Yey! The internet is working much better today. I went on an all day tour of the Sacred Valley of the Inca today & it was so amazing! It is so beautiful here in the Andes! Cuzco is at around 10,000 feet & I even went up to about 12,000 feet today. I guess I have handled the altitude very well. The only side effect I have had is that I get winded easier going up hills. But all the people around me, most of whom have been here at altitude longer than me are breathing harder. I guess a lot of people feel sick, headache, lightheaded, etc. I have been trying very hard to keep hydrated. I guess I also have good genes to be at altitude :)
The Sacred Valley was a place for the Incans to go on a sort of vacation. I can´t remember if I wrote it yesterday, but they constructed the best walls. Their walls have withstood many earthquakes that were bad. In one place I visited yesterday, they built the walls in a trapezoidal shape. Inside the stones, they hollowed out a U shaped section on 2 rocks next to each other & poured hot gold into the space. Gold is flexible, so it helps when the earthquakes come. Very interesting to me! In some of the ruins today, they fit the rocks together like a puzzle. One rock has a piece that sticks out & the other goes in.
The Incans built terraces to grow crops. Sometimes the terraces are very high up on a cliff & I wonder how they got there! They grow about 320 different varieties of potatoes in this region of Peru...and about 3,000 varieties in all of Peru! And lots of varieties of tomatoes. They also grow lots and lots of corn.
There are dogs everywhere here! They have owners, but they do not go inside. They are believed to protect the house, but that´s it. They bother people, looking for food )and possibly love), but they get shooed away :( They are thin but not starving. They sometimes sleep in the road & cars go around them.
This country consists of 10% coast, 30% Andes mountains, and 60% Amazonian jungle. I cannot remember the numbers, but somewhere around 3 quarters of the population lives on the 10% of coast & very few people live in the Amazon!
In Cuzco, 60 % of the people work in tourism! Everywhere you go, women & girls dressed in bright, traditional clothing are trying to sell you something. Some men, too. And many women carry a baby goat, or lead around goats, llamas, and alpacas & want you to take their picture & pay them 1 sole (about 30 cents). So strange!
I am managing well here. I haven´t even had to use spanish too much. A lot of english is spoken. It´s strange, though, because I am around all these people with accents & I feel like I have gotten an accent!
I have met people from all over the world. Today I spent time with a guy who is from Australia, but is working in the Peruzian mines as an engineer for a year & a half. Also a woman from Malaysia. And a man from Germany who just finished studying in San Francisco, CA. Yesterday I spent time with a woman from Hong Kong. Of course, both days I have spent some time with Americans. Many of them are from California!
To those of you who told me to take lots of pictures...I have definitely done so! I have taken over 200 pictures in a day and a half! I may run out of memory after all! No worries, I can buy more if I need to.
Thank you to those of you who posted comments...I love it! Emails are good, too, especially now that I have better internet access.
Tomorrow I go up to a town near Machu Picchu called Aguas Calientes. I am so excited to get up there! Well, I guess the elevation is a little lower, actually. Oh, speaking of elevation. Here they drink a lot of coco tea, which helps with altitude sickness. It is illegal to bring the leaves home with you because they are what cocaine is made of!
The Festival of the Sun is next Thursday, but has already begun. In case I didn´t write it yesterday, there are parades a couple times a day. There are people all dressed up. There is music & dancing. It is kind of fun. I won´t be here for the festival, but that is okay with me...this is enough commotion for me :) It reminds me of when I was in Brazil not too long before Carnival & lots was going on already.