Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Duke Ducks: Part 8 - Northern Pintail

Here are some pictures of the pair of Northern Pintails that live at the Duke Gardens.





Friday, November 21, 2008

Peruvian Food

One part of traveling is sightseeing, but another part is actually experiencing the culture. One of the best ways to experience the culture is to eat the food. While in Perú, I was determined to, as much as possible, eat only Peruvian food. We did pretty good until Cusco, where we ate the Peruvian interpretation of pizza (same idea, different ingredients), but we tried to avoid "typical American" food (whatever that is). In Lima, we fell completely off the bandwagon and went to KFC. We did see a McDonald's and a Starbucks, but we didn't go in.



Here are a few pictures of the various dishes that we ate.


Real Inca Kola

Huane (wahn - ay) — popular in the jungle

Papa a la Huancaina in a restaurant

Picarones (peek - ah - row - nays)

Cuy

Trucha (trout)

Papa a la Huancaina (homemade recipe), Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken), and cebada (a sweet drink made from barley — but not fermented)


This post brings the Peru trip series to an end. There are links on the side bar if you would like to see more pictures. I still need to figure out how to get the video off of the camera. Once I do that, I'll start uploading some to Youtube and maybe posting them. Until then, Chao!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Peru Trip Timeline: Part 7 - Lima

When we finally got to Lima after waiting in Cusco for an extra 7 hours, we were greeted by our hostess, Gladys, and her daughter, Miriam. Gladys is the grandmother of one of Amy's former students whose family we have had the pleasure of getting to know over the past few months. Our new arrival time put us in Lima right in the middle of rush hour. What is normally a 30 minute drive took us over an hour.


After we got to their home, we went out for dinner at KFC. I knew that McDonald's has a huge international market, but I did not expect KFC. The spices are the same, but you can tell that they use different chickens there, though it was just as good. It was late when we got back and we were tired from the long day, but then we found out that we were going to a show.


We went to see a show called a peña (pain-ya) that showcased indigenous Peruvian dance, music, and costumes. Between choreographed dances, they opened the floor to the audience. It was a lot of fun though we were very tired and I nodded off to sleep during the taxi ride home.


The next day, we went to a museum that housed some weapons from around the world and some pre-Columbian artifacts (though there has been some question recently as to the authenticity of the collection). After walking through the museum we headed towards the Plaza de Armas (of Lima). Traffic was pretty bad around the Plaza due to a major event that weekend so we stopped at the Plaza de San Martin and then walked to the Plaza de Armas. I've waited to post the entire timeline before doing a count, but we visited 6 different Plazas de Armas—Trujillo, Cusco, Aguas Calientes, Ollantaytambo, San Blas, and Lima. While in the plaza, we caught a bus tour of the city that eventually took us up to the summit of San Cristobal. The drive was around some precarious turns, but the view was well worth it.


When we got back to the house, we had a late lunch and then took a siesta nap (I like the siesta). We went out for a late dinner and then back home.


The next day, our last full day in Peru, we stayed at the house until after lunch. Amy learned how to cook some Peruvian recipes and I attempted to learn how to spin a top from an 8-year-old. After lunch, we went out with Miriam and her two sons, Jason and John-Pierre, to see some more of Lima. We went to a park and took out a couple of paddle boats. After that park, we went to another park that was full of water fountains with different designs and lights. We then went for another late dinner. We went back to the house to get packed up and into bed for the early morning flight back to the U.S.

All in all, the visit to Lima was good. It was a blessing to be able to stay with natives. We could not have asked for a more generous and gracious family to spend our time with.

The next morning, we were up at 3 so we could get to the airport by 4 for our flight at 6. We had just enough time in the duty-free area to get some Peruvian coffee beans before getting on the flight to Miami. There was plenty of time in Miami to get through Customs and security and then get some lunch. We arrived in Raleigh at the new Terminal 2, despite departing from Terminal C. There was some standard opening day glitches with the jet bridge and baggage carousel, but we soon were greeted by my parents who had come to pick us up.

We had a lot of fun. It was an enlightening trip for me—seeing another country should be an enlightening experience. Despite the two weeks, Amy and I both determined that it wasn't long enough to truly get to know it. I'm glad that I got to visit, but I would definitely like to get to know Peru better.

Disclaimer: While in Peru, Amy and I managed to take around 2250 photos, much less than our preparations, but still over 6GB worth. The pictures that we post online are, understandably, a small subset. The ones about which we blog are an even smaller subset. If you want to see more pictures, there are a couple of links on the side-bar. I will be uploading over the span of a few days and blogging could take a couple of weeks.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Peru Trip Timeline: Part 6 - Ollantaytambo

When we left Aguas Calientes, the day after visiting Machu Picchu, we stopped in a town called Ollantaytambo. The town is the site of another set of Incan ruins. Our initial intent was to visit the ruins and get a hotel to stay the night and head back to Cusco the next day. However, as I read more about the site, it became clear that we wouldn't spend an entire afternoon walking around the ruins. Instead, we stowed our luggage with a service offered by PeruRail for just that sort of thing and walked into town to get some lunch.


Frommer's had said that the hostal in which we were originally planning to stay had a decent lunch setup, so that was our first stop. All of the chairs were up on the tables and there was nobody around except the manager. She recommended a place that was on the Plaza de Armas (of Ollantaytambo) called Ollantay. We walked a little further and got to the plaza. It is at this time that I must admit something—I forgot to take pictures of the Plaza de Armas in Ollantaytambo. I do, however, have some video, though it was cut short by the arrival of drinks (only Coke) at our table.


After lunch, we walked back towards the ruins. We learned our lesson at Sacsayhuamán and got along just fine at Machu Picchu, so we went without a guide once again. Thankfully, there was a map right at the beginning of the site that showed the major routes for most tours. Along with the map, there were plaques with blue arrows pointing the way.

In one of the pictures above, you can see the general feel of the site. The main terraces climb up the side of a mountain. Another set of ruins, believed to be grain storage, are on the opposite side of the valley. We only visited the main terraces, though, either side would have greeted us with a lot of climbing.


Above the terraces, there are ruins of what used to be a temple along with some really cool carvings.


From above the terraces, there are really good views of the Sacred Valley.

Ollantaytambo is pretty dry and windy, but there are a couple of nearby rivers. Part of their expertise was in irrigation and some of the techniques they used are still in use to this day.

It took us about 2 hours to walk through the terraces. We decided to not attempt the other side of the valley because we were already winded and the other side had a steeper climb. We walked back to pick up our luggage and got a taxi back to Cusco. The drive back took about an hour and a half through the Sacred Valley. The scenery was beautiful—I even saw my first snow-capped mountain!

Disclaimer: While in Peru, Amy and I managed to take around 2250 photos, much less than our preparations, but still over 6GB worth. The pictures that we post online are, understandably, a small subset. The ones about which we blog are an even smaller subset. If you want to see more pictures, there are a couple of links on the side-bar. I will be uploading over the span of a few days and blogging could take a couple of weeks.