It’s All Maya!

If Life is an illusion, then why do I keep banging my head against the wall?

Si la Vie est une illusion, pourquoi je n'arrête pas de me taper la tête sur les murs?

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I Miss Her Already

January 26th, 2018 · By Lynn

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The days of caring for my mum are winding down and I miss her already. These months have gone by fast and they’ve gone by slowly, and truth be told, it hasn’t always been easy. Quite the opposite. But there were moments that I’ll cherish with her forever, moments when my old mum came shining through her dementia and she joked and laughed and sang.

A few weeks ago mum’s hair was in desperate need of a trim and my cousin Arianna who is a professional hair and makeup artist offered to come over and cut mum’s hair. Ari’s daily schedule is often busy so we set an appointment for 10:30. Mum was tired that morning, but around 10 am I told her…

Mum, Arianna’s coming over to cut your hair today.
Okay. (She continued lying on the couch.)
Mum, you’re going to have to get up soon because Ari’s busy and she can’t stay long.
Okay. (Mum didn’t want to get up and it was already 10:20.)
Mum, she’ll be coming…
(Mum broke into song.) “…around the mountain when she comes. She’ll be com’in round the mountain when she comes…”

I was so stunned, all I could do was laugh and join in. We sang both versus of that song all the way through.

On her good days mum tells me I should go home to France where I belong. I admit I’ve missed my life in Paris, I miss writing for hours each day, I miss dining with Patrick each evening and sharing a glass (or two) of wine, but I know when I’ll be home, I’ll think of my mum and I’m going to miss her because I miss her already.

Mum and Me

As I write, mum is napping on the couch beside me and it’s a moment of quietude where it’s just her and I as it has been these past several months. I’m not going to sugarcoat dementia. Oh no, taking care of her wasn’t easy and the hardest part was not getting a full night’s sleep because mum gets up every few hours 24/7. But I look at her now sleeping like a baby and I miss her already.

Throughout her life, mum has always given more than she’s received and once again mum has given me more than the care I’ve given her these past few months. She opened my eyes to aging, to not taking my health for granted, to do the things I want to do now before I’m too old to do them. I used to think like this when I was younger, what happened?

When I was young I was going to do the things I wanted to do and travel to the places I wanted to see before I got too old. And thankfully I have and I did. But with the years and being blessed with good health (I knock on wood) I’ve become complacent. No more, thanks to my mum. Once again I know I can’t put things off until mañana. There are things I still want to do and places I still want to see and I know tomorrow is not the time, I need to do them now while I can.

Mum and Me Too

Maya Muses: Thank you, mum. Thank you for reminding me to live today.

When I say goodbye to my mum in a few days I’ll remember the good times, the times we laughed and sang together, the times we worked on jigsaw puzzles and played candy crush together, the times when she awoke from her dementia to tell me stories from her past that I didn’t know about, the times I held her in my arms, the times I put her to bed and she recited her prayers to me like a sweet child and the times I watched her sleep.

I know I will miss my mum because I miss her already.

 

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Happy New Year 2018!

December 29th, 2017 · By Lynn

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Each year New Year’s Eve is special for various reasons. One year Patrick and I braved the cold to ring in the new year on the Champs-Elysées with over a half a million people, another year Patrick and I decided to stay home and dance the night away, and one crazy year we froze for hours (and hours) with family members to watch the ball drop at Times Square (never again!) but this year I’ll be spending New Year’s Eve at home with my 95 year old mother and that in itself will make this year extra special.

We’ll eat and drink and bang pots and pans to toast in the new year. Here’s hoping all of you will share this special evening with those you love as well.

Maya Muses: My wish for 2018 is that people will begin to realize we all share this lovely little Blue Planet that we call home and we’re all in it together. We need to protect our Earth and everything/everyone on it and hopefully the hatred and violence that seems to be increasing with each year will be replaced with love and peace. Wishful thinking? Not if each one of us makes the effort to do so.

Happy New Year 2018!

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Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2017 · By Lynn

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Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas filled with love and peace and shared with the people you love!

Maya Muses:  Merry Christmas!

Photo Credits: Personal Photo

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Where Is She? Where Did She Go? — (When A Parent Has Dementia)

November 4th, 2017 · By Lynn

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Who is this woman sitting in a wheelchair staring out into space, this woman who more often than not prefers to keep her eyes shut even when she’s awake? Is the sight of this world too overwhelming as she slips further and further away? I don’t know, but I do know this woman looks like my mum, but she’s not. What happened to our little Energizer Bunny who kept going and going and going? Where is she? Where did she go?

Mum was full of energy, always doing something. If she wasn’t in her garden planting or harvesting, she was cleaning house, or watering her flowers, or in the kitchen cooking and making tortillas. If that wasn’t enough, she was volunteering her time to help others. She was full of life.

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Mum’s hibiscus in bloom this morning.

When I’d called mum on the phone, she could talk ten minutes straight telling me which of her flowers were flourishing. I would listen, yet I had no idea what an azalea looked like from a zinnia, but it was funny to hear how animated she could get over a flower in bloom. Mum no longer talks now unless you ask her a question and most of the time her answers are either yes, or no. Nothing more.

Mum had a mini stroke eleven years ago and recovered fully. She had two strokes recently and miraculously she suffered no physical consequences. Her speech isn’t slurred and there’s no partial paralysis, but mum has dementia and this horrible disease is slowly taking her away from her family. She was in the hospital and then rehab, but at 95 years old we brought her home. She wanted nothing more than to come home.

“Home sweet home…there’s no place like home.”

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Except, she no longer knows she’s home.

“Where are you, mum?” my brother asked.
“I don’t know.”
Don’t you recognize your Japanese coffee table?”
“No.”
“What about your Chinese dining room set?”
“No.”
“That’s okay, mum, you’re home.”

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Mum must’ve been Asian in a past life if her choice of furniture is any indication, but she never made it to the Far East. After my father passed away, she traveled halfway around the world. She swam with dolphins in Hawaii, and went to the Bahamas and Puerto Rico, she took cruises to Greece and Turkey where her ship almost sank in a storm. Mum was always afraid of water, but that didn’t stop her. When she was 56 years old, we traveled throughout Europe and Scandinavia hopping on and off trains for six whole months. I wanted to show her places where I had lived: Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid… Most often she journeyed to Mexico to visit family.

Family.

“Who am I, mum? Do you know?”
“No.”
“I’m Lynn, your daughter.”
“Lynn…Lynn?”
“Lindy, mum. Belinda.”
(I was named after Jane Wyman’s award winning role in the film, Johnny Belinda. My younger sister was named Olivia, after Olivia de Havilland from Gone With The Wind. Mum loved her movies.)
“Hmm, Belinda? No, you’re a stranger.”
“Would a stranger feed you, bathe you, care for you?”
“Yes, a nice stranger.”
“Good answer, mum. Yes, a nice stranger, but I’m your daughter.”

All day long, mum repeats to herself, over and over like a mantra she mumbles, “Help me, God, help me get well. Help me, God, help me get well.” She knows there’s something wrong in her mind. And I tell God, “Help her, dammit!” Sorry, God, but I can only listen to it for so long.

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Mum and her grand-daughter, Kerri, holding hands.

Help this woman who at 93 was still playing Candy Crush every day on her tablet (she reached level 577) who used a smartphone, went on the internet and Googled, and had her own Facebook page to see what was going on with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. This nonagenarian who could email and Skype on her own. My laptop would buzz in Paris and there was mum pleased with herself on the other side of the pond Skyping me so we could chat.

“God, what did you do with my mum? Where is she? Where did she go?”

After my father died 44 years ago, mum kept her family together. She was the matriarch, the nuturer, the glue that kept us united. She cared for everyone. Ironically, she can no longer care for herself. I feed her. I put food on her utensil and tell her, “Pick up the spoon, mum, and eat.” She’ll pick it up and feed herself. Once. Then she’ll sit with the food in front of her and wait. Over and over, I put food on the utensil and tell her to feed herself, but she has to be told each time. Truth be told, it’s easier to just feed her.

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Mum’s vitals are better than mine, all her organs are working fine. Mum’s a fighter, her doctor said she could live to be 100+, but mum isn’t mum. Dementia is stealing her from us one day at a time. She’s here, but she’s not. Her body is, but the essence of her isn’t. Her spirit, her soul, who she is, or was, has taken flight to places we can’t go. Places I don’t want to go. I watch and care for her. I set my alarm and wake up every 3-4 hours at night to care for her. It’s a 24/7 job. My job. I will watch her until January 2018 and then one of my siblings will take over, and then another, and then my turn will come again. It’s not easy even though she’s my mum, because in a way, she’s not. She’s a stranger.

Mum playing piano

I miss my mum. The mum who laughed and joked and heralded the family news to keep me in the know because I lived so far away. The prankster who every 1st of April made sure she tricked each one of her kids and delighted in saying “April Fool’s!” Every once in a while, mum returns from that other place she goes to and there’s a spark of recognition. Not too long ago, we sat and watched Dancing With The Stars. It was Disney night. I had shown mum a photo we had taken a few years back, mum and her five kids.

“Who is this, do you know?” I pointed to mum.
“That’s me.”
“Good mum. And who’s that?” I pointed to my brother, the baby of the family.
“That’s Bam.” (My brother was a strong kid like Bam-Bam from The Flintstones. He got his nickname when he was two years old and the name stuck.)
“Good. And who’s that?” I pointed to my other brother.
“Bobby.”
“Yes, that’s right. Your two sonny boys, mum.” Next, I pointed to me.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know. Look, that’s me.”
“I don’t know.”
She didn’t know my two sisters either. Strangers we were.
So we watched Dancing With The Stars and out came the Disney characters.
“There’s Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.” Mum said.
“Boy, mum, you know Mickey and Donald, but you don’t know your three daughters.”
Mum laughed. Bob and I laughed.
“I think you’re playing possum mum.”
Mum stared at the TV, but no longer saw what she was looking at.
Where is she? In that split second, where did she go?

I ask myself, is mum in a better place, a place where she sees family and loved ones? Does she converse with them in her mind like in a dream? Or is she a prisoner locked away in a void where there’s nothing, no one? Is her mind condemned to solitary confinement, living in an empty cell?

“Do you talk to anyone, mum?”
“No.”
“Do you see anyone?”
“No one.”
“What are you thinking, mum?”
“Nothing.”

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Mum on one of her good days.

Maya Muses: These past few days, mum emerged from behind a cloud. She was her old self once more. Was this the miracle we’ve been praying for? Or is she like a shooting star, shining bright for a moment before falling from the sky. Whatever it is, we count each blessing when mum emerges, even if only for a little while. Most of the time, however, I look at my lovely mum and ask myself, where is she? Where did she go?

Photo Credits: Personal Photos, Hand Photo thanks to Kerri Schofield

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Happy 95th Birthday Mum!

August 10th, 2017 · By Lynn

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Happy Birthday Mum!

Today my mum turns 95 years old and I wanted to pay tribute to my wonderful mum, but for once words fail me. What can I say about this generous woman who has always put others before herself, who sacrificed a lot from the time she was a child? Her life wasn’t always easy, yet she never lost her sense of humor, her love for life, or her adventurous spirit to travel and see the world.

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Mum looking chic all in blue.

I sit here in front of my computer and delete more words than I write. I ask myself why, yet I know the answer. These words would’ve come easy a few years ago when mum was still herself and she would’ve read them and been happy that I had shared them. Mum’s favorite expression (dad’s too) was always, “Your health is the most important, without it you have nothing.” Today she’s still with us, still going strong physically, but more often than not her mind is somewhere else. She remembers some of the past, but the present seems just beyond her grasp.

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Mum as colorful as the flowers in her garden.

Recently I learned something new about mum. I asked her if she used to go out dancing with her sister when they were young. “No,” she said. “(Your) Grandma wouldn’t let us, but she took dancing lessons and went out dancing.” Mum never complained, she worked and took care of her seven younger brothers and sisters. She was an acetylene welder during WWII, a Rosie the Riveter, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, but those are simply titles, words, labels…they’re not my mother.

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Aunt Lupe and mum. (I don’t know who the baby is in mum’s arms.)

When I think of mum I remember moments that were special or moments that marked her life. For instance, mum loved to sing, but never did. As a child, she was perhaps 7 or 8 and the kids in choir class at school were singing the Stephen Foster song, Old Black Joe. Mum was happy and singing along, the choir teacher walked among the students and stopped in front of my mom. “Just mouth the words.” she told her, because mum was singing out of tune. After that my mother never dared to sing again. I have no memories of her singing, but she told me a few months back, she used to sing along with the radio when she was home alone. That made me happy and sad at the same time.

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Mum and her schoolmates.

Mum loved to travel and one of my favorite memories was the time we were in Mexico visiting the pyramids at Teotihuacán. We had spent the day climbing and visiting the ruins and we had saved the biggest pyramid for last. Mum and I climbed the 248 steps, when we reached the top we looked around and mum said, “There’s the Pyramid of the Moon.” (She pointed to the right.) “And there’s the Pyramid of the Stars.” (She pointed to the left.) “Where’s the Pyramid of the Sun?” I looked around and said, “Yeah, where’s the Pyramid of the Sun?” A small group of tourists with their guide were on top as well. So, mum and I went over and I repeated to them, “There’s the Pyramid of the Moon…blah, blah, blah, but where’s the Pyramid of the Sun?” They looked at us like we had just landed from Mars. “You’re standing on it,” one of them said. Mum and I looked at each other and started laughing so hard, we couldn’t stop. “The blind leading the blind.” she said.

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Mum and I resting before climbing the rest of the way up the Pyramid of the Sun. LOL!

I’m sure my two brothers and two sisters have moments that are precious to them as well. Mum had no favorites, she loved us all the same. One day I came home from school, mum had been to a PTA meeting and she had brought home a cupcake they had served, but she had saved for us. My sweet tooth radar was on high alert. “Oh, mum, can I have the cupcake?” “No,” she said, “you have to split it 5 ways.” I wasn’t about to give up so easily. “But mum, you can’t split a cupcake 5 ways. If I eat it, no one will know.” “I’ll know.” Mum said, and took a knife and cut it 5 ways.

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Mum getting ready to celebrate. (Her great-grandson looking very serious with his glasses on.)

Maya Muses: Today is my beautiful little mother’s 95th birthday. So many things to say and to share, but I’ll just say, Happy 95th Birthday, Mum. I love you!

Photo Credits: Photo of cake and all personal photos.

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Why Is Time Going By So Fast?

June 23rd, 2017 · By Lynn

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I know, I know, I’ve been neglecting my blog for months now and I can’t find the time to write a post. It’s not like I don’t have things to say…I do, but I have to prioritize that time. I have final edits going on and I have four wonderful betas waiting to read my WIP. And I want to review a book I just finished reading. Not only was it beautifully written, there’s an important message there that needs to be heard, and I want to talk about what’s going on in Washington (Yes, I know it’s not good to write about religion or politics, but this needs to be said.) and I want to talk about the dogs that run freely in Peru, and I want to write a tribute about a wonderful friend, a VFW, who has passed away…

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Really?

As you can see, there’s so much to write and I’ll get around to it all eventually, but there are other things going on as well…personal family matters that are worrisome and I see my time is limited in many ways. I would spend all my time writing, but that’s not healthy either. So bear with me. This blog is not a free blog, each year I pay for having it hosted and each year it gets more expensive, so I may have to think of other options.

Maya Muses: For now, I will continue to run after time and try to slow it down. Wish me luck.

Photo Credits: Photo 1, Photo 2

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Taxidatum – The Best Way To Get Around Peru

April 27th, 2017 · By Lynn

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Taxidatum, you can’t beat ’em!

Six months have passed since Patrick and I took our trip to Peru and we miss the country and its people as much as ever. While I was researching how to get around Peru before our trip, I had heard of the company Taxidatum. They have rave reviews on a number of sites and 5 stars on Tripadvisor and Google. I can say all the praise bestowed on them are well deserved, every one of them.

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Peru, here we come!

We flew from Paris to Madrid, Madrid to Lima, and then Lima to Cusco. We knew we would be exhausted and we were, but our traveling wasn’t over. We still had to get from the Cusco airport to the town of Ollantaytambo, about an hour and 40 minutes away. Catching a bus or taxi into the city of Cusco and then taking a local bus service to Olly just seemed to be a lot to do after a long journey, so we opted for Taxidatum, a fare of $37. When we landed in Cusco, the driver was holding up a sign with our name on it and we never looked back.

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Beats taking the bus when there’s nowhere to sit.

We used them throughout our entire trip. Leonardo, who runs the company, is very efficient and always answers his emails promptly. Most of the drivers speak English, some more limited than others, but I didn’t mind, I got to practice my Spanish with all of them. They were friendly and helpful giving us advice about where to go and what to do. The cars were all modern and clean and the drivers were there at the exact time they were scheduled to be. What more could we ask for? Twice we had to change our pickup time and once we were late, but it was never a problem to accommodate us.

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Now let me tell you about this ruin.

It was nice to know the cost of each trip in advance and there was never any hassling with the driver. Tours were also available and cheaper than a lot of places. (We took two tours to different ruins.) All in all, the price is the price, no hidden fees, and you can pay in US dollars or soles.

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But, I don’t want to fly home! Can’t we stay longer?

Maya Muses: Yes, they’re a little more expensive than just any taxi you can hail on the street, but there were a lot of warnings about taxi drivers in Peru taking tourists “for a ride” and/or robbing them. We thought it was well worth paying a little extra for peace of mind. Besides, they’re less expensive than booking through a lot of the hotels.

Our next trip to Peru will be Taxidatum all the way.

Photo Credits: Taxidatum and Personal Photos

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Final Stop: Lima, Peru

January 14th, 2017 · By Lynn

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Most of the information I had read about Lima on the internet was, “Don’t waste your time going to Lima.” But how could we not? After traveling so far, we couldn’t just pass up Lima like it was some small town instead of the capital of Peru. Patrick and I decided to spend five days there instead of a week. Too bad, because we could’ve easily have spent the entire week and more. Lima is a large, vibrant city and easy to get around. The size can be overwhelming; it’s twenty times bigger than Paris just to give you an idea.

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Patrick pretending he’s a local.

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This city is so-o-o big.

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Driving up to our apartment in Miraflores.

We arrived at our Airbnb and we weren’t disappointed, the apartment was exactly like the photos. (Not always the case.) We were staying in the heart of Miraflores, the chic part of Lima; think Saint-Germain-des Prés back in the 60s and 70s when it was the place to be. Everything we needed was just a few feet away: restaurants, bars, banks, supermarkets, boutiques, casinos…they were all there.

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Our Airbnb.

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Patrick and I had a yummy lunch that our host had prepared and then we went out to explore. A ten minute walk from our place took us right to the beach and a gorgeous (no other way to describe it) shopping mall called Larcomar. The shopping mall was one of the nicest upscale malls I’ve seen anywhere and what a view.

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Great shopping mall.

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And the view is nothing to sneeze at either.

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Why can’t more shopping malls be built on the beach?

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On our way back to our place we stopped in one of the casinos to try our luck at the slot machines. As usual we didn’t have the Midas Touch that my mom has when she plays. She always leaves the casino with more money than she came in with. Too bad Patrick and I can’t say the same.

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Atlantic City Casino.

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Patrick trying his luck.

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Beautiful bouquet, if only my photo was more in focus.

The old historical center of Lima is simply gorgeous. The buildings are colorful and with a mixture of different styles of architecture, but what struck me most was how clean everything was. No litter on the streets and with a population of nearly 9 million people it was surprising not to see homeless people or people begging on the streets.

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Not a piece of litter to be found.

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Patrick resting before lunch or was that after?

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There were ruins right in the middle of the city, the Huaca Pucllana, but we were “ruined out” by the time we got to Lima so we did a quick tour and then went in search of other things to do. In Barranco, the Bohemian district we visited the Puente de los Suspiros (the Bridge of Sighs). It’s a walking area with bars and restaurants and young hippie types selling their handmade jewelry. The best time to visit is right before sunset.

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Inca ruins right in the center of Lima.

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Patrick sighing on the Bridge of Sighs.

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Quaint neighborhood.

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Are those people having a Pisco Sour on the terrace?

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Another must see is the water park, The Magic Water Circuit (Circuito Mágico del Agua). What makes this attraction so popular is the interaction with the water. You not only enjoy seeing the fountains changing colors to music, you can become a part of it. Be sure to bring a towel and a change of clothes because you’ll need it.

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Water park.

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You wanna’ get wet?

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Okay!

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Hey, kid, don’t put your hand there, I’ll get wet.

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Patrick tempted to finally go in and get wet.

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There were so many things to see and do and so many bars and restaurants to try and rate the best Pisco Sours. (I know, I know!) But what I took away from our trip to Peru were the people. I’ve never met nicer people anywhere. They were, every last one of them, so kind and helpful. It didn’t matter who we stopped to ask for directions, everyone took their time to help us. If they didn’t know the answer, they called up a friend on their cellphone to see if they knew.

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That sign should read, Happy Hours!

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Finger empanadas with melted cheese and gucamole to go with our Pisco Sours. Patrick finally got converted from his Peruvian beer.

If we stopped people to ask if they could take our photo (we’re horrible at selfies) they not only took our photo, they offered advice on the best restaurants and things to do in the area. People from all walks of life, from police officers to professional people coming out of government buildings, to bus drivers and just people on the street.

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Excuse me, can you take our picture?

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How much longer is this bus ride? We’ve only been on for an hour and we’re still in Lima?

On one bus ride, I asked the driver for directions to see the Virgen de Guadalupe church. He didn’t know, but a few other passengers started to help. No one knew where it was, but before we knew it, we had a discussion going with about ten people. All of them trying to find that church. The consensus was it was better for us to get off the bus and find a taxi. Patrick and I exited and a lady got off as well and told us she would get us a taxi so we wouldn’t get ripped off and she would negociate the price. Where else do people do these things?

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Didn’t find the Virgin of Guadalupe Church, but we found her restaurant.

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Patrick (no fun) looking at veggies and salads in our local supermarket.

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Now this section is much more interesting.

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Posting our postcards in the mailbox.

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At least they tell you how many seconds you have left to cross the street.

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That’s where I need to shop!

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How could you not love a city that has a Steelers bar? Oh yeah!

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This trip was like a dream.

Maya Muses: Many thanks to the people of Peru for making our trip unforgettable! We miss your beautiful country more than you know.

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Do we have to leave?

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But I don’t want to go.

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We’ll be back, I promise.

Photo Credits: All personal photos except Miraflores Photo

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Cusco After The Sacred Valley – Not Before

December 31st, 2016 · By Lynn

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The Plaza de Armas, Cusco.

Patrick and I had headed straight to the Sacred Valley before attempting to visit Machu Picchu or spending any time in Cusco. Slow and steady was our motto and it’s the best way to adapt to the altitude. By the time we arrived in Cusco a week later, we had no problems with altitude sickness.

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The Statue of Pachacuti.

After a morning visiting the ruins in Salineras de Maras, Moray, and Pisac, Patrick and I finally arrived at our Airbnb in Cusco in the afternoon. We were centrally located not far from the Plaza de Armas in the old historical center. We took a quick look around the apartment and then went out to explore the town.

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The Cusco Cathedral in the distance.

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Patrick resting with the locals.

The sun was shining when we stepped back outside and the temperature was mild. A perfect day for a parade with children dressed up in different costumes, each group representing a different dance school.

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Children dressed in a carnival atmosphere.

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This cute little guy was falling behind.

We only had a few days to spend in Cusco, but we could’ve stayed for a month or longer. There was so much to see and do. There were plazas tucked away on side streets, barrios like San Blas to discover, restaurants to try, bars and cafés to sit and enjoy a Pisco sour, museums to visit, and the list goes on.

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The parade route took the children in front of the old Palacio de Justicia.

The city is everything one reads about and more, but you have to be there to feel the energy, it’s electric. People are everywhere, talking, eating, drinking, children playing, dogs wandering around freely (more about that in another post) traffic moving every which way, tourists snapping photos, and all under the watchful eye of the Cristo Blanco.

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The San Blas barrio on the hill.

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I think I’m lost…no, no, I take that back, I’m thirsty.

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Going back down.

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A restaurant and an art museum.

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We worked up an appetite and I needed more than one Pisco sour.

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What did I tell you, those Incas were tall.

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Courtyard inside the museum.

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View from inside the Inca museum.

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Hmm, where is that 12-Angled Stone?

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I’m not leaving until I find it.

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Aha! A new day and here’s the famous 12-Angle Stone.

The next morning, we contemplated visiting another ruin, but Saksaywaman was walking distance from the center of town. Saksaywaman, by the way, is pronounced almost like Sexy Woman and it was the only ruin Patrick had no problem remembering how to say. (Hmm.) We hopped a cab and it’s a good thing we did because although it’s near the town, it’s all uphill and further than what most people say.

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Are we climbing ruins again or is this déjà vu?

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Okay, more stone.

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Wow, these stones are enormous.

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I told you it was worth coming.

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And what a view.

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Boy, that stone over there on my right is humongous.

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Welcome to my abode.

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This must be the kid’s entrance or the doggie door.

After Saksaywaman, we went to see the Cristo Blanco on the hill. At night it’s a beautiful sight to behold from the main square. It reminded me of the Cristo Redentor in Rio and Mount Cristo Rey in El Paso, Texas.

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The sign says it all.

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The Cristo Blanco.

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Great view.

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Making friends with a local gentleman.

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The Cristo Blanco lit up at night.

Maya Muses: Our time in Cusco was much too short. Like the Sacred Valley, it’s a place Patrick and I would love to return to one day and really get to know. We had a small taste of what the people were like and the beautiful surroundings and we definitely want more!

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Inside view of the Cusco Cathedral.

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Photo Credits: Personal Photos

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The Otherworldly Sacred Valley – Peru

December 22nd, 2016 · By Lynn

Part Two: Ollantaytambo, Salineras de Maras, Moray, and Pisac

We returned to our favorite place in the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo. The train arrived from Machu Picchu and we had one more day here. Not nearly enough time as we would’ve liked to spend in this wonderful place, but we were happy to be back.

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Pinkuylluna Mountain seen from the ruins.

Can you see Wiracochan (or Tunupa) a 140 m. (460 ft.) high face sculpted in the mountain? It’s just to the right of what looks like a landslide, about two-thirds down. He was believed to be a man of superhuman powers, a master of time, an astronomer, and a preacher of knowledge. (Boy, do we need him here today!)

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Lovely stoned streets where Patrick got lost looking for his favorite bar.

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A beautifully detailed wooden door in Ollantaytambo.

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One enormous stone from among many. Our guide giving us the lowdown.

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Yep, we did a lot of climbing.

In the evening we walked back to our Airbnb, when all of a sudden, Patrick stopped in his tracks and said, “Look!” I couldn’t believe my eyes. The sky was covered with stars, but not just any stars. Stars I had never seen before. I’m pretty good at spotting constellations and other well known heavenly bodies in the Northern Hemisphere, but here in the Southern half, I was at a loss. Patrick and I stood there admiring the night sky in awe as locals passed us by without barely a glance upward. I had always wanted to see the Southern Cross, Sirius, and Alpha Centauri, and now here I was looking at them. If you don’t believe how amazing the sky is in the Southern Hemisphere, Professor Neville H. Fletcher, an emeritus professor at Australian National University, once said: “…God, in creating the universe, perversely located all the most interesting regions of our galaxy in the Southern Hemisphere…” You can read this interesting blog post here.

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So many stars in the Southern sky, I could have gazed all night.

The following day, we headed to Cusco, but not before we took a private side tour of the salt mines in Salineras de Maras and the archaeological sites in Moray and Pisac. Each place required some climbing, but after our adventure to the top of Montaña Machu Picchu, everything was a breeze. As always the view from place to place was spectacular and breathtaking. We had our driver stop several times just to admire the mountain scenery and snap a few photos.

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Patrick resting in the main square before leaving Olly.

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Valleys…

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and mountains…

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and more mountains.

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Stop! I have to get a closer look.

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Unfortunately, my photo doesn’t do this view justice. It was surreal.

At the salt mine in Maras, you can walk between the salt pools, but I warn you – you need to have good balance because the dividers are narrow and uneven. I’ve got good balance, yet there were a few times when I was afraid I was going in for a salty dip. Not good when you’re wearing all black. Patrick is the opposite of me, his balance is not his forte, so he treaded lightly.

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A view of the salt pools from above and, yes, we were going to make our way down there.

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Salt pools, some of the best salt comes from here.

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Careful you don’t fall in!

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Excuse me, can I take all this salt back to Paris with me?

In Moray we ventured down to the bottom of this site. It doesn’t look that deep, but the difference is 30 m (98 ft.) and speaking of differences, the temperature varies from the top to the bottom by 15° C (27° F). A big difference. Archaeologists aren’t sure what these circular tiers were for, but they believe it was used to develop varieties of corn and other crops to adapt to different temperatures and elements like the wind.

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Perhaps it was an amphitheater with room in the back there for the orchestra? Just a thought.

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In Pisac the terraces were used as micro climates for a better harvest.

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To us, we just knew the views were fantastic.

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More Inca ruins to visit.

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A local market (for tourists) going to and coming from the Pisac ruins.

Maya Muses: We finally made it to Cusco and had a wonderful view as we arrived. The city is shaped like a puma, one of the three Inca spiritual symbols along with the condor and the serpent. We had heard and read so much about this vibrant city,  we were looking forward to spending the next several days here.

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Our view coming into Cusco.

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A view of the Plaza de Armas in the distance.

Photo Credits: All personal photos except for the starry sky.

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