling them all how much I love food and how sad I was that someone felt the need to take my grapes.  I know.  Freak!  

Friday, December 17, 2010

Less tourists, but more friends

We figured out where the tourists are... not here. After a delicious dinner we chatted with Matt, the Australian owner of a restaurant who's been living here for 6 years, and he told us that this is the worst december he's ever seen. Tourism seems to be at an all time low, even though Christmas time is usually a very busy time of the year. To put it simply, we were the only people at the restaurant where you usually can't have a table without booking in advance. It seems like the global economic slowdown is really hitting places like Cuzco pretty hard.
You never know what you're going to run into while walking around Cuzco

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Arrival in Peru

Denise starting her Headstand project on Plaza de Armas
After 2 short nights, one before flying out of SF and one in Lima, we are now in Cuzco, starting point for trips to the Inca Trail and the Macchu Picchu.
We spent a total of 10 hours in Lima between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, in the industrial district next to the airport. Needless to say it didn't impress us with its prettiness yet.
Cuzco in comparison is very pretty with many parks and plazas, and many hills. Everybody seems very relaxed and the city gives out a good vibe overall.
Even though we don't see as many tourists as we expected in the streets (maybe we're a little off season) you can tell the city strives from tourism because of the many solicitations for various typical hats, sweaters or manicures (?). It's not as bad as walking the strip in Vegas and the goods involved are a little more... normal.
The city is also in continuous expansion, with a lot of public work being done all over the city.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Do We Always Fill the Space We Have?

From Moving out

I got home from my trip across the US just over a week ago, which was excellent, and perhaps I'll do a post or two about it later. It has been a whirlwind week of packing, minimizing and saying goodbye to both our friends and our things. I love that little fairy, but it's dusty and broken, so I had to say goodbye, my trusty coffee pot, bye, all my lovely smelling toilet things, bye, that brand new iron, my kitchen electronics, bye. All the random things that filled the space that I didn't really need, buhbye! What do I need to survive and be comfortable-ish for the next 6 months? Our bags are smaller than I thought and I already want to overfill them, so it's time to minimize. I guess I don't really NEED 5 tank tops.
I'm wondering what the friend space will be filled with. Passing acquittance's? People we meet on the road? The sights we see? We are so fortunate to have such good friends here, I will miss them heaps. We're staying with the fabulous Beth and Mike, organizer and cook extraordinare respectively, until our flight leaves Wednesday morning (ass crack of dawn). We borrowed my cousin John and Camille's truck for the move and the days in between.... exactly how many loads of furniture, misc have I taken to various places, I don't know. I have also had the pleasure of the company of all my good friends in the past couple of days, a visit here, a lunch there.
It's now real that I'm moving to a foreign country where I don't speak the language quite well enough, and I don't have any of my own friends (yet), and the culture and traditions are different.... Vince keeps reminding me that at least they have the same alphabet, and I keep reminding myself that I have friends in Europe, not exactly in France, but a train ride away. It's exciting, and scary, and will probably not feel like home for a while, but life is an adventure.
Here I go.
The whole trip thing, however is not real yet.... I'm not sure it will be real until I'm on the plane day after tomorrow. Until then, lets hope I fill the space with only the things I need.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Moving out

Before traveling, we are moving. Basically we move out of our apartment this weekend before leaving for Peru mid next week. After that we come back to San Francisco for a month in January and will stay with some various generous friends before the final departure on Feb 11th.

Moving out while planning the trip was not that easy but the profesionnals came today after we (and by 'we' I mean mostly Denise since I was working during the day) had pretty much packed everything, and they took care of business in no time.
We still have a few pieces of furniture to get rid of over the next couple of days but most of the work is done.

We can start worrying about packing for the trip and how everything will actually fit in our bags...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Et non, pas de francais

Avant de lire vos commentaires je prefere le dire tout de suite, ce blog sera principalement en Anglais.
Cela nous assure que quasiment tout le monde pourra le lire, meme nos amis en Argentine ou en Suede puisque, soyons honnetes, la plupart d'entre vous peuvent lire l'anglais, ou connaissent quelqu'un qui pourra les aider.
Et puis il y a toujours Google Translate.

Desole pour les Francais pour qui cela sera un peu plus complique mais, etant realistes, y'a pas moyen qu'on ecrive tout en 2 langues, donc je prefere etre franc d'entree de jeu :)

Merci de votre patience!