Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Week #39 - New places in Cusco and a trip to Andahuaylas - and an unexpected quick return
When we have time on a P-day and the weather's nice, we will sometimes take a walk to the historical center of Cusco. It's really a large area, and in 9 months we haven't even seen half of what's there. This time, after a 45 min walk, we could turn left to Plaza de Armas or right. So we decided to go right up the hill to Plaza San Blas. It's still in the "tourist" area of Cusco, and there are shops and vendors open every day. A large selection of handmade necklaces on this table. They're about 20 Soles, or $6.25 each.
Here' a few nice ones close up. We decided to text our granddaughter Ava to see if she would like one, and she responded immediately, 2nd from the left.
I just happened to find a famous fashion model to pose with it.
Also, a photo of the model's new favorite purse, made with handspun and dyed Alpaca wool.
More fine Inca stonework surrounding the plaza
Also, we found the place where you can get real American food. At least as close as can be made by expatriate Brits. Milkshakes, waffles, yum!
A view from The Meeting Place into Plaza San Blas. It's rather small, but buzzes with commerce of all sorts.
Headed back down the hill to the Plaza de Armas, there are numerous shops and vendors with colorful wares tempting the tourists.
We ran into (more like acosted by) 2 of the locals, a little overdressed for everyday work, but really there for the tourists. This photo cost 5 Soles each for the women to pose - and I had to give the lamb a 1 sole propina (tip) as well.
Our travel schedule takes us next to Andahuaylas. This is one of the more remote parts of the Mission, and we decided to hire a car rather than being held captive on a bus or combi for 9 hours. With a car, I can control the speed (somewhat, by threatening to take away the propina), and we get to stop and take a break when we need or want to. We've just crossed one of the rivers, and we're "down" to about 8,000 feet, but the landscape is already turning to jungle (rainy season not started yet, note the dry hills in the background). It was warm and sunny, and a nice chance to walk around and stretch.
Unfortunately for us, the mangoes are still green. About another month or so, and they'll be ripe.
There's ripe mangoes somewhere, because we bought cups of frozen mango pulp for 1 sole each, and they were delicious!
Along the way, at one of the high passes, the driver asked if we wanted to see some ruins. "Ruins" are the local generic term for old Inca-era structures of all types, and doesn't necessarily mean that they are decayed or fallen down. It was time for a break, so we turned off the pavement for about half a KM, and then walked to a rather large open area on top that had this temple. This one was still in essentially original condition, and isn't on any list of top attractions, even though it is quite unique. The top is open and flat and the top walls are about waist high.
Hmm. Seems like we've seen a couple of these in other places was well.
Another pass, and we're way up in the clouds. Horses and other livestock grazing along the road. People live up here too. Still curious to me why they live in such remote, and rather inhospitable places, but I guess their families have been here for hundreds of years, so they may as well stay.
Finally we make it to Andahuaylas. A very picturesque and lovely town. Like most places, it's built all over the hills. There are 3 branches of the Church here and in the surrounding area.
The Andahauylas Zone of missionaries. We arrived in time for me to make their weekly Monday 6pm meeting. Hna J decided to get some rest from the twisty roads, and elected to pass tonight.
Afterwards, I was invited with Elders McKay and Jofré to the home of Hna. Sandra for a Family Home Evening. With a nearby tripod, we got a photo.
We held most of our meetings in the Andahuaylas chapel. One evening, Hna Erica came for a Young Adult activity. She is everybody's friend, and it was also her birthday, so we had to take a picture of her with Hnas. Harris, Lozana and Johnson
After our meetings were finished that evening, we took the Hna's to a place for chocolate caliente and fresh pan y dulces. I made sure the Hnas had a large take-away bag containing the types of sweet baked goods we were sampling at the table.
The next day, we took a break for lunch. A lot of places don't have an extensive menu, just a few choices, and this was one of them. Each selection contained 2 dishes, which means a total of 4, and it was more than we could eat. Colorful and delicious, along with some jugo (juice).
Late Wednesday evening, we got a phone call from Elder Hasler. Unfortunately, there was some protests and violence at one of the large mines in the area (4 people killed, 15 injured, and it was all nonsensical and for no good reason), and he advised us to get back to Cusco. His advice is always taken seriously, and though we really didn't expect any trouble in Andahuaylas, there was the possibility that we could get stranded there for a week or more, as there is only 1 road out, and it leads through another city where they are notorious for "supporting" strikes and protests, and we could have not been able to get through. I got up early the next morning, and rented a car and driver to take us back to Cusco. The photo as we loaded up was really to get a record of the driver and the license plate of his car.
We made the trip back without incident, though we did take a detour in Abancay to miss what looked like a roadblock ahead. 9 hours back, it was a long trip, and we stopped along the way a a "locals only" cafe for a quick lunch of chicken coup, peaches, rice, and juice. 18 Soles for 3 lunches, or about $1.75 each.
Hna J was offered the front seat both ways, but she elected the rear seat and read a book on her iPad.
At one of our quick stops, we got pounced on by the local vendors. One did have some freshly boiled choclo, or large-kernel corn on the cob. The kernels are bigger than Corn Nuts. You pick them off individually, and they are really tasty with a little salt. 3 soles (less than $1), and we had a great snack.
A little confusion on the way back: Instead of nonstop to Cusco, evidently our driver was only authorized to go as far as Abancay, so we made a detour to the terminal (empty lot) where the drivers that belong to a little group or association gather to pick up and drop off passengers. After a little hassle, we got another driver (2nd from left) and car to take us to Cusco. Total fare was the same as I was quoted when we left, but was split between the two drivers, after a call and some help from Elder Hasler.
Along the way, we passed a school bus. Not the yellow type - this was a truck with plywood sides and an open back. Holds about 30 kids standing up from their pueblo to the school. Not what we're used to seeing, but it beats walking 10 - 12KM each way. We are glad these kids are enduring a couple of uncomfortable rides each day - education is their way up here, and unfortunately not everyone takes advantage of it.
Finally back to our hometown. A long trip, 9+ hours, and was at the limits of Hna J's endurance on twisty roads, but she's always the trooper and ready to go and serve. Though our trip out and back was without incident, my WiFi phone did get stolen in Andahuaylas, so I had to get another one as soon as we got back to Cusco. Unfortunate and frustrating, but all part of the experience.