Saturday, 31 January 2015


    At Awanakancha i learnt about the history of lamas and alpacas. I met a few too.
I love this photo of the Alpacas
There are different types of Alpacas. The Vicuna is endangered.
This guy comes in various colours down to white.
All these colours are naturally made from leaves and twigs and berries.
Awanakancha is a private project associated with 14 communities with weaving the principle produce.
Some of the women had children with them.
This is Johanna showing the little girl her picture. Priceless!
He wriggled a lot but I finally took this.
This is his mother
Gorgeous girl. They sit on the ground to work and do not move for hours at a time.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015


Just having a chat in Cusco

It's funny the things that strike one: there is a railroad track I walk over every day and yet, not until tonight did I see a train. I was convinced there weren't any. 
There are no people living on the streets here whereas in LA there are streets of street people.
The food is very bland - no pepper - no sauces - a lot of carbohydrates because of the altitude.
I am so impressed by the young people who have travelled here. They are all gorgeous and most offer their services as a volunteer.

I am trusting the cards I sent did not get eaten.

I am supposed to bargain but am not too good at it. Mind I haven't bought much as yet.
The fruit juices are great. The coffee not so. There is no fresh milk so I have black tea.
I am especially impressed by the number of people I meet who are working via the internet.
Writers; statisticians; investors and translators and interpreters. It just goes to show that you can fund your travel as you go if you want to.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Calca Trek

            It took 7 of us plus the guide 2and a half hours by bus and taxi to get here.
We were at about 3200m, which is higher than anywhere in Europe, and the altitude hit me immediately. So much so that I thought I could not do it at all. I was the newest arrival
and so not acclimatised to steady climbing. They had all taken off so I just kept going.

On the way
They did wait for me and were understanding of my predicament. It is not a tourist trek which made it much more desirable. Along the way I discovered that Frida was doing a thesis on the impact of volunteering on the children and volunteers in the projects. She is studying anthropology. Oscar is volunteering as a Spanish interpreter with a medical background. He and I had a long discussion about the best ways to tackle the serious domestic violence issue here.

How beautiful is this!
We had to cross a few roads and go through a village before the final ascent. 
This is where we came from.
It took us from 11.30 to 2.30pm to get to here.
She had been weaving, sitting on the ground with her 2 other children and 2 dogs. This boy was about 4 and she hoisted him on her back and picked up her belongings and went.
This was how far I had come and this was as far as I went. I knew my limits.
Natalie, who lives in my house, and I did not brave the next very steep 50m. We had got to 3700m and spent a rest time talking about love and life as you do when the air is rarified. It was a stunningly beautiful day. The walk down to the village was amazingly quick. We had all decided to get a taxi from there. 
The mother
Her cute girls
Into the village at the end of the day. Ian seen here has been to 82 countries and is an Aussie.

I think they are having a drink after work!!
My Special Friend
When we entered the village the first time this little girl had greeted us gleefully and did the same when we came back. The next thing she is next to me. I obviously intrigued her as she kept touching me and giggling and shying away. She accepted a cuddle and finally I got this photograph. So gorgeous!!
We all piled into a taxi - Did I say you can get a taxi from anywhere here!!! This taxi had a couple of other local passengers. Don't ask me where we all fitted! And into Calca for a well earned drink. With some negotiating we then got a mini van back to Cusco.

                                      A view from the bus. A splendid day. 
I was enormously pleased with how well I had handled the trek physically even if I did not make it to the top. Next time!

Friday, 23 January 2015

A Few Views of Cusco

The Plaza de Armas has always been the heart of Cusco, from the time of the Inca Empire                                when the square was called Huacaypata or Aucaypata. 
                                                     La Compania in La Paza
                 Walking along Avenue del Sol this mural called La Arteria de Cusco.
I love these buildings. Some are restaurants or cafes and you can sit on the balcony.
                                  This is a typical street view on the way to my Spanish lessons.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

                                      La Floridad No 1

Spanish lessons 

After 3 hours of one on one Spanish with mi profesora, Miriam, I returned home tres fatigue (French you will note not Spanish). It was not my only challenge of the day. Miriam told me where I could get a bus. It was a mini van to La Floridad, the area where I live. I had no idea how much or where to get off. Have you noticed how very small the windows are in those mini vans! I wanted to go to Los Cipreces. A courteous Peruvian told me the price 70 centimos. He also said he knew where I was to get off. I had never driven down this road before and as soon as I saw a familiar landmark I got off grateful for the extra walk home.

                                       La Floridad No 2
Today my Spanish lesson was not at all as stressful for which I am truly grateful. My bus experience was less than by a million. I was directed to the back. As we proceeded more and more and more people got on the mini van. Claustrophobic in the extreme. I forced myself to be calm as it was beginning to really rain!!! Please lets get there quick. I struggled through the throng and escaped the bus with a wet walk not too far to mi casa. Spanish lessons are preferable to bus rides in the rain. I will get a taxi next time. Pheew........
Intrepid Traveller People!!!!
I love the way they build here: La Floridad No 3

Sunday, 18 January 2015

What I have learnt so far.

Whilst waiting to fly to Cusco I was most struck by the aircrew kissing the female gate attendant as they made their way through to the aircraft. It all looked so natural and warm and fuzzied me.
The water has a sweet taste as if there is vanilla or some undefined something in it. It takes some getting used to.
Last night I actually had a conversation in halting Spanish and was understood. YAY. It \pays to study.
Cafe con leche is a glass of milk with coffee on the side.
My washing cost 3 soles - $1.21; Coffee cost 7s - $2.82; taxis during the day from central Cusco to La Floridad (my area) cost 3s and during the evening cost 5s. 
You do have to bargain.
It is much cooler than I thought it would be.
I have made 3 attempts and still managed to take the wrong road into Cusco centre. 2 policemen told me how to find La Plata in English - walk up onto that bridge turn right for 5 blocks and then turn left. I was way off. I did walk back the correct way today - it is quicker.
The people are lovely. The people are lovely. The people are lovely.

Above: He is Pachacuti - the most important Inca king 

The Inca Flag (not the Gay Flag!!)

Friday, 16 January 2015

So this is mi casa. I arrived yesterday after a delayed flight. I was picked up by Agnes who works for Volunteering Peru along with Carlos who lives in mi casa. They both have other jobs. Carlos began with Volunteering Peru five years ago. Agnes is from Holland but has been here for about seven years. Agnes works in a travel agency, Carlos drives a school bus. His mother and father are lovely and rapid fire Spanish most of which I don't get. 

It is a very friendly house. A couple of other volunteers live here along with Carlos' girlfriend Natalie, who is French but lives here now after a stint volunteering. His sister Erika with her gorgeous 5 year old, Gabriel, is visiting from Lima. So a full house.

I cannot say the altitude has bothered me too much. I have been taking the tablets Julian! I did get tingling in my finger tips. Carlos walked me into town to the Spanish school yesterday afternoon. The city is really interesting with lots of Inca walls incorporated into buildings. I will have  a one-on-one Spanish teacher for 3 hours a day for a week then join a group. They have social events for the students as well. Starts Monday. it is about a 45 minute walk. It does not look like a bicycle is a good idea as the drivers are crazy although not as much so as in Lima. 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

An angel called Alonso

I arrived in Lima very very late and dropped my travel bag (the one you are supposed to wear around your waist) somewhere between the hotel and the apartment they offered. It was about 1am so my brain was fried after travelling all day- my only excuse.

I discovered my loss only after checking my emails this morning. Linda had received a Whatsapp message from Alonso with his email address. I emailed back not getting a response so went into freak out mode to cancel cards as you do. I had no money however I did have a second preloaded cash card so went for a hot walk to get some cash. (So glad they give you 2 cards). Returning to the hotel there was an email from Alonso saying he would return my travel bag to the Australian consulate between 2 and 3pm. I confirmed I would be there.

A much less hot walk though much longer and I was sitting in the restaurant next door drinking some chocolate marshmellow confection (so not me) when in walk 3 people and introduce themselves. They recognised me from my license photo. WOW what can I say I was sooooo grateful. I joined them for lunch and am so impressed by my introduction to beautiful Peruvian people. Thank you so much Alonso and Jimena and Ronald. I will see you again in April. Angels come in very handsome packages in Peru. 

Friday, 9 January 2015

Tomorrow I Go

Off on my big adventure tomorrow. Setting up this blog and hopefully you will all be able to read it.