Posts tagged ‘hiking’

December 5, 2011

Legends of the Hidden Inca Temple

If you thought that Marina and I would just play it cool and have a relatively quiet beach vacation, you are mistaken. Of course we had to shake it up a bit, so we spun the globe, pointed to a spot and ended up in Cusco, Peru.

Our first day there we made some friends at the airport and shared an amazing two-hour lunch with them. Carlos and Francesca were reporting on a fashion show that was going on in Cusco that week. We had a great time chatting with them, tasting some delicious Peruvian food, and just hanging out.

The next day we left for a two day trip to Machu Picchu. We travelled by train to get there and it was really cool because we could look up through the glass roof and look out to see the jungly terrain. It exactly matched what I had imagined it would be like, green, rocky and beautiful.

After learning all about the different native tribes in Chile, I have come to appreciate the variety and Chilean traditions that span over thousands of years. Thank you Pre-Columbian Art History. But along with the admiration of all things Chilean, I had developed a bit of an aversion to all things Inca because of the number they did on the native cultures. One look at Machu Picchu and I had to set my feelings aside and stand amazed at the skill they displayed in their city. Some of my favorite things about the city are the details that these intelligent people built so many years ago.

Example #1

Somehow the Incas knew where the fault lines were on the mountain. If an earthquake were to occur the city would have been torn apart and all of their work would have been destroyed. Not so fast there. The Incas were one step ahead of the game. They built a fault zone along the line so that as the ground shifted the city remained intact. Genius. (You can see how severe the fault line is by the huge chunk of the mountain that is in shadow.)

Example #2

Farming on a mountainside can’t be easy; especially when the mountainside is super steep. Never fear, the Incas have it under control. They cut notches out of the side of the hill to create the perfect agricultural plots. What’s more is that they also developed a greenhouse in order to cultivate plants that only grow at sea-level (like potatoes) at higher altitudes.

We hiked all day up to the sun gate on to see Machu Picchu from afar, around to the Incan bridge on the backside to see the sheer drop off (wouldn’t wanna be there during an earthquake), and back through the ancient city. Every year Peru claims that they are gonna permanently close down Machu Picchu because the city is wearing down. I’m pretty sure that if it has survived hundreds of years a few pesky tourists aren’t much of a threat, plus the upkeep can’t be that bad. They have some awesome free lawn mowers that work 24/7 for free!

Once we got back into Cusco, we decided that we wanted to see more of the Sacred Valley so we took another all day tour of the other sites. The Spaniards found all of these Inca cities so they were all in ruins, but it was still good to see some more cities. All in all we toured Pisaq, Ollantaytambo and Chinchurro. We had good weather for the majority of the day which made hiking through the ruins a pleasant adventure.

The last night we were in Cusco we went to a recommended restaurant from our trusty guide book. The food was delicious and there was even live music. We had a great time in Peru and it was delightful the whole time. As we looked out of our window in the plane to say goodbye to Peru, we were sad to leave. Then at the end of the runway with our last glimpse of Peru we were scared to leave. Why you ask? I’ll let you be the judge.

December 4, 2011

To La Campana and Beyond!

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind, but so wonderful at the same time. Throughout my time here in Chile I have been formulating a seemingly never-ending list of things that I want to do or places I want to visit. I am happy to report that the majority of the things on my list have been crossed off, but there still remained a few stragglers. Fortunately, my lovely sister came to visit for about two weeks and we got to all of the cool things that I hadn’t done.

Our first excursion was to Casablanca. And no, we didn’t fly to Morocco… Casablanca is a town just outside of Chile full of vineyards. When I say “full” of vineyards, I mean they are EVERWHERE. I’m pretty sure the grape-vine to citizen ratio is about ten million to one. Anyway, I’ve passed Casablanca countless times on my way to and from Santiago and I’ve always wanted to go wine-tasting there. That’s just what we did.

The next item on the agenda was to climb Cerro la Campana. I’m not sure I’d call it a cerro because it puts the cerros of Valpo to shame. La Campana is more like a mountain, the tallest in the region in fact. So with various layers of clothing and a backpack we set off for Quilpúe. A half-hour metro ride later, we hopped on a micro a rode it to the end of the route. On that dirt road up to the park we began the climb. Three hours later, the spectacular view was well worth the pain in the calves and the terror of the gigantic tarantulas.

On our way back we met some really nice people and rode with them to a biergarten. Yes, I realize that sounds ridiculous, but it really was an authentic German-owned, open air biergarten with a live band too. After a day full of hiking it was so nice to relax and chat with our new friends over a pint of homemade beer and french fries.

While we’re in the food category, there were two restaurants that I really wanted to go to that Marina and I paid a visit to. One was Sabariticas, home of the famous completos. Marina and I split an original. This consisted of a foot long hotdog with heaping mounds of sauerkraut, tomato, avocado, and mayonnaise spread on top. Sounds like an interesting combination and frankly one that I normally wouldn’t bee so keen on eating but it is AMAZING. Wipe off about a cup of the mayonnaise and I could probably live on those for a week. The other restaurant that I had been dying to go to was called Las Deliciosas, home of renown empanadas. We ordered a scallop and cheese empanada and a shrimp and cheese empanada so that we could try two different kinds. Marina and I now know why they are world renown.

The beach, the beach. We spent many-a-day relaxing on the beach. It was so nice to not think about class or life and just catch some rays and catch up with Marina. And of course it was gorgeous weather every day we were there.