You'll Never Walk Alone

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Nihit Bajaj

2 | 502 | Jan 17, 2017

You'll Never Walk Alone

Generic placeholder image
Nihit Bajaj
2 | 502 | Jan 17, 2017

Peruvian Diaries - Un día normal...


It took a couple of weeks since the beginning of my journey, but I finally spent a day traveling how I had imagined this trip to be...completely unplanned, trusting my instinct, just going with the flow, stopping when I felt like, writing when it seemed right, and clicking pictures along the way...Maybe it was the fact my Peruvian (host) family made me feel completely at home the day before and that I´d finally managed a good night´s sleep (sleeping in dorms/hostels is hard/non-existent as people are coming in and going out all the time!), but whatever the reason, Christmas Day 2013 was one of the best days of the trip so far...

As would later become custom during dinner conversations with my Peruvian family, I discussed my travel plans the night before (Christmas Eve) seeking suggestions on how to "travel as a local would"... Since I hadn´t explored the city of Cusco as much before leaving for the Inka Trail (which definitely deserves a separate post!), I just decided to take the traditional city tour.

But sleeping in (until 10ish) meant I left the house much later than planned, and probably would have missed the tour bus. I still decided to go to the city center though which is about 20 minutes away from the family´s house via local bus transportation. My first local bus ride in Peru reminded me of my time during college in India when I would take local (blue line) buses all the time. There would almost always be more people in the bus than you might think can fit, and there´d still be room for more. What makes matters worse in Peru, however, is that a lot of these local buses (Combi´s as they are called here) are super small and have a roof only 5 feet from the floor. That meant that when I did not get a seat in the bus I took, my face was almost parallel with the bus roof when I stood. Definitely an interesting and cheap albeit un poquito uncomfortable experience...

I did get to sit a few minutes before my stop though and soon after saw a Christmas procession on Avenida del Sol, one of the main streets in central Cusco. I instinctively shouted ´baja´ - the call to stop the bus - and got off at the next stop. I joined in the procession and it was great to see all the colorful traditional costumes, the energy of the young dancers and just the general feeling of people enjoying themselves during the ceremony. The last few years I´ve spoken with my family over Diwali (The Indian festival of lights, or the Indian Christmas, as I sometimes like to call it), I´ve sadly noticed the festive enthusiasm exponentially decrease, almost to a point where it has become no more than a public holiday for rest (wonder if my absence from the scene had an effect). Hence, the energetic Christmas procession came as a refreshing surprise...

 

 

 

 

 

I ended up following the procession for more than an hour and then decided to get some lunch. Not sure what to eat, and walking up Av. El Sol to check out what there was to offer, a local Peruvian handed me a flyer about a Christmas Day special (and cheap) buffet at an Indian restaurant - Maikhana. My initial stance was not to have Indian food in Peru; I had been treated to some of the best Indian delecacies at home in India only a few weeks ago, but I decided to check it out anyway - just to see how good a job they were doing (ok, and because it was really cheap!). 

 

I was surprised to see three Indian families - complete with kids and grandparents - at the restaurant, and took a seat in the corner so I could stare outside the window and observe locals, as was soon becoming my favorite pastime. The food turned out to be really good, with eight options for vegetarian stuff and four non-vegetarian dishes. I tried to get to all twelve, but only managed ten and was pretty full at the end of the meal. Just before finishing though, looking out the window, the site of what I later found was the statue of Cristo Blanco (The White Jesus) caught my eye ...

 

 

 

It seemed pretty high up on the hill from where I was, but I decided to hike up anyway. A local told me it was about 45 minutes up; I had all the time in the world, and it seemed like the right thing to do, so I started walking up...And as I ascended the mountain, the scenery just got better and better...

 

 

 

As I reached the halfway point, I realized it was the same way up for Saksaywaman. Pronounced like Sexy Woman (as the guides at the site enthusiastically liked to point out), the name, in Quechua (a local language), actually means ¨Satisfied Falcon¨, based on the theory that after the Incas and Spaniards died fighting at this site, it would satisfy several falcons for several days :) 

 

 

 

I took a cheap guided tour (only 10 Soles because it was Christmas), learned a little more about its history and got some breathtaking views of the city... 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In no hurry at all, I spent half an hour atop the hill enjoying the view and listening to some of my favorite songs...

 

 

 

Next stop - the White Jesus...

 

 

 

Pretty amazing piece of architecture...I stayed for a bit and decided to walk back...with some locals :)

 

 


...observing interesting pieces of  tradition atop houses...(the two bulls represent farming as a way of life in Andean culture)

 

But the best part on my way down was my conversation with Alex, a local 11 year old goofing around a church with his llama, Martin. As a typical 11 year old, he tried to catch my attention. And I enthusiastically followed, trying to learn about the life of an average kid in the city, especially interested in his education and daily lifestyle.

 

He told me his family was poor, lived in Saksaywaman, but that he went to a good school regularly. So I tried to find out how good he was...

 


And I was impressed - he could write ok, do multiplication and division easily and draw well too! We did some more exercises after and he fared really well! I gave him a few sweets, a San Diego keychain and left feeling happy about the condition of schools in Peru even though I´m generally against one point generalizations ...

I got back to the city center soon enough, but had to take a detour after being chased by a german shephard. I sat in a cafe for a bit, took the Combi back home and was treated to the best dinner ever - one of my favorite Pervian dishes - Aji de Gallina!

A normal day of life in Peru!

Hasta mañana!
- Nihit

 

Peruvian Diaries - Un día normal...


It took a couple of weeks since the beginning of my journey, but I finally spent a day traveling how I had imagined this trip to be...completely unplanned, trusting my instinct, just going with the flow, stopping when I felt like, writing when it seemed right, and clicking pictures along the way...Maybe it was the fact my Peruvian (host) family made me feel completely at home the day before and that I´d finally managed a good night´s sleep (sleeping in dorms/hostels is hard/non-existent as people are coming in and going out all the time!), but whatever the reason, Christmas Day 2013 was one of the best days of the trip so far...

As would later become custom during dinner conversations with my Peruvian family, I discussed my travel plans the night before (Christmas Eve) seeking suggestions on how to "travel as a local would"... Since I hadn´t explored the city of Cusco as much before leaving for the Inka Trail (which definitely deserves a separate post!), I just decided to take the traditional city tour.

But sleeping in (until 10ish) meant I left the house much later than planned, and probably would have missed the tour bus. I still decided to go to the city center though which is about 20 minutes away from the family´s house via local bus transportation. My first local bus ride in Peru reminded me of my time during college in India when I would take local (blue line) buses all the time. There would almost always be more people in the bus than you might think can fit, and there´d still be room for more. What makes matters worse in Peru, however, is that a lot of these local buses (Combi´s as they are called here) are super small and have a roof only 5 feet from the floor. That meant that when I did not get a seat in the bus I took, my face was almost parallel with the bus roof when I stood. Definitely an interesting and cheap albeit un poquito uncomfortable experience...

I did get to sit a few minutes before my stop though and soon after saw a Christmas procession on Avenida del Sol, one of the main streets in central Cusco. I instinctively shouted ´baja´ - the call to stop the bus - and got off at the next stop. I joined in the procession and it was great to see all the colorful traditional costumes, the energy of the young dancers and just the general feeling of people enjoying themselves during the ceremony. The last few years I´ve spoken with my family over Diwali (The Indian festival of lights, or the Indian Christmas, as I sometimes like to call it), I´ve sadly noticed the festive enthusiasm exponentially decrease, almost to a point where it has become no more than a public holiday for rest (wonder if my absence from the scene had an effect). Hence, the energetic Christmas procession came as a refreshing surprise...

 

 

 

 

 

I ended up following the procession for more than an hour and then decided to get some lunch. Not sure what to eat, and walking up Av. El Sol to check out what there was to offer, a local Peruvian handed me a flyer about a Christmas Day special (and cheap) buffet at an Indian restaurant - Maikhana. My initial stance was not to have Indian food in Peru; I had been treated to some of the best Indian delecacies at home in India only a few weeks ago, but I decided to check it out anyway - just to see how good a job they were doing (ok, and because it was really cheap!). 

 

I was surprised to see three Indian families - complete with kids and grandparents - at the restaurant, and took a seat in the corner so I could stare outside the window and observe locals, as was soon becoming my favorite pastime. The food turned out to be really good, with eight options for vegetarian stuff and four non-vegetarian dishes. I tried to get to all twelve, but only managed ten and was pretty full at the end of the meal. Just before finishing though, looking out the window, the site of what I later found was the statue of Cristo Blanco (The White Jesus) caught my eye ...

 

 

 

It seemed pretty high up on the hill from where I was, but I decided to hike up anyway. A local told me it was about 45 minutes up; I had all the time in the world, and it seemed like the right thing to do, so I started walking up...And as I ascended the mountain, the scenery just got better and better...

 

 

 

As I reached the halfway point, I realized it was the same way up for Saksaywaman. Pronounced like Sexy Woman (as the guides at the site enthusiastically liked to point out), the name, in Quechua (a local language), actually means ¨Satisfied Falcon¨, based on the theory that after the Incas and Spaniards died fighting at this site, it would satisfy several falcons for several days :) 

 

 

 

I took a cheap guided tour (only 10 Soles because it was Christmas), learned a little more about its history and got some breathtaking views of the city... 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In no hurry at all, I spent half an hour atop the hill enjoying the view and listening to some of my favorite songs...

 

 

 

Next stop - the White Jesus...

 

 

 

Pretty amazing piece of architecture...I stayed for a bit and decided to walk back...with some locals :)

 

 


...observing interesting pieces of  tradition atop houses...(the two bulls represent farming as a way of life in Andean culture)

 

But the best part on my way down was my conversation with Alex, a local 11 year old goofing around a church with his llama, Martin. As a typical 11 year old, he tried to catch my attention. And I enthusiastically followed, trying to learn about the life of an average kid in the city, especially interested in his education and daily lifestyle.

 

He told me his family was poor, lived in Saksaywaman, but that he went to a good school regularly. So I tried to find out how good he was...

 


And I was impressed - he could write ok, do multiplication and division easily and draw well too! We did some more exercises after and he fared really well! I gave him a few sweets, a San Diego keychain and left feeling happy about the condition of schools in Peru even though I´m generally against one point generalizations ...

I got back to the city center soon enough, but had to take a detour after being chased by a german shephard. I sat in a cafe for a bit, took the Combi back home and was treated to the best dinner ever - one of my favorite Pervian dishes - Aji de Gallina!

A normal day of life in Peru!

Hasta mañana!
- Nihit