Mark and Mika Take on the WORLD!!! travel blog

Can you see the llama in the stones?

Mark puts a 20 ton stone in place at Sacsayhuaman

Mika slides down the natural rock slide at Sacsayhuaman


We've been freezing in Cusco, Peru. We have been here for a week now, and we definitely have mixed emotions. On the one hand, the city contains vestiges of the power and skill of the Incas from long ago. Everyday we learn more of their lore, and it just blows us away. We went to the old temple of Sacsayhuaman the other day and witnessed Incan architecture at its finest. Unbelievably, they hauled boulders weighing in excess of 20 tons from over 10 miles away. Now these are not just ten ordinary miles, mind you, but 10 miles up and over the Andes mountains. Once the stones arrived, they cut them to such precise measurements that it's mind boggling. These huge stones fit together like puzzle pieces to form a very formidable wall. In fact, after the Spanish conquered the Inca, they had muchos problemas destroying the structures, even with gunpowder. Thus, much of the temple remains. Oh, all of the Incan temples and fortresses are also earthquake proof. They have withstood countless trembles over the years while the rest of the city collapsed. This is no mistake! They used a building system whereby they placed the huge rocks upon exceedingly smaller and smaller stones. This way, the whole wall moves together as one when an earthquake strikes. The Incas also built canals much like the Romans. Pretty awesome! Brain surgery was another one of the fortes. A whopping 30% to 40% of the patients actually lived. (not bad for the 15th and 16th century) They used silver and/or gold to patch up skulls that had been bashed in by one of the numerous nasty weapons they possessed.

Now for the other side of the coin...We left Ecuador after eating something very, very bad. Whatever it was - the seafood pasta, the ceviche, or the crabs- we don't know, but it threw both of us for a loop. For three days straight, both of us were peeing out of our backsides. We were like two pregnant women who had to use the john every half an hour, with one exception. We were dropping all of our kids off in the pool. We had this wonderful bout of diarhhea while traveling from Guayaquil to Lima, and while we tried, unsuccessfully, to sleep in the airport for ten hours before our next plane trip. What a joy. One thing that did make it interesting was meeting a guy from Texas in the airport. He hadn't slept for two days, and he was certifiable anyway. He talked to us about everything and nothing for seven hours staight because he was afraid that if he didn{t he would fall asleep and miss his flight. His name was Gerald, but by the end of our marathon, he was still asking us "What's your name again?" Unbelievably, we saw him in the Plaza de Armas in Cusco yesterday, and he hadn't been robbed yet, at least illegally. Anyway, when we finally made it safely to Cusco, we were both pretty bad off. Our housemom picked us up and oddly enough had us pay for the porter and the cab, which cost about a total of a dollar. We could tell right away this was going to be a different experience from Cuenca, Ecuador. In Cuenca, we stayed with a very well to do family. They had a beautiful house in the city and two others besides. Here in Cusco, Ely, our housemom, has a small, but nice home. She lives with two of her daughters and the only source of income that she has is having students. Therein lies the rub. She is really sweet, and she takes great care of us, especially when we're sick. But, she charges extra for anything she can think of. She offered to do our laundry, then later charged us 10 dollars for it. She's not supposed to charge us for everything, especially since the language school is paying her for allowing us to stay in her home, but we can't really blame her when the average person in this country earns only 2000 - 5000 dollas per year. We must both look like cash cows walking around with our digital cameras and money for everything. Anyway, we have a cool little studio in the backyad all to ourselves. It comes complete with an electrically heated, unreliable shower that shocks you when you try to turn the knob. It is definitely a hair raising experience when you are standing in a tub full of water. All this and we're not really even getting hot water...it's more like room temperature.

Oh yeah...back to our illness. We both felt pretty bad the whole day, and Mika even spoiled her pants a couple of times. The real fun started that night when Mark had diarrhea and turned into a human torch at the same time. He had endured a small fever all day, but that night it spiked to 101.4 degrees or so. He was dripping sweat one instant and convulsing with chills the next, all this under the heaviest combination of six blankets we've ever known. We don't know how those alpacas walk under all that weight. They were alpaca wool blankets. Mark's fever subsided somewhat by morning, but he was tired and felt "crappy" for the rest of the day while we attended our first day of Spanish school. The next night was a replay of the first, to the point where we thought we had something pretty serious. Luckily, Mark saved himself with a handful of pepto bismol tablets and tylenol. Oh yeah...Ely also made us her special tea...the ingredients: crushed up pieces of burnt bread, old carrots, leftover rice, and something brown. It looked and tasted like burnt toast and mud. Maybe that's what did the trick. Anywho, Mark was fine for the last three days. Mika had a similar experience, although hers kicked in a little later after she kept saying that she had natural immunities. She got up to the point where she was puking and diarrheaing at the same time. It was an odd symphony of sounds. Unfortunately for her, hers didn't go away on its own...good thing for the antibiotics we brought from the states, or she still might be living in the bathroom.

The currency here is the nuevo sole. It is about 3.2 soles to the dollar. It's funny because while a pizza only costs 15 soles, a jar of peanut butter costs almost 20 soles. Go figure. We still have one week of school left (our Spanish is improving but we have a long way to go) and then we hike for four days to Machu Picchu where we meet two of our friends, Eric and Amy from Ventura. After that, our favorite name of anyplace in the world. Yep! Lake Titicaca!

A few more mundane notes. The weather in Cusco in July is fairly agreeable. During the day, it is usually in the 60's to mid 70's. At night, the temperature dips into the low 40's. Each night when we go to bed, it is much like laying down on a block of ice because our studio is constructed of cinderblocks. They don't insulate us much from the cold. Thus, we usually go to bed with freezing hands and feet. Mika usually tries to warm her feet up on Mark, but there is no way he's having it. Her feet are always like two trout just taken from a mountain stream. Whoa!

This week on the 19th, we passed our two year anniversary. We didn't do anything special because Mika was super sick that day. We are going to go out and paint the town sometime soon. We can't believe it's been two years of wedded bliss. Two years can go by in the blink of an eye when you're stuck in the routine of life. This trip is going by equally rapidly, but we feel as though we are tasting, touching, and in general, experiencing something new each moment. This is what life is meant to be. We really don't miss all the trappings of life in the Estados Unidos. We only miss our friends and family. If we could have all of you with us, we could continue this nomadic existence indefinitely.



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