Monday, December 20, 2010
Sunday, December 05, 2010
We arrived late Saturday night and met our parents and sister at the baggage claim, and then checked into our hotel, which was across the street from said baggage claim. The Lima airport hotel is not joking around when they say that they are located at the airport. Because the online reservation system would not let us do 4 to a room, we lied and said there were only 2 of us, and tried to keep up this lie upon entering by having our mom and sister wait at the entrance. The only problem with this was when our mom and sister tried to enter the hotel, the hotel thought they were prostitutes. To avoid having our mother and sister labeled as such, we shelled out the extra persons fee, a small price to pay to preserve our family's honor.
Very early in the am, we walked back across the street to catch our flight to Cusco, and after only a slight delay - we made it to the historical capital of the Inca empire. We love how the Incas were so gay friendly and adopted the rainbow flag as their own in a showing of solidarity.
We checked into the Hostel el Santuario (which we more than once called the Hotel Sanitorium), a lovely spot along the river, and prepared for our pre-dawn wake up time which would allow us to see the sun rise over Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas. The only problem was at 5:45am, the clouds let loose and it started pouring. Undeterred, our guide led us to the bus and we took the treacherous drive up the mountain to MP.
The rain continued during our two hour tour of the site, (and it's not like we were able to stay dry at all, since our sister insisted that the umbrella remain over her fancy SLR camera the entire time), but the fog and clouds added a level of mystery to the place, and for the whole two hours we had no sense of the scale of it all or of the natural surroundings.
However, what immediately struck us was the obvious anti-Yale sentiment that pervaded the tour. Our sister outed us as a graduate of said institution, and so immediately we felt like we were being attacked. So a Yalie took ALL of the artifacts from MP to New Haven and never gave them back? Don’t take it out on us! Our guide was really smug when he said Yale agreed that very weekend to send everything back, and we swear at some point he tried to push us off an Inca terrace.
We hiked around the site for a bit, and eventually the sun came out and we could finally see Machu Picchu in all its glory, which was pretty incredible. Of course, we forced our sister to take 129038120398 pictures of us from the Guard House for various social networking websites, and we are pretty sure that we at least got one or two good ones out of the session. So we can't be too mad about the umbrella thing.
After taking it all in, we headed back down to Aguas Calientes for some lunch and relaxing, and then hopped on a train back to Cusco. Upon reaching Cusco, we met up with MA and his brother and sister-in-law for some cervezas, and planned our conquest of the Sacred Valley the following morning.
We met the A family after breakfast, and then Wilbur, the local tour operator, told us we would actually be on separate tours of the Sacred Valley, and that “Oh yeah, you can meet up later,” in a completely random place over 2 hours away. When this was followed by his saying that our non-Spanish speaking parents would be on the Spanish speaking tour, we knew something was wrong. MA and we were as adamant as we could be in our intermediate Spanish, arguing as our first point of contention that Victor back in New York had assured us that both families would have one private tour. While Wilbur tried and tried, he was unable to refute the intricate arguments made by two non-practicing attorneys, even if we did not know how to directly translate “this is a travesty of the Peruvian justice system.” We managed to get a tour guide and car to take us around for the day.
The tour involved an animal rescue shelter (where there were pumas rescued from a Lima nightclub!), the ruins at Pisac, the pisac market (where we miraculously saw the same "handmade" stuff every sixth stall), and the ruins at Ollantaytambo (where we swear we saw a gay tour group who were not nearly as excited to see MA and us).
The sacred valley tour was great, but our dad apparently did not agree, as you can see in the video below.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
We could hardly contain our excitement, and arose early that morning to head to Paloquemao, a giant produce, meat, and flower market here in town. Photos below, courtesy of our classmate and amiga AM, given that our camera is muerta.
We also partially DJ'ed the evening, and taught a room full of Colombians the art of screwing in the lightbulb and turning the doorknob (aka, bhangra dancing). Overall, a very successful and delicious evening, and it made us miss home that much less!
Monday, November 15, 2010
Monday, November 08, 2010
The morning started off with promise, when the driver told us he could take us directly to the Park instead of dropping us of in Santa Marta, as we were originally told, from where we would have had to take additional modes of transportation. But soon after we passed the birthplace of Shakira, things went downhill.
Apparently, there was a protest near Santa Marta, during which those fighting the good fight for economic and social justice forced a shutdown of the one road into town, leaving us to fight the heat for 3.5 hours with only a few packets of cookies. Once we realized what was going on, JH quickly emailed EKK and AK, his Asia travel companions, and they advised us to ration the snacks and take care not to share them with any of the strangers on the bus. JH made sure not to share them with the Israeli backpackers behind us, and in return, one of the girls gifted him her cold, but this we did not realize until 24 hours later.
The traffic jam forced us to spend the night in Taganga, a small fishing village that has apparently become a destination for European and Israeli backpackers, and a jumping off point for visits to Parque Tayrona. We ended up at a cute hostel that was apparently hosting a model convention of some sort, since everyone there was stunning and shirtless. One tall and handsome boy from Chicago bought a beer at the snack bar and talked to us about our impending move there for 10 minutes before saying that he had to run and take his friend to a doctor because she probably had Yellow Fever. Are there doctors in small fishing villages slash crunchy party towns? We hope that we need not ever answer this question. Also, we give you all permission to buy a beer and chat with strangers for 10 minutes if we are ever facing a potentially life-threatening mosquito-transmitted disease (although we are vaccinated against Yellow Feves for the next 10 years).
After a dinner of sandwiches on baguettes and some beers next to European jugglers, we rested under mosquito nets and headed Parque Tayrona in the morning via two buses. Upon our arrival to the park, we began our three hour adventure through the mud, up hills, and along beaches.
On the way, one German boy asked us to take shirtless pictures of him (with his own camera) lying down on a big rock. Of course, we used this opportunity to take some pictures of him with our own camera as well. However, the camera G*ds must have been angry, because soon thereafter, we tried to cross a large pool of water with our camera in our pocket, and suddenly found ourselves in waist deep in water and our own camera is now dead. DEAD. We hope the blog does not suffer due to this tragedy, but rest assure dear reader(s), we will make amends.
The park and its beaches are really something else, and, despite the heat and mosquitoes, we think it’s really one of the most beautiful places we’ve seen. We were sad to leave the next day to head back to Bogota, wary about getting on a plane with mud caked on our legs and sand in our sweaty hair. But the Colombian airport security officials took pity on us and let us on, and we made it back safe and sound.
Still to come, Halloween in Bogota = Loco.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
After settling JH and CR into the hotel/motel/hostel like structure behind the house, we headed to the big gay night club in town, where our hair started to vibrate due to the amount of bass pumping into the venue. Luckily, we were rescued by a new friend JS who showed us that there were in fact 1092812 more rooms in the club, including 2-3 roof terraces where the noise level was seriously reduced.
Sunday, we left for the coastal colonial city of Cartagena, and were greeted with warm sun, which we realized we had been missing here in cool Bogotá. The old city was really charming, despite the fact that it was DRY (as in, not not wet, but no alcohol was sold), because of some elections. The idea of not drinking on election night, (especially today’s), was not something we were used to. CR, JH and we managed to find one bar willing to serve us beer in coffee cups, behind a big plant, in order to evade the authorities.
On Monday, after some yelling in Español at the women who sold us a ride on a boat without telling us that we would need to pay more to get on the dock in order to get on the boat, we ended up at the lovely Playa Blanca, where, praise Xenu, they sold beer. This was especially helpful given that the boat that we paid for had a motor from 1945 that gave out approximately 23 times. During the adventure, however, we made a new friend from Buenos Aires with whom we practiced our Español, and from whom we snagged an invite to her country home! See, from adversity comes great things.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
On Tuesday we started our classes de español at the Nueva Lengua school which resides in a cute white house in the Quinta Camacho neighborhood. There are four people in my class, one Polish girl, a guy from England, and a Dutch girl, all of whom are just as good and just as bad as we are at español. This marks approximately the 187th time in our lives someone has tried to teach us the subjunctive, but we are determined that we will master this tense by the end our stay here.
Speaking of verb tenses, we had NO idea how many different tenses our coming out story has until we had to translate it into español after someone asked us about it on Wednesday night. We went with A and her amigas to Cavu, a gay bar with a Wednesday night fiesta featuring a drag queen in residence and a mixed crowd of chicos and chicas. Seriously, do we really need the pluperfect subjunctive and the conditional perfect? No.The bar was fun, despite the shots of aguardiente that did us in and prevented us from remembering a single word of español in class Thursday morning. The other problema is that it is hard enough understanding normal speed Espanol as it is, but when you add many decibles of Shakira on top, it is virtually impossible. One boy asked us “ierouo aosdufaoi hsdkfoisd sdf?” (what we basically heard), and after repeating it 4x and not receiving an answer, he walked away. The ladies were more patient, but maybe that is because they all already had GFs (this is a universal occurrence apparently) and were in no rush.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Palacio de Justicia
AO took us to a café for some tamales, and chocolate santafreño, hot chocolate, with…cheese at the bottom. Yes, cheese. When in Bogotá…
After more sights and an introduction into the cultural world of Bogotá (Museums! Concerts! Exhibits!), we headed back to the Casa for dinner with Tia M. After dinner, we called the cousin of ND, and she offered to come pick us up for some drinks at her friend’s place. Of course, soon enough, we were playing “nunca he hecho,” which for you non- Español speakers is better known as “Never Have I Ever.” In normal situations, only understanding 60-70% of what is being said, though not ideal, is not really a huge problema. However, when one drinks after thinking something means something else, it is a problema because then we are asked for a story, and have no idea what, or better yet, how to even say it. But we got a great lesson in slang that will unfortunately not be on our placement examen tomorrow at school.
After learning the proper words for “tacky,” “trashy,” and “classy,” we headed with a crew to a rooftop discoteca in Zona Rosa (“classy”). Before entering though, we went to the supermarket and bought and shared rum in a small juice-box, on the street (“trashy”).
At the club, no chicas were talking to us, but one amigo promised to take us next week to a place with more chicos, so we stuck it out and had a great time dancing to basically the same 80s playlist we stole from EKK’s “Pure 80’s” CD she probably got from one of those CD drives in high school (“tacky”). (KIDDING, so classy.)
Sunday and today were a bit more relaxing…we basically watched a bunch of dubbed movies, cheated with 1 hour of Mad Men (not dubbed), and visited some museos in El Centro. Class begins mañana! We are currently picking our best back to school outfit and luckily we have new glasses to appear v. serious.