Monday, March 10, 2014

3-2 Carnavales

Our plans today were heavily informed by Carnavales, which is the Peruvian version of Carnaval.  Unlike Brazil where this holiday is characterized by drunkenness, costumes, and dancing, this festival manifests itself in water fights.  While cute and innocent, I couldn’t bring my camera into these danger zones.  So, we decided to visit the Incan ruins of Q’enqo and Saqsayhuaman instead of being anywhere near the plaza.  After a lazy morning and great breakfast with Benji, We hopped on a bus called Huerto in order to head up to the ruins.  Along the bus route we were bombarded with water guns and balloons.  From the safety of a closed vehicle, we enjoyed this very much.  I was glad Meghan could see some of the innocent joy of Peru during her time here. 

When we got off the bus we soon discovered that walking along the road was far from dry.  We had almost reached Q’enqo when a supersoaker came from behind and wetted us pretty well.  It was a sunny, hot day so water was appreciated as long as my camera was safe.  We were planning on viewing the ruins from outside since we weren’t about to pay for a whole circuit of ruins when we could only see 2 of them.  I had never had the chance to see Q’enqo from outside, so that was actually very cool and different than my previous experience.  The lady at the gate asked to see our tickets, then let us pass without them out of sheer kindness.  That was great, I was glad to share this place with Meghan.  We heard from another tour guide that archeological studies of Q’enqo have never been done.  That’s crazy to me, it seems like they could find a lot of beautiful and informative relics there.  I guess the money just isn’t there.

Following this experience we ventured over to an alpaca textile shop with a guy who met us at the ruins.  At first I wasn’t opposed to buying something there, but when I learned that baby alpaca sweaters were about 350 soles I knew I was in the wrong place. 

So we headed out to Saqsayhuaman.  It’s beautiful from the road, but I was still hoping to negotiate my way in without one of the circuit tickets.  Unfortunately speaking Spanish can’t quite get me that far.  After checking out the ruins a little more from afar, we went to Christo Blanco, the white statue of Christ that overlooks the city.  I’d shockingly never been there, so it was great to see that.  The views of the city were incredible, and we could even see that the plaza was full of people for Carnavales. 

For lunch we went back into the city and got ceviche, the typical Peruvian fish dish.  The place was a little hole in the wall, and the waiter and I could not communicate in Spanish.  I swear I was speaking perfectly clearly, but for some reason he couldn’t understand my words if his life depended on it.  I thought it was decent, but Meghan wasn’t a huge fan.  I suspect the very foreign atmosphere may have had something to do with that as well. 

It rained in the afternoon so we looked over some of the Incan history resources I’ve accumulated.  I think it set a good mood for starting the Inca trail in 2 days. 

Samir was supposed to meet us for dinner, but he had something come up so that didn’t happen.  So Meghan and I went to one of the other places in gringo alley.  I think the guy who invited us in was the same one who hit me with a menu a while ago.  Good stuff.  Their lomo saltado was only decent, but overall it was a good meal.  The quinoa soup was my favorite part in terms of food.  Overall, the best part was a band that came in and started playing mid-meal.  They were very impressive to me.  Genuine Andean music with the pan flutes drums, guitar, and what appeared to be a 12-string Ukulele.  I didn’t know those existed.  I love the constant surprises and adventures that arise in this country.  

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