|Machu Picchu - the lost and found Incan village|
Before the trip, I tried to brush up my Espanol, to hopefully be good enough to order food, or perhaps talk with bonita mujeres. Speaking the local language, even a bit, will help one enjoy the trip more, mingle w/ the locals properly, joke your way around to get discounts, and yes - even get yourself out of a possible trouble. Entonces, yo practice mi espanol by reading popular spanish phrases and words available in the internet. Very little, "un poco", but enough to grope my way around.
The trip plan was dictated by what GMA7 wanted to feature in the show, top of the list: Machu Picchu and Nasca lines! At least this time, I didn't need to worry about tour planning, getting accommodations or transport needs. More importantly - how to pay them haha!
As part of travelling diary, I have to sample the local delicacies (while we were still in Lima city). I have no problem with that - AS LONG as the food do not have milk or cheese, or not super exotic typical of Zimmerman’s. Masira pa tyan ko!
"Cuy" - this is the Spanish (or perhaps Peruvian) name for guinea pig. Yes they eat this like chicken. I tried the Cuy Catchado (as I recall), more like a lechon de leche (roasted baby pig). The taste is agreeable, but knowing that you're eating some sort of a 'rat' can be a mindset challenge. I wasn't able to try the Kuneho (rabbit) as the resto didn't have one (good!). Curious on how they 'prepare' (kill) the little animal for cooking? I found out that they simply snap-pull the head and the tail (as if breaking a string). Sad, that may be my last cuy, ever. ;)
"Ceviche" is nothing very different from our own kinilaw. Good as pulutan for your cerveza. ;)
"Adobo" in Peru is somewhat similar to a meat stew, but with a hint of curry. It's ok, but I would prefer the real stew (ex. Lamb stew) or the real pinoy Adobo.
"Pisco Sour" is a favorite local drink. It has pisco, limon, y huevo blanco (egg white). Muy bien pero mas fuerza (good but stronger) than our regular Gin Tonic. I can drink this in parties! :) Pisco is a 'Peruvian grape'. Too bad we didn't have time to party hard and get wasted!
|the town of Cusco|
What's a Peru travel without the famous Incan ruin in Machu Picchu... This is a must-see archaeological site. I guess bagay ako rito, as the ruins - a ghost Inca village, is atop of a mountain. It is believed to be a worship or retreat place of the ruler.
What's outstanding about the place was how it was built. This is like year 1400CE ('CE' common era - aka/formerly ‘AD’), with no modern tools - but the Incans were able to erect giant slobs of big rocks, mostly with non-standard size and patterns. On top of a mountain!
|llama resident of Machu Picchu|
The ruins of Machu Picchu is so popular that endless stream of tourists flocked the area every day. It is believed that the 'holding capacity' of the place is around 1500 people, but there are times that visitors would reached 4500 in number. Hence, this site is listed under the endangered archaeological site by the UN.
The good-side of the history here was that, the conquistadores (known for their culture and race annihilation scheme) never discovered Machu Picchu during their conquest. MP was eventually abandoned by the local inhabitants, left and forgotten, and only re-discovered very late (1911) and so it was somehow ‘preserved’.
Anyway, during my team’s visit, I recall the first time I climbed the 'view deck' to see a post-card view of Machu Picchu, the cameraman was expecting to capture my jaw-drop reaction of awe (of the site), or at least - a fake drama-like 'wow'. Instead, I got distracted and reacted on the site of 2 Llamas (my first sighting) as they were busy munching grass to my right-hand side, just 3-5 meters close to where I was. Being a 'Born to be Wild' person, I got distracted and approached the llamas, calling them as if I just saw my pet. "Pucha naman inuna mo pa yang llama hindi mo man lang pinansin yung machu pichu!" (something like: you appreciated the llamas more than Machu Picchu). Haha!
How to get there: We flew from Lima to Cusco (1hr), train ride to Aguas Caliente (4hrs), 25min aircon bus ride to the site. Note, in Cusco, I felt the altitude and even got headache. We went to the ruins 1 day after Cusco (rode the train in and out the same tiring day), then overnight in Cusco (2nd night) and back to Lima next day. I'd recommend a night stay in the quaint Aguas Caliente -- a small, touristy town with expensive shops and nice restaurants and bars.
|in a view tower overlooking |
geo-glyphs (Nasca lines).
Here, a large figure is visible behind me
Nasca lines are another spectacular archaeological site to visit. These are pre-Incan geo-glyphs, i.e. giant drawings or sketches on the earth's surface. Many theories were suggested regarding its use - alien call, astronomical guide, deity worship, etc. For me, I think the Nascan simply made artworks with the dry desert as their canvas. Baka ngpacontest lang yung King nila noon on the best art piece of the year. The figures survived and still intact to this day - thanks to the heat of the dry dessert which prevented moisture or water from 'erasing' these magnificent work of art. The really intriguing part was - how the hell did they 'see' (or even work on) their art when one can only view and appreciate the figures several hundred feet above the ground?!
|in an airplane looking at a giant bird figure|
Getting there: Van ride from Lima to Nasca (6-7hrs), 70us$-plane ride. By the way, we all felt dizzy, and almost puke out during plane ride. The planes are small, single-engine, 5-seater types; the pilot had to 'bank' the plane left and right (causing the dizziness), in order for us to glimpse at the gigantic drawings. A camera crew suggested that the planes should be designed like a glass-bottomed boat for easier viewing.
|unfortunate destruction of some figures,|
here, a highway crossed / disfigured a nasca 'drawing'
After Nasca, we went sand-boarding! I did a slide-down in prone position (saraap!), and 2 stand-up sandboarding. I should have tried a steeper slide, hindi mabilis yung ride ko e. I can ski more than snowboard, but luckily I was able to stand on this sand board. I'd suggest a half to full day here to ‘get into the groove’ and enjoy it more.
Dune Buggy-ing took a different meaning when we rode the steep sand hills. Felt like roller coaster ride!! We were like kids screaming loudly in the monster 4x4 SUV.
Sadly, just like mountaineering – all good things must come to an end. After around 10 days, we packed our stuff, went back to Lima for last minute shopping – then catched our plane home.
Worth it? Super!
Tour potential: endless! (Desert, Andean mountain range, sea (surfing/etc.), archaeological, many others)
Cost: Low/Med-High possible. Backpacking possible (bus/trains). Flying is expensive of course.
Favorite? Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes
Recommended stay: 2 weeks to 1 month. Trek to Machu Picchu should be interesting (our itinerary didn’t permit us to do this).