I spent Easter weekend high in the mountains of Ecuador visiting some friends of mine near Vilcabamba. This beautiful little town is nestled in a lush valley in the Andes, far away from everything. I spent the days on horseback, winding through rugged valleys where no roads go. We got so high, with water so pure, I could drink right from the stream. The only bad thing was that, since my camera was stolen in Quito, I have no proof of the majestic emerald mountains and amazing wildlife and plant life I witnessed. You just have to believe me (or come and visit it yourself someday!).
On Monday, I kissed my friends goodbye and set off south towards the border of Peru at Macará. It's a little used border crossing, and now I know why! The road was precariously balanced on the side of the steep mountains. I lost count of the number of places the road was half gone or filled with rocks that had fallen from above. As if that wasn't enough, we constantly met with herds of goats or cattle in the road. The bus driver's method of dealing with them was to speed towards them and honk the horn loudly. Don't ask me how we managed to not hit any of them, because I still wonder myself. Maybe Apus had something to do with it!
The indigenous populations who lived in these very high lands, both the Incas and those that came before (you'll be hearing a lot more about them) raised goats, llamas, and guinea pigs for wool, milk, and meat on this stark terrain. Cuy, a traditional food I haven't yet dared try, is roasted guinea pig. Will you try it first and let me know how it is? Anyway, the highland people have, for thousands of years, traded with the people at lower elevations for the food they would grow, since the lower soil was more fertile. They all, in turn, would trade with the people on the coast for things like fish and salt.
So here I am, on the coastal desert of Peru. What a change to be somewhere hot, flat, and dry so soon after being in the mountains. The main thing I've noticed about Peru, though, is how nice EVERYONE is. I make friends on buses, on the street, in restaurants, and in my hotel. It's amazing. I think I'm going to like it here.
So finally, for me, the dizzying, fast paced travel is over. We're here in Peru, and here is where we're staying. Thanks Apus, and thanks all of you gods and goddesses who read this Odyssey!
Abeja - Raiders of the Lost Sandcastles
Kevin - Ancient Peruvian Fashion 101: Gold T-Shirts, and Three-Inch Earlobes
Monica - Inspector Monica Cracks the Case
Making a Difference - Violence in 'Peaceful Communities'
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