Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Sunday, September 14, 2014
I can't help but post a few more "family photos." After all, we had them taken enough times....
Friday, September 5, 2014
Given the fragile nature of the crumbling infrastructure, we were discouraged from flushing toilet paper. So where did the paper go you ask? In a trash can next to the toilet. Yuck! How do you reduce the amount of stress on the infrastructure and still be hygienic? Enter the bidet!
So I'm embarrassed to say that I've never used one. The first night I couldn't figure it out. Was it a urinal? Was it a second toilet? How do you use this new fangled contraption? So after a couple of beers and some very informative You Tube videos, I summoned the courage to try it out.
Needless to say I was hooked. Having a tool to take care of your "undercarriage" and save the planet at the same time, how could you go wrong. Twice I almost missed the bus. I can hear Bara and Julio now...
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Our Machu Picchu tour - what an amazing sight to see - I highly recommend to all. And the good news is that in 2016 there will be a new international airport in Cuzco/Cusco that will cut the travel time down considerably.
There were often dogs wandering in our travels. Most people in Lima have dogs to protect their homes - our tour guide added that it would not be uncommon if you went on a weekend trip to come home to an empty house.
This little fella (or maybe gal) was wandering the streets just outside of Machu Picchu. He is one of the Peruvian hairless dogs. Cute or ugly?
Thursday, August 14, 2014
One of the largest "shocks" for me during the trip was the lack of infrastructure across several spectrums in Peru. The political system has a structure, however there is a need to develop further regulation around several platforms to attract new business, and give them the protections they require to become global organizations. The physical infrastructure is also in need of updating, and the estimates we heard of $19 billion in project needs currently are mind boggling to say the least. The country is blessed with an outstanding number of natural resources, and in my opinion, require a very long term, strategic approach to working through some of these challenges. I am fully aware that this will take a generation or two to execute, but am confident that the will of the Peruvian people is strong enough to see this through.
The cultural experience was second to none. The Water Circuit tour was incredible, and rivals anything available in Las Vegas. The museums are full of history and interesting artifacts (not sure I can look at pottery the same), and the visit to Machu Picchu was an almost religious experience. The food was marvelous and Julio was the savior, always having our backs and keeping an eye out on the group. The experience would not have been possible at this level without his guidance and knowledge of the city.
I feel obligated to mention that the cohort was the best part of this experience. I have never worked with a more remarkable group of people, and I am confident that this cohort could be placed anywhere on earth, and we would have a similar amazing experience. I am blessed to know and interact with each of you.
In Peru's Blood Festival, It's The Condor Versus The Bull by Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato August 13, 2014 Share Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato for NPR Enlarge for caption The Peruvian Blood Festival is a striking spectacle, with a giant condor strapped to the back of an enraged bull in front of a roaring crowd. For many Peruvians, it is a symbolic re-enactment of their liberation from Spanish rule. For conservationists, it is yet another threat to one of the world's largest birds. To prepare for this annual event, known as the Yawar Fiesta, residents in the small village of Coyllurqui climb into the surrounding cliffs to trap a condor. It may then be held for weeks. But when it's time for the battle, the condor is given alcohol to drink and lashed to the back of a half-ton bull in an arena. The beast then tries to shake off the condor, while the huge bird attempts to gouge out the bull's eyes. These Andean people believe the condor is a symbol of the Inca nation, and the bull represents the might of the Spanish conquistadors. Though they predominately identify themselves as Christians, villagers see the condor as an Andean god that has come down from the heavens to fight for their freedom. Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato for NPR Enlarge for caption There's a lot at stake during the battle. If any harm should come to the condor, the villagers believe it's a bad omen for the year — and the dwindling condor population suffers another setback. Conservationists want to put an end to the Yawar Fiesta in order to help protect the species. But many Peruvians say they want to preserve the traditional event, which takes place every year on July 29, the day after Peru celebrates its independence. No one knows exactly how many condors are left in Peru, but the general consensus is that there are 600 to 1,000 remaining, and their numbers are declining. The Role Of Condors Condors, which weigh up to 33 pounds and sport an enormous 10-foot wingspan, eat dead animals that could otherwise harbor lethal bacteria like anthrax and botulism. They have long lifespans, reaching up to 75 years in captivity. But they also reproduce slowly — only one chick every other year. Both parents are needed to raise offspring, which demand support for an entire year, said Michael Mace, the curator of birds at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato for NPR Enlarge for caption The condors are released after the Yawar Fiesta, but no one knows the effect of weeks in captivity and a brawl with a bull. After this battle, which lasted less than 30 minutes, there was blood on the ground. But it was not clear whether it came from the bull or the condor. It's not even clear how many of these Yawar Fiestas take place each year, but it could be more than 50. The biggest threat to the condors comes from farmers and ranchers who shoot or poison them after wrongly assuming the birds kill livestock. In fact, the condors are just opportunists that feast on already dead animals. At this year's Yawar Fiesta in Coyllurqui, the condor was far from godlike — it looked rather pathetic. The ropes that held its feet were sewn into the bull's hide, and the bird slumped over, flopping around as the matador goaded both animals into a frenzy. "It hurts me. I am sad to see the bull and the condor," said Geronimo Yucra Nininty, a festival attendee. "I'm against abusing animals." Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato for NPR Enlarge for caption In the 1970s, the Peruvian government forbid the capture of wild animals, said Cecilia Larrabure, a photojournalist who is working on a documentary concerning the festival. There are rumblings in the capital Lima that officials might start enforcing those rules, she added. But in remote locales like Coyllurqui, it's difficult to enforce existing laws. The village is a nine-hour bus ride away from the city of Cusco on a mountainous dirt road packed with tight turns. "I think that it is crucial, the protection of the condor," said Coyllurqui Mayor Walter Bocangel Gamarra. "But here we have these customs, these traditions. If there's not a condor, there's no festival." A Long History The first record of the Yawar Fiesta was a celebration in the city of Cusco in the 18th century, Larrabure said. Back then, the festival was called "Turupucllay," which means "Game of the Bull" in Quechua, an old, native language. The title "Yawar" is more recent. A 1941 novel of the same name by Peruvian author José María Arguedas popularized the term. In this region, he is reverently referred to as the "Hemingway of the Andes" and most anything connected to his name tends to draw tourists. Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato for NPR Enlarge for caption This is good marketing for cash-strapped villages wishing to attract visitors. The festival also brings back family members who have left the town. And it can also provide an emotional lift. The history of the Spanish and the Inca is bloody. The Spanish massacred the Inca and oppressed them. Life is still hard in the Andes, where poverty, alcoholism and spousal abuse are common, Larrabure said. "When [the people] put the condor on top of the bull that is a way of saying the Inca is back," Larrabure said. "For them, it's important to have that feeling — at least once a year they can hope." Fernando Angulo, a researcher at the Corbibi NGO who is working on a condor conservation plan, says the festival doesn't have be a battle between traditionalists and conservationists. "Many people are of the idea of prohibiting the Yawar Fiesta to save condors. But I think [the festival] is a great opportunity for education," he says. "We have to look for a more creative solution." Angulo suggests using the festival as a tool to study the condors. The Andean people have local knowledge about the bird's habits and locations that foreign researchers don't. He would like to work with communities to tag and track the birds, educating residents about the ecological importance of condors. Angulo says he hopes this type of bottom-up movement will encourage people to hold the festival — but without the fight.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
- The food in Peru is one of its best kept secrets; everything I ate was exceptionally delicious. Each dish has its own unique taste and a perfect combination of spices. Their french fries are way better than ours.
- All of our hosts, on all of our visits, were extremely hospitable. Everywhere we went, our hosts offered us knowledge, just about all gave us food, and one even gave us beer (OK, it was a brewery). Our hosts were not only helpful to the American strangers, they were all very involved in helping their own communities and country.
- Traffic signals are just a suggestion - Thank you Julio.
- Every tour should come with a Julio. I think he knows all of Lima. He showed us where to shop, eat, and play; he showed us how to get there safely and sometimes took us there himself; he told us what to eat and ordered for us.
- Going down into the Peruvian mine was the coolest thing I've done (sorry Quinones kids, mom still uses 'cool' as a description).
- Pisco Sour - definitely; Peruvian beer - not so much.
- There is such a thing as viewing too much pottery.
- There is more traffic in Lima than NYC and they love to honk.
- Don't believe the weather - it's not sunny and high 60's this time of year.
- The water in the Dazzler pool actually is warm.
- My cohort is the best cohort ever! Thank you guys for the fun times and memories (don't worry, I won't share all of them).
- You need a Barbara on your trip - she'll take your pictures for you and share food so you can try more than one thing at a time.
- UAlbany rocks (sorry again kids)!
- Do we need to debrief again?