Monday, May 31, 2010

Hospital Metropolitano

Today was an entirely frustrating, but very Ecuadorian day. I kept Tara home from school so I could meet with a hand surgeon at the Military Hospital at 11:00 AM. I had also arranged to start Spanish classes with Amparo today. I am convinced that my Spanish has deteriorated since I stopped taking lessons (last November!) so I decided that one thing I want to do before I leave is brush up on my Spanish. Instead of practicing 'ser and estar', Amparo joined us at the hospital where I had been instructed by Hernan (my neurosurgeon friend) to have 'Dr. Paredes' paged. When we arrived,we asked about seeing Dr. Paredes and were given a ticket and told to wait for our turn. The expansive lobby was carpeted with waiting patients, so I called Hernan again and he referred me to 'Information'. There was confusion as to which Dr. Paredes this was, since there were several working at the hospital. I had already called Hernan while he was in surgery (three times) so I did not think it was appropriate to call again. The information assitants did in fact call him and decided that we were to see one of Hernan's neurosurgical colleagues. We were sent to the 'Consulta Externa' building next door, where we found a pediatric neurosurgeon (not appropriate) named Dr. Marco Paredes, who was clearly not the doctor we were looking for. I then remembered that perhaps we were to see a plastic surgeon who does hands, so we trotted back to the main hospital where we inquired about a plastic surgeon named Dr. Paredes. The information ladies paged Dr. Franklin Paredes, but he did not respond.

We decided to travel to the ninth floor to find Dr. Paredes on the Plastic Surgery floor, when the doctor did not respond to his page. A soldier in uniform informed us that children are not allowed on the wards (for their protection), but we insisted that we were looking for her doctor. When we arrived on the unit, we learned that there was no way we could see Dr. Frankin Paredes, because he was in surgery all day and would be available tomorrow and Thursday.

It was time to give up on our efforts. I was frustrated because Maya had missed another day of school (quite unnecessarily), but I also wanted to know if she was able to play violin at her orchestra practice today and her concert tomorrow. She was insistent that she was ready to play (and her conductor wants her to be ready for leading her orchestra tomorrow), so she took off her homemade splint and played furiously.

By this time, I had decided that most likely her finger was not broken, but I wanted to be sure not to miss anything, so after orchestra practice, we walked down 'Atahualpa' to 'Amazonas' and tried to get a taxi to Hospital Metropolitano, one of the most modern, often recommended hospitals in Quito, up on the hill on 'Mariana de Jesus'. It began to rain, which makes taxis far less available. No taxis stopped for us. We waited over 40 minutes, getting entirely soaked and frustrated again. We walked across Carolina Park and I insisted that Maya take a hot shower to warm up and fed her some pasta.

I had asked Eric to meet us at the hospital with the truck. Because he has no cellphone anymore (after he lost about his seventh cellphone, Porta refuses to replace it), I could not call to have him pick us up. He came home eventually, and we all decided to visit the hospital together.

It was efficient and easy and expensive (relatively). We were brought in, examined by the nurse, by the medical resident, XRayed, and diagnosed and treated and sent home all in less than forty minutes. Unbelievable. The finger is not broken, and Maya can play violin again. I paid the $90 with American Express.

The Ecuadorian part of the equation, is both the inefficiency and wasted time and effort of the morning, not getting a taxi in the rain, as well as the entirely effective experience at Metropolitana. Taking all day to attend to a relatively small problem is not unusual, and having both the best and worst experiences in the same day and with the same problem can be expected. I find myself unsettled and frustrated even though everything worked out quite well for Maya. I would hope that days like today would teach me patience.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Parque Metropolitano

Looking off to the Valley of Cumbaya/Tumbaco

I am trying to get through my lists of 'things to do before I leave Quito', and the plan for today was to take the truck up to the top of Guagua Pichincha (15,670 ft) or hike up Rucu Pichincha (15,696 ft). The truck access was more acceptable to Eric and Maya, and we asked our friends Jeff and Helen, Lucia and Nick ( a family from the DC area, who are here for two years) to join us. They had driven to the summit before, and knew how to get there. My alarm went off at 6 and I got up to look at the mountain, which was invisible because it was shrouded in clouds, which came all the way down to the base of the mountain. In fact, the valley was bathed in mist as well. Mornings are best to ascend the mountain, when visibility was usually much better, but unfortunately this morning was not a good one for our adventure. I am not sure I will get to the top of these peaks, which welcome me each morning and evening. I chose the apartment because of the view of the mountains, and the first thing I do each morning is look to the west for their reassuring presence. I have wanted to summit them since the first day I arrived in Quito. I have taken the teleferico up Rucu, and there is a path from the teleferico to the top, but I have only wandered upward a short way.

I climbed right back into bed, realizing that our plans were not to be today, and slept for another few hours. When I woke up the second time, the clouds were just as plentiful and there was rain on the ground. We met our friends anyway, and went for a hike at the Parque Metropolitano, a vast green space straddling a mountain between the Quito valley and that of Cumbaya/Tumbaco. I have never visited the park, and have been eager to do so. It is a few minutes from the house, and easily accessible by car. We hiked along a path which had several playgrounds for the children. There were families having picnics and parties under covered shelters. We walked in the drizzle and the fog, which never abated during the hours we were walking. It was a comfortable walk despite the rain, which was mostly a drizzle. There were dozens of paths, and public art pieces along the path we chose. There were many people in the park, but, because it is so large, with tall imposing trees we were alone for stretches of the walk.

The children played games and ran in circles and disappeared several times, and then came back to join the adults, who talked about their experiences in Quito, and Eric and I expressed our feelings about not being ready to leave. I have a harder time understanding why Maya wants to stay, but perhaps she is just agreeing with her parents.

Up Hills
After our walk, we stopped at a restaurant establishment on the way down the hill from the part, serving 'chuchucara', an Ecuadorian specialty with mote (corn/hominy) and fried pork, which tastes delicious and very unhealthy. Everyone ate with gusto, all of us hungry after our walk.

Along with trying to see everything I have not seen before, we are also making an effort to spend time with the people we have met here who we have been close with. Yesterday, I was invited to the Canadian Ambassador's home for an evening with a group of dynamic and interesting women. We ate fondue and cheesecake and shared our experiences in Quito. Tonight Eric and I invited Santiago and Alejandra and Santiagos' son Jose David for dinner. We had been to their wedding when we first arrived, and Eric works with Santiago at the university. It was a goodbye evening, and they were great company, but I am feeling mostly sad about leaving.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Teatro Mexico

On several occasions, I have wanted to go to the Teatro Mexico, which is in the southern part of the city past the Centro Historico, but I have been too worried to travel there in the evening, so have missed all sorts of events. Today, Maya had a performance at the Teatro Mexico, so we took the truck there, and took almost an hour to find it, winding through the narrow streets of the centre, getting lost over and over, asking directions, finally arriving. Maya was anxious about showing up past the designated time, but by now, being in Ecuador, we have learned that time is fluid and being late is rarely an issue.

I noticed that we were above the street (Maldonado) where the Trole runs, and the Trole stop is 'Chimbacalle' (I passed this way many times when I traveled to Tierra Nueva Hospital), but I was not sure which street had access to the theatre, which is far above the road with a wall and train tracks between road and theatre. I doubt I would feel comfortable taking the Trole in the evening anyway. I think today was the only visit I will make to the Teatro Mexico, and we had difficulty finding it both early and later in the day.

It is a lovely old theatre, beautifully renovated, and did not fit in at all in the neighbourhood. We were not allowed in with Maya. The guard let her through the doors, and pushed us out. Some parents planned to wait until the show at 3 and 5. Eric and I drove back through the city, but avoided the centre and arrived home quickly, but did not have much time until we headed back to the centro for the show. I had suggested that we visit the San Diego church and convent. I have tried to see it several times, but was always presented with one obstacle or another, so I thought that with the car, we could find it easily and visit for a short time. Armed with a map from the internet, we made no progress in our efforts to find the church, and instead found ourselves in a tunnel going back north. We found our way back to the theatre by all sorts of circuitous routes and arrived a few minutes before start time, but of course the presentation began late after a series of speeches. Ecuadorians do like to make speeches.

It is always a delight to see Maya on her pointe shoes. Ballet has been a central focus of her year here, and she has several performances over the next few weeks at different venues, none more impressive than the Teatro Mexico.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Preparing to Leave Ecuador

Eric leaves Ecuador in three weeks and Maya and I stay a little longer. I had planned our return to be a few days after school ends, but I was confused about dates, and the last day of school is earlier than I had thought. I have committed to starting back at my office August 2.

Which means we must start organizing our departure from Ecuador, which is difficult because none of us want to leave. Going to Machu Picchu was our last 'blast' and now we are all walking around with long faces and dread, and avoiding the inevitable. In addition, I have been recovering from both a cold and some sort of GI event, so I have been under the weather since we flew back from Peru on Tuesday. I have had little desire to do anything, and cannot get excited about packing up the house to leave.

I have been burying myself in books, reading furiously, which is what I usually do when I am ill, as if being sick allows me to indulge myself and let reading be my first priority. I am addicted to my kindle, and spent the last three days reading the third of the series of the 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'. I have decided that I will finally get back on track when I have finished the book, which will be today.

Meanwhile, Eric and I had a salsa class today, or at least I had canceled our Wednesday class and rescheduled for today when I was too feverish to make it earlier in the week. When Jypsum did not show up, or perhaps had not received the message (he likes to go to Santo Domingo for the weekend), we rescheduled again for next week, and wandered around in the Mariscal. We stopped for coffee at 'Cafe Cultura', after it turned out that 'Cafe Libre' was not yet open, and began compiling a list of 'things to do'. This was terrifying, because in truth we have far too little time to do all that must be done, or at least Eric is plagued with many impossible and time consuming tasks. I wrote the list on paper, Eric transcribed it on his computer, and we sorted out the daily schedule of events until he leaves.

And we are both sad and resistant to leaving. It makes sense that Maya does not want to move; change is difficult for children, and now that she is accustomed to her life here, Baltimore feels new and strange and scary. My taxi driver asked me if I liked it here and when I said that I was very happy in Quito, he asked me why I wanted to stay. I had to think a while before I answered, because in truth, I did like my life in Baltimore and did not want to leave either, as I did not want to leave Salt Lake City ten years ago, or Newport Beach before that. Perhaps change is equally difficult for adults. I feel at home here and Baltimore is an unknown again.

I could not come up with a coherent answer for the taxi driver. I like my life here because it is quieter, calmer, more relaxing than my very intense life in Baltimore, where I work long hours, ferry Maya around everywhere, and take care of my house and family. I like traveling and exploring new places and cultures and learning a new language, and having new adventures daily. But of course when in Baltimore, I travel and explore and have many adventures too.

I like the simplicity of my life here. I am not burdened by belongings or responsibility, except of course to Eric and Maya, but taking care of them happens in either place. It is interesting that living with so little can be so satisfying. Returning to Baltimore means living larger, living with more, having more responsibility, getting back on the treadmill of life, doing too much, thinking to much, stressing too much, being overwhelmed, feeling paralyzed and seeing no way out. This year in Ecuador has been an escape from all that, no doubt presenting its own challenges, but a momentary break from the usual and customary.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Eugenio Espejo

Eugenio Espejo Welcomes Us

Our project today was to return to the Convention Centre at Eugenio Espejo and take photos and videos of the space in preparation for the 2014 'Neuroethology' meeting proposal. Eric has looked at the Hilton Hotel, the Casa de la Culture, the St. Augustin Monastery and Universidad Catolica as other possible venues, but the renovated hospital is the best option. It is big enough to handle the whole meeting, so that participants do not have to move from venue to venue throughout the five days of the meeting. It is self contained and has every modern convenience, at least all that are relevant to an international meeting, such as Wifi, huge screens and video technology, and is a beautiful colonial structure that is pleasing to the eye, and has wonderful views of the city from its walkways and balconies. I sound as if I am trying to sell this event. Eric will be making a proposal at the Neuroethology meeting in Salamanca, Spain, the first week of August.

Next Door Hospital

We took the Ecovia to the Casa de la Cultura, which is across the street from the Hilton, and timed our walk to the Convention Centre, which was less than ten minutes, but we were walking briskly. We met Felipe, who will be organizing all sorts of pre and post meeting trips to the Galapagos and the Jungle.

Of all the places we have considered for the meeting, my choice has always been Eugenio Espejo. It is grand and new (the renovation is two years old), it has wonderful spaces, and is self contained, well preserved, and functional. The only downside is that the buildings around it are rundown and unattractive, but that is not different from many parts of Quito. I just try to ignore the eyesores and focus on what is beautiful, and if there is nothing immediately visible that pleases the eye, I simply look upward toward the mountains, which are always a treat to see.

Meeting Room

Hospital HallwaysLovely Floors


We wandered through large and small rooms, taking photos and movies, asking questions of our guide Pablo, who reassured us. The convention centre was in use today, at least a couple of rooms, by the convention bureau of the city, but this was the first time I actually saw it being utilized. There were students studying on the grassy spaces. I learned that the Universidad Central Medical School is just next door, and that the students use the grounds to rest or read or study. It made sense, since the new Eugenio Espejo Hospital is right next door to the old one.

It is difficult to imagine this gorgeous building as a hospital. Our guide explained that the renovation used the original designs of the rooms and did not move walls or change the layout of the old medical structure, but that was hard to imagine, until he explained that the large rooms were divided by curtains. We visited the old kitchen downstairs in the basement, which once fed all the patients and staff. Pablo was very proud of the wheelchair accessibility. It is rare in Ecuador and in Quito for any spaces to be wheelchair accessible. I imagine that to be acceptable to European and American standards, and to be sufficiently modern, being 100% wheelchair freindly is necessary.

I did not need convincing to be reassured that Eugenio Espejo would be the best location for the meeting. I took dozens of photos, but the skies were grey today and I prefer to return when the sun is shining. Eric will have to put his proposal together for the August meeting, but is more concerned about writing his grant, and all of us are sad about leaving Ecuador far too soon!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Computer Challenges

Living without a computer has left me unsettled and disjointed. My computer has become my constant companion this year. I open it first thing in the morning, check it several times during the day, skype my parents each evening, make telephone calls, answer emails, download photos, write regularly; it has become an essential tool, especially during this year far from all that is familiar.

I am not sure what happened a few days ago. I had brought my laptop with me to Peru (as did Eric, and both my inlaws had their iphones which served as internet access for them almost everywhere ). I had imagined that I would find internet in most places and thus I could keep current on my email and writing. However, when everyone else was able to get online, I was having recurrent difficulties and finally simply gave up on my errant machine and decided to take a short break from constant contact with the rest of the world. Of course, if necessary, I could check Eric's machine, or even those of Sherry and Jeff. I was still able to write, but I could not connect to the rest of the world.

I expected that once home, I would get back on track, but my machine continued to be uncooperative. I could not get online. Eric is very knowledgeable about computers, but on examination, he could only tell me there was something seriously wrong, that perhaps I had been hacked and my identity and passwords and banking may be compromised. I wondered if I needed to make a dozen phonecalls and cancel all accounts. Whenever I tried to get online, the computer would become a different computer and follow its own agenda. Had it been infiltrated? What could I possibly do?

Eric decided to back up my computer and then try to install a new operating system, which would negate the supposed virus or hack. But the back up procedure was unsuccessful several times. We walked to Quicentro for coffee and a visit to 'Super Paco' ('everything for computers-co and paper-pa') and bought a 1.5 terrabite (big) device and tried to back up my computer again. It failed several times until much later in the day. It appeared not to be possible to install the 'SnowLeopard' operating system.

I was desperate. I could check my email on Maya's little computer, but typing on it was awkward and I could not add photos. Eric was on his computer all day and had his other computer in his office and unavailable. I accomplished very little. Eric accused me of opening a virus, but I could not remember doing anything like that over the past few days.

The treat of the day is that I directed my energies to simply reading. I finished half read books, I started a new book, and it was entirely satisfying.

Finally, we remembered that several days ago when we could not get online at 'Sol y Luna', a young IT fellow adjusted both our computers. Eric decided that he may have reconfigured mine, so he retraced the steps necessary to reverse the adjustments, and the computer finally worked normally. I am sure I could have never figured the problem out on my own, so I am very lucky to have a knowledgeable computer expert at my fingertips. I felt guilty that he has so much work to do, but has devoted so much time and energy to fix my problem.

I am feeling awkward that I am entirely dependent on this little device, that any time away from it brings on withdrawal pains, and that I am unable to function without my computer.

Today was a day to stay close to home and rest and recover from the intense activity of the Peru trip. I tried to nurse my cold and feel better, so I stayed close to home and ventured out only to pick Maya up from her first day back at school, ferry her to her orchestra practice and violin class and back home.

I packed two huge bags full of belongings to give to my inlaws, who left for St. Petersburg this morning. After bringing two full duffel bags to Baltimore when I visited for my medical appointment and leaving them with Emily, giving one to Emily when she left and the two to Sherry and Jeff, I expected my apartment to be empty, but my impression is that I will have to pack many more bags or leave several of our belongings behind. The packing brings our departure ever nearer and I am feeling sad and not at all ready to leave Ecuador. Eric found it painful to go to Megamaxi and buy food, and Maya assured me that she would rather stay and continue the life we have here, than return to Baltimore. It took so much effort to adjust to this place, and now our looming departure date has arrived before we are ready to go. I tried to take advantage of this slow and uneventful day to start organizing our belongings, but it wasn't any fun, so I left several piles lined up on one side of the bedroom. I do not feel ready to go!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sun Shining in Quito

View From Our Window

Driving through Lima early in the morning is almost pleasant. The traffic was tolerable, the sky was dark rather than grey, and we drove along the Pacific ocean for a part of the way. The sounds of the waves crashing was reassuring. Lima airport was easy to get through and we had a long time to wait for our flight so we went shopping. Maya and I tried every type of chocolate covered candy at 'Britt Peru'. Exotic fruits enveloped with chocolate necessitated trying every one to figure out which we had to purchase. I bought a fruit found only in Peru, which I cannot remember the name of anymore ( I finished the packet by the end of the day).

Quito was sunny and warm, in contrast to the grey, wet humid air of Lima. We were exhausted when we got home and had little energy to do much. We all took naps ( a rare event for me) until Maya's three hour ballet class.

It was good to be home. It will take some time to absorb all that we saw during our whirlwind visit to Peru. I still feel stunned, astounded, in awe, eager to learn more about the country, and to visit again. It makes sense to compare the two countries. Peru is bigger and has double the population of Ecuador. Lima is far more cosmopolitan, energetic, and vibrant than Quito, but being in the sierra of Peru reminded me more of the sierra of Ecuador. The tourist industry is far more developed in Peru. Guides speak English well, and every other language as well. In our experience there was more organization and everything functioned well in Peru. The food was excellent, in fact there is a true Peruvian 'cuisine'. I imagine there are all sorts of archeological sites in Ecuador, but they have not been developed, so it feels as if there is so much more to see in Peru.

Ecuador and Peru are Latin countries which share the Andean range and some parts of their history, but they feel very different. I want to explore so much more of Peru, but it also feels good to be back in predictably unpredictable Ecuador. Seeing our guards and our neighbours and saying 'Buena Tardes' to everyone, running into well built soccer players and their fancy cars at our building, visiting with the mothers from ballet class and catching up on the activities of the past week, visiting with my friends from the gym, catching up on email (my computer has not worked for the week), eating papaya and yoghurt for a snack and a coffee from Boncaffe next door; all that is familiar feels good, and it is good to be home.

On the other hand, coming home forces us to confront the reality of our departure in a few weeks, which brings sadness and regret back into our psyches.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cusco to Lima

Milagros met us early to bring us to the airport and our flight to Lima. I sat on the other side of the plane this time and had great views of the Andes as we cruised to the big city. Lima was cloudy and drab and grey, such a great contrast to the unrelenting sun in Cusco.

We returned to the same hotel, but this time had huge beds and the biggest jacuzzi bath I have ever seen in my life! Maya was determined to take a bath sometime during our stay. I was eager to get out and explore Lima. We had lunch looking out over the grey ocean and watched the surfers missing waves. Visibility was limited and the greyness uninviting. The Gold Museum was exhibiting at another level of Larcomar ( the large shopping/eating/entertainment complex by the sea), so we elected to visit. This is an extension of the larger gold museum in another part of LIma, which I have wanted to visit for some time. We learned about the methods used in antiquity to create beautiful gold and silver objects, and the collection of artifacts was impressive. The last room with the most beautiful gold was dark and a little spooky. I wonder why curators like to do that; it is the same in the Banco Central in Quito; I imagine it is supposed to make everything look a little other worldly, but it felt equally ominous.

When I emerged from the darkness, Eric was waiting for me; Maya, Sherry and Jeff had walked back to the hotel. We joined them for a short time, but I wanted to explore some more (of course!) so Eric and I took a taxi to the centre of town. I wondered why there was so much traffic on a Sunday, and asked the driver, who informed me that it was Monday and peak traffic time. I asked if anything like 'Pico y Placa' had been proposed (in Quito, on certain days specific license plate numbers are not allowed out at peak times), but it was evident that LimeƱos had no intention of altering the traffic pattern. I did see a public transport line appearing to run along the middle of the narrow city, but the other buses were smaller and less numerous than those in Quito. Fewer people appeared to be taking buses. It took far too long to get to the centre, and the sun was disappearing as we walked around the Plaza de Armas, looked at the Cathedral, wandered to Plaza San Francisco along a street where every store was making and/or selling shoes. Last time Eric and I were here, he had a pair of motorcycle boots made, which were beautiful and perhaps too fine for the type of motorcycling he does, so they fell apart quickly. We decided to look at shoes again, but he has size 13 feet, and it is difficult to find shoes for him. I found beautifully made Peruvian boots for me, but Eric settled for a pair of moccasin type non leather shoes made in China.

We walked along the main pedestrian-only street, watching people, looking at shops, at the art nouveau buildings. The streets were packed. It was dark when we arrived back at the hotel. We walked half a block and found an empty restaurant, which did not seem promising. The house wine was undrinkable. The food however was far better than expected, which was a relief. Maya fell asleep during dinner, but I woke her up when we got the jacuzzi filled, so that she could join us in the bubbles for a midnight swim. At first she was annoyed to be woken up, but she would have been devastated if she had missed the experience. Our wake up call was to be around 5, so none of us planned to sleep very long.

Paza de Armas Fountain

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Marching Band

Colourful Dancers

Humourous Dance

Watching the Show

My alarm beeped at 5AM, I could not open my eyes, but I dragged myself out of bed. I rousted Eric, and sent him to the ATM and the ticket office, and began to ready myself for our morning visit. The only ATM in town was still not working and there was no way to get 'soles' for our tickets and no other way to get up to Machu Picchu. I was desolate. I had arranged for our trainride back to happen later in the morning so we could see the sunrise over the ruins, which I had read about, planned for, hoped for.

Urubamba River

Eric had no trouble falling back asleep, I had not woken Maya, and I just stewed. How could I be here and not see the morning light over Machu Picchu? How could I have not arranged this better? Why did I not get the tickets in Cusco, or insisted that we get the cash in our pockets in Lima or Cusco? I had told our tour operators that I wanted to see the ruins in the morning, why did I not insist they buy us our tickets? I wound myself into a frenzy and discovered that I had a fever and a cold and was absolutely miserable.

We wandered around Aguas Calientes, which reminds me of a mining town, with a railroad in the centre of the main street, and wooden buildings that appear slapped together. I expected to see cowboys around a corner. Near the train station, the kisoks were setting out their wares, encouraging us to buy their textiles and leather goods and jewellery and knick knacks. When we arrived at the train for our ride back to Pisacucho, we discovered that we did not have a seat on the carriage, that because I had changed our train time so we could visit the ruins in the morning, we had been rebooked on seats that did not exist. In the end, seats were found for us, and the train left the station slowly, stopping frequently, pausing in the bright sunshine, so that we could peruse the terraces, Inca trails, Inca buildings, the Urubamba river rapids rushing past us. Next time I visit, I would like to walk the Inca trail and stop at every ruin.

Snow Capped Peaks

Cesar was not waiting for us at Pisacucho as was expected. We milled about for a while, and then found another driver waiting for us; Cesar was unable to drive to the train station, but I was not sure why. We encountered him further on. He told us that today was fiesta day in Urubamba and Ollantaytambo, and that it had been impossible to get through Urubamba in the morning, which is perhaps why he was unable to meet us. He asked us where we wanted to stop for lunch, and we were lucky to choose Ollantaytambo, where we stopped in the main square and were entertained by the local dance groups, in their colourful costumes and ancient traditions. It turned out that this was the biggest fiesta of the year, and would last all week, today being the first day. Music, dancing and bullfights were on the agenda.

The dancers choose traditional costumes and stories to move through. Many of the dances make fun of the Spanish and the conquistadors. I wish I knew the meaning of the dances, instead I enjoyed the movement and the simple music and the wild styles. Children joined parents and the crowd was very appreciative and ever growing.

Sherry and Jeff found a restaurant with a balcony and a view of the show, so we ate pizza and lemonade and learned details about the dances from the wife of the owner of the restaurant who happened to be Canadian, and her children. Watching the dancing and the antics of the crowd helped me forget what a horrendous cold I suddenly had.

Driving Back to Cusco

We drove back to Cusco on an alternate route. We climbed to a high plain, with snow capped peaks in each direction. The land was brown a little dry, and mostly agricultural, and the towns used adobe bricks for construction, so the houses were brown too. Many had a figure of two bulls on the top of the roof, along with a cross or rosary. We wondered where we could purchase one. They were supposed to bring good luck to the house and the family who lived in it.

Good Luck Bulls on top of House

I learned from Cesar that the women who wore felt hats were Mestizo and those who wore a particular headress were indigenous, the latter wore more colourful and patterned skirts. We passed town after small town, until we descended into Cusco and back into our hotel. Shopping was next on the agenda, and Maya and I found the hats we wanted to buy. Dinner was at the Inca Grill (where we ate our first day), but I chose to wander through town and visit the local dance theatre for more dancing.

Local Dance Troupe

I buried myself in bed early, with lots of Ibuprofen and warm blankets, hoping that a little extra sleep would fight a horrible cold I had developed. We were heading back to Lima early in the morning, but would have preferred to explore this lovely town instead.

Native Mother and Child