It is absolutely crazy here right now! The Festival of the Sun is tomorrow, but it really ramped up today. There are thousands & thousands of people here & parades & music & people selling things everywhere. I have been having to pretty much push my way through the crowds all day. I don´t normally like this, but I dislike it even more with potential pick-pockets around. I think I have been here one day too long.
Oh well. I was able to do some interesting things & do my laundry today. That alone was a little adventure. You drop your laundry off & go back to pick it up a few hours kater. When I went back, I thought they lost my laundry! But it turned out that it was an hour late. It is back & it´s nice to have clean clothes again :)
This morning, before it got too hot, I went to Molina, which is the biggest local market. It is refered to a Peruvian department store in my guidebook. The woman who told me about it said it is a black market & you can get just about anything there. Which is true...I found all different types of clothes, undergraments, bicycles, housewares, toys, games, shoes, cameras & accessories, food, bags/purses/luggage, drugstore items, CD´s, DVD´s, etc. I got a couple CD´s for just over a dollar a piece (I recognize that they´re burned CD´s) & a shirt that will be good for the jungle. My guidebook said there are professional pick-pockets in every market, so leave your valuables behind & be careful. I went early so I could wear my jacket & put my couple belingings in one pocket & leave my hand in that pocket. The market wasn´t very crowded, which was nice. So I had no problems.
I also visited a couple museums today. Some were closed due to the festivities, though. The most interesting one was about textiles in this region. It was interesting to see what types of weaving are used for what. And 3 women were weaving as a demonstration & it looks like it takes a long time!
Okay, here are some observations:
They can drink in the streets here in Peru. I saw it in Aguas Calientes first, then here in Cuzco during the festival.
Drivers here are Crazy!!!! It´s like they think they´re in a race. If you think Mass drivers are bad, or NYC drivers, or LA drivers, then you haven´t seen anything yet! In town, they get within an inch of each other constantly. They are always honking their horns...at other drivers, at pedestrians, at the dogs walking around, or to say hi to someone they know. Out in the countryside, they drive so fast! And the roads are very windy, so it´s pretty scary. Especially when I was up front on the bus to the train to Machu Picchu. In little towns, they have speed bumps to slow them down, but they race from one to the next. And staying in your own lane...that doesn´t mean anything here! They pass each other whenever they want...which seems to be all the time. Again, it is like they are in a race. On that scary bus ride, there were 3-4 lanes of cars & buses because they were trying to avoid the holes they made for the construction & pass each other, too. There aren´t many seatbelts here, either. I find it best to watch the scenery rather than the driving. And when there is one, I wear a seatbelt.
The cars here are mostly old & a little beat up. Lots of Toyotas, but old. There are definitely others, but that one sticks out. I have also seen a fair number of old VW beetles.
There is no indoor heat here. I stand corrected in the elevation: it´s a little over 11,000 feet here. And winter. Brrr! Lots of blankets at night! And lots of clothing when I´m out & about. I think a guide said that they are starting to get it. Also, many people do not have hot water. I have stuck to hostels with hot water :)
You may know that they had some hug landslides here a few months ago. The train to Aguas Calientes is still down in parts. There is also much evidence on the roads. There are random boulders still in the road. And holes. The road is 1/2 gone in a couple places. There are piles of dirt & rocks on the sides of the roads, sometimes partially blocking the roads. You can also see where the slides were off the road. Remember, the landslides were months ago. One guide said it is because of their President. I also don´t think they have much in the way of machinery to deal woth it, either.
Which brings me to farming. They still do a lot of that in this area & still use man-powere & animal power primarily. I did see one tractor in all my travels in the countryside!
Back to the landslides. At some point, someone thought it would be a good idea to use eucalyptis trees to stabilize the steep slopes (of which there are plenty here!). Apparently it worked, but they are invasive & taking over. They steal the water & nutrients, so native plants die out. So they´re trying to figure out what to do about it.
Food: I have had no problem so far with food. There are some good vegetarian restaurants that I have visited, but most places have options. Besides guinnea pig, I´m still not sure what Peruvian food is. I think I have had some stuff with their spices. I have had a lot of sandwiches with cheese, tomatoe & avacado...very good. They grow those 2 fruits here. Breakfast is included in my lodging. It consists of bread, butter, jelly, coca tea, & fruit juice. One place, in addition to this, also had some cheese & deli meats.
The hostels are very pretty. The ones I´ve had are open in the middle with an opaque roof with rooms all around, 2 floors high.
I think you are suppsed to put your used toilet paper in the trash can, not the toilet. The reason, I think, is that it will clog the plumbing. I am finally getting into the habit of doing this. I don´t know how many places I´ve messing with their plumbing :)
Which brings me to the fact that I never fully understand what is going on around me here :) There is the language barrier, but I get by with broken English & Spanish. But I do miss a lot. There is this keyboard. It is different because the Spanish language has a couple different letters & accents. And the keyboard is set up a little different. It took me a good 5 minutes to figure out how to make the ¨@¨symbol to sign into this blog the first time :) I´m figuring things out, though :) Sometimes it is nice to escape into my book or updating this blog :)
One last thing: There are a lot of rainbow flags flying around here. It is the flag of the Inca & some people are upset that the gay population took it.
Alright, that´s probably enough for now. Tomorrow morning, I fly to the town in the jungle. I have the day there, then the next morning & take a long boat ride deep onto the jungle for 5 days & 4 nights. I am super-excited! I can´t imagine that I´ll have internet access while in the jungle, but I will update this blog when I return. I still like comments & emails when I can get to them :) I hope your enjoying this blog!