foto friday 38 – “skirts”

Traditional skirts from women living on the floating islands in Lake Titicaca.

(This one was going to be April 27th…still getting caught up & counting).

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the way the Incans did it

From mid-February through April 30th, when we left Cuzco, we had friends and family visiting us almost every week.  It was so fun to see different parts of Peru with each of them.

One of the highlights of our travels was getting to do the Incan Trail – the four day hike to Machu Picchu – with four friends!  Mark, Michael, Rebecca and Christena – thanks so much for joining us on this part of the experience!

I am mainly going to let the photos speak for themselves…but…we had an awesome time, saw beautiful places, ate more lavishly than any other trail we’d ever been on, had porters who carried amazing amounts of things on their backs – ran ahead of us and made lunch, ran again and set up tents and made dinner, and did it all in sandals.  We walked through ruins, sometimes on rocky steep stairs, sometimes on dirt roads and finally made it to Machu Picchu.

Enjoy photos of the process!

These and more are also going to be posted on facebook.

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foto friday 37 – “we made it!”

Should have been April 20th’s foto friday but you’re getting it today.

We made it to Machu Picchu after 4 days of walking, you know, the way the Incans did it.

Incan Trail post to come later on today!

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foto friday 36 – “Machu Picchu”

We are four foto fridays behind – and now we’re home – so I am not sure how many more posts we’ll be doing on the peruzo blog.  BUT – I will at least get us caught up on foto fridays.

This one should have gone up on April 13th – but, we were celebrating our 4 day trek to Machu Picchu with Christena Pyle, Rebecca Chin, Michael Muniz and Mark Cermak at the time.  Hince, we were not able to post.

Enjoy!  More to come soon!

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sharing bread with love and joy

Last Friday morning, Sam and Nate left after almost two wonderful weeks of visiting us here in Cuzco.  In addition to wanting to see Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley and Cuzco, Sam and Nate wanted to use some of their trip to give to this community.

So – after talking about different options, we decided that they could paint a mural in Fundacion Cristo Vive’s newly opened hidden house.  (I have been volunteering as a counselor with Cristo Vive since the fall, working with families who are suffering from domestic violence issues within the home.  We have a hidden home where mothers and children who need to get away are able to live for up to 6 months.  It is in our new facility that they painted the mural.)

Sam took these photos that I sent her . . .

and created a sketch . . .

and a color scheme . . .

that would become a reality – after only two short days of painting.  Pretty amazing!

One of the coolest parts of the entire project was incorporating the kids who are currently living in the house into the painting.  Sam and Nate outlined some large shapes and then handed paint brushes over to eager children who went after it with vigor.

At the bottom of this post will be a slideshow where you can watch the project develop from start to finish.

For now – enjoy my take on it:

In a way of saying thanks for all of their hard work, the Fundacion made Sam and Nate guinea pig for lunch on their second day of work!

A lot of happy faces in front of a finished project!

The final product looked almost exactly like their sketch.  So beautiful!  This mural is in the dining room/kitchen area and will welcome several families in years to come who are fleeing from abusive situations.  We hope that it will comfort them and bring them some joy in the midst of their struggles.

The tag line – “Compartiendo el pan con amor y alegria” translates to Sharing bread with love and joy.”  Cristo Vive believes that everyone has some kind of bread to share with the world, in the case of Sam and Nate, it was their artistic ability, and in sharing this bread, they spread love and joy to others.

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It has been forever since I have posted to Peru-zo.  We got back to the states in early May and I immediately started my last set of summer school classes for my Master’s in Mental Health Counseling.  That, combined with seven weddings in a row, put sorting through Peru photos on the back burner.  BUT – summer school is over and I am making headway on the weddings – so finally, I have a chance to share some of our last weeks in Peru!

In mid-April, mom, dad and Ari (our family friend) came to visit Kenzo and me!  We met up in Arequipa, a large city that Kenzo and I had never visited and spent a few days exploring there before we brought them home to Cuzco with us.

Over the next several days, I am going to be posting photos of their trip to Peru (which also aligned with our final days there…when they headed back to the states on April 30th, we had a few more days to do one last hike before coming home on May 6th).

So – this post is the beginning of our time with Ari, mom and dad – spent in the lovely city of Arequipa.  We stayed in the Yanahuara neighborhood in a lovely bed and breakfast called Casa de Ana.

Dad really wanted to pet a llama, but they weren’t so inclined . . .

We visited the large cathedral on the main plaza:

Mom, who plays bells at church, got to ring the big bell (notice the mistake with the “p” in Arequipa being backwards on the bell.

We walked through the main plaza . . .

Tasted some interesting food before finding some real treasures in the city (ZigZag being one of our favorites):

I think one of our favorite parts was doing a tour of the Monastery of Santa Catalina by night.  We all were sad to hear the history of this place.  Girls would commit to become nuns (or their families would commit them) at age 12 and after that, would never leave the convent walls again.  This convent happened to be the place where richer families would send their daughters.  Their thought was that if one child went into religious life, they would spend time praying for, and thus saving, the souls of the rest of the family.

The convent was like a city within the larger city of Arequipa.  This is inside the walls of the convent on a row with several individual apartments for nuns.

Inside the kitchen of one of the apartments (if I remember correctly, apartments had one, two and three bedrooms). 

The following day in Arequipa we did a walking tour:

This is “Cheese Ice cream.”  It tasted a lot like natia for all you Gonzalez clan.

Hand-made goods!  We had a better visit to another site later in the week, so more photos to come.

We visited the large open market that had everything from slabs of meat to hats and decided to get some food to eat on our roof-top at Casa de Ana for dinner.

Okay – I wanted to show some of the various kinds of people we saw on the streets.  This guy was selling every color of shoelaces that you could have ever wanted:

This guy was begging for money with a “missing arm” . . . although there is a mysterious bump on the inside of his shirt (we did not see too many people go for it).

The view from our rooftop.

Mount Misti – an active volcano that can be seen in the distance overlooking Arequipa.

We saw a protest in the main plaza:

And enjoyed some drinks at sunset on a restaurant roof-top on the plaza:

And then we packed up and got ready to head to Cuzco via a night bus.

Check back tomorrow for our Cuzco times with mom, dad and Ari.

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a day in the pisac market

I posted a photo of this beautiful woman on the Life Writing Photography blog on Easter Sunday.  She was very sweet and allowed me to take this photo for a “propina” – a tip.  Almost everywhere in Peru that I have been, people are more than happy to have their photo taken – if – you pay for it.  At first, I felt kind of cheap/sleezy paying someone for their photo.  I don’t know why – I just felt like in that way I was taking something from them.  But, after being here longer, I have realized that several people can make all of their income, or a little extra, by allowing tourists to take their photos.  So now, instead of feeling sleezy, I just pay a little more than normal.  Still not sure how exactly to feel – but in some way, I hope that it helps/blesses each person I photograph – and each person who sees their image.

do you see what is hidden in the haystack?

Anyway – I had some fun photos from our day in the Pisac Market with Sam and Nate and thought I would share.  Outside of Machu Picchu, Pisac has been our favorite ruins to visit in all of Peru.  The town is about a 45 minute ride from Cuzco and so worth it.  Not only are the ruins incredible (we’ve only been up once, but plan to go again with my parents), but the town is cute and hosts a market on most days that you can walk through a purchase all sorts of typical Peruvian crafts.

We had lunch overlooking the market right before Nate and Sam headed up for some fun times in the Pisac Ruins.. . .

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a week in the peruvian jungle

a spider monkey perched in the tambopata jungle

One thing that we knew that we wanted to do in Peru is visit the jungle!  There are three main places where tourists go: Manu, Iquitos and Tambopata.  We decided on Tambopata and booked a six day, five night trip with Rainforest Expeditions.  It was absolutely incredible – and we’d recommend it to anyone.

We had Uriel as our trip leader, and although we might be biased, we think he is the best!  It was incredible to see how he could spot animals that were completely camouflaged and then someone describe to us how to see them.  We saw giant river otters, caimans, capybaras, a puma, seven species of monkeys, lots of species of birds, and all sorts of creepy-crawlers.  It was amazing!

First thing we saw when arriving in the jungle, were Spider Monkeys hanging out at the main office.  They’re so cute!!

Then, we got on the river and saw our first view of the capybara – the largest rodent in the world (I think):

We arrived to Posada Amazonas Lodge that evening and spent the night.  In the morning we woke up at 4:30am to head to a lake to seek out more wild life.  We saw lots of birds . . .

some bats . . .
beautiful butterflies . . .
giant river otters – eating fish – so cool!

We fished for piranas using cow meat…kind of crazy/scary, but pretty cool!

After the lake we got back on the boat for a 6 hour up-stream ride further into the heart of the jungle.  We eventually got to the TRC (Tambopata Research Center) where we would stay for three evenings.  On the way we saw . . .

(Notice the Caiman below the Vultures)

Okay, a really cool part – we saw some howler monkeys hanging out on the side of the river – they were kind of snacking on a clay lick.  But, when they saw our boat, they got scared so started climbing up the trees.  As they were climbing . . .

out jumped a puma that had been waiting for it’s attack.

We only saw it for a split second, but it was really cool – look at those claws!  Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on how you look at it), we did not get to see the puma catching the monkeys.

We arrived to TRC and a family of howler monkeys had decided to hang out near the lodge for the night.  They were really cute!

For the next two days, our schedule would mainly consist of walks into the jungle to see animals.  We saw a lot . . . little guys like this grasshopper . ..
medium sized guys like this Dusky Titi Monkey . . .

and this curious brown capuchin monkey

The second morning at the lodge we had some luck!  We headed out to the clay lick to watch the show of parrots and macaws coming to eat clay.  They say that the birds need to eat clay to balance the sodium in their diets as well as balance any harmful things they’ve eaten in the jungle.  But, it certainly is a performance.  They arrive and kind of wait for a leader to actually go down to the lick  . . .

Really cool.

Later on that day we went walking around on a near-by island and saw my favorite monkey – the Squirrel Monkey – SO CUTE!!

At night, Uriel took us on hikes to look for frogs and spiders.  It was great – but, I thought it was quite enough when at one point, we were almost knee deep in a pond and shining my headlamp over I saw the two red reflecting eyes of a caiman.  Kenzo said it was only a baby that was “more scared of us than we are of it” but still, come on.

Anyway, here are some of the night sightings we had:

a tarantula:

kenzo’s favorite – ants!

our last morning at TRC we saw this awesome moth just hanging out on a pair of someone’s boots.

We left TRC and headed to Refugio Amazonas Lodge for the last evening.  That night Uriel, Kenzo and I went out for another evening hike and caught site of the very elusive Night Monkey.  No photos to prove it because it was hard to get in focus.  But, it was great.

We LOVED our time in the jungle!  I will try to post a slideshow at some point but wanted to schedule this to go up while we’re on the Incan Trail!

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foto friday 35 – “the PUMA”

We went to the Peruvian jungle in mid-March and saw the elusive Puma!  Our guide hadn’t seen one in over three years.  More to come but here is my best shot of him/her.  So awesome!

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Feet of the Poor

Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet – John 13: 1-5

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 

On the night of the passover, before Good Friday, I want to reflect on this brief account of Christ’s compassion for his disciples, during some of the last moments before his betrayal.  After his last meal with his dearest companions and on the night of his betrayal, Jesus, in a final act of servitude, washed the feet of each of his closest friends, even the one who would come to betray him.

As I imagine how this scene would have looked, I can see how much humility this act of service encompassed, as the Son of God kneels before simple men, all sinners, and some which would go on to betray and deny their dear friend and lord.  I also reflect on the actual act of washing feet, particularly as feet are certainly not the most attractive nor cleanly part of the body.  Furthermore, the feet of the disciples were surely much like the feet of the poor, similar to those of the simple village children seen above, that are filthy dirty, unclean, unattractive.  Yet, Christ’s love looked past the filth, the dirt, the grime, and cleaned the feet of his disciples, simply because he loved them.


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