Peru Trip – Cusco

Our last few days in Peru were spent in the city of Cusco, where we took a walking tour of the city, visited a few more ruins, and explored the planetarium. The walking tour took us from the large Plaza de Armas through the neighborhood of San Blas (the artistic district) and into Qoricancha (remains of an old Inca temple). I think we were a little burnt out on photo-taking at this point in the trip, but we did enjoy seeing the city of Cusco.

Pisac is a city that holds a large artisan market every day (tourists abound) but also has a mountaintop site to explore. Stone walls, homes, terraces, etc. What a beautiful view these people had from their village! We also learned how the Inca buried their dead inside holes in the mountainside, and saw a large cemetery.

We had a traditional Peruvian lunch at a lovely little hacienda on the way back to Cusco.

The museum that houses most of the artifacts discovered at Machu Picchu is called Casa Concha. We saw beautiful pottery, jewelry, weapons, clothing, religious icons, etc.

We didn’t take any pictures at the Cusco Planetarium, but it was one of our favorite things to do on this trip! There was a presentation (in Spanish and English simultaneously!)  about the stars in the Southern Hemisphere, and how the people used the stars to determine when to plant and harvest, how to find their way, and tell stories about the constellations. Then we went outside and used telescopes to see some amazing things – we saw Mars, Saturn (and it’s rings!!), and a star cluster called the jewel box. It was freezing out there! But we really loved it.

When it was time to go home, we were ready. We had seen all we wanted to see, and loved almost every experience, but we were all tired. I loved travelling with my whole family! Next time we’ll need to go somewhere the kids can come too.

Graham is 2!

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Graham turned 2 a few weeks ago! He has taken us on a complete roller coaster ride these past two years! He is busy and mischievous and snuggly and adorable and hilarious all rolled into one! He is beginning to string words together! Yay! Here are some examples:

“Miss Ya-ya. Miss No-no.” (I miss Addie. I miss Nolan)

“I do mess.” (I made a mess)

“Mah foofoo tup” (My doggie cup)

“Mama, no boat in!” (Mom, don’t put my boat away!)

“Choo-choo shirt” (I want to wear my train shirt)

“I do see DUM” (I want you to see me jump!….OR, I want to see that gum)

It’s so nice to be able to finally understand what his little brain is thinking! Some words he still can’t say, so he uses signs: “Sorry”, “milk”, “cold”, ” thank you” and few others.

He also speaks in jibberish often, and I love the jibber jabber stories he tells.


Nice hat

Now that the kids are in school, he and I get to have lots of alone time playing toys, running errands, cleaning the house (he LOVES to vacuum). Which is awesome because…

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Emptied out the flossers and hid under Nolan’s bed so I couldn’t see. Caught ya.

Destroying things is in his DNA. Making messes makes his life complete. Just in the past week I’ve found him squeezing toothpaste all over the bathroom and eating it, scooping out peanut butter and eating it, pulling chairs up to the hot stove the SECOND I turn my back to it, dumping out the contents of his cereal bowl on the floor (more than once), throwing Nolan’s LEGO contraptions all over the room, grabbing the milk out of the fridge and opening it to drink right out of the carton, and other things. And that’s just off the top of my head. It’s a treat to find out what he is up to next.

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Toothpaste all over the mirror and the carpet. And probably in his mouth too.


This was a fun one to find. He’d broken and dumped EVERY single tampon into the toilet, then closed the lid. This kid covers his tracks.

He has a multitude of hilarious faces. The one I see most often is the “Of course I haven’t done anything wrong” smile. He was lucky to get those bright blue eyes and dimples that make it hard to stay mad at him for long.


The “Troublesome Triplets” (Nolan’s idea) running through the gutters during a summer rainstorm

He LOVES to play baseball, and he wonders why shouldn’t he use the big kids’ bats and gloves? He loves to wrestle. He often comes up to me and says, “Push, mommy!” When I try to exercise, he climbs all over me, making it 100% impossible.

He loves to give raspberries and laugh at bodily functions. Oh boy.


Graham tearfully saying goodbye to Nolan at school.


He wants to stay at school with Addie and Nolan!

He loves to eat carrots with hummus, apples (full, not cut into slices), olives, anything with peanut butter on it, tortillas, granola bars, shredded wheat cereal, pancakes, strawberries, and grapes. We still have him off dairy and chocolate.

He’s about 30 lbs and 35 inches tall.

Peru – Machu Picchu


There have been very few times in our travels where I’ve had a physical reaction to seeing something. It’s that heart-skips-a-beat excitement mingled with crushing sadness that I’ll only be able to soak this all in for one day. Machu Picchu was one of those places.

We woke up SOOO early to try to get there in time for the sunrise. After waiting for hours for the bus, then waiting in line behind millions of tourists to get in, we missed the golden hour for photos, but hiked up to the viewpoint just as the sun began to spread across the whole city. Magical.


I’m pretty sure these two were in heaven, except for the high-altitude hiking up millions of steps. But that’s what made this ancient mountain-top city so amazing. It’s so hard to get there, you almost can’t imagine why or how it even exists.


Learning about the King’s home

We took a tour of the old city, which amazingly has not had to be restored at all! It survived 500 years of being uninhabited with the only damage coming from the trees and shrubs growing through the rocks.


The temple of the Sun with Wayna Picchu in the background.

20160802_10.21.17We wandered through homes, temples, the observatory, past the common area where feasts would have been held, past farmlands, and wondered at who the inhabitants really were. Who master-planned this incredible city? I’m still in awe.

Sitting in the clouds, marvelling at this view. Best part of the trip.

Peru – Ollantaytambo

After Chinchero, it was another hour drive to get to Ollantaytambo. This is the tiny town where you catch the train to get to Machu Picchu. Our first activity was taking a cooking class at the Chocolate Museum! Peru isn’t famous for its chocolate, but they do export lots of cocoa beans.

Our cute teacher taught us how to make hot cocoa from the beans. We got to cook and shell the beans, then mash them with a mortar and pestle, and make 3 kinds of hot cocoa. Then we got made our own filled chocolate candies. We picked the fillings and the type of chocolate (dark, milk or white), and then they refrigerated them for us and we got to take them home! There is nothing better than spending time with family and eating chocolate.

The next day we explored the market in Ollantaytambo (Ollanta for short), tried some Peruvian pastries, and decided on a whim to hike up a mountain. There was a building up there, so we wanted to see if we could get to it! Apparently it is an ancient grainary, used to store food and grain.

We are way too out of shape for this kind of hiking (straight up), but luckily there was a handrail so we didn’t twist any ankles or fall down the mountain. We stopped many times to admire the view (and catch our breath – 11,000ft elevation), but it was really cool to see the archaeological site on the other side of the valley from up there.

Next we met our tour guide Paloma for a tour of the archaelogical site on the mountain on the other side of the valley. She taught us about Incan building techniques (mining the granite, cutting it, transporting it, building with it), agricultural and irrigation patterns, and a little about their religion. The Incas had no written language, so much of what we know is what we deduce from observations. Still, we know the Incas were pretty advanced for their time.

Our last day, per Juliana’s request,  we rode horses up into the mountains in Ollanta. It was slow going, but the view was beautiful! I tried to imagine what it would have looked like in the spring or summer (it is winter there now), all green and growing. But there is just something about the majesty of being up on some of the tallest mountains in the world!   Zac took more selfies on this horseback ride than he has in his whole life! I think he had a great time.