While in Cusco

The change in scenery was a definite indication we had arrived to Cusco, Perú. Being engulfed by puffy, white cotton clouds while soaring through the air had me feeling like a kid in a candy shop, completely amazed and speechless, well at least for a minute. Once we arrived to our hotel we enjoyed a cup of coca tea while we completed some paper work. Our City Tour of Cusco followed right after with some amazing site seeing from various exceptional churches with incredible history to ruins with unbelievable views. Places we visited include: Qoricancha, The Cathedral, Sacsayhuaman, Q’enqo, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay. The rest of the day was given to us to explore and rest up before our voyage to Machu Picchu.

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The following day while half-asleep we enjoyed a healthy breakfast- that included my favorite maracuyá and papaya juices- at 3:20am before venturing out on our rocky one-hour bus ride to the train station of Poroy. Once at the train station we hopped on to an hour and a half ride towards Aguas Calientes. It was my first time ever on a train so I was overly excited! Unfortunately, our train wasn’t on a high-speed rail line, but on the bright side the moderate speed offered us the attempt to relax while we traveled closely on the edge of a deadly cliff. After the successful train ride, we received our bus passes to travel up the mountain where we hopped onto an additional bus after climbing a flight of stairs. Finally, once we arrived to the Machu Picchu hike entrance and I received my stamp on my ticket I then realized I was about to view one of the “New” Seven Wonders of the World- cross that off my bucket list! Thankfully, my body handled the extreme altitude change very well, but the climb was definitely a workout that included several stops for scenery shots. During the climb, our tour guide enlightened us with historical background on Machu Picchu and fascinating legends.

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Machu Picchu’s Short-Historical Synopsis: In order to save Machu Picchu from being discovered and destroyed by the Spaniards, who were destroying the Inca ruins, the Incas decided to relocate. Before heading off into the wilderness, the trail that leads from Machu Picchu to Cusco was blocked preventing any leads to its discovery. Eventually, Hiram Bingham discovered it. Side note, the reason behind the ruins’ unique architecture was to prevent the structures from collapsing during an earthquake.

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At the top of the mountain, as I looked out towards Machu Picchu I was breath taken not only due to the hike, but also the view. It’s an honor to see, touch and examine the creations humans have constructed with their bare hands. Furthermore, to appreciate and admire the natural wonders that God himself has created for us to remember His creativity, His eye for beauty and His love for us. With every view my eyes captured I’m sure my facial expressions displayed my gratitude.

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After exploring Machu Picchu we headed down the mountain to the Sanctuary Lodge where we devoured a buffet of Peruvian dishes, while outside it began drizzling leading into a gush- saving us from a complete drench. During our lunch, we awed over the performance of some very talented musician men playing soothing instrumental beats. Eventually, we ventured back down into town where we waited at the train station to depart to Cusco.

On our final day in Cusco we visited the Sacred Valley were we learned that the engraved initials on the mountains belonged to high educational institutes. Upon our travel to Urubamba where our restaurant was located we encountered a woman roosting several Ginny pigs on an open fire. With a full tummy, we then headed to Ollantytambo, which is the location of the famous Sun Temple where the tragic fights against the Incas and the Spaniards occurred. We finished our tour with a visit to the famous craft market, Pisac, where the indigenous people whose spoken language is Quechua demonstrated their method of crafting. Back in town, I completed my stay in Cusco with placing my bargaining skills into play at the various shops near the Plaza!

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Rocky climb

I received the opportunity to explore La Catarata de Antankallo in the town of Matucana, Perú. Our grammar professor arranged the entire trip for us to experience as a class, which was awesome of him. Matucana is located in the province Huarochirí roughly an hour from Lima. We met up at UPC at 5:45am to journey off right at 6:00am. The one-hour drive to Matucana allowed us to start our hike to La Catarata de Antankallo at 7:00am. In forth providing us about half an hour before the sun would announce its presence with its scorching rays (since we’re closer to the equator here).

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Throughout our voyage our awesome tour guide shared several stories and pointed out the two geological formations being “Cabeza de León” and “Rostro de Cristo.” The hike up, which was no walk in the park, including a river bridge crossing called Chucumayo was approximately an hour. Once at La Catarata de Antankallo the waterfall and scenery made the climb totally worth it. Prefect location for some Zen meditation I say!

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A Lord’s Reply

Lately, I’ve been confused by your method of assistance to the Israelites. What I’ve understood from the current readings was that you asked Pharaoh countless times and gave him numerous opportunities to release your people. Unfortunately, Pharaoh continued to disobey your request and refused to grant the Israelites freedom. So, after every refusal from Pharaoh you asked Moses to proceed with your chosen plague to cast upon the Egyptians. Initially, Pharaoh’s magicians were able to recreate your plagues, but eventually they become impossible to be recreated by man. The 10 plagues casted upon by you were dangerous and powerful. So, I was confused that in your attempt to present the Israelites with freedom you would be willing to harm and destroy others so vindictively. I assumed you would have liberated the Israelites without causing so much destruction.

Which arrives me to my blessing of your answer. You presented me with the opportunity to attend the first gathering hosted by La Cuidad, which I ended up really enjoying! It’s a new bilingual religious group established in Lima, Perú. The pastor mentioned that each individual was in attendance for a reason. I’ve heard that phrase multiple times and didn’t give it much thought, but little did I know he was completely right. With your grace, I was given an interpretation of your written message- a reason behind your chosen approached towards resolving the situation between Pharaoh and the Israelites- in forth an answer to my confusion.

At the beginning of the gathering I picked up a 31-day devotional, On Purpose, that was offered to all. On my way home I stopped at my neighborhood park and decided to read “Day 1” from the devotional booklet. Now that I look back on it the park was completely deserted, which normally is packed with people- I should have known something was up. Any who, Josh Foliart wrote the daily reflection and he quoted Proverbs 1:7 “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” He continues on to mention that when he was younger hearing the phrase, “my father is bigger than your father” was commonly used around the playground. Meaning kids had the tendency of expressing confidence when they knew their father was undefeatable against the other fathers.

Foliart points out, “this is the context behind the reverent respect and awe that the Father is desiring us to possess towards Him. He knows that to fear Him is to also have the ability to abandon the fear of man. In other words, if you rightly fear God, you need not fear man. What freedom and joy come to those who have no one to fear but the Father of All.”

Addressing my confusion. The reason God decided to handle the situation between the Egyptians and the Israelites the way He did was due to His motive to demonstrate Himself as All Mighty- releasing each individual from any fear of man, in hence blessing us with freedom.

Thought For The Day: “Fearing man leads to slavery. Fearing The Lord leads to freedom.”

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First Impressions and Peruvian Acquaintances

My official host family for my four-month stay in Lima, Perú consist of: my host mom, Carolina, who continues to have the spirit of a young woman, my host sister, Claudia, who has an exceptional skill at expressing herself verbally, and finally my host brother Diego, who establishes a form of foundation in the family. I’m definitely looking forward to sharing my Peruvian experience with them!

I live in Los Alamos, which is about a 10-minute walk from UPC- not bad at all! My neighborhood and several throughout Lima have security guards who patrol the area and monitor vehicle entrance- so it’s extremely safe. It’s gorgeous here we are literally surrounded by mountains- I love it! Public beauty is well maintained every night a huge water truck roams the streets and waters the trees and flower patches. With the numerous religious sculptures throughout the city one can key in into Lima’s portrayal of a strong faith base.

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Since we live so near UPC that means we’re at least 30+ minutes from the tourist areas, beaches, and main exploring locations in Lima, but it’s fine! Combis and micros are typically the most convenient and cheapest form of public transportation, but not the fastest. Their route systems are a bit tricky to understand though so I haven’t gained the confidence to ride them on my own yet. The colectivos are awesome they pick up people along the way so during your short ride (up or down the mountain) the car is filled with random people.

During one of my exploring walks I was granted the luxury of encountering some awesome people! While I took pictures along the way- apparently looking like a foreigner- this little kid approached me (my niece’s age). He started a conversation with me and ended up helping me take a few pictures before riding off on his bike. As I proceeded on my walk I stopped at a basketball court to take a picture and met a basketball trainer. He assists with a summer club for kids’ ages 6-14 teaching them basketball. It was apparent he has a love for what he does by how he expressed himself. Finally, my last encounter later that night was of a lovely old lady on my way home. She called out to me as I walked by her and told me she was having difficulties seeing the uneven ground. As I helped her walk back to her place we shared an awesome conversation. Definitely was blessed with meeting some amazing individuals so far!

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Hasta luego!!

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