Saturday, October 17, 2009

La Paz, Cuzco, and Machu Picchu...oh my!

It's been a busy couple of weeks! Ted's dad and Thom came to visit us. They spent the first part of their trip in Cochabamba, and it was fun showing them around our "hood" and having a little piece of home here for a while. We did lots of walking around the city, visiting the parks, taking them to local restaurants, showing them the markets, and sightseeing.

After Cochabamba, we all left for Peru! First, we had to fly to La Paz (the capital of Bolivia) and stay the night. We got there early enough in the day to check things out and walk around the "Witch Market" area. La Paz is BEAUTIFUL with a capital B. I had no idea! It's the highest capital in the world, at 13,000 ft. The views are breathtaking: snow-capped mountains, huge valleys, gorgeous architecture, cobblestone streets. It reminded me a little of San Franscisco with all the steep alleys, only La Paz has a darker and more mysterious vibe. Ted and I are hoping to go back sometime in the future, since its only a 30 minute flight!

What are those, you ask? Dried baby llama fetuses, of course! Used by Bolivians for ritual/religious purposes...

...used by Ted for a photo op. Yes, he washed his hands before dinner!

We stumbled across a tiny Moroccan restaurant and had a feast!

We only spent one night in La Paz, and its a good thing too because Bryce and Thom were having some trouble with the altitude and couldn't sleep:( We woke up bright and early the next day and flew to Cuzco, Peru. Cuzco is an interesting city and it used to be the Incan capital of the world, with tons of history and very cool Incan architecture everywhere. We were greeted at our hotel with coca tea, grabbed some lunch, and then went on a city tour of cathedrals and Incan ruins. Jude even got some quality time with a couple of sheep.

Jude got tired early that night so we put him to bed, ordered room service for dinner, and discovered the Colts/Titans game was on TV! So in a very unabashed American display, we settled into bed to watch the football Cuzco. The next day we headed to (drumroll) Machu Picchu! The town at the base of the mountain is actually called Aguas Calientes, where most of the hotels are. So, after 2 flights, 2 (long) taxi rides, a train, and finally a bus, we arrived at Machu Picchu! The train was about an hour and a half through some very pretty parts of the country. Here's a shot out the window.

And arriving in Aguas Calientes

OK. Here's the thing about Machu Picchu. I had no clue what it was 5 years ago, but it was recently voted one the Seven Wonders of the World, and very deservedly so. When the Spanish came to conquer this part of the world, they somehow weren't able to find this city since its so high up in the mountains. It was only discovered in 1911, and the architecture is amazingly advanced. All the stones are handcut and fit together perfectly, so tight in parts that you can't slide a piece of paper in between them. They built tiers going down the mountain where they experimented with different crops. It was a city for elite intellectual Incans and a place where knowledge was preserved. There are stones that perfectly align with the stars in certain months of the year, doorways that tell when the solstice is by the position of the sun, all kinds of crazy stuff. It even sits on a fault line, but the design was so perfect (without mortar) that it survived through many earthquakes because their plans allowed for minor shifts of the stones without damage. Ted's dad has wanted to make the trip to Machu Picchu since he was young, and it was really cool to make the trip with him:)
We got up at 5am to be on the mountain when the sun rose. At first it was really cloudy, but them all of the sudden the clouds started to burn off and Ted and I just stood there and stared at the most incredible sight we'd ever seen. Hands down, no contest, the most spectacular scene I've laid eyes on! Not just the city itself, but those towering green mountains and even the mysterious clouds just all came together.

Then we decided to hike Waynapicchu, the second highest mountain. Well, Thom decided, and we all went along with it:) It took over an hour to hike up, and whew!--was it steep! As someone afraid of heights, I tried very hard not to look at the drop-offs every few feet, and instead concentrated my efforts on saying "Caaareful" every few minutes to Ted, who had Jude in the baby backpack. Did I mention there were NO kids at Machu Picchu? None. I saw a teenage girl but that was the youngest kid I saw at any point that day. People were shocked when they saw that we had Jude with us on the hike, and he quickly became a celebrity. People were stopping to take pictures of him.

Needless to say, we were completely exhausted by the time we were finished!

We went back to Cuzco for our last night. American Indulgence #2 was McDonalds. Yes, on the Plaza in Cuzco we spotted those gleaming golden arches. We managed to find a quarter pounder and fries and I was one happy gringa:) We strolled around the plaza, browsed some shops, and had a great dinner. Jude had a wonderful time riding around with his Gramp, too.

Jude was a total angel and slept through each night like a rock, took his naps, and toddled around Peru like a little pro. Much to his parents' relief! His personality is just right for traveling, and I could not be more thankful for that, especially this year! A huge thanks to Bryce and Thom for bringing us along:) It definitely left us with memories to last a lifetime!
"It is good to know our universe. What is new is only new to us."
Pearl Buck


Cherrylynn and Ethan said...

Sounds like you guys had an amazing time. Thanks for sharing the pictures - Machu Picchu is definitely on my list of places I'd like to visit sometime. Love you! Cherrylynn and fam

Beth said...

Sounds like a perfect trip! Wonderful pictures and I'm sure even more wonderful memories! I really love thinking about all of you exploring together, and lama fetuses aside, I'm wishing we were coming out too!

The Flynns said...

Yeah - I have been waiting for this update!! Looks like you had an amazing excursion!! Some amazing sites!! We would love to make it down to see you and check some of this out for ourselves!! Jude is quite the travel companion!!! He is doing so great and truly looks like he is enjoying himself!! We love you all and miss you loads!!!

Ted, Caroline, and Jude Mosey said...

Anybody is welcome in our guest room, anytime!

Lauren said...

What a wonderful trip! Thanks for sharing the pictures of your travels. I am so glad Jude travels well with you guys and that you have already gotten to share so many memories together as a family. I love you and miss you!

Emmalee said...

What a trip! The fetus thing freaked me out a bit but everything else looked amazing! Can't wait to catch up :)