Peru Expedition 2009 Part Nine: The Ice Princess & White Water Rafting
22nd August 2009 - Security
Today we were woken up by Maggie knocking on our door so she could make sure we had time to pack and be ready.
Breakfast consisted of what I liked to call fake pain au chocolat. They were like chocolate sponge filled rolls.
After breakfast, Gurthej decided he wanted to see the 'Ice Princess' instead of the monastery, so the whole group bar Morton and Paul went. (Today was Morton's turn to be ill).
Conveniently, the museum was directly across the road from Los Andes, se we dropped our bags off before crossing to see the Ampato Princess.
We got Under 18 passes and then also found out that Mr O paid the same amount as us! They must've believed his speech about him being 21 - or done it just to get rid of him...
We had to wait for five minutes for an English video about Juanita (the Ice Princess).
She was a 12/13 year old rich girl who was chosen as a sacrifice to the gods to prevent the consequences of a volcanic eruption (such as a drought). From her birth she, like many other children, was chosen to become a sacrifice. They were brought up with better schooling and health care and health care as well as being prepared for the moment they would be sacrificed. They were looked after in this way so they were presentable and decent for the gods. The children were told that they were going to live with the gods - and apparently Juanita was found with a tranquil expression on her face.
So they wore fine clothes, shoes and accessories so they could go to heaven looking presentable as a representation of the village they would leave. They were raised away from their families at an early age in Cuzco city.
Depending on status, two boys and two girls would be sacrificed each time an eruption occurred. If, like Juanita, you were from a rich background you would be placed much nearer (on top of) the mountain. They believed the volcanoes were alive back then.
They made a long trek from Cuzco to the volcano during which altitude sickness would kick in and storms would occur. The Inca's used to believe this was the mountain's reaction to humans entering their territory.
Only high priests and the sacrifices could make this journey. By the time they reached their destination, the children would not have been feeling 100% so the drink they were given two hours before death would only speed it up.
Researchers don't entirely know what killed Juanita so many tests, experiments and investigations were carried out in the USA to discover she had been hit over the right side of her skull which completely damaged her right eye and forced her brain to the left side of her head.
Some of the children found were buried with pots and bowls for food and with models of themselves. Two girls and two boys would normally be found together. They also had bags with coca leaves in them incase they got head, foot or stomach aches. There was still some left in Juanita's bag.
After the video had finished, we began our tour.
It was interesting to see and read about how different their lives were back then ie. incest was common among the 'upper' class so that their families would stay in power, and a man could normally have about three wives from different statuses.
Another random fact was that there were about 200 llama species and one was an all white alpaca. But because of their significance in the old Inca beliefs as the purest creature as they were sacrificed and consequently became extinct.
*Image found on Google
When we went into Juanita's display room, it was slightly colder than the rest of the rooms, there were black drapes and not a lot of light.
Juanita herself, bizarrely, was considered tall to the Incas! She was about 1.5m... She was tiny! Going up to her case was strange and seeing her exposed skull and damaged eye was eery.
Her skull was the only part of her which was exposed to the outside elements so her skin and eyes were ruined. But the rest of her body had been preserved in ice so all her other body organs, muscles, bones and skin were perfectly preserved! They even found fluid in said organs!
After hearing all this information, she suddenly became even more eery and the slightest movement from anyone in the room seemed to make her come alive :P
At the end of the tour, we met up with Morton, Paul and Maggie. Gurthej chose a meat restaurant for us to eat at just down the road from Los Andes.
Once Gurthej had downed his last bottle of Inca Kola and a T-bone steak, Maggie escorted him to meet Dr Chuck so they could fly home. There was definitely a sense of loss as he left.
That afternoon while Maggie returned to the hostel with Morton, the rest of us went to the monastery.
There was no discount for students and we paid S/3 extra for a guide. She was a good guide, but kinda quiet.
Apparently twenty nuns still live in the Convent. They would join the convent at 17-18 years old but could've been studying there since the age of 14. Originally they would take a five year course during which parents would have to pay 100 silver coins each year. The second eldest daughter would usually be the one to be sent to the Convent. They could choose to leave if they wanted, but it would be a shame on the family name.
One girl that had studied previously at the Convent had been forced to marry someone she didn't like, so she ran away to the Convent where she became Superior Nun three times (nine years in total) and died aged 80. There is apparently proof that the soil from her grave cured a woman of cervical cancer. The woman ate the soil mixed in other foods and she was cured.
Another nun abolished the use of slaves/servants (Black women) and introduced the belief of equality.
The place was like a village. It had street names named after cities in Spain like Toledo, Málaga and Granada. Málaga was the longest, woop!
Although the place was beautiful and it was interesting to see, their art gallery was weird! It had pictures of fights, pain and suffering and there were also sculptures of Jesus on the cross in obvious pain. Again, it was kind of eery.
At the end of the gallery, there was also a book where you could write what you thought about the tour. One strange person had written Zac Efron. We had a look for Team 2 to see when they had been there and what they had thought. But we couldn't find them, so we gave up.
I attempted buying a llama wool jumper but the woman kept handing me jumpers the same size, telling me she had a bigger size, and bringing exactly the same thing! I then moved on to another stall, but the woman kept calling at me, telling me I was big. I didn't appreciate this, especially when another man joined in with "You big! She have big!"
I then bought a red bag, which I fell in love with and want to use at school. I've used it on and off since, like on my year abroad etc.
That evening we went to a balcony restaurant on the Plaza. It turned out it was three floors up on the actual sun roof, so we borrowed ponchos from them and sat outside. It was pretty windy.
Maggie then told us we could be getting from extra money - which put smiles on a lot of our faces! - because we'd saved up a good amount of money since the beginning of the trip. This meant we could also go rafting too!
After the meal, Beth tried to sneak off with her poncho and got all the way back to the hostel... but Maggie made her take it off and took it back the next day. Apparently they had sent out a complaint?!
That night we all went to bed buzzing about rafting the next day!
23rd August 2009 - Environment
Three days left :O
At Los Andes, breakfast as included so you could wonder into the dining area between 7 and 9am where you would be asked if you wanted tea, herbal tea or coffee. The woman would then go and get your drink, a glass of juice and some bread, jam and butter.
Even though Los Andes was only about a two star hostel, it felt nice it had any stars at all and it felt good to be a bit more civilised again.
Kagg and I wondered in at about half eight to find Paul and Mr O watching a West Ham vs. Tottenham football match. It seems Paul is a big Tottenham fan, and he got pretty excitable. He claimed that his - and therefore our day - would depend on whether they won or not. K?!
'Luckily' Tottenham won and Paul stayed in a decent mood for the rest of the day.
That morning we spent going round some of the shops and then meeting some of the team in a fruit cafe called Inka Wasi for a quick lunch. Their service wasn't great but their food was amazing!
We arrived back at the hostel a bit late, but it was only because the cafe had overcharged us! So we had our reasons...
Before leaving, we stored our money belts and passports with the receptionist in envelopes under her desk haha! Super safe!!
Everyone changed into lighter clothing - base layer tshirt, shorts and sandals over our swim stuff. If we didn't look like tourists before, we definitely did now! :P
The guide/instructor then arrived and hurried us onto their very sixties looking bus. It was quite warm inside, but this was something we were thankful for afterwards!
A twenty-five minute bus ride to the outskirts of Arequipa and we were there. As we waited for another group to arrive and the instructors to set up, you could feel the nerves and anticipation in the group. Everyone was fairly quiet - except for Mr O who seemed to talk even more - and fidgety.
We put on wetsuit gear, helmets, life jackets and water shoes, and lined up for our instructors to show us the oar manoeuvres we'd be using, and the commands he would need to give us.
"Stop" - oars resting on your lap; paddle facing out.
"Inside" - get off the side and into the boat.
"Right side" - everyone lean into the right side.
"Left side" - everyone lean into the left side.
We then played a couple of games to 'practice' listening and obeying the commands as well as 'making sure we knew our lefts and rights'.
By the time we had finished the games the other group had arrived and we were split into teams.
Paul, Morton, Andy, Sophie and I were put into a team on what could definitely be considered as the least secure boat - but then the most fun boat! - with the eldest instructor who would keep stopping to make sure everyone was together.
Apparently we were only allowed on Grade 1-3 - as of school instructions - but one of the many highlights was definitely a Grade 4 drop that we couldn't walk around, shhh! It was better than any roller coaster! The thrill and the rapids were amazing!!
Being at the front of the boat, Andy and Sophie got absolutely soaked :P
The Disaster Winners on our boat:
1st: Morton for falling in.
2nd: me for half falling out, Matrix style with my feet still locked under the front bumper-bit, and skimming my back on the water. But Paul said I won because I won for getting the lowest out of the boat without actually getting out the boat. He grabbed the edge of my life jacket and hauled me back in.
3rd: Sophie for loosing her oar.
It was so much fun, but wasn't pleasant when you got water in the suits because it would stay there, and made you feel like you were constantly sitting in a very cold puddle.
Andy and Paul took our boat on their heads back up the hill to the buses. Once we'd all changed, tea and coffee was handed out and the camera passed around.
Once we were back at Los Andes, everyone legged it to the showers. I felt a bit cheeky, but I'd shotgunned the first shower the day before so Kagg had to wait. Karma got me though because the water turned out to be so cold I got a brain freeze from it... So Kagg had to trek downstairs from our room to use one of the other girl's showers, but hey it was apparently warmer. A downer to being the only ones upstairs was that everyone else's showers worked :/
Warmer and cleaner, the two of us then got the giggles sliding across the marble floor outside our room.
Maggie then dolled out S/50 (£10) each from the money we'd saved, to spend the next day.
We then played 'my game' on the way back.
We had to make sure we slept properly that night as tomorrow we had proposed to do an all-nighter. Kagg and I attempted packing, but gave up pretty quickly and went to sleep.
24th August 2009 - Food
This morning Kagg and I had breakfast not long after 7am so we could spend longer on packing. We beat Paul and Mr O to the table in front of the tele. The conversation went something like this:
Paul: "They've nicked our table, Kev!"
Mr O: "So they have! How rude!"After breakfast, we spent a good couple of hours screaming, stropping and shoving everything into our bags. All our bags had to be moved into the biggest bedroom so we could wait out the time later together.
Five people decided to go for a walk to "the jungle" which apparently turned out to be a small stretch of trees. (The only reason I would've liked to go would have been to see Jo gat spat in the face by a llama! xD ). The rest of us chose to shop some more.
Mr O is *the* worst person to go shopping with. Yes, he likes shopping, but he is so indecisive. He has to examine everything millions of times before choosing so we ended up going back and forth between loads of shops... He wanted our advice too so we couldn't leave him :P
Drama happened when Louise got lost from the group. Tempers rose when we had to sit in the sun while Mr O and Paul spoke to the police - through me. The text came through when we had split into two groups around the Plaza. It turned out that she had gone back to the hostel and Maggie "hadn't noticed."
After lunch, we did a bit more shopping (it's a tough life!) and then had a peak inside the cathedral on the Plaza De Armas. This was also eery.
The group also bought presents secretly for the leaders. We bought a shawl for Maggie, a leather wallet for Paul and a llama tshirt for Mr O which we were originally going to write "World's Best Dad" but changed to "World's Best Parentus Locus" on the back.
Returning to the hostel with even more shopping, we crammed the last of it into our bags, and changed into our Inca Kola t-shirts and stripy trousers. Kagg ducttaped her entire bag to keep the tent on.
As we were staying up, we put off dinner as long as we could. Around eight o'clock we went to a fairly posh restaurant where we had a brilliant last meal!
Speeches were given and Maggie gave out finger puppets to each of us for different reasons and thank yous. Mine was for being unofficial translator of the trip. The team also bought me a small bag as a thank you for speaking Spanish!! :3 Thank you team!! <3
Around 10:30pm we left with satisfied stomachs and smiles on our faces. Before dinner, Paul had claimed that we had made him want to take up smoking again, so after dinner he sat up on the sun roof (which had hammocks!!) of Los Andes, talking to Tom Marshall.
Back in the room we started playing games and finding ways to entertain ourselves.
Part Ten: Lima then Home-Bound!