Some trips are more tumultuous than others. And that is precisely how I choose to describe my time in these three beautiful countries.
I preface this by saying that because of my carelessness, I lost my phone, wallet, IDs and most importantly, a lot of time (spent driving to numerous banks and Western Unions in order to retrieve money in each country) after I was pick-pocketed on a beach. Because of this, it was difficult even to wake up on time (no alarms), communicate with people, cancel the cards (before a laptop and another expensive technology was purchased on my cards), transport myself – and take pictures (my camera battery eventually died). It could have been anywhere in the world, and it happened to me because of me, and perhaps for a reason that is beyond my mental reach at the moment – it did happen to me once before (and it changed my life), which is quite a governing thought.
Now that the negative is out, I can focus on the greater picture, and marvel at the beauty that was my time in these countries, of course, as always, greatly due to the people I met.
Here’s a little play by play of what I did during my 2 weeks in South America, this March:
Day 1: Peru
I walked around Lima
I met with the Peruvian Tourism Board, learning about their efforts to promote their Peruvian cuisine
I went to the Peruvian Food/Cultural Dance Show: Brisas Del Titicaca
I flew to Cusco!
And found this beautiful baby. ❤
And these talented weavers speaking in their native Quechua language.
And ate this incredible corn. The perspective is off in the picture, but each piece of corn is about the size of an American nickel.
And fell in love with a llama.
And got a “private” tour of Machu Pichu with this brilliant man – ended up being no-one on my group tour!
And bumped into my friend, Giuseppe, whom I met exactly two years ago in Berlin through CS! He’s now working in Cusco! (Small world).
People have more hemoglobin in Cusco due to the altitude — rosier checks, bugger lungs, helps them to breathe more
And met with representatives from Pro Mujer in Lima! Was gifted this beautiful image <3.
Went to a cultural dance show!
Days 6-9: Ecuador
Flew to Guayaquil where I spent time with this beautiful Couchsurfer, Veronica.
Spent 4 hours driving around with this honorable cab driver, until we were finally able to get money transferred to me — without him knowing if he would ever get paid for his time.
Met with the Ecuadorian Tourism Ministry to learn all about their foods:
Love the way processed foods simplify the decision making processes – depicting whether or not something is high or low in fat, sugar, salt!
Went food shopping with my Couchsurfing host, Andres and his family.
Was amazed by the diversity of beans.
And the diversity of potatoes! Ecuador had over 7000 diverse potatoes about 100 years ago!
And then we ate.
Made it to the center of the earth and balanced an egg on a nail!
Met up with some more Couchsurfers ^^
Had some really good moonshine.
And saw a really giant cabbage!
Day 9: Layover in Panama City – nice colonial architecture in city center!
Days 10-14: Colombia
Stumbled upon my salsera friend in Cartagena!
Met up with incredible incredible first-time Couchsurfers who helped me to explore Bogota, gave me a salsa CD, fed me, took me to/from the airport, and most importantly, inspired me greatly with their stories.
Foods I like:
Papa a la guancaina, Quinoa with nuts, Corn chips
Cheese is amazing! , Ice-cream de paisa, Banana with cheese inside, Choclo – corn
How many arepas they have!, Arequipa; RECIPE FOR COLOMBIAN DRINK: Colombian soda (colombiana), agua ardiente, colombian beer
- Heard someone say — “Pero tiene calorie — Peruvian dog heals you if you sleep with it” — calories aka referring to the transfer of energy that occurs
- Smoke before coming into the mountain – blow steam, asking for permission because mountains are alive and sacred
- Machu Pichu – did not build on tectonic rift because they knew the structures built there would break and/or fail; energy changes there, to the point where pendulums held over this area freak out
- Incense give mother death blessings, burry chocolates and sweets or asked there because she liked that
- They were great astronomers – believed in sun as god because he gave them all of the land’s bearings
- Peru Rail – made by British who in exchange took their land and minerals – now, tourists subsidize travel for local who pay $3 vs. our $120 round trip
- 1911 Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Pichu while searching fro another land – where the Incans fought the Spanish (Incan king relocated there because Spanish were there – that land, unlike Machu Pichu had gold, which is why the Spanish never made it to Machu Pichu) — in 1912 Bingan was sponsored by Yale and the National Geographic Society to restore/clean up Machu Pichu, which at the time was completely covered in forests.
- 1500 people visit Machu Pichu each day
- Heard someone say, “Que dice la cabeza” – interesting way to say this, almost separating mind and body
- Cuzco means — ombligo del mundo (belly button of the world) – as was once considered – center of the world
- Surround Machu Pichu home = agricultural area – sustainable farming
- Homes build facing east for more sun and ventilations on incline as to not block one another
- Traditional names change – Quespe to Quispe – to be more Spanish like
- Women for smarts, beauty of the sun would even be sacrificed during bad natural times would clean and create jewelry for the clergy; could maybe be king’s concubines
- People have more hemoglobin here — rosier checks, bugger lungs, helps them to breathe more
- 80s – 90s terrorism = decrease in tourism because of communism — 8x tourism from that time
- Saw dog eating another dead dog — even driver was surprised — cannibalism!
- Sacred valley – fertility, river – reflection of the milky way
- Saw a human stop sign
- 1880 began cultivating cacao in Ghana
- For Aztecs and Mayans – chocolate = sacred drink
- Chocolate: high flovanoid = protects from sun; smell relaxes; releases endorphins = cultivates love
- Aztecs: traded 10 grams of cacao for 1 rabbit
- People use mole to mix spices then add a bit of water for seasoning
- 1830 Ecuador separated itself from Colombia
- Fought Peru over land in the Amazon and Ecuador lost – so lost a lot of land
- Position on the equator = interesting climactically = lots of diverse flare and fauna — i.e. galapagos – darwin!
- French helped build monument in center of the earth
At the Central Bank of Ecuador:
- Bartering happened first – had designated places where they would trade during Precolumbian era – would walk around trading stuff, no horses prior to Columbus
- Would trade volcanic rocks, cinnamon, cacao – “peppa de pro” – which is said to have originated in Ecuador, coca leaves for chewing – energy to keep walking, conch shell which looks like a uterus = fertility – used as offering for the gods
- Ecuadorian “mandala” would be primary merchants — now represented in a clay figure – strong looking, gold chains making him a merchant — must speak many languages – women merchants wore more jewels, still merchants
- Change to coin once the conquest happens
- Spain had coins since the 13th century — 1492 = Spanish came and found gold – were told that people from the South came with gold, so they went South
- The Spanish had to accept to barter until 1535 when gold became a thing in Mexico
- First coins were made with a hammer like tostones – they were imperfect and as such were easily falsified
- From images of “both worlds being conquered under one king” to images of Filip V to Carlos III and Greek gods, which were an infatuation for all
- From Mexico to Bolivia, they used the same coins, as they were all part of the same kingdom
- 1821 – Ecuador gained independence from Spain, under the reign of Simon Bolivar which united Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia under the GRAN COLOMBIA
- 1830 — Independence – first president = Juan Jose Flores – got machine from England to make first Ecuadorian coins – Gold Escudos + Silver reales
- Gold previously used for deities, not for money – natives recognized the value of gold, but did not equate it to commercial value, was sacred!
- Gold needs to be mixed with copper, or else it disintegrates completely
- 1860 — Begin to export cacao, so Ecuador gets so much more money and create their first banks/banking systems with help from American/European systems that were already established
- 2000 – because of importing a lot of American products (no limit on importation) and overall consumption foreign goods = devaluation of Ecuadorian money = eventual high inflation and switch to the dollar – as it is today
- Lots of Venezuelans, as in Ecuador and Peru, escaping persecution and danger – many prostitute themselves in the “Tolerance” zones, which are filled with drugs and violence –many are tricked into being there
- Many are reluctant to travel to the US/Mexico, as they face discrimination for being Colombian and the stereotypes associated with them i.e. as drug dealers and pimps