Blogs from Quillabamba, La Convención, Cusco, Peru, South America

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South America » Peru » Cusco » La Convención » Quillabamba October 25th 2014

Geo: -12.8167, -72.7833It's not the distance, it's the elevation.I didn't have time or facilities to blog from the trail, which is kind of a shame because I'm sure I've forgotten so much. In a way though, I'm sure it is good to forget some things like the way you feel when you are gasping for breath and staring straight up a mountain trail that looks like it has no end. The second day was the hardest for me because it has the steepest uphill climb. The two challenges of the trail are steep inclines (very cardio intensive) and steep declines (hell on the joints). I'm blessed with good knees so I found up much, much harder than down. The day started with a trip to the bathroom which was guarded by a donkey and a pig. ... read more
More ruins
Us and mountains
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South America » Peru » Cusco » La Convención » Quillabamba May 17th 2014

My last two days at El Establo. We went to help a neighbour clean his road way. This means that we walk up hill slashing all the wild growth on the road side a meter deep with our machetes. I was in heaven, much easier than chopping through thick trees. In the afternoon we learned about mapping archaeology sites. At supper, Americo and Isa made it clear that I shouldn't leave, just bring Jacob here, but the Amazon is calling. A new volunteer just came from there and has the most incredible pictures. The next step promises to be incredible as well. We had to wake early (4:30 am), because on my last day the plan was by chance to go to a completely different ruin. We drove up to the high pass and then unloaded ... read more
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South America » Peru » Cusco » La Convención » Quillabamba May 17th 2014

I spent the weekend at El Establo. Friday morning, we went into Huryo to the Pre Schools. We were there to play with the little ones. The one I went to was a one room dark space with some school supplies, but no instruction, only play. The afternoon was spent gathering new blisters on my hands from dekerneling the dried corn for the chickens. After cob 15, I finally figured out I should be wearing gloves and then all went well. Saturday dawned with rain, rain all night and rain all day. It was a perfect day for reading and sleeping and then reading again, with a few card games thrown in for spice. We were a girls weekend with just 4 volunteers left, Niels had gone to Cusco and we had lost everyone else to ... read more
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South America » Peru » Cusco » La Convención » Quillabamba May 1st 2014

I spent the weekend at El Establo. Friday morning, we went into Huryo to the Pre Schools. We were there to play with the little ones. The one I went to was a one room dark space with some school supplies, but no instruction, only play. The afternoon was spent gathering new blisters on my hands from dekerneling the dried corn for the chickens. After cob 15, I finally figured out I should be wearing gloves and then all went well. Saturday dawned with rain, rain all night and rain all day. It was a perfect day for reading and sleeping and then reading again, with a few card games thrown in for spice. We were a girls weekend with just 4 volunteers left, Niels had gone to Cusco and we had lost everyone else to ... read more
Some of the gang
Our walk into town
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South America » Peru » Cusco » La Convención » Quillabamba May 1st 2014

My last two days at El Establo. We went to help a neighbour clean his road way. This means that we walk up hill slashing all the wild growth on the road side a meter deep with our machetes. I was in heaven, much easier than chopping through thick trees. In the afternoon we learned about mapping archaeology sites. At supper, Americo and Isa made it clear that I shouldn't leave, just bring Jacob here, but the Amazon is calling. A new volunteer just came from there and has the most incredible pictures. The next step promises to be incredible as well. We had to wake early (4:30 am), because on my last day the plan was by chance to go to a completely different ruin. We drove up to the high pass and then unloaded ... read more
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South America » Peru » Cusco » La Convención » Quillabamba May 1st 2014

Once again Tuesday is the best day of the week. We went back to our ruins and I cut down one and a half big trees, as well as clearing to the ground one entire room. Now we can see the shape of the buildings and the spaces between them, it's not just forest and rock. The transformation seems quite miraculous. When we first came it seemed that we would never be able to uncover this mysterious place and now I can see how the dig will be able to work. It's too bad that the rains have continued and there is no hope for me to be part of the excavation. It makes me want to come back in July when the dig will be in full swing. The walk up is getting easier, although ... read more
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South America » Peru » Cusco » La Convención » Quillabamba April 19th 2014

We had a day of lessons in archeology in preparation to doing excavations over the next couple of weeks. I wish I could be here longer, because the rains are slowing down our start and I may get very few days doing actual archaeology. There are a zillion steps to excavating a site, all to do with precise measurement of where every tiny object is on the site and at what exact depth. This is a slow and precise art with lots of photos and drawings, light troweling and soft brushing. I think I will like its meticulous and exacting nature. We had a large feast of roast chickens (from our flock, but we weren't here to see them caught and cooked) yucca, sweet potato, boiled corn, and salsas. We were celebrating Dan the project director's ... read more
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South America » Peru » Cusco » La Convención » Quillabamba April 19th 2014

I like Tuesdays best. We pack a lunch; it was peppers stuffed with veggies and meat and covered in batter then deep fried, slabs of potatoes, tomatoes and then fruit picked from the trees here. Then we take an hour ride up the mountain, seeing the valley below at every turn. This week, the van got stuck. We all got out and collected slabs of rock to put in the ruts and then pushed and pushed. It took awhile but we got it. At the top we have a 20 min walk through the forest to the Inca site that is our project. I doubt if I will get a chance at excavating before I leave, but I do really love the machete. I hacked through 3 1-2 foot wide trees this time. Then walk down, ... read more
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South America » Peru » Cusco » La Convención » Quillabamba April 19th 2014

Those of us who stayed home for the weekend went and collected wood from a tea plantation owned by Americo's (Americo and his wife caretake this place and cook for us) father. We spent the morning locating piles of coffee wood that had been piled and then buried under growing vine. We amassed a wall of wood, three foot wide, 6 foot tall and 12 foot long, massive. We will use the wood in the clay pizza oven and in a big bon fire, just for fun. The afternoon was easy and slow. Sunday is market day in Huyro, so we walked into town after breakfast. The market is full of baby chicks, meat stalls, piles of vegetables, beans and grains. Upstairs there were juice stalls and lunch stands. I bought a wonderful deep fried ball ... read more
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South America » Peru » Cusco » La Convención » Quillabamba April 19th 2014

Our chief archaeologist has now joined us. Due to the basically all new work force of volunteers, we spend the day getting situated in our valley. We drive from ruin to ruin in the morning, walking into the sites, sometimes through wandering paths and sometimes on the Inca Trail itself. We cross over a suspension bridge. We walk through a tea plantation. We find rocks tumbled, rocks intact as walls, rocks covered in moss and ferns, or sometimes fully cleared and restored. There is so much work here, it may never be done. Always, we are surrounded by lush vegetation, reaching up to eat oranges that are falling from the wild trees at this time of year. Water and bird sound follow us, and the trees open up to show us stunning vistas of the mountains ... read more
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