Save the drama for the llamas...

Trip Start Jan 22, 2009
Trip End Apr 21, 2009

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We have now been here over a month and we have seen so much. We bought the Billeto Touristico to kick start our touring, the first stop was the Pisac ruins and market which were absolutely stunning. The ruins were extremely high up and on the hike we Learnt a valuable lesson, do not walk off from the rest of the group without telling anyone where you are going... (no apparently we didn't all already know that as a new chica called Rosie who we had met about 20 mins before hand went missing for about 2 hours) Despite the minor disaster the views and ruins were incredible. After a very long and unexpected hike back down to the town we went to the market which was simply beautiful, even in the rain.
Anyway the next trip was to local ruins above Cuzco called the Saqsaywaman, it was also spectacular, up there we came across a Mormon family to then discover that Cuzco has 5 Mormon churches... EEK Anyway, we then had a hysterical afternoon trying to get to Tipon. No, never quite got there, though the Peruvians had a great time sending us on a treasure hunt around Cuzco for the correct bus stop. I guess it was Karma bitting me in the ass for all the times i sent Americans to Cannes when they asked for the train to Monaco. Anyway, we eventually gave up and went for frozen lemonade and watched Benjamin Button at the local club.
The following weekend we went on a trip to the Urabamba Valley where we had a hysterical bus ride where we had to run and elbow fight to get a seat at the back. We discovered that we need not worry about kids missing out on the thrill of bumper cars and roller coasters because Peruvian bus rides combine both such sensations. Despite the bumpy start (literally) we were on our way. Our first stop was Chinchero which the "trusty" guide book said had a large market like Pisac, so when we went past " Welcome to Chinchero" on a sign by a rusty, dusty and what seemed an empty town , we presumed there must be another stop closer to the center. The man in front of us however kindly explained that the next stop was 40 mins away, making us explode into a fit of giggles which confirmed to all the other local passengers that yes the tourists actually are loco... Anyway, we re-organized our day and went to Ollyataytambo first. It was absolutely beautiful and serene and we had a delicious three course lunch for 3 soles (1 dollar). We then went by Morrray to see the Morras ruins, the bus dropped us off 13 kilometers away from the ruins. I know we are always meant to bargain the taxi prices but seeing as we were quite clearly stranded in the middle of nowhere and he was the only taxi in sight we didn't really have a leg to stand on. We got there eventually though after the taxi drivers friend pushed the car a little to jump start it, and it was beautiful, from first glance it looks like an old overgrown Greek amphitheater. We in fact found out that it was an Inca crop laboratory of sorts where they grew crops at every level in order to see at what altitude it grew best. Seeing all these sites is quite incredible, especially when you think that we now live in a world where we are defined and judged by our differences and yet here we are discovering a civilization that existed hundreds of years ago and yet even they share the same basic human traits of curiosity, creativity and the need for routine. On our way back we eventually went to Chinchero and once back in Cuzco we went to the modern art museum. It was refreshing to go to a museum where you didn't feel pressure to stare at paintings for however long or make insightful comments about them... They were all hung on the wall but not all straight and were packed in one next to the other and yet it was fun and enjoyable... 
This weekend we went rafting on a level 4 (of 5) rapids. It was scary but very fun and I am now hoping to go rafting in the rainforest which is meant to be spectacular.
Throughout the past 2 weeks here in Cuzco we have celebrated Valentines day, we went out and had maybe one too many Pisco sours and ended up at karaoke where we showed the locals how it was done by a wonderful (if not humiliating) rendition of memory! During the week the helpers son, Oliver turned turned five so we decided to bake him a chocolate cake with an oven door that didn't close properly and a blender without a plug... We eventually manged and Oliver was happy so it was all good. This weekend, no matter how many times we were warned, nothing could have prepared us for Carnival here. We knew the city turned into one big water fight but this, this was the Holy grail of water fights... We bought 100 balloons for 1 soles, filled them up and then sat on a pub balcony in the main square throwing balloons at the people passing by... We thought we were doing well, barely wet but then Chris had the bright idea to go to the black market. So off we went, only to be welcomed by 3 gangs of  boys yelling "Gringotas!!!" RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so we did as fast as our legs could carry us but every corner we turned there were more of them so eventually we all received a bucket of water over the head... The rest of the day proceeded in a similar fashion until we eventually made it back home at 7 pm for the Oscars (in Spanish of course) Despite having a cold now because of the wet clothes and cold, the carnival provided us with a perfect excuse to return to infancy when throwing water seemed like the funnest activity imaginable.
I have now started my volunteering which is really putting my Spanish to the test. When coming here i thought i would be working with underage mothers but when we visited the project it was quite clear that in fact you simply babysat the children. So before starting i changed projects and I am now teaching English in a center for blind people. I was worried at first about how i would handle working with people with this disability and it{s been extremely hard emotionally but I'm enjoying the challenge. I teach everyday, the same group of 5 adults and 3 university students. They record the lessons or have someone write notes for them which eventually gets turned into braille. They are remarkable, especially the university students who are all just so determined. It{s been incredible learning about their everyday life, their memories are incredible and they know who i am by the touch of my hand. They are all learning much faster than any other student would...
Anyway, we are now coming to the halfway mark of our journey which i am both looking forward to and dreading. It means leaving Cuzco, which will be sad and I imagine that the time will fly by even faster when we are changing cities every 3 days. I am however, veyr much looking forward to our time in Bolivia which should be amazing.
THERE!!! thats the update for now mum... hope everyone at home is well... I imagine Richard is about to start A Levels, whish him all the best. Chloe i hope all your exams went well. Hilary i dont know if you have had another living room event yet but if you have tell me all about it, I hope it went well. XOXO

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