December 30, 2011 to January 1, 2012
The ride home from Abancay was great. I stayed at the Imperial Hotel, which is cheap and great for motorcyclists because of the indoor parking spaces.
The ride home was another killer ride, with bouts of heavy rain thrown in. I decided to take this cool dirt road through the mountains as a shortcut back to Ollanta. I made it within 10 minutes when I was forced to stop. A massive landslide completely covered the road, and it was an hour back to the man road. So I looked on the GPS and found a tiny little dotted line. Yes, that is always good! I took a tiny road through pastures that came out by the lake. It was beautiful. Detours are just more adventures.
New Year’s Eve I headed out to Cusco to meet up with the other volunteers left in town. I immediately noticed many people walking around with long, thin, brightly colored and decorated sticks. Hmmm, what were those for?
We found a place with pizza and shawarma then headed to the plaza. There was live music and we settled in on the step of the cathedral and bought a few beers from all the people walking around selling them to the crowd. There was a live band playing and the plaza slowly started to fill in.
By the time 11 pm rolled around the plaza was rocking. And all those long sticks? They are for launching fireworks. By midnight it was insane. There was a constant stream of fireworks shooting into the sky and we estimated around 75-100 thousand people there.
After the big countdown the tradition is to run around the plaza for good luck in travel over the new year. We weren’t sure if we would get trampled but it turned out to be awesome moving with the huge mass of people around the center of Cusco.
The following day I had one goal, watch the last Lions game of the year. I still hadn’t seen one and didn’t want to miss it. I started at Norton’s Pub and it turns out they had purchased NFL Sunday Ticket since the last time I was there!! Game On!
I had a beer, burger, and flatscreen, life was good. Then, during the second quarter I heard someone in the background of the Spanish noise in the bar yell out happily during a Packers reception. What? I turned around and saw a guy wearing a Packers shirt. You’ve got to be kidding me. I just couldn’t get away.
But I ended up talking with all the people at his table and they turned out to be an amazing group of people who were there volunteering over break. One couple was a former teaching team who are now travel writers. Another woman and been to Peru earlier that summer and volunteered with Awamaki, she might volunteer with Sacred Valley Project next summer. The Packers guy is named Mark and was there with his son taking him on a service trip. Wow, it was great to meet them. We traded stories and information, it is always inspiring to meet other volunteers down here.