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Cool Animals!

Leah's Story and Pictures of Animals We have Met in Peru


First of all, this is Leah and I LOVE animals!
One of the best things about being in Peru is that there are animals everywhere! Here are a few of my favorites.

Mr. Gibbs the Bunny

I met Mr. Gibbs at our very first hostal in Cusco. The owner told me that he was named by her daughter for one of the sailors in "Pirates of the Caribbean". My Gibbs was a playful rabbit and totally fine sitting on our laps. There was a garden in the courtyard and Mr. Gibbs liked to go there and eat the plants. I wish I could visit him again.

Socks the Cat

Socks is an interesting cat. She has mysterious patterns on his fur and sometimes knocks things over. Socks lives at a cafe called "The Meeting Place" where she likes to hang out with people and take naps. Socks gets mad when a dog comes inside. I like Socks because whenever she sees us he runs over to welcome us. She likes being curled up on a lap and has a great puuurr.

Mattias the Dalmation

Mattias is a really crazy dog! He belonged to the family we stayed with for a month. He hated fireworks and would do anything to get into our room if he was scared. He liked to jump up on our bed and on people. His hair got on all our clothes! There was a baby gate so that he couldn't get into the kitchen or living room. Zillah is way better behaved but it was nice to have a dog in the house. Mattias was certainly entertaining!
As a thank you and parting gift, we bought Mattias a new ball. I think he liked it a lot! Here is a video.

Federico the Flightless Parrot

On our trek to Machu Picchu we stayed with a family in the Jungle and met Federico. You have to be careful with him since he likes to nibble on your fingers and has a sharp beak. He is also very loud when he squawks. It was fun to hold him. He treated my finger like a tree branch.

Llamas etc.

We have seen lots of llamas and alpacas, sheep, cows, chickens, guinea pigs, and horses as well. Here are a few pictures.

We See Dogs Every Day


Thanks for reading my story about animals!

Posted by annevl 01:17 Archived in Peru Tagged animals peru kids dogs cusco Comments (7)

Weekly Wrap-up

Sept 14-23

View World Trip 2012 on noahv's travel map.

It's been a very busy week and a half. Here's a quick recap of what we've been doing, seeing, and experiencing. Some of these will get their own entries (like Melissa and Lisa's visit), but since bigger posts take longer to write, here's a summary version.

Last Friday 14-Sept Noah went with Sean and Mark and a bunch of other gringos to see Juanes - a big Columbian pop star.
Noah, Sean, and Mark

This was held at the Jardin de Cerveza - a big open place with a lawn and lots of cerveza for sale (your choice - Cusqueña or Pilsen). Tickets were S/25 (about $10) - not too bad to see three bands, including one of the more popular Latin American singers (here's one of Juanes' singles). Juanes put on a great show, and although I’ve been to a lot of concerts, this was a lot of fun to be in a different country. One thing I noticed, and I’m sure it’s not just a Peru thing, but there’s a sea of lit LCD screens as you look towards the stage - everyone is taking pictures or videos or letting thier friends at home listen over the phone.

On Sunday, Noah and Mark took a hike up to Chacan (otherwise known as el balcón del diablo), where we got yelled at by a sheep,
met Ricardo y Alfredo and their two dogs (who came along with us as "voluntario gias"),
and explored a really cool cave/tunnel underneath the rock.

As we were hiking back down from Chacon, we caught the end of a huge traditional ceremony at Sacsayhuaman.
I was told the name of the festival, but have forgotten it. It was a game/combat themed ceremony - you can see the different colored teams in the picture. Apparently, earlier in the day there were games that involved fighting between the teams along ropes strung over large pits of fire. And yes, people fell in. We missed that part, but it would have been pretty amazing to see. We then stopped for a welcome cold beverage,
and then met up with Anne and the kids and our new friends Lainie and Miro at Sacsayhuaman with the AeroNirvana group for some great music in the sun.

On Monday, Melissa and Lisa arrived for a quick visit, and Anne was off to pick them up at the airport and whisk them to Pisaq in the Valle Sagrado (Pisaq is a lovely town, and the Sacred Valley is at a lower altitude than Cusco, which helped for acclimatization).
Anne, Melissa, and Lisa outside of Pisaq

They spent Monday exploring the market and getting settled into Peru, and then headed to Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes on Tuesday, followed by a wonderful day at Machu Picchu on Wednesday. Thursday was back to Cusco and sightseeing, then Friday it was girl time for Lisa’s birthday, and then they headed to the airport on Saturday afternoon. It was wonderful to see them, but we all wish they could have stayed longer. However, there were many great memories made, and a welcome chance for us to send back some clothes and gifts to Seattle. Anne will write up all the details and pictures of this fantastic visit.

While Anne was with Melissa and Anne, Noah and Alex and Leah spent some time volunteering with CORASON - click here for our photo-album on our FB page (and feel free to LIKE our page while you're there!)

Saturday we said goodbye to our friend Scott, who left Cusco after many months (Scott is second from the left in this picture). Scott is an ethnobotanist, and has taught us all a lot about the local plants of Cusco and Perú.
Megan, Scott, Sean, and Noah

Sunday was a day to regroup, treat ourselves to breakfast at Jack's Cafe,
go to the mercado de San Pedro for food shopping (and Alex and Leah played the centimo toss game),
and relax a bit. Anne made a great batch of sopa de pollo with a ton of fresh ingredients from the market - yum!

Monday will be a big day for Noah to prep for his trek to Choquequirao (Tuesday through Saturday) - it will be quite the adventure!

By next weekend, we’ll be in our last 2 weeks in Cusco, so we’ll be finalizing our travel plans to Puno and Arequipa, while making sure that we see, do, and eat everything in Cusco that we haven't experienced yet (e.g. have some cuy for dinner, visit the Cathedral, go see the ruins at Tipón, etc etc).

Posted by noahv 12:23 Archived in Peru Tagged summary Comments (3)

¡Machu Picchu Maravillosa!

Our Four-Day Inca Jungle Trail Trek to Machu Picchu

View World Trip 2012 on noahv's travel map.

We did it.

We made it to Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World. It was a four day trek, which included some fantastic adventures along the way.

Our trek was the Inca Jungle Trail, which is one of the alternative treks to the classic Inca Trail (Camino Inca). We trekked with a Peruvian guide (Kenny), and a group of 12 (including the four of us, four Germans, three guys from the UK, and an Aussie). We went with a company called Conde Travel and we followed a route that included biking down from a high mountain pass, whitewater rafting along a sacred river, ziplining thousands of feet over a canyon, hiking through the jungle, and finally climbing up to Machu Picchu.

Overall it was great, although there were a couple of things that didn’t go so well, the biggest of which was not getting the message that we would need to carry our bags the whole time (the tour company told us that there would be a van to carry out bags, but evidently that was just for the biking part of the trip), and the sandfly bites we all got. Here's our story, along with individual commentary.

Day 1

We had an early start (5:15 wake up with instructions to meet the van at 6:00am), but we should have realized that we were running on “Peru time” (which is about 20-30 minutes later than you think).

  • ANNE: Nothing like waiting outside on a freezing Cusco morning for a van you hope is actually coming. We were in the plaza San Blas and kept telling taxis “no, gracias”. I did learn a valuable lesson. If there are dogs around, don’t leave your backpack on the ground. We narrowly averted having one dog use my bag as a fire hydrant.
  • NOAH: Lessons learned for next time - ask specific questions about types of baggage, and who is carrying it, and be get specific details on pickup (phone number, van color, etc.). What they told us during orientation the day before did NOT match reality. Not bad, but certainly different.

We loaded into the van with our other trekkers and drove out of Cusco, through the Sacred Valley, passing Urubamba and Ollantaytambo before heading up to the Abra Malaga pass at 4,325m (14,000f) above sea level. Our bike ride will take us down more than 1000 metres over an 80 km trail similar to the one in Coroico (Bolivia), which several of the guys in our group rode a couple of weeks earlier.

The biking piece started out in very cold conditions (but luckily dry weather - rain would have been a whole different story). After getting geared up with helmets, elbow and shin guards, and biking gloves, we got our safety speech from the guides and set off down the mountain.

As expected, Alex zoomed off down the pass straightaway, whereas Leah was a little more cautious (worried). However, she soon got her confidence and was chasing Alex around every corner while Anne and I tried to keep up.

Unfortunately, the tour company gave Leah a smaller bike with only one gear, so she had to work harder to keep up with the bigger mountain bikes that we were all on, but she did a great job.

  • LEAH: At biking they gave me a really small bike and that made me frustrated. It was almost all downhill and sometimes I went really fast. At the top of the mountain it was really cold and windy but it was amazing to look at the mountains as we rode by. It was cool to ride through rivers that ran right over the road!
  • NOAH: It’s true - on a lot of the hairpin turns, there was water that was running off the mountain and across the road (usually about 1-4 inches of water flowing over the pavement). Fun to ride through, but we all got a bit wet, and it was really important to slow down enough so as not to wipe out!

We made it down to the first stop without any major incidents, although Alex was ran off the road by a rogue bird and hit his knee and cracked his shin guard.

  • ALEX: About one fourth of the way down this crazy bird came by and sat right in front of my bike. I swerved to avoid it and ran right into the rain gutter. I was in shock at first then realized my knee really hurt. Mom and Dad were a ways behind me but a nice German girl helped me. I got back on my bike and kept going. At the next stop the guide had to fix my bike.

One of the Germans did not fare as well however; while zooming across one of the many rivers that crossed the roadway, he lost control and crashed off the side of the road. Luckily, his injuries were limited to a sprained thumb and a cut-up elbow, but it reminded us that although this was a lot of fun, we needed to be careful!

As we descended, the weather got warmer as we moved from high alpine terrain into the jungle. The scenery was amazing, and we all kept yelling to each other about the wonderful views that we passed.

  • ANNE: At the top of the mountain it was as if we were in the clouds themselves. The wind would catch me coming around a corner and then I’d be surprised again by sunshine. I admit that I spent more time watching Alex and Leah (with a mom’s fear) than soaking up the atmosphere but even half a soaking was incredible!


At the bottom, we had a well-deserved drink and some ice cream, and headed in the van to the restaurant for lunch (included). After refueling ourselves, we headed down to the river for 2 hours of whitewater rafting down the Vilcanota river. It was a lot of fun, although Leah was a bit worried about the rapids (and didn’t like getting splashed by the guide during the safety instructions even before we started). BUT SHE DID IT! :)

  • ALEX: The rafting was amazing because it was my first time (I had wanted to go with Dad in Seattle, but I wasn’t old enough). It was a little frightening at first, but then it was ok. I really hope I get to do it again.
  • LEAH: Rafting was fun except for the rapids.
  • ANNE: Adrenaline rush!! It has been a while since I have done anything like this. The 5 of us had to work as a team to get through the rapids and it was such instant gratification to still be alive and in the raft! I want more!
  • NOAH: This was a great rafting trip. It was Class 3+ and Class 4 rapids, but the scenery was great, and the water was not too cold. We got a chance to swim in the river (on purpose), and it was a blast. At the end, we got to see the process of loading up two large inflatable rafts on top of the rickety old van that we were riding in - not sure we thought we were all going to make it back up the dirt road!

(Note: no photos from rafting, since our camera is not waterproof. However, we realized that we want to invest in a camera that can come along with us for our water adventures!)

When we finally finished with the rafting, wet and tired, it was getting pretty dark, so we loaded up the van and headed to the hostel for the night. What we didn’t realize was that it would require a 45 minute hike uphill in the dark with all of our bags along a narrow mountain trail before we reached our destination. All part of the “ecological” aspect of the tour, but one of those items that got lost in translation during our initial discussions with the tour agency (like the fact that we would need to carry our bags along with us!)

  • ALEX: It was very relieving to be able to lie down at the top - I was very tired!
  • NOAH: Wish we had brought more flashlights with us, we only had one to share with the four of us... Luckily, we were able to spread out between the rest of the group and see enough of the trail to make it. Reminded me that we need to get some more head-lights!

It was an adventure - we heard the biggest cicadas that we had seen, and when we finally made it to the hostal, it was wonderful. We had a great room (with some very unique wallpaper),
the beds were comfortable, the food was good, and there were all sorts of animals for the kids to play with.
IJT_Alex_Parrot.jpg IJT_Noah_Parrot.jpg

  • LEAH: I was really happy at the first place that we stayed at, because they had lots of animals to play with. One puppy, a bunch of ducks, three dogs, lots of chickens, two cats, a ton of guinea pigs running around the kitchen, and a rogue parrot.
  • NOAH: Hiking up the mountain in the dark was exciting, but it would have been really nice to have been able to see the views as we went up. The sights in the morning were fantastic!

Day 2:

The next morning we woke up, had breakfast under the open-air structure with a wonderful view from the side of the mountain over the river and the town of Santa Maria.

After playing with the puppy and the ducks and the parrot Federico (who tried to eat Alex’s finger),
we got packed up while watching the daughters of the family finish their homework and head off to school (note: it was a Sunday, and they had an hour-long hike uphill to school - it gave us all another view on dedication to education).

The first section of the hike was pretty much a continuation of the previous nights path, which was a lot nicer now that we could look around and enjoy the view. We were on a section of one of the Inca trails used for royal messenger runners between Machu Picchu and the surrounding towns/cities.

At the top of the trail, on an overlook with the mountains, river, and Salkantay in the distance, we made an offering of some personal items (coca leaves and Soles) and continued on the narrow and amazing cliff trail,
heading down through coca and banana farms, into the jungle level.

There we stopped for lunch and chocolate and a well-deserved bathroom break
before heading out again for our afternoon trek along (and across) the river to the promised reward of a dip in the hot springs at Santa Teresa.

  • LEAH: Day 2 was much better. Although we had to walk almost 5 hours it was pretty nice because at the end of the hike, we got to go in the hot springs! That was really amazing.

After an afternoon which included eating oranges from the trees along the trail, taking a dip on the cold but refreshing river,
a river crossing on a cable cart,
all while wishing we had packed differently/lighter, we got to the banos thermales, relishing the idea of relaxing in the hot pools.

  • ANNE: The hot springs at Santa Teresa were the perfect reward for my sore walking legs! I expected sulfur-smelling natural pools, but these were more like actual swimming pools with sand and small rocks on the bottom, about 4 ½ feet deep (Alex could stand with water up to his chin). What a luxury to be submerged in hot water! The kids had new-found frolicking energy, and we were all a bit subdued when it was time to leave.
  • NOAH: This was a great spot to relax after all of the trekking. Unfortunately, during the 20 minutes that we sat and had a pre-soak cerveza, we got attacked by sandflies (small little gnat-size black bugs). They were merciless! We all got bitten up pretty badly, but I really got hit since I had not recently applied repellent. I ended up with about 50 bites on each leg between knees and tops of socks. The next morning, my legs were covered in small, round, red, and angry welts. Additionally, along with the itching that we all had, my legs were hot and swollen (perhaps from the bites plus the waters from the hot pools).
  • LEAH: We stayed in a hostel in Santa Teresa, and it rained REALLY hard at night.

Day 3

A 30 minute van ride through the jungle brought us to Colo de Mono Zipline headquarters. After getting geared up and receiving our safety lesson (while reassuring a rather unsure Leah) we made another uphill hike to zipline #1 (of 6). This is the first zipline in Peru, and the longest in South America. There are 2500m of cables in six sections. The longest ride or section is 400m long, the highest is 150m high, and the maximum speed on the cables is 60 km/h.

  • NOAH: I was feeling very lucky that, although my oft-bitten legs were feeling very uncomfortable, it was not so bad as to keep me from our next adventure - ziplining!
  • ALEX: I was really happy that we got to go ziplining - it was super cool! Plus, the other people in our group that chose not to go ziplining had to walk for 2 hours in the sun and dust from Santa Teresa to where we met them for lunch. Score!
  • LEAH: At the beginning, I was worried that I was going to fall. Once I saw how I was going to be attached to the cable, I started to feel a little better. Then, once I got a little braver, I did some all by myself.

One by one we got clipped in and were launched across the cable - Leah went tandem with the guide, so she got to go first (and she was awesome!) The adrenaline rush of zooming along the cables (sometimes with no hands, sometimes upside-down) over canyons and rivers and trees - simply amazing. Leah ended up going solo on 2 of the 6 lines (after initially swearing never to go alone), and we all had a fantastic time.

Leah ended up loving it...

Lunch at Hydroelectrica followed,
after which we began our last section of trail along the river and train tracks to Aguas Calientes. Along the way, we saw the ruined terraces of Machu Picchu above us, looking up at Huayna Picchu mountain and being amazed to think that we would be standing at the top the next day.

  • LEAH: At lunch, a friendly dog came over and slept on mom’s foot under the table. We called him “Racoon Face”. When we started walking again, he followed us! He stayed with us all the way to our destination! Racoon Face is a very brave and nice dog. I won’t forget him.


After a late afternoon swim in the sacred river (also an unforgettable experience with the rocks, river, and sun)
we made the last push to Aguas Calientes for dinner and a brief sleep in our hostel (Mosoq Inka).

  • ANNE: When we finally arrived at our “hotel” in AC, the first thing I wanted was a hot shower. We had about 90 minutes before dinner - plenty of time for both of us to refresh and regroup. Stripping off my stinky clothes I stepped into the hot shower - ahhh.... I washed my hair first, and then lathered up with soap to wash out three days of grime. That was working great, until the water went away. Totally. All at once. Not a drop coming out of the faucet. No advance warning, just...nothing. I turned off the faucet, waited a minute, and turned it back on. Nada. Not even a trickle. So, there I am, standing in the shower, covered with soap, looking up in disbelief at the showerhead. Really? Ok, I’ll just rinse off in the sink...nope...no mas agua. I ended up using a towel to wipe off as much soap as I could, and put back on my old clothes. Well, at least my hair was clean!
  • NOAH: Needless to say, there was no shower for me either... :)
  • ALEX: It was wierd to have to go to bed at 8:30, but it felt like I had been asleep for only a couple of minutes before dad was banging on our door at 4:30 in the morning.

Day 4

Up at 4:30 the next morning for a quick bite and then to the bus station to catch the first bus up the mountain to Machu Picchu. What an exciting feeling to be in the front of the queue waiting for the gates to open, and then walking in and seeing it all laid out in front of us - just like the pictures in the tour books and postcards, but this time we were actually there! A true wonder of the world.

Kenny gave us a great tour through the site, exploring all of the buildings, temples, architecture, and amazing stone masonry work,

including the famous (and mysterious) Intihuatana.

  • ALEX: Machu Picchu was much bigger than I thought it would be.
  • NOAH: The stone masonry on some of the walls was just amazing - no mortar, just razor-clean joints between the rocks. Our guide told us that, to this day, modern archeologists have only be able to “come close” to that level of skill. Some secrets may never been known...

Then it was time for a quick break for a snack in the shade before our turn to hike up Huayna Picchu.

It was tough to gear up (physically and mentally) for the almost straight uphill hike, since we were all hot and tired from the previous three days plus our morning exploring the city of Machu Picchu, but we waited in line, signed the book, and set off.

Don’t let anyone tell you different - this is a tough climb. It’s pretty much straight up the mountain using stairs and rocks and a cable as a handrail in places. You can really appreciate the vertical when you stand at the bottom and look up!

  • ALEX: Huayna Picchu was not as hard of a hike as I expected, but my ankles were soooo sore at the end of the hike because of the huge amount of stairs.

It was great to stand on top together, as a family and as a team. We are very lucky to have the opportunity to do this trip and have these experiences together.

  • NOAH: It has been a dream of mine to visit Machu Picchu (and stand on the top of Huayna Picchu) since I first saw a picture of this special place. I am VERY thankful and grateful to be able to experience this, especially together with my family.
  • LEAH: I’m really glad that my parents took me on this trek.

When we reached the bottom again (after climbing through a narrow tunnel both ways and seeing a panic-stricken girl with a fear of heights at the top) we were wiped out.

  • ALEX: I’m wondering why, if you are afraid of heights, you climb up to the top of a mountain...?

After a final walk through Machu Picchu, avoiding the huge crowds of tour groups that had arrived (glad we got there early), we collapsed into our seats on the bus for the ride back to AC.

A late lunch, a visit to the marked-up market, and an early dinner (killing time before our train), we headed to the train station for our train to Ollantaytambo and the bus back to Cusco. Stumbling into our beds at 11pm, we all agreed that it felt like a month had passed since we had left on this adventure, even though it was just a couple of days. Guess that’s what it feels like when you are having amazing adventures and making great memories constantly (plus the stresses of trekking) - but these are all experiences that we will always remember.

Posted by noahv 14:17 Archived in Peru Tagged trek adventure machu_picchu Comments (13)

Cusco Likes & Dislikes

from the family

As we were sitting at a local restaurant waiting for lunch (almuerzo) one day, I took out my notebook and interviewed the kids with some random questions about our time in Cusco so far. I've added answers de Anne y yo, and hope that this gives a little more insight into what we are doing, seeing, and thinking.

What is your favorite food?

Alex: Delicrak (fried "almost popped" corn kernals)
Leah: Tortilla soup
Anne: Lomo Saltado
Noah: Sopa de adobo

What is your favorite drink?

Alex: Jugo Mixto (fresa y plateno y piña = strawberries, bananas, and pineapple)
Leah: Chicha Morada
Anne: Pisco Sour
Noah: Cerveza de Cusqueña

What do you like the most so far?

Alex: Going up the Pachacuteq tower (here's a picture from inside the tower de Pachacuteq)
Leah: Exploring Cusco (here's a picture of the city from the Pachacuteq tower)
Anne: The slower pace of Cusco, and meeting many interesting people from all over the world
Noah: Our new apartment in the South American Explorers club (here's a picture of the garden - our apartment is the window on the second floor behind the tree)

What do you like the least so far?

Alex: Bug bites!
Leah: Car pollution - stinky exhaust!
Anne: Noise pollution - car alarms and horns and fireworks/explosions for all of the fiestas
Noah: Cold showers!

What are you looking forward to the most in the next month?

Alex: Visiting Machu Picchu
Leah: Giving our host family's dog a present
Anne: Visiting Colca Canyon
Noah: Visiting Machu Picchu and climbing Huayna Picchu
(from BootsnAll)

What have you learned that you are proud of?

Alex: Spanish
Leah: Spanish
Anne: How to order food and shop in Spanish
Noah: Spanish, and how to "be" in a new culture

What do you miss about home the most?

Alex: Zillah (our dog) and playing Minecraft on the computer
Leah: Same as Alex
Anne: Central Heating
Noah: Hot showers with good water pressure

What is the most interesting thing that you've seen so far?

Alex: Local girls with baby lambs trying to get gringo tourists to pay for pictures
Leah: People in traditional outfits
Anne: The way that women have their kids with them all the time - on their backs, at work, etc.
Noah: Condoms made out of chocolate

And we'll end with a quote from each of us:

Alex: "I'll walk in front" (Alex doesn't grasp the concept of following...)
Leah: "But, we're surviving..."
Anne: "This is normal!"
Noah: "I don't know what's in this soup, but it tastes good, so I'm gonna eat it"

Posted by noahv 18:16 Archived in Peru Tagged cusco observations thoughts Comments (5)

A Day in Our Life

A Glimpse at What We Do and Experience During a Typical Cusco Day

It has been a month since we first arrived in Peru - a month packed with new sights, sounds, experiences, and learning for us. Each day continues to provide unique moments and discoveries but we are also striving for some sense of normal. I can't promise you exciting - but here is a snapshot of a day in our life.

Good Morning!!!

On weekdays we wake around 7:00am, get dressed, use the munchkin bathroom etc. Showers are especially exciting. There is an electrical heating unit in the shower head that provides between 4 and 7 minutes of warmish water - depending on the strength of the pressure. We found that if you touch the knob with wet hands you get an electric shock. We now keep a dry washcloth nearby to use, much like an oven mitt.
Alex and Leah are not always super excited to get out of bed (it IS cold in their room). Note: there ARE 2 beds . . .


No surprises here. Breakfast is our most predictable meal. It looks exactly like this every day:
Our host family provides rolls, jelly, margarine, manjarblanco spread (toffee flavored), juice, tea, and coffee. We have bought ham, eggs, and yogurt to add to the selection. Gluten free eating is very difficult here - white carbs (potatoes, rice and bread) are an integral part of most meals.

On Our Way

By 8:10am we are out the door and looking to catch the eye of an approaching taxi driver. With Noah in the front of the taxi and the kids and I in the back, we embark on the 10-15 minute ride to school. As our Spanish improves, so does our conversations with taxi drivers. They are always surprised that we are staying in Peru for more than a couple of weeks and that we have not been to Machu Picchu. We have yet to meet a driver who has heard of Seattle - but there is always tomorrow. The rules of the road are still somewhat of a mystery - we only know that they involve invented lanes of traffic, horn blowing, and no turn signals. The trip costs 4 soles ($1) and saves us 45 minutes of walking uphill through the fumes of the morning commute.


There is a lovely view of Cusco from our classroom window. Classes begin at 8:30am. Noah and I are enrolled in group classes. The school is international but our current group includes fellow American Gabby (high school student from New Orleans) and Andrew (professor at UPenn). We are with one teacher 8:30am -10:20am and another from 10:50am -12:30pm. Lessons are a mix of grammar and conversation with some peruvian culture and history thrown in as well. Class begins with a review of the homework and questions from the previous day. New material is introduced and we have reading, writing and speaking activities.
Alex and Leah have a teacher to themselves and are in class from 8:30am -10:20am. They really like profesoro Alfredo who makes balloon animals, does card tricks, and keeps them learning Spanish. Noah and I meet them at the break and share a snack. They are then given either a math or writing assignment for the remaining time while we return to class.


After classes our first priority is finding a place to eat. Our family home is too far away and the school serves lunch only to residents - so we are on our own. There are at least 30 cafes to choose from within a couple of blocks. We've discovered that our best value option (besides Chinese food) is to find a good menu of the day.
At this cafe we each got fried wantons and a big bowl of soup as an appetizer, a main dish, a drink, and fruit salad for dessert. Total bill for 4 =40 soles ($16) - YUM!

Homeward Bound

At about 2 or 2:30pm we head out in the general direction of home. Any walk in Cusco involves at least a few stairs . . .
and diversions . . .
We usually stop at a market to pick up more water and/or other essentials. This one is our favorite because it is well lit, inexpensive, and close to our host family's apartment.

Afternoon & Evening

By the time we get back we are quite tired and tend to relax for the first hour or so. We check email and facebook, do our Spanish homework, watch the Olympics, read, etc. The four of us tend to hang out in one room (the warmest). Here is my view:
Dinner is served by our host mom between 6:30 and 7:30pm. After dinner we get organized for the next day, read, play a game, or choose a movie to watch as a family. Bedtime is around 9:30pm - which is quite early by South American standards but works for us. Ah, sleep . . .

Thanks for reading!
All the Best,

Posted by annevl 15:29 Archived in Peru Tagged food peru kids spanish school budget cusco Comments (7)

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