Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Michael Meets Peru, Part I

Michael is halfway through his trip to Peru, and I'm keeping him busy. We started slow as Michael adjusted to the altitude, exploring Cusco's churches, museums and shopping areas. I've been force-feeding him a steady diet of mate de coca (coca-leaf tea), so he's avoided the worst of the altitude sickness.

On Sunday, we spent the day at "home" in Pisac, where Michael joined my host family for a traditional meal. In their opinion, his blond hair and blue eyes make him the perfect gringo. We also joined my Peruvian pals for all-you-can-eat pancakes at the Blue Llama, a stroll around the market, and a few hours of card games at Ulrike's. (Michael even got to meet Ulrike herself!)

Today we went farther afield to Ollantaytambo, which has some spectacular Inca ruins. As you can see, it's a steep climb! (As always, click for larger photos.) The site served as temple, agricultural center and fortress, according to my guidebook, and the Incas successfully defended it against the Spanish in 1537. It's hard to imagine that a civilization capable of such incredible architecture could so easily crumble.

I'm having fun being Michael's designated tour guide, and it's interesting to see Peru through fresh eyes. As Michael pointed out, the buses here are rickety and uncomfortable, the street peddlers are everywhere, and the poverty is intense. After seven weeks, I've stopped noticing all of those things.

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