10. Changing of the guard at the Plaza de Armas, Lima, Peru
I am not the biggest fan of big cities while travelling, but I spontaneously found myself in the central plaza of Lima just in time to watch the changing of the guard. With lots of men in uniform (!), music and horses it was a truly lovely way to be introduced to the country.
9. Learning about how to make products, Village, Peru
In my previous life in England, I became really interested in arts, crafts and anything to do with making stuff. So it was very exciting to meet the absolute experts in the art of making things naturally when I visited a small village in the Peruvian Andes, where the ladies make lots of lovely wooly things with alpaca, picuña and baby alpaca wool. They were very happy to show us exactly how they do it.
Everything made here is completely natural. They use lots of different things to make different colours, including plants, insects and crystals.
Natural products all used to make different colours
When rubbing the crystal against other materials used for dye, it makes several other colours. Genius.They can make over 50 colours this way…
The crystals here help to make even more colours… shown on the paper on the right.
The wool is boiled to seal the colour and then hung up to dry
The ladies spin all the wool by hand
Wool before and after
It takes hours, days and sometimes weeks of work to make one product. This lady is weaving a table mat
And finally they go out and sell it all… while still knitting
8. Trying to eat Cuy, Cusco, Peru
OK, this is a strange thing to have as a favourite, but you really know you are in Peru when you find yourself ordering a Cuy in a restaurant.
For those lucky enough not to have had this experience, Cuy is better known to English people as a Guinea Pig… you know, the cute fluffy animal that you hug as a child. Well, meeting it in Peru was not much less than horrifying.
Served complete with its head attached and a tomato for a hat, psychologically, it was near impossible to enjoy this delicacy. I shared it with 8 people, and was served the leg, with a tiny little foot still attached.
I ate the smallest piece and then my stomach felt invaded and wrong for about three days. This was all psychological by the way, it is actually a very popular dish if your not like me and love little cute animals. That said, no one at my table liked it and there were some proper meat eaters there….
A before shot… (sorry)
7. El Salvadorian Birthday
Having a birthday while travelling was possibly the only time I felt a little homesick and missed my friends. Partly because I hate my birthday and my friends usually have ways of making me smile through it. This year I found a new remedy for this, which is to spend it hanging out with El Salvadorian people. In my experience, they are so fun and friendly that you can hardly help yourself but to smile. I ate birthday pupusas in Suchitoto…
…and the biggest chocolate birthday cake in Santa Tecla…
…before heading to the coast for some rum by the sea.
It really was an excellent birthday weekend.
Here is me with the band La Rua, who sang happy birthday to me about 5 times, before giving me his hat just because I liked it!
6. Seeing llamas everywhere, Peru…
… and vicuñas and alpacas. All are awesome. But lets face it, everyone loves a llama.
Baby alpaca in the wild
This guy hated having his photo taken
Vicuña. This beautiful animals are becoming very rare. We were lucky to see several on the roadside on the way to the colca canyon.
5. Arequipa, Peru
I wish I had had more time in this lovely little city that is also the gateway to fthe Colca Canyon.
I did a rush tourist job of looking around the monasteria and the Juanita museum, which was lovely and so peaceful.
A courtyard in the monestaria
But it seemed like a lovely place just for mooching, and I was very sad not to be able to do so.
4. Inti Raymi parade, Cusco, Peru
We missed the actual festival of the sun, but the day we arrived in Cusco there was a parade in the build up to it.
The city was packed with people and groups from the community had built these enormous floats celebrating various elements of life here, such as Incas, their Gods, potatoes and corn.
It was a truly colourful and exciting way to first experience a city.
3. Seeing Condors, Colca Canyon, Peru
Getting up at 5am is officially OK if the reason is to go to the Colca Canyon to watch Condors gliding around stretching their wings.
Condors are like incredibly graceful, over sized turkeys and if you are lucky when you visit their morning exercise ground, they will glide right up to you and over your head.
One of my favourite mornings ever.
2. The Inca Trail, Peru
The actual trail to machu picchu feels like a magical, fantasy land at times.
Each day was different with various hidden Inca sites along the way.
How did they get the stuff to build it so high up? Clever peeps those Incas…here are some more pretty photos.
1. Machu Picchu, Peru
Does it need explanation as to why this was my favourite thing this month?
There are no words to describe the feeling when you finally make it to this place after 3 days of trekking. Incredible.