Saqsayhuaman

This is an incredible complex just above Cusco.

A brief history.

Emperor Pachacuti began work on Saqsayhuaman in the 1440s. It took nearly a hundred years to finish. Enormous diorite blocks from nearby was used for the outer walls, Yucay limestone from more than 15 km away was used for the foundations and dark andesite from over 30km away was used for the inner buildings and towers.

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Ceviche and recipe

This is a traditional South American dish which is actually a raw meal.  Depending on where you in South America determines the fish that is used and other ingredients but the basic principle is the same.

This is not like sushi where you are eating raw fish with a condiment.  Ceviche (pronounced say-bee-chay) is marinated in the South American limon and being an acid cooks the fish while also providing great flavour.

The limon is close to a key lime.  When making this dish, if you do not have limon or limes, lemon can be used but it will give a harsher taste.

We have also had this vegetarian where sliced mushrooms were used instead of the fish.

The corn that is used in South America is a pale yellow, very big kernel corn.

The basic recipe for traditional peruvian ceviche is at the Food And You blog.

ceviche

 

Tipon, Pikillatay, Alien Baby

For this trip we took a tour bus with friends.  It was good because we had the backseat which was raised so the kids could see over heads, the unfortunate part is not having as much time to see or explore the sites.

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Carnival in Cusco

I have never been to Carnival, and have known that Carnival corresponds with Fashion Week in Europe, along with another tradition of single girls being able to tag the single man they have been eyeing. I do not remember the name of that tradition, but did learn about it while posted in Oberammergau, West Germany – not that the tradition is really needed much anymore.

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What Happens When There is No Transport for Two Days?

A little background first.  It turns out that Peru is the second in economic growth, forecasted for 2014, China is first.  Everywhere in Peru the gas prices have gone down – except Cusco.  Since August the gas prices here have increased by 16%. The thought being that since Cusco is one of the top tourist spots for the United States, that the tourists would absorb the increase.  Unfortunately the tourists did not go for it.

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Inka Museo

This museum shows pre-Inca and Inca civilization and the impact that colonialism had on these native cultures.  Initially the building was one of Cusco’s finest colonial mansions.

It is not permitted to take any pictures inside the museum even without a flash.

As you enter the museum there are two peruvian men in Inca garb playing music there music.  Many times you will here the music before you are even close to the door of the museum.  This museum is actually very close to the Plaza de Armes, so we pass it a lot.  I so wish I could take pictures.

The museum is actually a very good size.  It has diaramas of Macchu Pichu, Morays, Salinas. It also has diaramas of the different areas of Peru and what you would find there in terms of animals, food etc.  The kids really like this.

Magpie and I actually went to this museum twice, once by ourselves and the second with friends.

This museum also has the very small green stone figurines that were discovered in Tipon.

Magpie’s favourite part was the skulls and mummies.  This area is in a enclosed area with red lights and strategically places windows to look in.  The mummies are in a tight fetal position and were found in woven baskets usually.  There is even a baby mummy there.  Some of the skulls still have hair which is reddish.  The red hair surprised us.

We do like this museum, but I do get tired of the museum when we go often.

Music….. the best language of all

Music is a language all in its own, though it is based off of math so maybe the language is math….. I personally love math but enjoy music that much more.  As a kid I was exposed to many different styles of music which has given me a good appreciation of all types of music. I have never learned to play an instrument though that might be changing.  I have found an instructor that is willing to teach me, though this instructor is not a professional or totally proficient – it is Magpie.

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What Are We Eating…..

There are many choices available for food here.  The market gives you a very wide choice of fruits, vegetables, meat, cheeses, breads, nuts and herbs.  Within the markets you can find aisles of stalls offering fresh fruit and/or veggie juices, along with aisles of stalls offering prepared food.  The usually fare is soup with rice or a meal of rice, a few vegetables, french fries and egg.  Lots of animal protein.  Surprising we do not see a lot of quinoa being used.  There is a strong Chinese influence here and you will find lots of fried rice, soy sauced vegetables and occasionally fried quinoa.  Rice seems to be more of the staple than the potato or quinoa.  That is a little disappointing.

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New Year’s Eve in Cuzco

Our plan was made to celebrate New Year’s Eve with our new friends.  We don’t normally do anything special.  We decided we would all create tapas – appetizers – for our dinner feast.

We all met together at 10am to go to the market.  We had our shopping bags and our list. The weather was gorgeous. The city was busy and we found more street food that we can eat – corn tamales with raisins – Magpie is in heaven.

Lainie has her people that she has created relationships within the market.  She has graciously introduced us to them where I get to practice my spanish.  Many bags later we leave the market – which is in full swing for the evening.  We need to take 2 taxis due to our numbers. We unpack all the food and start rinsing.  I start the soaking of the cashews for the cheese.

I have less prep work to do so Magpie and I go and get some errands done before this evening.

We come back at 5 pm, a little later than I had planned but then I know everyone else eats later and we are suppose to be staying up to midnight.  I make cumin cheese, pesto cheese and black pepper cheese, pesto, and cut up the vegetables for stacks.

The boys set the table – or in this case the floor with cushions.  We get all the dishes set up with our drinks. As usual there is way too much food.  People are getting tired and we check a clock, no one wears a watch so it is checking a electronic device.  We discover that it is only 8:30pm and we wonder how we are going to make it to midnight.  We decide to check out the main square and help burn off some of the food.

The weather is nice and the square is hopping.  At first there was no music as it was being set up and then bang it was there.  Needless to say I jumped and Miro had a good chuckle.  Lots of people had firecrackers and there was no way I was buying that, but there were these cheap yellow (good luck for the new year in Peru) that Magpie wanted.  At S.1 Magpie was joining in with the festivities.

After about an hour we went back to the house and finished our preps for our celebration of burning away past – literally – and bringing forth our intentions for the New Year.  We had done a similar one in Hawaii last year and it was fun to be apart of a different idea.

We were not lasting well and went back to our own apartment at around 11:30pm.  Magpie and I read a little and just before midnight the fireworks started.  Now at our apartment we have the best view of the square and surrounding area.  We also have a window that you can curl up into.  Magpie sat there while I read out loud and then we both watched fireworks from all over the city.  It was continuous and amazing for the amount of locations setting the fireworks off and for how long they lasted.

Needless to say we did hail in the New Year but did not see the last of the fireworks.

We hope your New Years was good too.  Many blessings for the 2014 and let the past stay in the past.