25 May 2010


My mom was supposed to visit us in Chile/Argentina over Christmas and New Years. Two days before her flight, she hurt her leg and had to go in for surgery. Within the few minutes of that heartbreaking phone call, I realized it would be a long, long time before I saw my mom again. We didn't know how serious the injury was, and in turn, we couldn't have known that she would be in cast for months and then many more months of physical rehabilitation.

Kristin and I are nearing the end of our travels in South America. We thought we might leave the continent before my mom fully recovered. While still wearing a soft boot/cast, my mom, and her friend Conrad, managed to meet us in Cusco for a week of eating well, touring the Sacred Valley, riding horses, visiting Machu Pichu, and having a really fun time.

When my mom first arrived, she drank five cups of coca leaf tea. She thought the leaf was from the cocoa tree, when it actually comes from the same plant that cocaine is made from. Drinking the tea doesn't cause any ill-effects, but locals chew the leaves which supresses hunger and provides a mild stimulant. Anywho, we found a shop that made delicious chocolates (free samples!), cookies and brownies - all with coca.

Conrad, my mom and I rode horses for half a day. Somehow Conrad and I ended up with the smallest horses of the group. The riding and the views alone were great, but out adventure was remarkable because we were riding from Incan ruin to Incan ruin.

A trip to Peru is not complete until you visit the artisenal market. Here Kristin is modeling the latest fashion in outdoor winter clothing - the wool balaclava.

Our hostel was only one block from San Blas Plaza, where we were entertained by local musicians and shopped for handmade crafts.

Our last dinner together at an Indian restaurant, where we had one of our most delicious meals in South America.

After my mom and Conrad left, Kristin and I toured the rest of Cusco. We visited numerous museums and a few church. Most interested (to me, at least) was this collection of skulls. The Incan royalty used wood planks and rope to permanently deform baby skulls. These four adult skulls show the extent to which the Incas were able to achieve this effect. I thought this was just a myth perpetuated by Indiana Jones

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