Friday, May 27, 2011

My how time flies when you are having fun!

I just realized that it's Friday night and we've been in Peru for a week. Several people were mentioning today that it seems like we've been here for a couple of months already, and with everything we have done in the last week, I feel it too.
If the next week goes the same as this week, we'll all be too exhausted to actually get off the plane in Huntsville next Friday. This, I believe, is a good thing.
I had hoped that the trip hiccups would all be over after I and three others were separated from the group out of Huntsville and our ensuing jaunt across the US to try and catch up to the rest of the group. Of course, delayed baggage is always a trial, but when Ed's and Paulette's bags made it to the hotel in Lima on Sunday, I thought everything would be smooth sailing from that point on, even though my bag was nowhere to be found. I kept telling myself that as long as problems had to arise, as long as I suffered the worst of them, everyone else could just roll with it. If I stayed calm, they would all stay calm as well. Right?
We are entitled to our theories, and I guess the fact that we have to test them is what makes them theories. I have learned an incredible amount about planning and carrying out a study abroad trip in the last week, and I am far better equipped for any future programs I may choose to run after only seven days. This has been an incredibly grueling week with a steep learning curve for me, but everyone's still alive and the problems or difficulties are minor, so I'm counting it as a success thus far.
Having not written regularly this week, I will now try and give as much of an update as I can. I may also add photos, or perhaps put those in later, as pictures make my words a lot more interesting.
We left Lima on Tuesday morning for Nazca. There is no airport in Nazca (other than the little one used for the flyovers,) so my bag was not going to make it to me there. Thanks to Karen, the real force behind this trip, my bag was scheduled to arrive in Arequipa on Wednesday and I was to go claim it at the Arequipa airport. The LAN Airlines people insisted on delivering it to me at the hotel, so I waited an extra two hours for it to arrive, but what's two hours after SIX DAYS without it? It was good to get my bag back. That's really all I can say.
I must digress at this moment and air a grievance against the U.S. media channels. On May 9, 2011, workers in Puno, Peru began a protest against the government and blocked the highway that runs between Puno and La Paz, Bolivia. The protest has been entirely ignored by the American media channels, and I was completely unaware of the situation until Tuesday night when Karen informed me that the protests had spread and travel to Puno (and Lake Titicaca) is impossible. This meant we had an additional two and a half days to make up in our trip. We would miss Lake Titicaca, Sillustani, Pucapucara, Raqchi, and a couple of other significant sites on our tour as a result. The options available to us were to extend our stay in Arequipa, a city I am entirely unfamiliar with, or go to Cusco early and spend five days there. One benefit to Arequipa is Colca canyon, the debated largest/deepest canyon in the Western Hemisphere, which is a day trip away from Arequipa and is famous for the Andean condors that fly there. After negotiating with Karen about our trip budget and so forth, we (I) decided we would pay the extra money and make the trip to Colca canyon.
I believe I am speaking for the entire group when I say that it was well worth it.
So we're back in Arequipa for one more day and then to take the night bus to Cusco tomorrow night and resume the original itinerary. Machupicchu is the natural climax of this trip, and we will be able to spend most all of Wednesday there, then one more night in Cusco, a flight back to Lima, then back to the USA on Friday.
I hope I last that long.

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