Free Walking Tours and The Vertical Route!

Hello!

So after the most dangerous road we took a calm day in La Paz. We went shopping in the morning (yes, I have bought a christmas gift for everyone in my family now) and then we had some other tucumanas to eat (so good that Ad also is vegetarian, haha).  We also went to different agencies to try to arrange Ad’s uyuni trip and then my vertical route, but apparently you need to be 2 people to do that tour, and there was no one interested for the day after… :/

After that we went to the San Francisco church where the free walking tours start. It’s a great idea, you just need 1 boliviano for the chicken bus to the viewpoint over the city, and then you tip the guide what you want. :) It’s mostly young bolivians who want to show their city, so it’s more like a cultural experience.

Artwork and cars

Artwork and cars

Even if I had been in La Paz for 4 days, I still hadn’t visited many of the places we went to. We visited the main attractions but also some local places, like different markets.  We visited the Sagarnaga street, The witches market, Plaza murillo,  Calle Jaen, San Pedro jail, a few viewpoints over the city and a couple of different markets.. probably a few more places that I don’t remember the name of. It was great. They have free walking tours every day at 11am and 2pm, takes about 3 hours and the meeting point outside San Francisco church, the guide will wear a blue shirt where it says “free walking tour”.

The haunted street - looks quite lovely to me

The haunted street – looks quite lovely to me

In plaza murillo, lots of pidgeons!

In plaza murillo, lots of pidgeons!

Mmm!

Mmm!

Women selling vegetables at the street... on the street...

Women selling vegetables at the street… on the street…

View over La Paz

View over La Paz

Having some great banana and papaya juice in the local market in La Paz

Having some great banana and papaya juice in the local market in La Paz

On the walking tour I also met some nice people, one of them Tristan from Switzerland, which got interested in doing the vertical tour with me tomorrow, greeeeeeeaaaat!!! At night he, me and two german girls went to eat dinner at Swissfondue, the first time I eat swissfondue (in Bolivia), and it was really really nice (and expensive) :)

Having swiss fondue for the first time - in bolivia! With tristan and two german girls who I went on the city tour with

Having swiss fondue for the first time – in bolivia! With tristan and two german girls who I went on the city tour with

Next day we got picked up at our accommodation for the vertical route. It was me, Tristan, and two guides, Didac originally from Barcelona in Spain but who has been living in Bolivia for 10 years now and Freddy who is from a community here close to the vertical route and who has opened up this attraction. This Vertical Tour is the only “Via ferrata” (the only protected climbing route) in Bolivia, and also the highest one in the world : )

We had like one hour trip up to La Cumbre again and we passed by all the groups that were going to do the worlds most dangerous road : ) We started on that road but then took another way to the Yungas Valleys.

Haha..... do you see something funny in this picture?

Haha….. do you see something funny in this picture?

On our way they told me so much interesting stuff about Bolivia, about the upcoming narkotica-traffic problem, about the coca plantations, the pollution, about politics, the good and bad things todays government has done, about the communities and the non-profit organizations etc… so interesting talk, really appreciated.. Since this is the first country which I don’t do couchsurfing in, I haven’t really heard that much about the true Bolivia. 

When we arrived in the Yungas Valleys (so beautiful!) we started with rappelling down like 10-15 meters or something, wow, that’s so scary at first. It’s a controlled descent from a stiff rock with help of a rope.. but you have to lean out from the rock, and that is really scaring in the beginning because you are so used to be standing on your feet with the weight on them, but here you have the weight on your waist instead and the feet are just a support.. and then walking down by letting the rope go of a little bit more rope.. haha.

More rappel :)

Rappel :)

Then we came down to the Tibetan bridge, which basically is three ropes between to mountains, one you stand on and two higher above which you hold on to with your hands. That was really funny! So cool to see the forest below your feet while walking on a thin line. :) But it’s so much easier when you hold on to the ropes, you don’t have that bad balance then as you think you would have, haha.

Me in the tibetan bridge

Me in the tibetan bridge

The tibetan bridge.. love it!

The tibetan bridge.. love it!

When we arrived to the other side, we had to climb up maybe around 30 meters until we reached the base for the zipline to the other side. It’s a cable mounted on between to mountains, and you hang yourself with a freely moving pulley on the cable and then your own gravity makes you go from the top to the bottom of the inclined cable… so much fun! :) When I saw the cable the first time I actually got that lovely adrenaline rush in my body and it was the first time I felt a little bit scared by thinking that I’ll be hanging there soon .. but then once in the air – it was soooo much fun!! :) Then we did rappel down to our starting point.

Climbing .. very focused.. haha

Climbing .. very focused.. haha

Zipline!!

Zipline!!

Rappel down the mountain!

Rappel down the mountain!

Since we only were two on this route, we had time to do it again! So after lunch we did it a second time and it was much easier since we had a little bit more practice, we just started doing rappel without even thinking about . Didac pointed out that he was proud of us, what he loves about his work is to see the progress.

My shadow on the rock

My shadow on the rock

Tristan falling! Oh no! (The second time we felt a little bit more comfy to try this kind of stuff  ;)

Tristan falling! Oh no! (The second time we felt a little bit more comfy to try this kind of stuff ;)

Me and Tristan :)

Me and Tristan :)

Freddy and Didac, so great  guides, funny, friendly, helpful, careful.. everything!

Freddy and Didac, so great guides, funny, friendly, helpful, careful.. everything!

Rappel :(

Rappel :)

After doing everything again, they asked us if we wanted to do and extra rappel about 30 meters down, from where we usually climb up. It’s not in the route but since we had time, why not? :) They had done it a couple of times before, and you end up down below in the middle of the jungle/forest. It was really steep, but it was much easier to do this rappel since it was an even rock and not an uneven muddy mountain under. The hardest part with rappel is to actually have the guts to do it just in the beginning, the leaning out from the normal standing point.

Freddy is doing rappel 30 metres down... and now it's my turn! (this isn't in the regular route but since we only were 2 on the tour we had plenty more of time to do more cool stuff)

Freddy is doing rappel 30 metres down… and now it’s my turn! (this isn’t in the regular route but since we only were 2 on the tour we had plenty more of time to do more cool stuff)

Such a great day, I had a blast, and I felt so safe and comfortable with Freddy and Didac, they were both so much fun. This is really something I recommend – and it’s perfectly safe, they have had engineers there studying the technical viability and supervised the installations. The cables, harnesses, pulleys and helmets have all been certified. The cables and ropes are really strong, you can carry like 700 kilos on one rope (and you have two on you all the time!), and the zipline can carry about 16 tons on the cable.. so there’s nothing to be afraid of.. it’s just an adrenaline kick, some exercise and lot’s of fun!

I went through the agency Altitude which I had booked the world’s most dangerous road with before, so I got a little bit of a discount for 530 bs, but they work with other agencies too. Look at their webpage, http://verticalroutebolivia.com/

Group picture, Tristan, Freddy, Didac and Me in the beautiful surroundings of the Yungas Valley in La Paz, Bolivia

Group picture, Tristan, Freddy, Didac and Me in the beautiful surroundings of the Yungas Valley in La Paz, Bolivia

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The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Day 3 & 4

Day 3.

Lovely pancake in the morning!!!

Lovely pancake in the morning!!! Perfect start of the day :)


Lovely breakfast once again – a sort of moisty pancake filled with apple and chocolate sause… woooooow. Good start of our third day – the longest trekking day!

We all trekked together in a group, starting with 1 hour of uphill trekking where we visited an archaeological site, Pacaymayo, believed to have been an Inca military fortress used to overlook the valley or a place where the running messengers swapped places.

Pacaymayo - maybe an Inca military fortress .. day 3

Pacaymayo – maybe an Inca military fortress .. day 3

On our way to the top..

On our way to the top of this day..

Finally at the highest point of this day..  just have to walk downstairs now.. day 3

Finally at the highest point of this day.. :) A little chilly!

Matilda, Mia and me above the clouds!

Matilda, Mia and me above the clouds!

Walking down the last big hill!

Walking down the last big hill!

Group picture day 3 :)

Group picture day 3 :)

It was a beautiful day where we passed by a few mountain lakes and archeological sites, Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca.

We had lunch on the top of a mountain that was surrounded by clouds, so we couldn’t see what was expecting next.. But walking into the other valley we noticed a change in the climate – more humid and also warmer like a jungle.

Phuyupatamarca, meaning "place of the clouds", because most of the year is surround by big and thick clouds (not so much this day though)

Phuyupatamarca, meaning ”place of the clouds”, because most of the year is surround by big and thick clouds (not so much this day though)

Phuyupatamarca on the other side

Phuyupatamarca on the other side

Our guide is telling us about Sayacmarca, meaning "Inaccessible Town", a name that describes the position of the ruins perfectly as they are protected on three sides by a precipice.

Our guide is telling us about Sayacmarca, meaning ”Inaccessible Town”, a name that describes the position of the ruins perfectly as they are protected on three sides by a precipice.

We have reached the urubamba river that passes by Aguas calientes.. Meaning that we are really close to machu picchu now!

We have reached the urubamba river that passes by Aguas calientes.. Meaning that we are really close to machu picchu now!

Having a break, soon reaching our last camping place just a couple of hours from Machu Picchu :)

Having a break, soon reaching our last camping place just a couple of hours from Machu Picchu :)

We reached our last camping place, “Wiñayhuayna High Jungle camp” above a river valley in late noon and had a small nap before dinner. A couple of hours after sunset we heard the last group arrive, it must be hard to trek in the dark! So glad that we are quite fast ;)

We had our last dinner together, and still as good quality as before – and they even baked a CAKE for us for desert!! I really don’t know how they can do that with this portable gas kitchen thing… so impressed. After dinner we had a small celebration with our portiers, the cook and the guide,  they presented themselves with name and age (the youngest was 36 I think and the oldest 58!).. so cute.. one of them even shed a few tears as we said goodbye. We tipped them and said thank you.

All our portiers, the guide and the cook! So sweet!

All our portiers, the guide and the cook! So sweet!

They have really been amazing… I feel so bad that they work so hard for us, they carry so much on their backs, and don’t even have good backpacks. They are not supposed to carry more then 20 kg, but I think some of them carries a lot more! And they are so quick! They always pass us by running on the trek, because we leave before them, they pack up all the camping equipment, then catch us up, reaches the camp long ahead of us to raise the tents and prepare the food for our arrival… And they have so bad shoes too, and bad backpacks. So impressed.

Also I feel bad that we barely talk to them, they are sort of afraid of us and treat us as we were king and queens.. I wonder how much they earn. I don’t think it’s that much.. I hope it’s more then our tipping! In our pre-meeting the woman from Bamba Experience (the agency) told us that the average tipping is 50 soles total per person but it turned out to be around 140 soles.. Every porter got about a total of 80 soles (30USD), the cook a total of160 soles (60 USD) and 50 soles (20 USD) each to the guide..

Then we had an early night – next morning we were going to wake up 2.50!!


Day 4

We woke up and directly packed our bags and left the camp at 3am to get to the checkpoint-gate before the other groups. The gate reach the Sun Gate with a view over Machu Picchu opens at 5.30 and we were there like 3.15 – the first group in line. There are only seats (benches) for the first three groups, the rest have to stand. Our guide is ALWAYS the first there with his group, haha. When the second group arrives he applauses and says “congratulations to the second place!” haha.

Waiting in line (the first ones) for the last check point to reach Machu Picchu

Waiting in line (the first ones) for the last check point to reach Machu Picchu

Morning day 4, walking the last hour in the dark before reaching the sun gate at sunrise..

Morning day 4, walking the last hour in the dark before reaching the sun gate at sunrise..

After a couple of cold waiting hours in the dark, we finally got our passports and passes checked and we started to trek in the dark. About one hour later, after the gringo-killer-steps, we reached Inti-Punku, the sun gate, just when the sun had gotten up, and we gout our first view over the amazing inca city Machu Picchu. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley. Then we had about one more hour before actually reaching Machu Picchu. On our way we passed by a  few other day-trekkers – really fresh with really nice hair and clothes like boots and jeans.. haha.. and all out of breath.. they had only been walking for like 30 minutes, and we have actually been doing it for 4 days… felt quite good actually. Totally worth it.

I mean, the goal was to reach Machu Picchu of course, but I noticed that that itself didn’t matter “that” much anymore– the thing itself was the trek, all the amazing things I’ve experienced along the way.

Our group hiking :) Lucys picture

Our group hiking :) Lucys picture

On the inka trail - reaching Machu Picchu in a couple of minutes!

On the inka trail – reaching Machu Picchu in a couple of minutes!

When we reached Machu Picchu we had to leave our bags in the baggage storage and we also finally had normal bathrooms with a regular toilet instead of a whole in the floor :) Then we entered again and had a guided tour in this enormous and magnificent archeological city. But we were all tired, we had been awake since before 3am and while having the tour we almost fall asleep haha.

Machu Picchu was built around 1450 but abandoned about a century later. Most archeologist belive that it was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. Also they think that it’s a sacred religious site because it’s built on and around mountains that hold high religious importance in the Inca culture.

What’s important with this site is that it wasn’t found by the Spanish conquistors, so it has remained intact. It was rediscovered at 1911 by an American historian (Hiram Bingham). It is often referred as the “Lost City of the Incas”. It has been reconstructed and restored to give an idea about how it originally looked liked. It was declared an UNESCO world heritage site in 1983 and in 2007 Machu Picchu was voted in a worldwide internet poll to become one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Another classical picture of Machu Picchu

The classical picture of Machu Picchu

Lamas going for a walk in Machu Picchu.

Lamas going for a walk in Machu Picchu.

The house of gards on the top there

The house of gards on the top there


After the guided tour we had a few hours to walk around by ourselves. I picked a big stone with a great view over Machu Picchu and
I sat there meditating for one hour, before it started to get to hot.

I took a few more walks around Machu Picchu. The site is roughly divided into an urban sector and an agricultural sector, as well as the upper town and the lower town. The temples are part of the upper town, the warehouses the lower. There are about 200 buildings on wide pararell terraces.

Meditating with this wonderful view in front of me... breath taking

Meditating with this wonderful view in front of me… breath taking

Sweet lama at Machu Picchu

Sweet lama at Machu Picchu

The residential part of Macchu Picchu

The residential part of Macchu Picchu

Extensive terraces were used for agriculture , and there are stone stairways set in the walls allowed access to the different levels across the site.

Extensive terraces were used for agriculture , and there are stone stairways set in the walls allowed access to the different levels across the site. Also view over the nobel houses.

Let's say I shouted "I'm the queen of the world" when I jumped.

Let’s say I shouted ”I’m the queen of the world” when I jumped.

Around 12.30 I met up with the group at 12 and took the bus down to Aguas Calientes, where we had lunch. While eating it started raining – wow, we have really been lucky with the weather! We waited out the rain and then took the train back to Ollantaytambo, where a bus from the agency where supposed to pick us up, but they didn’t… so we went with another company and weren’t back in Cuzco until around 21.

Great experience!

P.S I used everything in my backpack, so it was worth to bring everything with me!

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Day 1 & 2

So… time to tell you about the Inca Trail!
It’s 4 days of trekking and about 50 kilometres through the andes. Around 70% of the path is hand-built stone about a thousand years ago. It’s the only trek that take you along the original Inca trail, so you litterally walk in the footsteps of the ancient Incas and also enter Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate instead of the regular entrance of the visitors.

To be honest, I thought this was the only way to visit Machu Picchu at first.. but there are plenty of other treks that goes there and you can also do a day-visit to Machu Picchu. This trek is the most expensive of them all, in our group we all paid different fees, something between 500-650 USD. I paid 500, but it didn’t include any portiers that carries my stuff or hiking poles as it did to some of the others in the group.

Ok so..

Day 1
I got picked up 5.30 in the morning, then we picked up the rest of the group in their hostal, and then we went to Ollantaytambo  where we had a 15 soles breakfast haha. After that we were supposed to leave to Piscacucho/Km 82, but we didn’t have enough portiers. We only had 2, and we needed at least 7. Usually there are portiers waiting here in ollantaytambo… but they didn’t this Saturday morning. The guide told us that sometimes they have been out partying and that they don’t show up in the morning… So we stayed there a couple of hours waiting for porters to show up, but they didn’t..
We started to get slightly irritated since we had booked this over 6 months ago, but they couldn’t book porters even a couple of days before?? Then the guide said that we should go to Km 82 and start preparing lunch (the cook was with us : ) and that they had localized some portieres from Cuzco that would go there directly. So… that meant we actually could have slept until 12 instead of 4… but well well.

We had a delicious lunch, we were all really surprised of the quality of the food, we had a soup as first and pasta as a second, with bread and tea and everything.. and we even had our own table and chairs!!! Amazing.

Lunch at Km 82.. look at all the food and pots they are bringing with them! Crazy and heavy!

Preparing the lunch at Km 82.. look at all the food and pots they are bringing! Crazy and heavy! But the food was delicious!

We didn’t start our trek until 14, instead of around 8 in the morning… so we were a little behind. When we got to the first check point, the guards weren’t’ even there, they where having lunch… so we had to wait another 30 minutes before they got there. Haha. But the guide told us we still would reach the camp in time before darkness – and we actually did just in time!  In the info it said it would take around 6 hours to trek this part, but we did it in around 4 hours, but of course we didn’t have  the lunch break or anything.

The first group picture exactly at the starting point of the Inka Trail!

The first group picture exactly at the starting point of the Inka Trail!

We had to cross the river just in the beginning of the Inka Trail.

We had to cross the river just in the beginning of the Inka Trail.

We passed by a few archeological sites along the way and stunning and really beautiful views. Still it was actually really heavy… I started to think like “why the heck am I doing this for?” And this is what they say, ”and easy start”… we had a little uphill and we were all exhausted afterwords… and the second day is supposed to be the hardest day with over a kilometer just uphill.. this was like 200 metres or less.. haha. We asked the guide if it was going to be this stiff too, and he just laughed and said it was going to be a LOT more stiffer.. haha.

I noticed I’m the one that has the biggest and heaviest backpack  (4 girls have their things carried by portiers, but another couple also carries their stuff, still they have really good light equipment plus they share some stuff)… I didn’t know how I was going to be able to make it tomorrow.. the guide even said I was going to have it really hard and asked if I didn’t want to pay a portier to carry my stuff… but nope. :p

First archeological site

First archeological site we passed by

Our glad portiers passed by us :) Behind you see a snowy mountain

Our glad portiers that passed by us :) One is having a backpack but the other only has an aguayo (the blanket)

The whole group first day of the trek!

The whole group first day of the trek!

When we got to the camp (Called Wayllabamba) I was surprised that it was in a village, I thought it was going to be in the middle of nowhere, so did the rest of the group to, but no… it was a camping site with water, toilets and even a small and expensive store… I think 2 L of water was like 9 soles (I had purification tablets with me, best thing!). Once again we had a greaaaat meal, wow, so surprised. Vegetable soup first and then for second we had rice, fried potato, fish and vegetables.. sooo good… I really thought that I was going to eat like powder soups or something.. but not at all – it’s better then in restaurants!

Having our first course at our first camping site :)

Having our first meal at our first camping site :)

After dinner we all went to bed – dead. It was really cold too, I slept with my union suit, fleece jacket and poncho in my sleeping bag.. and we were only at 2980m altitude….

Day 2
We woke up at 5 in the morning to have breakfast at 5.30 (omelett, cereal, porridge, bread, coffe, tea, hot chocolate…mmmm!) and leave the camp at 6 in the morning.

Getting lighter over the campsite

Getting lighter over the campsite


Today is the most challenging day along the trail! There is around 5 hours of vertical hike to reach the Dead Woman’s pass at a altitude of 4,215 meters. In the beginning of the day our guide pointed the Dead Woman’s Pass out for us, and it seemed soooo damn far away. It didn’t feel possible to reach there even in one day… but apparently it is.
And after we had around a 3 km hike down on stone steps before reaching our camp at Pacaymayo at the high of 3660 metres.. This I did with my around 10 kilos backpack…

The guide is showing us what's ahead of us, you see up there in the V of the mountain, there's like a boob and a womans face.. we have to go up there and then down on the other side..

The guide is showing us what’s ahead of us, you see up there in the V of the mountain, a little bit to the right there’s like a boob and a womans face.. that’s where we are going today and then down on the other side..

Some colorful portiers with quite good equipment passed us by

Some colorful portiers with quite good equipment passed us by

Second day on my way up to dead womans pass!

Second day on my way up to dead womans pass!

It was damn hard, but, easier than I thought it was going to be!  Today we didn’t hike together, but in our own pace. And I found a trick: listen to music! When I don’t hear myself being out of breath then I don’t feel tired either. Also, I listened to regueton which has a great rhythm for walking up hill. I felt happy dancing/trekking/singing and I had a really good pace. I really started to enjoy this –the breath taking hills and the breath taking views… to be this sweaty, tired and happy at the same time. . The guide praised me plenty of times for having a good rhythm even if I was having a big backpack too. I felt great! The way back down took around 2-3 hours.. I think it’s heavier to go downstairs that upstairs, not for the lungs bot for the knees..

Found some llamas along the way

Found some llamas along the way

The beautiful Inca Trail

The beautiful Inca Trail

Finally at the top - made it! Really cold up there though

Finally at the top – made it! Really cold up there though



When we arrived we packed up our things in our tents and had yet another great lunch of course. The afternoon was free and we were all so tired that we went to take a nap first… and then it started to rain. So we were kind of stuck in our own tents, I did a few bracelets and then the rain was over and it was time for dinner. Potato-soup, chard-pie, pasta, chicken curry (for me battered colliflowers) and salad… amazing.

Lunch day 2, saffran rice, mush potatoes, some beef thing with carrots and sweet potatoes filled with cheese.. and I had my own vegetable burger things.. loooovely

Lunch day 2, saffran rice, mush potatoes, some beef thing with carrots and sweet potatoes filled with cheese.. and I had my own vegetable burger things.. loooovely

Visiting another family in Coporaque, Colca

So I left Canocota to take the collectivo to Chivay. In Chivay I waited in a cross for 1 hour before a collectivo left for Coporaque, haha.

Two lovely brothers who I shared ride with from Canocota.

Two lovely brothers who I shared ride with from Canocota.

Since I had been there before I could find the house myself from the main plaza, bu talong the way I see a young man running which I recognize, and of course it’s Jorge, the son in the house, he was out looking for me, haha. : ) He had been waiting for me ancious to go out for a walk in the area, so sweet. We went to their house, called Casa Wasi Huerta.

Coporaque was a very important town during the pre inca and inca, it was the capital of Colca. Coporaque district name comes from two words Quechua qhoto (a lot of corn) and rake (place where is dealt), meaning ”place where the corn is handed out”. It’s a quite big town compared to Canocota, I think around 1000 families live here, and they have a store, a restaurant and even a internet café in the center.

Jorge showing the way to San Antonio.

Jorge showing the way to San Antonio.

I took a warm shower at home and then Jorge took me out to the archeological site San Antonio, it’s a 20-30 minutes walk up to the mountains from their house. So funny, his mother Josefina instisted that he should bring a hat with him because of the sun, and he protested ”Nooo.. I look like a grandpa with a hat!” hahaha. He is so funny, 10 years old.

I asked him what he wants to do in the future, and he said that he wants to be an ingeneer in the mines, in Arequipa or in Lima, and bring his family there… to bad, because he could be an excellent guide! Making fun anecdotes and telling stories with a great and interesting voice. Josefina doesn’t want him to though, she wants him to take over the farm. The two sisters are not interested at all and are now living in Arequipa studying. He is the only of the siblings that’s actually interested and love to go to the farm and be with animals.

With Jorge high up in San Antonio

With Jorge high up in the mountains

I'm the king of the world ;) Haha

I’m the king of the world ;) Haha. You see down there to the left, that’s the town of Coporaque

He asked me if I had any animals, or if my siblings had (my brother is the same age as he), and I think they have a bird…. And Jorge has horses, guinea pigs, dogs, cows, sheep etc… totally different way of living haha. He wants even more animals in the future, he really wants a Llama or  Alpaca :)

Anyhow… he took me to the thombs of San Antonio, a pre inka place where there are mommies and skeletons there just open like that in the fot of the cliff. Very interesting!
Then on our way back we got down the other side of the hill and came back another way to the house. He really knows all the places here!

 

Some skeletons in San Antonio

Some skeletons in San Antonio

San Antonio... houses of stone build in the mountain.. that now are thombs..

San Antonio… houses of stone build in the foot of mountain.. where you can find old skeletons

 

Jorge and his dog Body looking out over the valley where they live

Jorge and his dog Body looking out over the valley where they live

In the evening Oswaldo, the father, came home. He had beans with him so we started to peel them (such a process) to do our dinner. I was surprised and impressive that he (and Jorge) actually came up with what we should have for dinner, not Josefina, the women, all though she did cook it, but they helped with the preparing. They are much more modern here, they have a TV and even a DVD-player too! We spent a few hours looking at bull fighting, haha.

The process of peeling beans.

The process of peeling beans. 3 steps.

Dinner with the family Bernal!

Dinner with the family Bernal!

At night I felt quite bad, I don’t know if it was the altitude or something… but I had bad head ache and felt like I was going to throw up if I ate somehting, so I didn’t have anything for dinner, but Josefina prepared me some mate (the) with special herbs that they picked for me. I went to bed early and next day I woke up much better.

I had a really tasty breakfast with Quinoa and then me and Jorge went out on a small excursion through the valley down to the river where there are Umaru thermal baths. Since it was Saturday he didn’t have school and Josefina was happy that I could take care of him : ) I had to say ”be careful!” sometimes, because he loves to run everywhere and have broken a couple of bones in his pasts, haha. But he really does know this valley, we walked through fields, mountains, bushes and came to the river.

Breakfast!

Breakfast!

On our way to the thermal baths

On our way to the thermal baths

Found a few sheep on our way.

Found a few sheep on our way.

In the thermal baths. It was hotter in the water then outside!

In the thermal baths. It was hotter in the water then outside!

View over the lake down there. Totally normal to pass by the neighbours who are out with their donkeys.

View over the river with the thermal baths down there. Totally normal to pass by the neighbours who are out on their way to their farms with their donkeys.

The baths were really nice, warm, natural and of course free ;)  We were there quite early in the morning, like 8-9 or something, so it was empty when we got there. Usually on weekends a lot of people goes there to take a bath so that they are clean on mondays for school.

On our way back we passed by one of their farms where they have all the cows. Josefina was there milking them,  she showed me how to do it – not easy! But fun. It feels really weird. We milked around 20 litres from 3 different cows, took a couple of hours! I wasn’t was fast as Josefina either haha.

The cows were so sweet, and loving haha, one of them kept licking me – I was surprised he had such a rough tongue and so much saliva! Got all wet haha.

Josefina and her cows in their farm

Josefina and some of her cows drinking water

Josefina milking the cow

Josefina milking the cow

Still think it's charming when you see a finger ;)

Haha such a funny picture. :) Still think it’s charming when you see a finger.. haha

Walking with 20L of milk on her back in the aguayo.

Walking with 20L of milk on her back in the aguayo.

On our way back Josefina took the full 20 L dunk on her back in the aguayo (the I blanket I told you about before).  It’s amazing. Yeah, I’ve thought about it, that we Europeans/modern people are damn LAZY! We would never carry something that heavy for such distances, and they do it everyday.

I carried it the half way, and I’m actually surprised how “easy” it was, it really would have been 100000 times harder if I would have carried it in my hand all the way. In the main plaza a bus came to pick the milk up, they pay 90 cents per L, bring it to Lima and packages it for selling in the stores, for like 3-4 soles.

In the center of the town waiting for the milk bus

In the center of the town waiting for the milk bus

Back home I took a quick shower and packed my things, then helped Josefina preparing the lunch. She told me about her family, she is the oldest of 13 siblings!  Her parents are also divorced, which is quite unusual. Her father had a lover – and everybody knew about it and it was shameful for the family, so Josefina put her foot down and said that he either goes and lives with that women or he stays with them, but nothing in between. Good done!
I was in a little bit of a hurry because my bus to Arequipa was leaving at 16, I went to town to take the collectivo from Coporaque around 15 (it only takes 20 minutes to town), but I got slightly stressed because it was almost empty, and it doesn’t leave town until it’s full… haha. But another woman was also in a hurry, so we convinced the driver to leave half empty, and good that, because we picked up like 5 people along the way who had been waiting for the collective for one hour, haha.

Anyhow…. I was sad to leave Coporaque too. I know they have  a lot of different projects and volunteerthings going on there, and I’m really interested in coming back to help the community somehow. Hopefully!

So… If you want to have a  great experience like me – don’t hesitate on contacting Josefina Bernal – let me know and I’ll give you her contacts!

Oh, and this from the first day when I visited them, when I tried out their traditional clothing:

With Josefina and Jorge :) I look tall! Haha

With Josefina and Jorge :) I look tall! Haha

Me in the typical dress from Corporaque - beatiful!

Me in the typical dress from Corporaque – beatiful!

Visiting a family in Canocota in Colca

Me and German arrived late in the evening, had some thé and nice conversations, and then he left for his village while I stayed with Pedro and Julia, their daughter Rosa and her daughter Fatima.

The family was lovely and made me feel like their daughter in one sec. And they had such a beautiful house. I had my own room with bathroom and hot water and everything, so nice! Btw, the key ring to the room was a Dalahäst, typical from Dalarna in Sweden, haha so fun.

Panorama view from their house over the village

Panorama view from their house over the whole village

Canocota is a small village north east of Chivay, it only lives around 50-80 families there, the village is only one street with houses. Canocota belonged to the Kollawas.. There are two different kind of  cultures here in the Colca Valley, the Kollawas or the Cabanas. The kollawas are generally shorter then the cabanas and Pedro, as the man in the family use to say “El frio no nos deja crecer” – The cold doesn’t allow them to grow.. haha.

They speak Quechua here, the native south American language.. and it’s so cute because when Julia speaks Spanish, she speaks with a Quechuan accent, so the “c” sounds like “ch”. : )

Cooking dinner with Fatima on her back. :)

Cooking dinner with Fatima on her back. :)

Dinnertime with Pedro and Julia. So sweeeet!

Dinnertime with Pedro and Julia. So sweeeet!

To dinner they made me a great Quinoa soup.. wow, so good really.. we sat in the kitchen and talked for an hour or so about their village and the life there. Since the kitchen is used with fire, the kitchen is warm and cozy, but also I got really tired so I went to bed around 20.30 and fell into deep sleep under 5 blankets in my bed made of adobe : )  We decided to have breakfast around 7 next day, because Julia and Pedro wakes up 4, but that’s a little bit to early for me! Haha.

Lovely breakfast with home made EVERYTHING! Yummy!

Lovely breakfast with home made EVERYTHING! Yummy!

For breakfast we had Choclo from their garden and cheese made of their milk from the cows, a warm drink with quinoa from their garden and apple and canela … lovely. It was really really tasty. Mmmmm!

They almost always eat what they grow themselves.. but they need some money to buy sugar and rice for example.  What’s good with Canocota is that everything here is totally ecological, they don’t use chemicals or pesticides for the gardening at all.

After breakfast me and Julia went to visit some of the farms they have, one with the quinoa, where they have problems with birds eating it up, so they have put a lot of bags there to try to scare them away. I asked why they didn’t have a scarecrow and Julia said that she had one before, but one night she had forgot about it herself and got o afraid of it that it almost cost it her life. : (

In the Quinoa-chacra

In the Quinoa-chacra

We also went to another farm a little bit more far away and on our way there we passed by another abandoned farms of other farmers that either have died or left the town for other bigger villages/cities… to sad. Since they didn’t sell the farm to anyone, just abandoned them, they are now to difficult and overgrown to do something about it.. You would need to move the whole ground upside down to be able to grow something there again, and when I asked why they didn’t do it, she said that it’s impossible to reach those places with a tractor.  They could bring some horses and other tools to do it too, but it costs quite much. In Canocota they almost don’t have any animals, just a few sheep, donkeys, cows and cuys..  but generally they grow barley and that kind of stuff.

Anyhow.. we walked over some hills and valleys in the area until we got to their last farm where we cut some “grass” (don´t know what type…) and brought it back to the house. It was the first time I wore something on my back with a Aguayo (the blanket they use instead of backpacks). They wear everything in it, grocearies, the harvest, babies… and it’s quite comfortable! You can fit almost everything there and your hands are totally free. It feels like it’s going to fall of but it doesn’t :)  By the way, on our way back home, while resting a little bit, Julia sang a song for me in Quechua, soo sweet! I should have recorded it :)

Working out on the farm

Working out on the farm

Walking back to the house with our harvest on our backs :)

Walking back to the house with our harvest on our backs :)

Me wearing the aguayo for the first time :)

Me wearing the aguayo for the first time :)

Preparing good lunch with Julia.

Preparing good lunch with Julia.

The lunch... soo goood... everything also taken from the garden/farm.. :)

The lunch… soo goood… everything also taken from the garden/farm.. :)

For lunch we prepared some reaaaaaally gooooood omellette-thingy… I mean… it was DELICIOUS!!!! I have seriously not eaten anything like this before.  It was funny to help Julia in the kitchen :)

She is a little sad though that her house and her Chacras (farms) also are going to be empty and abandoned when she’s gone. Her children have their own house in other villages, and no one wants to buy a house in Canocota.  It’s so sad to hear that.
Another problem is also that when they get too old, they can’t maintain the same lifestyle as now when they are farmers.. that’s why they have started to do this rural tourism thing now too, it costs around 50 soles at night there with 3 meals. Then they can save a little bit for when they are old and can’t work anymore, so that they can buy their grocearies in the store instead..

Pedro looking out over the city for the yellow car that leaves at 13 from the village

Pedro looking out over the city to se if the yellow car – the only transportation from the village – is still there

Another thing that stroke me is that this people that lives like this in the villages, don’t have any insurance at all. When they get sick, they can’t turn to a hospital, because it costs to much for them, even the consult is to much. If they need a operation, just by going to Arequipa and do the first tests is more than they can afford, and they don’t have any money left for the actual operation.

But Julia told me about another kind of “hospital” where  she had been when she had problems with the liver and needed to operate it. The consult cost 15 soles and the operation 25 soles, but it’s not a regular hospital, it’s a religious thing. They let all the patients sit on chairs and then they put all the lights out so everything is totally dark. They are 3 men that starts to pray and call the apostles and then you hear them arrive and everything. And there in the dark, they talk to you and do the operation somehow, but they don’t use any tools or anything, but after it’s done, you have a scar and everything.. It sounds magical and insane at the same time. Apparently the state is against this kind of “events” and says it’s nonsense, but there are so many people that actually have been cured by this even when hospitals haven’t been able to, that they can’t shut it down. I’m glad that this does kind of hospitals exist if it means that it works for these families.

 

The lovely family Ocsa / Choque!

The lovely family Ocsa / Choque!

So.. yes, it has been an experience to be here. I’m so glad they open up they hearts and their home for me, it’s so interesting to hear all the kind of stories from here and to have a small insight in their way of living.

I, who in the beginning thought that 50 soles was expensive for living there with the families, now actually wants to give them 50 soles a night. If I have had more money with me I would have given them that too to help them… I wish I could have stayed there for a longer time. I will definitively come back!

If you are interested in visiting this family – let me know and I’ll give you their phone number!! You are always welcome and it’s totally worth it!

Are-quipay! (meaning in Quechua: Yes, stay here)

Wow.. I was going to start this in spanish again. I guess I’ve started to think more in Spanish, I’m glad I have :) I learn new expressions every day and I feel more fluent now the never… still not totally fluently though, and that after more than 100 days in spanish speaking countries… hm. When will it come?

So I arrived in Arequipa.. it didn’t start so well, the bus was 2 hours late, and then the taxi drivers would only go down to 12 soles for driving me to my hosts place, and my host had told me that  it should be around 6 soles. Damn it. I’m to bad negotiating (I look to European…).

I arrived safe though at Kevins place. He showed me the room – and I have a whole own room! Totally luxurious.  Then he told me that there were around 6 other people more there too upstairs in the kitchen, from couchsurfing… I was like whaat? Haha. I got up to the kitchen and there they were, 3 Argentinian girls, one Spanish, one american, one Brazilian, me and Kevin. We had a very good hang out, like 9 in the morning on a Saturday. :) We drank some mate and talked for a few hours, got to hungry and went out to town to grab something to eat.

 

First group picture saturday morning, I had just arrived a few hours earlier :)

First group picture saturday morning, I had just arrived a few hours earlier :)


We took the combi downtown, only like 10 minutes, then Kevin showed us around the city and let us try the typical food from Arequipa. First we ate empanadillas and salteños and after that we walked around the city – so beautiful and clean!

We went to the market San Camilo. On our way there was a lady selling something called Tuna, it’s a cactus fruit. And it’s delicious!!! Something between melon and kiwi. So funny. I also tried Jugo de Maca for the first time… good but really filling!

 They have sooooooooo much (for me) exotic fruit and vegetables here… I was like drooling. We also had some frozen cheese which is typical arequipeñan, it’s like ice cream…yummyyyy! Haha.

Having some nice empanadillas and salteños :)

First stop: Having some nice empanadillas and salteños :)

Eating Tuna, a cactus fruit....Delicious!

Second stop, trying some Tuna, a cactus fruit….Delicious!

Buying some salteños in the market of Camilo, they even had vegetarian ones!

Buying some salteños in the market of Camilo, they even had vegetarian ones!

Inside San Camilo market... I love that they have so much fruit and vegetables!!! THIS IS PARADISE!

Inside San Camilo market… I love that they have so much fruit and vegetables!!! THIS IS PARADISE!

Having some Queso Helado! Under the bowl there's ice.. so in the bottom of the bowl the cheese frozens.. so good!

Having some Queso Helado! Under the bowl there’s ice.. so in the bottom of the bowl the cheese frozens.. so good!

We walked around the historical center, beautiful. It’s declared a World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. It has touches of religious, colonial, and republican architecture, which  mixes european and native characteristics into a unique style called ”Escuela arequipeña”.

We visited some plazas, and funny thing, we pass by the only place I had been in contact with to take some salsa classes! I think it was meant for me to know where it is so I can go there :)

The cathedral of Arequipa

The cathedral of Arequipa

Plaza de Armas, lovely!

Plaza de Armas, lovely!

One of the peaceful plazas in Arequipa

One of the peaceful plazas in Arequipa

Love the mountains...

Love the mountains…

Walking around in los claustros, finding the "Baila conmigo" studio! And a melting ice cream outside. Haha.

Walking around in los claustros, finding the ”Baila conmigo” studio! And a melting ice cream outside. Haha.

At night we went around the neighbourhood and bought all the ingredients to make Pisco maracuya sour. Also typical from here, and delicious! We were supposed to go out but we were such a big gang here playing games, talking and dancing.. time flew by and then it was like 5 in the morning.. haha. Most important thing, I learnt the basic steps of bachata! In the beginning I was just laughing, because it feels so funny (youtube it!) but then I really enjoyed it. Kevin is a great great teacher!! He later said that I probably was the best European he has danced with too, woho!

Having "anti cuchos" in Kevins neigbourhood, apparently reaaaally good, the argentinian girls LOVED it... haha.

Having ”anti cuchos” in Kevins neigbourhood, apparently reaaaally good, the argentinian girls LOVED it… haha.

Group picture :)

Group picture :)

Next day was just chilling. Some went to town but some of us stayed and had just a day off, went to the small shop around the corner to buy some sweets… then I sat by the computer and did all the stuff I needed to do haha. At night all the other surfers left, we were a little bit to many people here, and they were going either to Puno or to Lima.. to bad. We were a really nice group.. called ourselves “el grupo bacán”. :) (bacan is a Peruvian expression, meaning like ”excellent” or ”great”)

El grupo vacan! Haha :) Carla, Me, Kevin, Gisela, Mariel, Dale, Alberto y Dafny

El grupo bacan! Haha :)
Carla, Me, Kevin, Gisela, Mariel, Dale, Alberto y Dafny

Monday I went to the salsa place and took my first salsa class, so much fun!!! It was a private class, cost 35 soles (around 13 USD) quite luxurious I know, but totally worth it. It was so much fun! I’m definitively taking one more later.

In the same plaza where the dance studio is, there’s a vegetarian restaurant too. So I had some lunch there, it’s a vegetarian buffet.. Mmm! And cheap, 7-9 soles depending if you have the soup too or only second course.. I bought take away too to have as dinner tonight :)

This weeks menu... isn't it lovely???

This weeks menu… isn’t it lovely???

Vegetarian buffet!!

Vegetarian buffet!!

Then I walked around the town, had some really good chocolate cake, visited some handicraft markets, (they have BEAUTIFUL things here!!!), then Kevin met me up after his work and showed me around some more, took me to like a hundred (not really..but 10 at least) different small plazas and parts of this town that are a little bit hidden for us who does not know about them.. .

The town is sort of built up as squares, but if you go in through a door in the building, you get to a small plaza inside, or sometimes a whole other neighborhood with streets and houses within those walls.. it’s lovely.

It reminds me of Andalucia in Spain, everything is white. Almost all the houses are built of Sillar, which is a material subtracted from the volcanos around Arequipa. Oh yeah, maybe I haven’t told you yet, but the town is surrounded by volcanoes. From Kevins kitchen you see the Misti Volcano perfectly. It’s really impressive.

A church inside the walls somewhere in Arequipa... I find the cross on the right side really wierd. I've seen a few like these... why does it have a glass, hammer, a latter, a sword, and even an ear on it??? Haha.

A church inside the walls somewhere in Arequipa… I find the cross on the right side really wierd. I’ve seen a few like these… why does it have a glass, hammer, a latter, a sword, and even an ear on it??? Haha.

Another plaza. One of the oldest.

Another plaza. One of the oldest.

One of the beautiful entrances from the street.

One of the beautiful entrances from the street.

A lovely little street with restaurants. Quite touristic but beautiful.

A lovely little street with restaurants. Quite touristic but beautiful.

Panorama over Arequipa from Kevins roof

Panorama over Arequipa from Kevins roof

I really love this city. I feel so much at home here in Arequipa..  And in Kevins house.. haha.  I don’t know if I would like Arequipa THAT much if it wasn’t for him. He is showing me and telling me so much about Arequipa.. you can tell he is proud of being arequipeñan and he loves his city :) By the way, it’s always sunshine here in Arequipa! Always!!!

This text is from the Arequipeñan passport.... saying that it's not their (the arequipeñans) problem they are almost perfect.. It's written how they pronounce it too. Kevin read it to me, haha, so much fun!

This text is from the Arequipeñan passport…. saying that it’s not their (the arequipeñans) problem they are almost perfect.. It’s written how they pronounce it too. Kevin read it to me, haha, so much fun!

Next day I went to the monastery of Santa Catalina.. it was quite expensive, 35 soles the entrance. But the Brazilian guy the first day said it was worth it.. so I went there. It’s one of the things “you should see” in this city. The monastery was built around 1570’s by the first spanish religious people.. it’s like a whole city within the monastery, around 20.000 squaremetres big. It’s really cozy and colonial with strong beautiful colours. The streets have Spanish names (Calle Cordoba;) and the houses where the nuns lived are open so you can see how they lived. Interesting, but to me, it reminded me to much about Spain… and I’m in Peru now… so it felt a little bit weird to see typical old Spanish houses… still beautiful though.

They can't have been too tall during that period... haha.

They can’t have been too tall during that period… haha.

This looks so andalucian to me! Haha.

This looks so andalucian to me! Haha.

Calle Cordoba! :) Hehe. All the streets are named after spanish cities..

Calle Cordoba! :) Hehe. All the streets are named after spanish cities..

One of the lovely little kitchens

One of the lovely little kitchens

Love these confessionals.. :)

Love these confessionals.. :)

After the monastery I went to another vegetarian restaurant, deliciiiiious food… and cheap! The name of the restaurant is called Mandala..MmmmM!  Love that there are so many vegetarian restaurants here in Arequipa.

Mandala vegetarian Restaurant in Arequipa, street Jerusalem 207.

Mandala vegetarian Restaurant in Arequipa, street Jerusalem 207.

Then Kevin met me up and he showed me some other parts of the city :) He is to sweet!

Oh.. I also met up with German Ramos! My friend Johan Nikula from my fencing group in Stockholm lived here in Arequipa a couple of years ago, and he put me in contact with German, who is from the Colca region and knows some families there.  Apparently it costs at least 50 soles to live with a family there… I think it sounds way to expensive!! But since Johan has told me so much about it I will do it for a couple of days. I’m leaving with a tour to see the typical things first, then I’ll stay in Chivay and go to the small villages from there.

Will not miss this ;)

This is how the bus system works. A combi comes, one person screams where it's going, and you try to jump in the van while it's moving.

This is how the bus system works. A combi comes, one person screams where it’s going, and you try to jump in the van while it’s moving, the door is open – it doesn’t stop for you…and dream about getting a seat – you will probably have like 10 armpits around your head instead..

Well.. until next!!

 

Some reflexions about Eco Truly Park

Hi!

Nothing special has really happened here since I wrote the last time. The easter is over and it’s more calm now, like when I got here. There are like 6 other people here that has been here since I got here,  but they are all leaving this week, which also makes me sad. The new volunteers have already left.

Love this dream catchers!

Love this dream catchers!

I think I’ll be here for one more week before leaving. I’m starting to appreciate this much more now and getting into it. If you go to this place, try to be here at least 1 week. I started to really enjoy it after 5 days, because in the beginning I was a little bit confused and unfomfortable. Mainly it’s because I’ve always experienced that religios people try to convert you into their religion, and they sound fanatic when talk about God and all the rules of how you are supposed to live your life. But here they don’t try to convert you, they accept that believe in other things, they just expect you to respect the rules they are living by.

In the beginning it was difficult since nobody gave you a proper introduction and told you what’s rude and what’s not, but everyday you find out something new.
For example, if you are cooking or serving food to the others, your mouth and hands must be clean. That means that you can’t serve yourself more food if you haven’t rinsed your mouth before. When you are in the temple you can’t put the book on the floor, neither blow out a candle with your mouth.. The four build stones are no sex before marriage, no alcohol or drugs and no meat.

Well, sometimes they sound a little fanatic. There was like a preaching in the temple before when a woman was talking about Krishna, I didn’t hear the whole thing and just listened for a while, but it sounded fanatic like “Everything belongs to Krishna, and when you realize that even your heart doesn’t belong to you, but to Krishna, that’s when you find peace” or something… bla bla. That’s what I don’t like about religions, when they make you feel like that God is the only God and everything else is wrong..

Me in the temple, after both music therapy and this ceremony.. that's why I have 2 dots :)

Me in the temple, after both music therapy and this ceremony.. that’s why I have 2 dots :)

But usually, I feel that everybody here is in harmony, and they are not egoistic at all. They are spiritual, sharing and caring, but the main thing I like is that they are all taking care of each other, always helping each other out even if they are tired. I mean, even if they are tired they always offer their help to the other. No one is ego or looks the other way.  And they should be tired! They go to the temple every morning at 4 in the morning, and they don’t have any weekends or anything, everyday is work! We that volunteer has only 4 hours of work everyday, but they don’t really have any regulations, they do what must be done, so it’s basically the whole day and every day in the week.

Guillermo, my farmer boss :) So cute with his shovel!

Guillermo, my farmer boss :) So cute with his shovel!

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Me at work ;)

Francesco was like that too, he always offered his help to everybody in such a kind way. I remember after we had eating all those pies I bought the last day he was here, just a couple of hours before he was leaving, he wanted to take the plate to the dishes, and I knew he had things to pack and was short of time, so I said “Leave it, I’ll take it” and he was like “nooo, I’ll do it!” and I had to say it like 3 times that I’m going to take it, and then he was like really really thankful.. I mean, he needed that time to go and pack his things, but still he was to nice to ask for it himself, but to offer to dish the plate we all had used. So not egoistic at all. He and the other devotes here has inspired me to be more nice to the people around me and share what I have with the ones around me. I’ve always been hoarding things, like if I had a beautiful pencil, I would rather save it for later then use it now. I don’t offer people things if they don’t ask for it you know.. because I might need to use it later. I haven’t even thought about that before. And that is so egoistic . Yesterday, I guy here told me he was going to sleep outside in a hammock, and it’s quite cold here, so I asked him if he had a sleeping bag, and he said that he had one but that it’s broken, so I offered him to use my sleeping bag. That’s a thing I surely wouldn’t have done a couple of weeks ago.. I feel that I’m changing to a better person here.

The other thing I don’t like here is that it costs 15 USD per day to volunteer here. You get accommodation and 3 meals per day, but you still work 4 hours per day. It’s quite expensive for being here, this is more then what I spend for accommodation and food in every other place.. and that’s without working! But.. I learn new things, have yoga, have music therapy, nice company etc.. I think it’s a good experience. All though it’s half the price if you don’t have the accommodation, so some people are sleeping in tents or in hammocks here. That means that you are basically paying for food, but still working… and the last 4 days now during easter, the good breakfasts I told you about before with fruits and granola, has only been offered to the other guests here, not to the volunteers or devotes… so we had had like rice and carrots for breakfast, more like lunch… buhu. And I love the typical breakfasts, it feels a little bit unfair that we are paying for the food but don’t get regular breakfasts as the other guests, but I guess they are paying a lot more… Well.. anyhow!

One of our gardens - and we planted these beads like  one week ago and they are now spiring!!!

One of our gardens – and we planted these beads like one week ago and they are now spiring!!! You see the small green dots!

Today in the kitchen I sort of felt like I got friends with Mother Santa, the cook, she hasn’t really been that easy to talk to the other days, but today I felt like I was her right hand, which felt good. : )

Another thing that I’ve noticed when we walk here, is that there is no rush here, we walk so damn slowly everywhere without even reflecting about it. If we are going to breakfast, to work, to the beach, to the temple, to our rooms.. doesn’t matter, we walk suuuperslowly together. Haha.

Well.. that’s some of my reflections for now. Until next!


Happy easter and sad good byes!

I didn’t even know it was easter. It’s weird because to me it has been like it’s summer now during my travels, which we in Sweden have in june-july. Now the autumn is coming here, so it feels more like august or something, but it’s only march. It’s sort of messing with my head.

Anyhow. The yoga was cancelled this morning since there is a lot to do because of the easter. The hare Krishna doesn’t celebrate Easter, but the people here in Lima has a tradition to go to the beach then because they are free from work and because it’s the last summer weekend. They put up tents on the beach, all the restaurants are open, there are stands where they sell snacks and other stuff, there’s music, football, volleyball and other activities. It feels like a festival!

Foggy beach with tents

Foggy beach with tents

And here at Eco Truly Park there are maaaany visitors! Tours, workshops and different spiritual activities. I worked in the kitchen today again, and I was really busy. It was actually much more fun today because I had Luis and Oscar telling me what to do all the time. They are two young devotes who I met the first day who has been here for 7-10 days or something, really sweet. I had stuff to do all the time even if we were like 15 people working in the kitchen today!

After a late lunch we said good bye to Daniel and Ann-Sofie, buhuuu… I hate when good people leave, the good thing is that they are from Denmark so it’s not thaaaat hard to say good-bye because it’s a bigger chance we’ll actually meet again.. But still it’s sad, they really fit in here at the park.

Daniel is writing in Francescos book, he gives it to people he mets along the way, and they have to answer the question "What makes you happy?". Such a nice idea!

Daniel is writing in Francescos book, he gives it to people he mets along the way, and they have to answer the question ”What makes you happy?”. Such a nice idea!

I had a short siesta before a workshop of “Therapy music” that Rainar, Susana, Esteban and Didac hold. I talked about it yesterday at the beach party with Rainar, he learned about it in India, and traveled around in a Music Therapy Caravan before in Brasil. So interesting. He told me that some people get so affected by the music that they cry, or they shake like 30 cm above the ground without noticing it, some people just laugh… it’s different for everybody, it releases what you have inside. The sessions duration was about one hour, and it was AMAZING. I haven’t felt anything like this before. When I told you I felt relaxed that first yoga-morning, it was nothing compared to this one. In the beginning I wanted to cry, but at the end I was so relaxed. I was totally in another world. When they rang in a bell my left arm moved of it self, weird. Also I know that I have been “ dreaming “ stuff, like solving problems in my head, which felt really good, but I just can’t remember what it was about afterwards… to bad.

Music therapy session

Music therapy session

In the evening we went to the beach to have a look at the sunset, Francesco is leaving tomorrow so it was his last. Every time we go out to the beach, there are at least 3 dogs from Eco Truly following us and protecting us. And they are so funny, I don’t know how many times they have kicked sand in my face while looking for a crab in the sand 1 meter from me, or just bumped into me while playing with each other (I swear they do it on purpose!). Haha, and they are so dirty! But really sweet, they are my friends now.

Sunset at the beach, you can see some tents there too..

Sunset at the beach, you can see some tents there too..

Me and francesco during sunset, with our dots in the forehead they gave us at music therapy :)

Me and francesco during sunset, with our dots in the forehead they gave us at music therapy :)

At night we got out of power, but I didn’t mind it so much. It doesn’t feel like electricity is necessary here since we live so down to earth somehow. We lit some candles instead. But it did ruin some plans, like there were going to have a concert and they needed lights for it, or for the freezer to keep things cold etc..since there’s gas here, you can still cook, so that’s good. Anyhow. There was a fire show at the stage, with a band of drums, and it was so cool. It has always been a dream of mine to belong that kind of drum-band. Someday I hope I can! It’s so cool. Also there were some fire shows, really impressive. After we went to the temple were there was another Music Therapy session, but it was too crowded, so I didn’t hear so much..so it wasn’t as earlier today, but it was relaxing, Esteban and Francesco fell asleep and snored.. haha. After that we went to sleep.

Fire show at the scene!

Fire show at the scene!

;

Today there wasn’t any Yoga either. After breakfast I helped out in the bakery, and it was so fun! I helped out with 8 pies, I don’t know how many muffins, pizza, chocolate cake, alfajoles (yes, the argentinian thing!)… and it was a lot of fun! I’m surprised I enjoy it so much, I think it’s because I do it in good company and not for myself, and because I have good guidance. : ) The only thing here is that you are not allowed to try anything while you cook it/do it, because Hare Krishna is supposed to try it first or something like that.. to bad, haha. But after lunch I bought one piece of everything and shared it with the other volunteers, and it was DELICIOUS! Mother is such a good baker! It’s good because you can call all women for mother here, and all men for prabu, it’s respectful to call that. I do know quite many names but not everyone’s, so it’s good to be able to call them with respect even if you don’t know their name.

Working in the bakery, sooo nice! I learnt a lot!

Working in the bakery, sooo nice! I learnt a lot!

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Trying all the cakes from the bakery! mmmmmm!!!

For every day that I’m here I enjoy it more and more. I remember in the beginning that I was a little bit uncomfortable because of the religion here, since I wasn’t hare Krishna myself and I don’t believe in any particular God,but I noticed that the others here aren’t religious either. They are more like me, we take a little bit of every religion and make our own guidelines. And it’s ok to do that here, the hare krishnas don’t judge. They are very open-minded here and it’s a very nice community to be a part of. I really like how they work together, help each other and take care of each other. It’s beautiful. They are all so nice, no one is egoistic, which is amazing to experience today. I also enjoy the yoga and the meditation, it makes me more spiritual, makes me more calm, open-minded, secure. I’m starting to get to know myself in another level. I’m not a fan of hokuspokus as we say in Sweden, but this feels real, it really helps a lot. I think it’s good that there hasn’t been any internet here these days, I think it has helped me to be able to live in the present – enjoy what’s here and around me right now and I’ve spend my free time with the volunteers and devotes doing different excursions and workshops.

Chilling out in our room. This is my new room which I share with the other volunteer girls.

Chilling out in our room. This is my new room which I share with the other volunteer girls.

Today I went to Music Therapy again, and once again, amazing! I love it. I feel soo relaxed, and I really think I’m traveling somewhere else, because I’m not really there but I’m there. During the therapy I got a face massage, and right after that, my heart started beating soooo hard, it was crazy. Also, my left arm moved again when they rang in a bell! I don’t know what that means, but I sort of wake up of some level some how. Sounds crazy I know, but it’s true. And after the therapy, there’s like a magical moment, when we are sensible, and someone can come to you and give you a long hug, and it’s not strange at all, we just share some love and appreciation. Even after yoga or after lunch you can hug someone here, doesn’t matter if you know each other well or not, if it’s a man or a woman, it just feels right here and nobody feels uncomfortable or strange by doing so. It’s beautiful. For example two men, hugging each other for a long time just feeling each others love through the hug… At home, it would feel weird if someone did that, they would probably feel uncomfortable and think it’s gay or something, I think they aren’t that secure about themselves and their sexuality.

Today it was time for Francesco to leave this place, and damn it was hard. He left right after the music therapy too, when you feel really open and vulnerable. I felt really empty when he left and I really wanted to cry. He is one of the sweetest guys I’ve met, with such a good heart, a noble gentlemen, so kind and always offering his help to everyone. We came quite close during this week and I will really miss him around here. I sat down this evening talking with Didac about good byes, and I realized that I think I’m an addict by nature, it’s either coffee, chocolate, training, or like now, I get easily attached to people. Some people you meet are just amazing, there have been some that have meant more to me then others, and then when I have to say good bye I’m always really sad.. But I’m also so glad I had and have the chance to meet so much wonderful people on my journey.

Good night!

;

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Las cruces and back to Palenque

So, after the quick visit to Guatemala is was time to head back home.
I slept the whole trip almost. In a veeery uncomfortable mini van and later tourist bus, both without headrests, but still, I managed to sleep. Francisco was surprised, me too. Haha. The trip back was quite quick, on our way here we left at 6am and arrived at 17, now we left at 5am and arrived at 14. Haha. But on our way here they made plenty of stops, sometimes without reason.. haha. No hurry at all!

It costs 265 quetzals to go to Palenque, but 350 pesos to go to Flores, haha, weird.
We had to pay 40 quetzals in the border again, but not the 295 pesos, that’s only for leaving mexico, so when I leave for Ecuador I’ll have to pay that.

Here are some pictures from a town called Las Cruces where we had a little break. Just after this town, the asphalt ends and the bumpy road starts. :)

Colectivo at Las Cruces, Guatemala

Colectivo at Las Cruces, Guatemala

Dog pooping. :) And the cute small moto-taxis. :)

Dog pooping. :) And the cute small moto-taxis. :)

Funny thing too, at the border, I had to act as a translator between spanish and english, it was funny because I helped a Polish guy at first, and then when I was filling in my forms outside the desk, the guy from the office went out to get me and asked me if I could come to the desk to translate some information into english. :)

They go down to the river to watch their clothes.

In the river between Guatemala and Mexico. They go down to the river to watch their clothes.

Back to Palenque I took Francisco and Esteban (I call him that but it was a polish name) to the tacos place, haha, third time I’m there! But it’s so good and so cheap and so many vegetarian options! :D Don’t miss this place out, it’s called El Caracol Del Jade, and it’s on the other side of the tourism office in the main square of Palenque.

At El Caracol de Jade.

At El Caracol de Jade, with my tascalate and huerfanitos :)

 

El caracol de Jade! Cheap good food in Palenque :)

El caracol de Jade! Cheap good food in Palenque :)

This time I had huerfanitos, and also 1 vegetarian taco, hehe. To drink I had Tascalate, it tastes exactly like polvoron, the typical spanish christmas candy.

At night, I hanged out some with Gino and Raul, had some dinner and helped him to put some pictures at his Facebook and couchsurfing profile.  At 23 I took the night bus to Merida, where I’m now sitting at a café having breakfast. :)

Casa Na Bolom

Hola! 

Today I walked around San Cristobal. I ate again at Tierra Madre, their menu of the day, so I had a soup of vegetables as first plate, and rice and aubergine-thing for second. Drink and bread included, for 66 pesos (33 SEK). Good price! I’ve never managed to cook food even if I bought quite much. I only eat breakfast and yoghurt and avocados at home when I’m hungry. It’s so cheap to eat out here that it’s not even worth to buy food to eat at home actually. So I’m not going to do that anymore.

My lunch at tierra madre

My lunch at tierra madre

Later I went to Casa Na Bolom and with a guide, and he was so good! I got really interested. Casa Na Bolom was the home of archeologist Frans Blom and his wife, Gertrude Duby Blom, a journalist and photographer. Casa Na Bolom is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the Lacandon Maya and the preservation of the Chiapas rain forest, it is a museum and a hotel too.

Gertrude above and some of her first pictures of the Lacandon on the side

Gertrude above and some of her first pictures of the Lacandon on the side

The Lacandon are one of the most isolated and culturally conservative of mexicos native people. When the spanish took over Mexico, the Lacandon fled to the jungle and never got conquisted. If a Lacandon leaves de village to marry someone from the outside or to live outside, they are getting expulsed of the community and are not welcome back, so they are very few Lacandons today, about 400 people. Back in the days, they lived polyamorous, and a man could have up to 4 wives, but today they are so few that it’s rarely. They also have genetic problems because they only marry inside their community, resulting in albinos and deformed body parts (around 5% has some genetic failure).

Lacandon clothing and ritual things

Lacandon clothing and ritual things

You can go in there for 40 pesos, or with guide 50 pesos, and it’s totally worth it. This money goes unshorted to the foundation and to help the lacandon. This house is theirs, so if they are sick and need medical assistance, they are welcome to stay at the hotel in Na Bolom for free and get doctors help for free too, thanks to this organization.

I felt so welcome here, you can eat dinner with them there or sit in the library reading, they have like all books about the maya people there is to have. Very interesting. I’m thinking about volunteering there in the future.

Me at Na Bolom

Me at Na Bolom

I met a italian girl there, Elena, who also was couchsurfing in San Cristobal. She had a meeting later with another couchsurfer, Liceo. I joined them and we went to a place called Kinoki, where you can have both beer or coffee, and you can also rent a room with a projector and sound system and choose a movie to see with your friends, like a private cinema, so cool.

With Elena and Liceo from couchsurfing at Kinoki

With Elena and Liceo from couchsurfing at Kinoki

Erika met us up there and then we ate some dinner on our way home, I ate a Chalupas (6 pesos) and a Pan Compuesto (9 pesos). Both very typical from here and vegetarian. :)

IMG_1048Then we went home to change clothes and to go out to a restaurant where we ate the day before, Aztlan, they were going to have a party there to celebrate 3 years in business. They had a live band there too :) We went home quite early, around 2.30, because next day I had a tour that started at 9.