Sunday, 20 April 2008

Peru Trip

I went to Peru for spring break. We were a group of 30 people from Babson who went for 10 days to the wonderful country.I learnt in business school that instant gratification is what everyone looks for. So here are the pictures from the trip

There are two albums

City for Lima: We reached the city of Lima and stayed with our friend’s family at his mom’s house and saw the best of Peruvian hospitality. The city is very diverse. Although located on the coast, it is very dry. We got a lot of sun (coming from cloudy and snowy Boston, it was a welcome relief). Downtown financial district has beautiful buildings, the place we were staying at had beautiful houses and places to visit. But driving through the city, we also saw some real poor sections of the city. I saw two Indian auto companies in Peru – Bajaj and Mahindra. I saw lots of parallels between Lima and Delhi but still they are as different as…..Delhi and Lima….what else did you expect? We went out to a few clubs at night and the music was amazing. The crowd, the music and everything was fun. Once we had dinner at our friend’s place and had Pisco Sours – a traditional Peruvian drink. I would leave the task of researching about it to you guys.

The city tour was a little boring because of the long bus ride but still saw a lot of interesting places. We also visited Babson’s partner University in Lima – University of Centrum. The most interesting was to see a display of bones in a cathedral which was built by the Spanish back in 1500’s. The cathedral had three floors of graves below the building since it was built. About 50 years ago some Japanese researches thought that digging out the graves would be a good idea. And then they came up with the idea of putting them on display.

Cusco: We then flew to Cusco which is up in Andes and about 3,300 mts. Some of our friends got sick, I mean really sick. SO next time you fly to high altitude be prepared to first adopt to the new altitude. It’s a beautiful city, a great combination of old and new architecture. The city square has medieval look to it and with clobber stones, around, u feel someone has transported you back in time.

Had the first sample of Coca tea. To give a context, Coca leaves are raw material for cocaine. The leaves are not toxic by themselves. However, one would fail a drug test if they were to go through one after having coca tea. It’s a refreshing drink especially in high altitudes.

Sacred Valley: We then took a bus to Sacred Valley, a beautiful valley on the foothills of the Andes and where the old Inca ruins start. The best part for me was hanging out at this lounge bar which was all wood, with rugs of lama skin lying around and a few swings. Just lied down on the rug with a beer in hand and listened to local music. Loved it.

Inca Trail: The next day we took a small bus ride to the start of the Inca Trail. Again a beautiful drive but I really missed my motorcycle as we went through the curves. Inca Trail is more than 500 year old trail built by the Incas to go to Macchu Picchu. (Please click on links to see more details over these). The hike was going to be for four days but we did it in three. Babson students always do things faster, better. We hiked for 38 kms in 3 days, went upto altitudes of 4,200 meters, faced rain, falling rocks and ferocious animals. Worst of all no access to phone, internet and the blackberries were not working. Not even an TV! How the hell I was supposed to get updated on the Brittany Spears news? Anyways, these turned out to be the best hike for me ever. We had a team of porters with us. At lunch of the first day we had a surprise. We had a proper tent pitched with tables laid out complete with cutlery and clean plates and they even had warm water and soap to wash our hands. We were treated to fresh cooked food unlike most camping where you have to do with canned food. After lunch we left, the porters packed the tents and everything else, went past us and when we reached our night halt spot, they already had our sleeping tents and everything else already pitched. It was a great experience. Had some beer (thanks to an entrepreneurial lady who was selling it) and had a nice sleep in the beautiful valley. Next day turned out b tough to me, thanks to a heavy backpack I was carrying, my tendency to get AMS, heavy rains and 1,200 meters climb and then all the way down. This is when we first saw the clobber stones put up by the Incas and the architecture of old ruins. I can write in full details but it will go on for pages. We reached Macchu Picchu on day 3 evening and caught up with the rest of the gang (they took a train from Cusco). On Day 3 me and Andy were on a roll (a good day after my disastrous day on Day 2). We climbed down 800 meters and like a million steps in 2 hours. The path was all stones, with no proper structure. We were tired like hell and did not want to see anymore steps and our worst fears came true when we realized we had to still climb a lot of steps from the bus station to our hotel. Anyways, saw civilization, cars, phones, TV after three days. It was great to realize I can still live without them. Took a much needed shower, shaved, relaxed the muscles and hit the town! Had some nice Pisco Sours, dinner and chatted with the rest of the group.

Macchu Picchu: One of the seven wonders of the world, deserves that recognition. The old stone houses, the architecture, layout of the city looks like they used latest SimCity to design it. I was wondering who might have had a larger market share of construction equipment when they were building these cities: Caterpillar? Kawasaki? Or some local company. I do not know if these companies were global back then.

I was wondering all the way how the hell they managed to break those stones and form them into cubes? They used just to tools – A Wooden widget and water. These rocks back then were still soft as they are volcanic rocks. They would make small slots in the rock, insert wooed wedges and pour water on top. As the water froze, it expanded the wood the rock, being soft from the inside cracked open revealing smooth sides. We then went up Wayna Picchu. The mountain u see in all the pictures of Macchu Picchu. It turned out to be tough especially after three days of intense hike but it was worth it. The view from up there is breath taking. As the clouds flew over Macchu Picchu in the valley below, I just stood there and absorbed the essence of nature, human spirit to build these structure 600 years ago and human ability to achieve anything they have ever wished for. Hiked down, took the bus back to town and then the train and another bus to Cusco. The drive was beautiful. You will see in the pictures. I did wish I was on my bike! But I was in company of my friends, something I cherish as much. Partied like crazy in Cusco and left for Lima the next day

Beach House: We spent about two days in the beach house. We bought food supplies, beverages to complement the food. The beach was amazing. The waves were big, beers were cold and sun was bright. Everything we wanted. Most played beach volleyball while I and Vijay built a Babson logo on sand. It was a lot of effort but it paid off. We literally left our mark! In the night, I partied like I have never before. WE went to this awesome club, great music, open air and our own private table. Alex knew the owner of the place and we were taken well are of by the bouncer and the bar tenders. Had a lot of Vodka, Chivas Regal, red bull and water. We danced till 07:00 AM. Yes till 7 in the morning. It was crazy. I have never seen the sunrise while partying. Next day was again at the beach for most people but I was working on a paper I had to submit on Monday.

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