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Phalex gone wild

lots and lots of STUFF.

PERU | Friday, 9 October 2009 | Views [829] | Comments [6]

sooooooo.... how about that 1 month gap in blog posting? woops. but don´t worry, its not because we haven´t done enough to warrant a post - quite the opposite really. we have had an absolutely amazing time in cuzco and I shall now attempt to sum it up in under 1000 words.

Since our last post, we have volunteered in 3 different placements - a community centre/after school care place, a conservation reserve just outside Manu jungle, and another school just outside Cuzco.

Amistad, the community centre/after school care place, was really lovely. Relatively affluent compared to our first rural hardcore school, but this was kind of nice for us, and during the week we worked there we really felt helpful. We taught some good english lessons, as well as helpin out the staff with the young kids and babies, and met some really sweet kids.

The jungle was absolutely incredible. We arrived at about 1pm after an 8 hour bus ride on mountainous dirt roads, but it was totally worth it - the reserve is situated right beside a river, which you have to cross by cable, and surrounded by beautiful dense bush. We spent our mornings volunteering, doing various things including mixing soil and preparing seedlings, planting seedlings, counting and tagging saplings, looking for and counting wildlife, and deforesting bamboo. Generally awesome and only lasted for around 3 hours. In our second week, Phil and I also built a fence for the vegie patch, which was nice and rewarding. Lunch and dinner were cooked by a local woman from the closest village (who crossed the river to go home by candlelight in the evenings!) and we ate lots and lots of tasty vegetarian fare.

We spent the afternoons just chilling out, reading in the hammock or maybe swimming in the idyllic river. There were also various tracks around the reserve, one which took you to a beautiful local waterfall with a swimming hole at its base - sooooo lovely. Another way to pass the time was the play with the PET MONKEY - a baby howler monkey called Paulo who was rescued from poachers when he was very young. He just chewed your hair and slept in your lap and stuff. awesome.

On our 3rd evening, we celebrated one girls birthday with a toga party and the cook killed a rooster for us to eat, which was very exciting. Other exciting animal encounters included being surrounded by wild boars on our way to the nearby yuka plantation (yuka is a kind of root veg) and seeing them round around in circles because Old Mario (a local guy who helps out with everything on the reserve) chased them out with a machete.

Once we (very sadly) returned to Cuzco (after another horrible bus ride, this time through the night!), we started volunteering at our new placement. It was a school/community centre outside Cuzco in a very rural area (which also happened to be very near some amazing inca ruins). In the morning, it acts as a primary school for the community´s youngest kids who can´t get into town for school, and in the afternoon (when we volunteered), all the kids come in for lessons and help with homework and games. There was a big focus on personal hygiene - the teachers keep toothbrushes for each of the kids, plus soap and shampoo so they can wash at the school´s tap, which is one of the only sources of running water. After that, they´d do some work or have a little english lesson with us, then play team sports until supper. The director has put a focus on team sports to build a sense of community, and ensure all the kids grow up with good social skills and stuff, because its very isolated up there. We would leave at about 6pm and go home for dinner, and have our spanish lessons in the morning (which went very well).

On our last Wednesday volunteering, it was my birthday! We went out with our friends for dinner and tried cuy (local delicacy of GUINEA PIG) to celebrate (it wasn´t particularly good). We also had celebratory brownies and cocktails, so that was nice. Otherwise, Phil and I have spent a lot of our spare time buying Peruvian goods, as we plan to hold a fundraising stall at North Sydney markets when we get back. We sent off our 13kgs of stock yesterday and hope it reaches Aus safe and sound just before we do.

This last weekend was very action packed as we did a 3 day trek to Machu Picchu. We spent the first day mountain biking for around 4 hours, descending at least 3km in altitude. It was awesome, but we both fell off once (hello scabby knee). The second day was REALLY HARD, as we trekked over 7 hours and climbed a lot. The photos from the highest point we reached are just amazing, and it was on an original Inka Trail (not the commercial inka trail, there are many around the place). At the end of that day, we spent the evening soaking in the thermal springs at Santa Teresa (which were landscaped like a tropical resort!). We spent the 3rd day trekking on relatively even terrain, most of which was through the jungle in the afternoon. We then shacked up in Aguas Calientes, the town below Machu Picchu, and got up at 3.45am the next day to get on the first bus up the mountain to the ruins.

The site itself opens at 6am, and we were within the first 300 or so people. This meant we got tickets to climb Wayna Picchu mountain (that big mo fo you see at the back of the classic photo of Machu Picchu), and also that when we first saw the ruins, there were no people inside. Words really can´t describe how excited we were - but maybe the photos will when we eventually post them up! Machu Picchu is just incredible, and our 2 hour guided tour just emphasised how absolutely awesome it is. And yet theres still so much the historians aren´t sure of! awesome.

After a little nap after our tour, we commenced the trek up the mountain. Turns out they weren´t joking when they said "fit and healthy people only" - it was HARD! It took us about an hour to reach the summit, but it was so worth it - the view was for miles around the valleys, including an amazing view of the ruins themselves. Wow. By this time, we´re all exhausted, so we just hung out on the rocks at the top and had a little rest, appreciating the abundancy of geckos around the place and the serious lack of fences.

After some more exploring and a thunderstorm, we decided we would walk back down the mountain to Aguas rather than get the bus - BAD MOVE! 1716 uneven inka steps, after 4 days of exertion, is NOT a good idea!! but we were still proud of ourselves when we got to the bottom, despite our wobbly jelly legs. After that, we had the 1.5hr train followed by 1.5hr bus ride back to Cuzco - not so fun, but we really appreciated bed time when it eventually came around.

Yesterday we spent the day running around like headless chickens, trying to organise all our stuff for our supposed departure from Cuzco at 7.30am this morning. Turns out last minute serious travel organisation is a bad idea - we forgot to pick up the bus tickets before our travel agent closed, meaning I had to go and sweet talk the guys at the bus company office, then we forgot to pick up our laundry before they closed, meaning we had to pay our friend to pick it up and bring it to La Paz, Bolivia with her. In the end that was unecessary, as this morning, we missed the aforementioned bus! Our company left from an area just outside the main terminal, but our Peruvian house mum just thought it would be the usual departure place, and thats what she told our taxi driver. Damn. So here we are, killing time before we get the next available bus to Puno on Lake Titicaca. Hopefully the rest of our short 4 day journey to La Paz will be more successful.

Thats all we have for now - I wish I could have emphasised how awesome our time here has been, but thats what you get for not blogging sooner! Hope everyone is well, wherever you are in the world, and we´ll try and make contact again soon.

Hasta luego!

Tags: amistad, bus, epic fail, hot springs, jungle, machu picchu, paulo, trekking

Comments

1

Hi Phil & Alex - sounds so exciting - you will both be very fit by the time you get back to Australia, after your trekking and biking. Look forward to your next blog and some photos. Love Sandra xx

  Sandra Peters Oct 9, 2009 5:51 AM

2

It's about time you guys updated! And it sounds like you've been having an epic adventure for sure! I can't beleive you climbed Macho Picachu (couldn't help but use that when you said it Phil) - that is beyond epic! Can't wait to see the photos. Hope Bolivia is nice.
xx

  Shoey Oct 9, 2009 11:38 AM

3

Oy vey that's one hella huuuuge trek!
Sounds AMAZING though.
As does Bolivia. All i know about Bolivia is that one year at MUNA, they had a really kick ass team. That's not very much, is it?
Learn lots and teach me later :)

  Sam Oct 9, 2009 10:06 PM

4

So glad to see your words on the blog again! Hope the journey onwards to La Paz proceeded better than it started! love as ever xx

  clairejim Oct 11, 2009 9:04 PM

5

I like reading these... Fantastic form of procrastination, and I hear about the mighty adventures of Phalex the wild (I know its gone wild but I like that one). Everything sounds so very exciting and tiring, it's one destroyed temply shy of an Indiana Jones movie!

  Rob Oct 16, 2009 3:07 AM

6

great blog, Im waiting for the next installment!!xxx

  Aunty Sal Oct 20, 2009 12:05 PM

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