Category Archives: sierra

taking over the sierra.

beautiful huascaran.

beautiful huascaran.

or really, it would have been that the sierra took over me, since i spent the entire time there with a terrible cold that i am just now really getting over. in fact, it took two days after we came down from the mountainous city for my ear to finally pop…it was pretty tragic.

anyways, i headed to the beautiful department of ancash and stayed in huaraz, which is the department’s capital city nestled up in the andes, for a few days for a peace corps training for project design and management (pdm), and followed that training with my in-service training (ist). at pdm, we each brought a community partner that we work with, and introduce them to basic project design and management 101. it’s extremely rich in information and also follows an american schedule, which of course exhausted all the socios, as they are not used to working a 8a-6p schedule without a siesta in the middle of the day. it was also a lot of work to reiterate a lot of the principles that were being taught, but it was great to get to know my socio better, and we have become even better friends as a result!

half of our pdm group w/ socios!

half of our pdm group w/ socios!

me explaining some of the concepts with my socio, berardo.

me explaining some of the concepts with my socio, berardo.

after our long days of training, we went to the main city for water and just to take time to look around. this is me and some of my favorite fellow pcperu 19 ladies.

after our long days of training, we went to the main city for water and just to take time to look around. this is me and some of my favorite fellow pcperu 19 ladies.

and i totally decided to fall for the tourist trap of posing with an alpaca because why not???

and i totally decided to fall for the tourist trap of posing with an alpaca because why not???

while there, in between being sick and at trainings, some ladies and i took the time to see a few other places in ancash.

beautiful yanguy. the original town was destroyed by a landslide, and rebuilt itself in a new location.

beautiful yanguy. the original town was destroyed by a landslide, and rebuilt itself in a new location.

the domineering huascaran.

the domineering huascaran.

the beautiful, turquoise glacier made lake, laguna llanganuco.

the beautiful, turquoise glacier made lake, laguna llanganuco.

as you can see i was unable to contain my excitement.

as you can see i was unable to contain my excitement.

the awesome-looking bark on the trees.

the awesome-looking bark on the trees.

on our way to see pastoruri.

on our way to see pastoruri.

some wild horses.

some wild horses.

one of a kind cacti.

one of a kind cacti.

to get to the glacier, first you go by horseback and then hike for about another mile. this is me and my horse, ol' smokey.

to get to the glacier, first you go by horseback and then hike for about another mile. this is me and my horse, ol’ smokey.

carlhey and i on our horses.

carlhey and i on our horses.

the view on our hike.

the view on our hike.

i made it!!!!

i made it!!!!

the glacier is an excellent example of the dramatic effects of global warming. so much of the glacier has changed just within even the last year!

the glacier is an excellent example of the dramatic effects of global warming. so much of the glacier has changed just within even the last year!

another example of the melting glacier.

another example of the melting glacier.

brrrrrrr!

brrrrrrr!

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chincheros.

chincheros.

chincheros.

we made our way to chincheros, which is well-known for its textiles and open-air market. unfortunately, we were there on a non-market day, but we still had the fabulous opportunity to visit a homestead who’s family specialized in creating natural textiles.

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nancy greeting us to her homestead.

nancy greeting us to her homestead.

all of the examples of local plants that are used to create dyes for the alpaca.

all of the examples of local plants that are used to create dyes for the alpaca.

nancy showing us how to clean the alpaca wool and then spool it into yarn.

nancy showing us how to clean the alpaca wool and then spool it into yarn.

after, she dressed us up in the finest sierran wear.

after, she dressed us up in the finest sierran wear.

moray.

IMG_2608as seen above, i was extremely excited to visit and explore moray. moray is where it is believed that the incas experimented with various crops to find the ideal growing conditions. to do this they had layered circles with various irrigation levels as well, which would test approximately how much sunlight and water was needed for the crop. it is believed that they experimented with more than 250 different types of crops.

an overhead view of moray.

an overhead view of moray.

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look at the snow capped mountain in the background!

look at the snow capped mountain in the background!

 

the extremely safe and secure steps to get from level to level.

the extremely safe and secure steps to get from level to level.

 

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huayna picchu.

IMG_2449to begin our day at machu picchu, we decided to hike huayna picchu. it is the tall, looming mountain above machu picchu. they only allow 400 hikers a day, and the ascent is only 1,000 feet. what they fail to mention is by “ascent” they mean “near vertical climb” and one uses a metal cable install only 7 years ago, to help you reach the top. and guess what! it was TOTALLY worth it! it was quite the accomplishment, and though i had altitude sickness problems, i still loved it. i highly recommend it.

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beginning our hike…and the last picture until we just about reached the top…i was too busy trying to not fall off the side of the mountain…

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there were more ruins found at the top, where the high priest and many of the virigins lived.

we made it! it was only raining a tiny bit....ha...

we made it! it was only raining a tiny bit….ha…

 

to reach the true summit, we had to crawl through a tiny cave. quite the adventure!

to reach the true summit, we had to crawl through a tiny cave. quite the adventure!

the clouds parted a bit, so you could see the road that the busses take to take visitors to machu picchu.

the clouds parted a bit, so you could see the road that the busses take to take visitors to machu picchu.

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the clouds parted for a brief second, and i snapped a picture of the view of machu picchu from above.

the clouds parted for a brief second, and i snapped a picture of the view of machu picchu from above.

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mp looking over the ledge.

mp looking over the ledge.

this was a super safe stairwell...especially when it was wet from all the rain.

this was a super safe stairwell…especially when it was wet from all the rain.

making our way back down the mountain.

making my way back down the mountain.

another quick cloud parting.

another quick cloud parting.

WE DID IT! and you know, it was difficult, but sosososososo worth it!

WE DID IT! and you know, it was difficult, but sosososososo worth it!

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sacred valley.

IMG_2416christmas night, we took an overnight bus to lima, and then caught a flight out to cusco. our first few days in cusco, we stayed in the sacred valley, which turned out to be a great decision, not only because it’s gorgeous but because it’s located at 9,000 ft above sea level, rather than the 11,000 ft in cusco city. we stayed in a town called yucay, in an old monastery turned into convent. it was gorgeous. and a delightful, relaxing stay to get our adventures started.

our taxi stopped at this incredible view on our way to yucay.

our taxi stopped at this incredible view on our way to yucay.

some kiddos hanging out under their mom's merchandise table.

some kiddos hanging out under their mom’s merchandise table.

our hotel in yucay.

our hotel in yucay.

my dreams were coming true with these cuties!

my dreams were coming true with these cuties!

the rural life in the sierra.

the rural life in the sierra.

a mountain with...SNOW!

a mountain with…SNOW!

chachapoyas.

during thanksgiving, i was able to FINALLY take my first vacation since being in peru. it was nice to have a few days to finally be a tourist and see a new part of the country after being here for 5 ½ months. also, it was a great distraction from missing time with my family in the states.

the plaza in chacha.

the plaza in chacha.

for my first vacation, i went to chachapoyas, which is located in the department of las amazonas. i took a 35 soles bus ride there on a 10 hour overnight bus. when i got on, the bus attendant handed out plastic bags, i didn’t understand what this was for until the middle of the night. i awoke to people rustling their bags so they had some where to put their waste as they were car sick since the road to there is 80% curving around and going up-and-down mountains. needless to say i turned the music up on my ipod.

a view of the town center.

a view of the town center.

once i arrived, i found a hostel on the town square to stay at and my friends and i took off on our first tour. if you are ever to visit peru, i highly recommend chachapoyas. i plan to return as i could have spent 5 more days there without having repeated a thing. the town itself is pristine and surrounded by beautiful green mountainsides. it also has consistently made some of the top up-and-coming travel destinations in the world.

i was sad i only had 2 short days there, and reluctantly boarded my 24-hour bus ride to lima for eist. at least i had the very front seat of my bus…which made for an incredible view.

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late(leigh).

oh hey! long time no see! sorry for the hiatus, especially after such a bleak one. i suppose i should update you on the activities that i have been up to. though up until last week, my work had been slow, i was still going out daily and working on charlas and encuestas with the ladies at vaso de leche.

doing my diagnostic in cruz blanca.

more encuestas being completed!

i also went to mocupe to help another volunteer with an event she planned with her school: an english singing competition! it was great. all the kids had planned a song to sing as a group and even choreographed and coordinated matching clothes. it made for a delightful afternoon. after which, i stopped into to chiclayo for some dinner on my way back, where i learned that there is a place that serves RIBS! obviously, it didn’t beat texas, but it will hold me over when i have my real red meat cravings.

phil, hallie and i served as the judges panel. too much pressure if you ask me. who wants to crush a child’s dream?

these girls were performing “wake me up when september ends” by green day. they even had a group of fans with balloons and posters.

my weekends here somehow always end up being way busier than the weekdays, which goes to show that peace corps really is a 24/7 job. a couple of weekends ago i was invited to a friend’s grandfather’s 80th birthday out in la ramada, which is a caserio in the sierra for salas. it was my first time to the sierra since being in peru, and it was breathtakingly beautiful. peruvians are marathoners of parties. this party started at 7:30 am and was still happening when we left at 8:30 pm. needless to say, that by the end of the day of eating, hiking, dehydrating, dancing and speaking only in spanish all day…i was exhausted!

la ramada, salas.

we went on a couple of hikes through miguel’s family’s land, which led us to a couple of rivers. while hiking through the lush, dense land we happened upon a lot of beautiful flowers, fruits and more.

this is the plant that they use to create the reed islands and kayaks.

banana tree.

 

this is when i felt like i was on an episode of LOST.

while hiking i tried a lemon dulce from its tree. it looked just like a lemon and smelled like one too. i thought my friend was trying to prank me, but instead it was just pure deliciousness. it seriously tasted like lemonade in whole-fruit form.

a view from one of points of the river we hiked to.

 

an ancient moche lunar calendar we happened upon while hiking.

 

the birthday boy. eighty years young!

this guy was great. he would come up say every single word he knew in english to me in one breath. i then realized what i sounded like when i spoke spanish. but really, he was just a hoot.

i also helped with a nationwide fundraiser in my town, called teleton, where my town had a 2-day event in the central park. the schools all performed different traditional dances, with some kids performing some solo numbers. it was quite a treat! and quite an eight-hour work day!

a performance and our booth in front of the muni.

i also took a much needed break and met up with some friends for some karaoke. if you know me, this is the best form of self-therapy (after bowling of course) for me, and turns out the place we went to had tons of country! i am not just talking about pop-country, but i mean REAL country (george strait, waylon jennings)!!!! needless to say, my fellow texan and i performed plenty of country songs with a number of “yee-haw’s!” to boot. we were far from the karaoke bars favorite customers, but at least we felt a little piece of home here in peru.

as i had hoped/predicted the eighth week was much busier. the huelga with the schools lifted, so now the kids are in school six days a week to make up for the lost time. my socia at the health post is back from her month-long vacation and people in my town are finally starting to recognize the only gringa in town. i forgot to have my camera with me to prove my activities, but i was back with partnering with the health post on charlas. i did a fun self-esteem one with balloons. it was a hit.

i also did a mini intro-session/charla of the peace corps to some business-owner friends. i have started to do some initial stages of planning with the police. i met with an artisan and plan on working with her artisan group and help them establish an internet presence and other marketing ideas. i went to an event out in morrope the other day with another volunteer, terrace. we hitched a ride back from the caserios in an enormous dump truck. while the fellow was out of the truck trying to take care of something, we replaced his cumbia cd with a cd that terrace made of herself singing environmental verses in spanish to the tunes of hit american pop songs. all i can say, is that he will be delightfully surprised when he next turns on his stereo. i mailed my early-voting ballot in. i have been eating CHIPS AND SALSA…chips and salsa, people!!!! i attended another wedding last night and took my place as the token gringa dancing the night away with all the old men.

of course there are still plenty of challenges to come: por ejemplo, my socia at the health post is going on an indefinite huelga starting this wednesday. but i will take a week full of positives for now.

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