Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cusco, Peru

More from our South America trip:
We spent a night in Cusco, Peru, an old Incan town that has become one of the top tourist destinations in Peru.
There are lots of old churches built in the 1500s 
These rocks were put here hundreds of years ago by the Incans. They had an uncanny ability to fit together these perfectly placed stones, but no one really knows how they did it (there are many theories.)
Touching a humungous Incan stone.
This woman was charging money to take her picture with her sheep. 
Being tourists.
Old church, with a Starbucks right next door, (which we visited a few times during our stay in Cusco).
Chasing birds in the plaza.
Family time.
And then there was this chocolate bar, called Sublime (made by Nestle).
Apparently it's only in Central/South America, but Michael grew up eating it as a very special treat when he lived in Peru/Bolivia. He was so excited to find these that we bought 2 whole boxes of them.
Strolling through the market.
Mostly, Hazel playing with rocks.

Lima, Peru

Part 3: Lima, Peru

We stopped in Lima to visit with some friends from college.
View of Lima
We went to an amazing buffet of Peruvian food. I had no idea there were so many good flavors in Peru. 
Hazel enjoyed the buffet, too.
Throwing rocks with our friends. 
Chucking rocks.
Family photo opportunity.
The Chapmans and the Cantralls.
Michael and Kelsey spent part of their childhood together in Peru when their families were missionaries, so it was fun to be there together with our kids more than 25 years later.
5:30 AM at the airport, heading to Cusco.
A friendly neighbor made them balloon animals while we waited. 
Hazel is pretty comfortable on the plane.
Headed to Cusco, Peru and Machu Picchu.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bolivia: Food and Mud

Our trip to Bolivia, Part 2

French fries (and other forms of potatoes) are a staple food in parts of Bolivia. 
Also, a root called Yucca. We had some delicious "sopa de mani" (peanut soup) with french fries sprinkled on top.
Then there are chuños (Choon-yoze). I had heard about these from Michael as he remembers eating them growing up in Peru as a little boy. They are freeze-dried balls of potatoes.
Ellie's apprehensive face summarizes how I felt about them too. Not my favorite.

On one of our last days of our meetings we went to visit a low-German Mennonite colony, which MCC Bolivia partners with. There are groups of conservative Mennonites who live in Bolivia, Belize, and Mexico. They live simply, much like the Amish communities in the US.

We ate purple fruit soup, a Mennonite dish.
 On our way back from a visit to a Mennonite cheese factory, it started to rain.

And then this happened:
 We were stuck in the mud in a very large van, or more like a mini-bus. Our group was divided into two buses, and both got stuck.
The men tried to help push the first bus out of its rut. 
Mostly, their shoes got really dirty.
We quickly realized that these vehicles weren't going anywhere.
 Luckily, some friendly low-German Mennonites passed on by and decided to try to help us.
They went to the mayor's house down the road, who recently acquired a very large tractor. In these communities, as part of a commitment to live simply, the tractors and anything with wheels usually only have the metal rims (they take off the rubber tires). Fortunately for us, this tractor was so new it hadn't lost its rubber tires yet. (I didn't get a picture of the tractor).

After being drug out of the first spot, the tractor attached both of our buses together. We began to dovetail and ended up in some bushes:
I was nervous but everyone assured me we couldn't tip over. I had a hard time believing them.

 While we waited to be rescued, the girls watched a movie. They were fairly oblivious to our position.
Eventually, the mayor drug the first bus down the dirt road, out of the mud, and to the paved highway. He returned to bail out the large milk truck that was also stuck before dragging us out to the highway. In total, we were delayed almost two hours. It could have been worse. We could have been stuck in there all night. It definitely made our Bolivia trip more memorable.

Next, we headed to Lima and Cusco in Peru.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Santa Cruz, Bolivia

A few weeks ago we traveled to Bolivia and Peru. Here's the first post in a series I'm hoping to do from our trip.

Bolivia, Part 1

The first week we were mostly in Santa Cruz at a retreat center for meetings. While we were in meetings all day the girls had fun with the other kids. Unfortunately, I didn't get a group shot of the kids this year. Here's Ellie with the daughters of the reps from Nicaragua. They were buddies all week, just like last year.
Watching Frozen
 Just under a year ago we arrived in Guatemala in time for these same meetings, held here in Guatemala. It's fun to see how much some of these kids have changed in one year.
Guatemala, April 2013
We stayed at a place with a pool and a slide. 
It took some convincing, but eventually Ellie went down the slide with Daddy. Victory!
 And, a few more pictures of the kiddos in Santa Cruz:

The son of other reps, and Hazel's little buddy. We became reps around the same time as them and the family of the girls in the picture up above, so we will be seeing each other at least once a year (or more) over the next 4 years. It's going to be fun to see how much they grow and change.
 Bolivia, Part 2: Mud and Food, coming soon.