Friday, March 31, 2006

Back to North America

We are back from Peru, and it was a completely perfect trip. Well, except for the food poisoning Patty got from alpaca she bought on the street from an old lady outside a restroom. We did say we would be more adventurous this trip!

We started with a few days in Lima, where we spent time with friends and did sightseeing. Mostly, we went to the religious sites in Lima Centro and saw things like the remains of Sts. Rose of Lima, Martin de Porres, and Juan de Macias. The art we saw was phenomenal, and we could have easily spent several days exploring the churches of Lima.

However, we had other things to do. One night, we went to a peña, which is a traditional music show at a nightclub. The highlight of the evening was the fire dance, where a dancer taped a piece of cloth to someone's backside and attempted to light it on fire while the person danced away from them. The goal for the person with the cloth was to shake it enough to put out the flame. One person's cloth actually caught on fire!

The next night, we had Erica's and Raul's wedding to attend, and that was loads of fun. Peruvians really know how to party! It was at a beautiful outdoor venue, the Museo de Oro del Peru. There were swaths of white cloth strewn overhead, and paths lit with candles. The ceremony was very personalized. There was no officiant, just their families giving speeches about and to them. Patty actually shed a couple of tears, because they are just a perfect couple.

After the wedding, and we mean directly after - no nap - we went to the airport for a 6 am flight to Cuzco, where we had tours planned for the majority of our time there. We saw more than we would have on our own, and we also learned much more. It was pretty tough at 11,000 feet to 13,000+ feet to walk around so much, but it whipped us into shape. The altitude also erased our appetites, so we've come back looking good! To help with the headaches caused by lack of oxygen, we drank mate de coca. Yes, that coca. We aren't sure how much it helped anything, but it was delicious. It tasted like a very expensive green tea.

On our last day in Cuzco, we went to Machu Picchu, and that first glimpse of it was worth every penny and every minute (5 minute van ride, 4.5 hour train ride, 25 minute bus ride) we spent to get there. It was on the top of such a steep mountain, it was hard to imagine how anyone got up there before roads were carved into the mountain. The roads, by the way, were narrow. The bus drivers had to remove the side view mirrors because they get too close to each other when passing.

The flight back to Lima was perfectly calm and very scenic, but when we landed, Patty sat down in the airport and couldn't stand up. In fact, she laid down on the hard floor and couldn't even sit up after a few minutes. A good portion of the rest of the day was spent in the airport clinic, where Patty got pills and a shot (guess where!) to help with the stomach pain and nausea caused by that nasty alpaca. All of the taxi drivers, normally trying to get customers, really helped us arrange things so that we could go back to our bed and breakfast to rest. The b&b owner gave us the suite to spend the day in and rest (for only $15!). Our friend and travel agent coordinated everything with the airport taxi stand operator and Matthew. Our driver even stuck around for hours so that he could be ready for us when Patty could get out of bed. This was just typical of our experience with the residents of Peru. They all made us feel welcomed and treated us like they would their own families. Anyhow, Matthew did the souvenir shopping while Patty laid in bed and watched Transamerica while drifting in and out of sleep. Soon it was time to go to the airport for the verrrrrry long flight back to Atlanta.

That flight was very bumpy, but due to our exhaution, we hardly cared at all. In fact, Patty bent over to reach for something in our bag and fell asleep reaching for it. We spent very little time awake on the flight, which went from 1:30 am to 8:30 am. We came home and slept for much of the rest of the day as well, and we are just now recovering from illness and exhaustion two days later.