Pre-Incan Ruins

Smack-dab in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Miraflores, is a ruins sight that once spanned many blocks, but now only has this one block left. The ruins, were formed thousands of years ago, and once stood as a tall pyramid. What is left of them is able to be viewed by guided tours. You will see where mummies were found, and learn about the native plants to the area as well, and of course you can see some llamas and alpacas!

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Parque de la Reserva

We spent an incredible evening walking for over an hour to the Parque de la Reserva, or as some call it, the park of fountains. All day and night for most of the week (not Monday and Tuesday) this park houses over 12 water fountains. Some are meant for gazing, and some are meant for playing, but either way the park is magical. Three times a night there is a laser light show at the Fantasia Fountain, and right next door you can find the original fountain built here in the 1920s, that gave way to all of the other fountains constructions.

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Eco Truly Village

We ventured outside of the city to an eco-village called Eco Truly for a few days of volunteering and relaxation. All of the housing at Eco Truly is built out of mud-bricks, and the buildings themselves are actually called trulys. We spent our morning doing yoga and meditating, and then volunteered for a few hours after breakfast, usually helping to prepare the day’s lunch.

Everyone that lived in the village permanently followed a specific Hinduism path, practicing Hare Krishna. We were able to go to their nightly temple service and experience an amazing energy from their practies. We came back to the city a little earlier than expected because we truly missed our home here in Miraflores at the Backpackers Family House hostel. If anyone is traveling to Lima, I highly suggest staying at Pedro’s quiet, clean and relaxing hostel.

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Peru Hop: Paracas to Lima

Our last stop before Lima took us to Paracas where we stayed at the Kokopelli Hostel and enjoyed laying in hammocks and swimming in the pool. But the best part was our tour of what some refer to as “The Poor Man’s Galápagos Islands” or the Ballestas Islands. Here we were able to see, from our boat, sea lions, penguins, pelicans, and many other types of birds. We also saw an ancient candelabra that was drawn onto the surface of the desert.

After the tour of the islands we headed to the national park where we saw a beautiful oceanfront view, and what is left of the cliff side after an earthquake several years ago. Eventually we began our journey back to Lima with a pitstop at an old mansion, that had underground tunnels we were able to walk through.

Like always, if you want more information about Peru Hop, click here, or search them on Facebook.

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Peru Hop: Huacachina and the Nazca Lines

We next journeyed to the Nazca Lines, where we climbed a viewing tower and watched the sunset over these famous ancient lines, carved into the dessert hundreds of years ago that still stand today. After that we went to Huacachina, a desert town that was fortunate enough to have an oasis in it. Here we had the most fun, getting to ride on a horrifying dune buggy and go sandboarding down steep sand dunes. We also had the best milkshakes and fruit filled crepes here, oh and our pool had a relaxing swimming pool. For mor information on Peru Hop go to their website here or search them on Facebook.

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Peru Hop: Arequipa and the Colca Canyon

We needed to get back to Lima for our flights home next week, so instead of taking a regular local bus, or even an expensive flight home we tried South America’s first hop-on, hop-off bus that goes between several cities, called Peru Hop. The company began four months ago, and is still figuring out some of the kinks, especially relying on Peruvians to be punctual/organized, which is sometimes not the case (if you’ve been here you’ll know what I mean). Our group became very close and we even got to sit down to a delicious dinner with the owner of the company so that he could apologize for our bus’ DVD player being broken. I highly recommend traveling from Cusco to Lima, or the other way around, using Peru Hop as your means of transportation.

Our first stop was in Arequipa where we drove outside of the city to view Condors and the Colca Canyon; as well as, some quaint hot springs near the mountainside. Back in the city we had a meal with our new friends, and explored around a bit to see the main squares. For mor information on Peru Hop go to their website here or search them on Facebook.

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Spanish Class at ECELA

While we lived in Cusco we took classes at a small Spanish school called ECELA, from an amazing teacher named Erik. We had so much fun and were always laughing in class. It was just the two of us and since we really have no real use for Spanish, we decided that sometimes we would have class at restaurants where we could just practice instead of studying grammar. We highly recommend this school, which ended up being more professional and organized than the large-scale Maximo school in town.

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Our Homestay

I haven’t said much about our homestay, but I wanted to take some time to mention how great they were. We lived with our host mom, whose daughter, son-in-law, and two beautiful grandchildren were visiting for the summer. We lived with other students and volunteers from Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Brazil, and America. We had so much fun and have truly made some amazing friends that we hope to visit in Europe soon. We also had a housekeeper Toti, a handyman Yorky, and our hostmom’s oldest son Renzo the racecar driver was our roommate on the 2nd floor.

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Awanacancha: Learning the Process

On our first few days we learned how the yarn was dyed using natural materials, including a parasite that grows on cactus, which produces one color naturally, and several others when activated with salt or lemon. Then we learned how to turn the wool into yarn by hand using a spool. And finally we learned how to weave the yarn into something using handmade looms.

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Awanacancha: Llamas

Our next volunteer project was called Awanacancha and its main mission was to preserve the culture of the Andean Highlands by raising llamas, and alpacas, to then turn into beautiful handmade goods, woven by the local communities, some projects taking months to complete. Every morning we cleaned the llamas’ cages with our boss, Lady, who was 16 years old. Then we fed the animals, and after that we learned about the process of turning wool into yarn into blankets.

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Puerto Maldonado: Victor, the boat, and the monkeys

On Sunday we hired our own boat, captained by a different Victor, and road down the Tambopata River taking turns driving, and laying in a hammock. We visited an animal conservatory that housed Howler monkeys, and several species of birds.

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Maldonado: Kerenda Homet

One of our visits to a nearby lodge, gave us a look at the conservation occuring in the jungle in regards to medicinal plants and other types of trees. The owner, Victor, also introduced us to some of his many animals and his wife made us a flavorful lunch.

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Our Favorite Places in Cusco

Our time in Cusco has come to an end, and I feel like I haven’t said much about our favorite things in this beautiful city. We spent most of our time at our volunteer projects and Spanish class, but towards the end of the stay we tried to see as much of the city as possible. These were our favorite things, minus several of the ones I have mentioned in other posts:

Chaski Shoes: We all had boots handmade from our choice of fabrics and suede, by the happiest Peruvian I met. If you like them, don’t worry because we are going to start importing them for all of our friends soon!

Jack’s Cafe: For a little taste of America we would head over to Jack’s for huge portioned breakfasts and coffees. My favorite was the huevos rancheros, but the pancakes, and vegetarian breakfast was great too. Oh and they sell breakfast all day.

The Meeting Place: This was an interesting cafe because all of the profits are donated to charity and all the workers are volunteers. They make huge belgian waffles with various accompaniments and offer a comfortable setting for hanging out in San Blas.

La Boheme: A wonderfully quaint creperia that along with crepes served tea infusions, amongst beautiful decor.

La Valerina: This cafe had amazing brownies and drinks, with a very fancy, and clean environment.

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Niño Fiesta

Our first volunteer project came to an end of a few weeks ago and we threw a party for the children with cookies and sodas, and small presents for their good behavior. We both miss the kids very much and hope that they are continuing to have a good time at their summer program.

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