argentina throwback: peru

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. ūüôā
PERU!!!! we made it.
checked into hostel royal frankenstein and explored cusco, the “bellybutton of the incan world.” our hostel was owned by this amazing german man named ludwig, who had an amazing daughter named fiona. 4 years old and speaks spanish and german and is learning english. man i need to raise bilingual children. the room was nice. the shower was hot (at times and at a low pressure). the city was beautiful. cusco is full of churches and markets and peruvian people and children who are absolutely adorable.
the spanish is clear. (although now after 4 months in argentina, my spanish is not as clear.) it is a tranquil town with everything fun just outside of it. we came across an amazing children’s art museum where a local non-profit goes to rural communities and teaches art lessons. the children’s artwork was then displayed in this museum.
 they painted their dreams and fears and hopes. it was incredible. the town is peaceful and tourist-filled. tons of people asking if we want massages or to eat at their restaurant. we were there for two days before we shipped out.

4:30am on july 3 it begins.
the group:
dane and krystal-australian¬†couple, ted’s best friends throughout the hike.
nina and alex-two friends, one from uk, one from norway
kelly, kelly, and becca-three girls from michigan who were studying abroad in santiago (one kelly is my roomie next year and the one i visited in santiago earlier)
laura and herbert-our guides

Day One.
i wake up with a headache. i drink tons of water. i then proceed to throw up the water. twice. then we move our backpacks to the sidewalk to await the bus. i throw up again. 5:30am our trek guide comes to pick us up in the bus. i explain my situation. i decide to go anyways.
we take a bus an hour to a breakfast spot. i eat some bread and drink some tea. feeling better. i keep my mind positive and we begin the trek. first herbert (later known as herbie or the last incan tom cruise) paints our faces with red berries to mark our group. we were bonded. we begin. we walk for three hours. up hill down hill over lands never seen before. i had to buy a sweet hat to keep the sun out of my face. it said machu picchu. so cool. we arrive at lunch. a perfectly prepared meal. we ate. i was white. and weak. herbie decided it would be best if i paid 5 soles (5/3 dollar) and rode in the van with the cooks to our camping site. i agreed. especially since poor ted had already been carrying my backpack and his own for some time. so i rode an hour with a bunch of peruvians speaking¬†quechua¬†(native language) and listening to piercingly loud music with a high pitch girl singer. it did not help the sickness. at the campsite, we were so close to the snow-covered mountains. it was beautiful, but very cold at night. i bundled up and got in my tent and awaited everyone else’s arrival. when the actually hikers came, we had tea and popcorn. i thought i was fine. well the altitude had other ideas. we were really high up and the headache hit and then well, that popcorn came back up. twice. i went to bed without eating the delicious trout that apparently still had the heads on them. curled up tight in my mummy sleeping bag and every layer of clothes that i had brought with me.
Day Two.
i wake up feeling not so good. i try to eat. only bread and celery tea. i got to love celery tea (apparently good for the stomach). i packed everything up. we began to hike the hardest part of the trek….i couldn’t make it in my condition, so good old herbie found me a horse for 60 soles (20 dollars) to ride up to the peak. it was amazing. my dream come true. all alone, i rode my horse up the mountains. i took pictures. i stopped and rested with my horse. i could not have asked for a more wonderful experience. i was feeling a little bit better, but the altitude was increasing. by mid-day we (the rest of the group, who sadly had to hike instead of take a horse) made it to the top of Mt. Salkantay with an altitude of 4600m or about 14,000 ft. it was breathtaking. literally, i could not breathe. haha. no, it was beautiful. after soaking in the sights and hard work, we started the descent. through grassy, muddy, rocky lands that reminded us all of ireland for some reason, or rather, what we think ireland looks like. i was feeling weak. i actually hurt my elbow because i was flailing my body so much with each downward step. THEN we had lunch. i ate spoonfuls of rice that ted sweetly placed on my spoon. with each spoonful of rice, i magically become better. it could have also been the decreasing altitude, but let’s say it was the rice. i hiked slow and strong down to our second campsite, a beautiful site next to a flowing river. i finally enjoyed dinner. and the company of my group. everyone finally got to know who sara schneider is. although the mosquitos increased, the temperature got warmer. the sunned faces began to appear. we all went to bed happy and ready to descend more in the morning.


Day Three.
inca flat. this is the description of our day’s hike. inca flat really means up and down hills. some steep, some not. but still lots of downhill. we walked along the river with some breaks, like the one where ted convinced alex to go swimming with him in the rapids. an action that also resulted in ted having twelve bug bites on his back above his pantline. wet clothes will do that. we hiked happily. stopped for food and water. watched some soccer games. then arrived at a small town full of campers. we ate lunch there and napped in the sun while waiting to catch a bus to santa teresa, our third campsite. we got there. after some sketchy mountain roads. we unpacked and headed straight to the hot springs. a letdown. not all that hot. i wanted steaming. i got decently warm. i also got millions of bug bites. once again. i guess that is what water will do to you. but it was nice to rinse off after 3 days of hiking. the night at santa teresa was great. great food. great alcohol. great company. oh and there was a massage train…and a baby monkey named pancho….and two cute little girls speaking spanish and jumping from trees.
Day Four.
awake. much later than usual…7am! pancakes for breakfast! not so good…but nice effort. we began our “tourist flat” hike towards aguas calientes (the town at the base of machu picchu). three hours of semi-flat gravel road with a few fun stops like huge waterfalls and fresh fruit picking. then lunch, our last prepared meal. and we wait to take the train ride into machu picchu. we pass the time by sleeping and writing and making friendship bracelets and eating ice cream. good stuff. then by 5:30pm we are in our hotel in aguas calinetes. all of us attempting to shower at the same time, making the hot water scarce. we are clean. we are happy. we all gather for dinner and watch the parade celebrating july 7, the first anniversary of machu picchu becoming a wonder of the world. then we sleep and dream of incans.
Day Five.
4am. we begin our hike in the dark attempting to beat the sun. huge stone steps straight up. one hour. it was hard. lots of sweat. lots of breaks. but i made it. we were the first group in line to enter. it was still dark. 6am. the gates open and herbie takes us to the top to watch the sunrise. cloudy mountains with sunshine peeping through. the city of ruins being lit up by the sky.

herbie begins our tour through the incan ruins of MACHU PICCHU! each stone sculpted to perfection. each temple perfectly designed to line up with the sun or the moon or another element. a “nearly perfect people” herbie informs us. we spend two hours learning the rich culture and observing the buildings. ¬†i can feel the energy of the people. we learn about the incan cross. the puma, the condor, and the snake. their work ethics. their love. their lives. we all break off. ted and i find a hidden ledge overlooking the mountains. i stare. forever. i could look forever. we meet back up with everyone after taking the bus down and say goodbye to the group. we find a hostel. a horrible hostel with um…wettish beds, but for 20 soles (7 dollars) we grin and bare it. we eat dinner and enjoy more parades. july 7!!! we play cards and explore the city. we sleep.
Day Six.
trek is done. it is time to live it up. we take the bus back up to machu picchu and check in to the hotel that everyone who enters machu picchu is jealous of. “hello mr. bingham and miss schneider.” ahhh luxury. iced coca tea to drink. (oh by the way, coca leaves-the leaves of cocaine plants-are like coffee in peru and northern argentina and all rural areas. it is not illegal. there are teas and candies and foods.) so we see our room. we take the world’s longest showers in the hottest water and then lounge in our slippers and bathrobes. we watch television and rent movies. we eat our food, which is all included. the best food i have eaten in south america, by far. the lunch buffet filled with endless delicacies. the dinner…WOW. i had pumpkin¬†raviolis¬†after an appetizer of beef skewers. a marvelous $70 bottle of wine (already included) and then back to our spectacular room to watch the english patient. all with the beautiful ruins in our sight.

Day Seven. 
our train back to cusco is canceled because the whole country is striking. gotta love south america. so our hotel rebooks our train for the next. they offer us a slightly discounted rate to stay another night…we laugh, explain it was a gift and we are poor and hang out in the clubhouse watching movies and tv until we head back down to aguas calientes after an AMAZING pancake breakfast. we check into a hostel near the central plaza so we do not need to walk up all the hills in the town. we raid the markets. we play cards. we email our hostel and trek companies in cusco. we eat. we pass the time. we sleep in a room a little better than the one before.
Day Eight.
we head back to cusco. a nice train ride filled with adventures such as a dancing masked man and an alpaca (llama) fashion show put on by our stewardess. interesting. we arrive back in cusco by a car provided by our trek. and then we check into frankenstein once more. we walk around town. we buy TONS of llama gifts like the tourists we are and then hang out with katie and tyler (two girls from my argentina program who were visiting cusco also). we sleep.
The Beginning of the End.
flight back to argentina takes two days. get ready.
cusco to lima. then an 11 hr. layover.
lima to santiago. then a 9 hr. layover that turns into an 11 hr. layover with a flight delay.
santiago to buenos aires. YEAH. finally back home. or what seems closer to home. we stay with my host family. we take in some last bits of argentina. we hang out with my family. we shop. we do the fairs.
tomorrow we leave.
i am ready. i am done adventuring. i want to be lazy. i want to sit in the sun. i want to be able to earn money. i want to order american food. i want to see you all. tomorrow i leave. i will leave this city that has become my own. i will leave this family who has become my own. i will leave this country that has become my own. but i am ready.
wait for me with open arms….
so my friends, with blog entry 22 (my favorite number), i conclude this journey. part 1 of my world travels. stay tuned.
love you.
love, me
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