Sunday, November 29, 2009


I'm so thankful for the chance that I had to travel with 3 friends on my first trip to South America!!! We spend 8 days traveling around Peru and had a great time!!! We had a couple days in Lima, a couple days in Cusco, then took a train from Cusco to Machu Picchu where we stayed at Aguas Calientes for a night, back to Cusco for a night and then on to Puno for a couple nights. From Puno we flew to Lima and around 1:30AM we flew from Lima to Atlanta and then I flew on to Indy. It was a long overnight flight, but thankful for empty seats which gave me a chance to lay down and sleep!!!! This past week had been busy with work, Thanksgiving, and decorating for Christmas! Not sure I've processed all of my travels and the fact that I'm back in Indianapolis yet! Below are some photos:

This first photo was taken in Lima, Peru.

This is an Alpaca - we learned the difference between alpacas and lamas!!!
Machu Picchu was amazing - the ruins as well as the surrounding mountains!

This was my favorite place that we ate at in Aguas Calientes after a long day at Machu Picchu - we drank a common peruvian drink called chica morada, played cards, heard live Andian music, has little dancers for entertainment and ate pizza cooked in a wood burning oven, oh, and had coffee and cookies from Trader Joes for dessert!

Market in Peru

The day after Machu Picchu we had to wait until afternoon to catch the train so we wandered upon a trail that we though would lead to a waterfall - instead it lead straight up a mountain, and we made it to the top!!!!!!!!

Not to mention the 8 wooden ladders that also went straight up the mountain and we had to climb up and down them on our hike . . . but the view really was totally worth it!!!!

We took a bus from Cusco to Puno and this was the highest point we were at during out time in Peru - 4, 335 meters which is equivalent to 14,222 feet. Since it was raining we got the photo and then ran back to the bus.

From Puno we had a day to explore Lake Titicaca, which is huge!!!! First we stopped at the Uros Islands which was very interesting because everything is made out of reeds - including the island, boats, houses, watchtowers, etc. . . .

From there we were on the boat another 2 hours before reaching Taquile island which required a bit of a hike uphill to get to lunch and then about 500 steps down the other side of the island to return to our boat.

Will post more photos later - we had over 1,600 photos between the 4 of us - anybody interested is seeing all of them???

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Working hard!!!

Thought I should have some evidences of actually doing some work while here - since that is the reason I'm here anyway! This is the children's hospital where I was able to take a tour of all the different services as well as observe for a couple hours. I also returned later to do some interviews for my project.
This is the university from the entrance. It's just one of the campuses of the university and it divided up into just the social sciences.

The buildings are open concept - which is nice, except in these months it's very very cold!!! There is no heat and the wind blows through the halls making for a very chilly walk anywhere in the building! And yes, I do mean cold - it's been in the 50's and low 60's here . . .without heat and a real winter coat i've been barely staying warm enough!!!
But what an amazing view of the mountains even from inside the university!!!

And here I am working with Margarita in her office!

Things are going well for my project and I feel like i've accomplished what I needed to during my time here. I haven't done too much of the touristy stuff though. We'll see what this week brings however! And the fun thing is that I know I will be returning in March with some of the IUPUI students and will be working with some of the same professors! It's nicer to be able to see you soon instead of good-bye to all of my new friends here!

Pachuca and Piñatas

Here is the famous Pachuca Reloj close up. This is the pride of Pachuca and it is claimed the the mechanism that runs the clock is the same that runs Big Ben. Sounds kinda silly - but actually the English settled in this area to do mining and so I would say it's quite possible!

It's so tall that it was tricky to get a photo of me in front of it!
Some of the surrounding streets and mountains around the Reloj.
There are cactus everywhere around here, even farms of them. Some of them are called "Nepal", which I think is the same as the prickly pear and you eat the leaves - yummy!!! Even before coming here I made some salsa with Nepal in it just for fun!
Here are some photos of the fiesta I went to for the 3 children. Of course the little girl had to have a princess piñata!!!
And we had to be so careful with the older boys who were swinging so hard at the piñata, this is the one of the birthday boys.

And finally what all the kids are waiting for - massive amounts of candy!!!
There was also tons of cake - one cake was decorated for the siblings, one side for the boy and one side for the girl . . . too cute!!! And a whole other cake for the other birthday boy!
The house where the fiesta was held was up the side of one of the mountains and they had an amazing balcony on each of the levels that looked out over the city of Pachuca. Even from here it's impossible to see the entire city because it wraps around the sides of the mountains!

And here is a photo of the house that i've been living in for the past couple weeks.

This adorable little girl was so gently hitting the piñata - it was just too cute and I was able to get a bit of it on video:

Monday, November 2, 2009

First week in Pachuca

Welcome to the city of Pachuca in the state of Hildalgo, Mexico. People here say this is a small town and that nothing is really that far away. However, there is around a million people living in this city and it's jam packed with houses and buildings and continues to grow! It's beautiful here as the entire city it surrounded by mountains!!!

I was taken on a tour of the University that I'm working with here in Pachuca and at one of the buildings they had an observatory that was on the top of the tallest part that you see in the above picture. It was an amazing view of the entire city of Pachuca and I was able to see various landmarks from above! The crazy winding streets looked even crazier from above - as well as some of the incredibly steep streets that seem impossible to go up in down by any means of transportation!

When studying Spanish in Guatemala I heard about a holiday that I never wanted to be part of, or even be around for. Well, this year I ended up in Mexico during that holiday. It's called 'day of the dead' and really the celebration starts with halloween but continues for many days. There are many differences and the people are remembering their ancestors but the meanings behind what they do and some of the things that they do are just not things that I want to take part in or even be around!!! The below photo are some of the flowers that are used during this holiday. Just a couple hours later all but a couple of the orange flowers were gone.

This week I also went to a Mary Kay party with some of the professors from the university. It was fun to spend time with them outside of the university! Below is a photo from that evening.

Saturday I went with my new missionary friends to a nearby city called Real de Monte. It's a city that was settled by English miners a long time ago and maintains some of the traditions started back then like tin roofs on all the buildings and more European style buildings. This is also the origin of the famous Paste which is a food that can only be found in and near Pachuca. I've eaten many of these since coming here! It was traditionally lunch for the miners.

This town is up the mountain about 20 min., the problem was that the entire mountain was covered with a cloud! We were at about 9,000 or so feet elevation and because of the cloud cover the temp got down to 47 degrees F. It was cold!!!!!!!!!!!! Unfortunately the cloud never lifted, so I took pictures even though it was hard to see. Well, you'll get to see what I saw anyway!

This is a picture of the mountain on our way down . . . no wonder it was so cold and we couldn't see!!!!
And you can see the same cloud covered mountain just a little bit farther away - notice the blue sky above and around the cloud!!!

Sunday I was able to go to my missionary friend's church. It was a neat Sunday as they were celebrating 11 years and the return of a special guest. There was a lunch after the service and a yummy cake that was served!

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