India – June 13 – 15, 2018

We’ve had an incredible trip! We fly out tonight and will be back in Atlanta Saturday afternoon – at the Taj Mahal yesterday. We’ve experienced the peoples, religions, architecture, and wildlife of India – the very best of what India has to offer. The significance of what we’ve accomplished will continue to unfold in the days, months, and years to come. The “Pace” of our travel was quite intense, but we took advantage of virtually every opportunity. The students were a pleasure to travel with. They now have a deeper understanding and appreciation of what is going on in this part of the world. This trip will be the basis for further experiences, study, and exploration. The student’s sense of worldliness has been enhanced. They will continue to grow and mature.

Mary Lawson & Tanner at the Taj Mahal in Agra

The gals with Nidheesh

Hanging out at the Taj

Detail shot of the Taj

Ryann Smith – stylish @ the Taj

Group shot

Dagny & Molly strike a pose at the Taj

Mughal emperor Akbar’s Fatehpur Sikri palace/fort

UNESCO World Heritage site – on the way to Agra

conference hall – seen the day before we visited the Taj Mahal

Architectural detail of Fatehpur Sikri

 

Peru: Day 9+

Our last partial day in Cusco began with a trip to the Choco Museo to learn about the history of chocolate and its manufacture. And an extremely sloppy but fun lesson where we learned how to make our own chocolate. Apologies to Yulia, the young Russian woman who was stuck making chocolate with our group!

Prize-winners for fastest chocolate mashing:

After a final lunch in the Plaza de Armas, and a sad leave-taking of our exuberant and informative host Victoria, we headed to the airport for our flight to Lima.

Day 10 began with a hearty breakfast in our charming hotel in Lima’s Miraflores district. Our new guide Alex took us via bus to Lima’s old town center and government district where, once again, we ran straight into the Peruvian love of spectacle: parades ran into parades, which merged with other parades. According to Alex, a typical weekend in Lima. Touring this very historic area, we came across, among other buildings, the Peruvian version of the White House and the former Art Deco train station now converted into a library honoring Peru’s own Nobel Laureate in Literature, Federico Garcia Lorca.

Views of downtown pageantry, including nuns selling snacks outside their church:

 

 

During the afternoon, tired students were given the chance to rest before a leisurely dinner in the hotel. Two of the nine of us, though, fought fatigue and spent a couple of hours walking along the string of parks lining the Pacific Coast in Miraflores.

A dog’s birthday party:

Our last day in Peru started with a walking tour of Miraflores, leading eventually to JFK Park and its rather large herd of cats, all fed by neighborhood locals. This large concentration of cats was fascinating to some and perplexing to others. Alex bought us all French fries from a neighborhood stand – to distinguish amongst themselves, each stand uses its own particular type of potato.

An intrepid photographer, two views of El Parque del Amor, the pier/restaurant for our final meal, cat fun, cat fright, and cat-tired:

           

Having stuffed ourselves on delicious fries, we then walked to a local market filled with an almost overpowering array of sights, sounds, and, to some of the students, unpleasant smells. While the market was lively and incredibly picturesque, Alex declared it “not quite 100% clean.” Thus, he then escorted us to a more upscale and decidedly more hygienic market in San Isidro, another neighborhood. There, in the beautifully arrayed stall of a friend, we were given a chance to taste a wide range of unusual fruits, from custard apple, to granadilla, to pacae, to aguaymento.

Back in Miraflores, we took a cooking class on the top floor of the Hotel Runcu. There, Chef Carlos taught us how to make the traditional Peruvian dishes of ceviche, causa, and lomo saltado. While we ourselves made each of the first two, Carlos took over for the dramatic, and very fiery, creation of the last dish. Absolutely stuffed, the group stumbled back to the hotel for a few hours of rest.

Would you eat ceviche made by these two?

The previous night’s dinner ended with a round of rose, bud, and thorn. An oft-repeated bud, or hoped for outcome, for the next day was “cats and crepes.” While the cats piece of this wish was fully satisfied, the crepes portion was cruelly denied by both chaperone and tour guide earlier in the day. Thus, instead of resting or packing, almost all strolled back to the Pacific and ate crepes from a stand overlooking the beach far below and the misty ocean.

Our last dinner was at a place too fancy for the likes of us: a beautifully time-capsuled seafood restaurant on a pier extending into the Pacific.

Saying goodbye to Alex at the Lima airport:

We now sit at the airport, awaiting our 1:30 AM flight back to Atlanta. Final snapshot: 2 students are writing in their journals, 4 are playing on their phones, and 1 is attempting to sleep. It’s been a long trip but, thanks to the wonderfully detailed and thoughtful planning of Ms Stevens, an incredibly exciting and interesting one, filled with unforgettable sights and experiences.

India, June 11, 12, 2018

We all celebrate Dagny’s birthday on June 11 at the Trident in Jaipur

In Ranthambore National Park – Dagny’s new best friend

Ranthambore game drive

Blaise has a consult with some monkeys in Ranthambore

Another shot of Molly w/defanged cobra on a street in Jaipur the other day

 

India – June 5 – 10

We’ve been in the jungle (Kanha National Park) for the past few days – without Wi-Fi.

Here’s an update – chronologically moving back in time:

Dag with cobra (cobra is de-fanged) – on the streets of Jaipur

Moly befriends cobra (cobra is de-fanged) – on the streets of Jaipur

The guys in Jaipur

Demo of block-printing – Jaipur

The gals at Chokhi Dhani (Indian cultural “country fair” on the outskirts ofJaipur)

 

Dag’s reflection in mirror @ Amber Fort in Jaipur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The group @ Amber Fort in Jaipur

Molly models a sari while on the way to Jaipur

Molly cuts cake for everyone on her birthday – Kanha N.P.

All of the wonderful people (in background) who served us while at Chitvan Lodge (Mind-Forest) – Kanha N.P.

Lining up for a game drive in Kanha N.P.

Bengal Tiger in Kanha N.P.

 

The gals in pool @ Chitvan (Mind-Forest) Lodge in Kanha N.P.

Another game drive in Kanha N.P.

Monkey in Kanha N.P.

At Buddist Cave # 10 at the Ellora Caves near Aurangabad.

At the “Mini Taj” in Aurangabad.

At the “Mini Taj” in Aurangabad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peru: Day 8

Our second full day in Cusco began with a bus ride to the San Sebastián neighborhood to see more parades related to the ending of the Corpus Christi Festival. Groups of elaborately and, without Victoria’s explanations, fairly inscrutably costumed performers danced down the street, followed by their own marching bands. Our tallest and blondest student was, much to her embarrassment, plucked from the crowd to dance along. Some of the paraders threw candy to the elementary school children lined up across the street. Victoria’s purchase of candies for our kids to give the children made us many new friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After saying goodbye to the now candy-laden children, we continued on to the ruins of Sacsayhuamán, the massive Inca citadel looming over Cusco. A sight of Incan resistance to the Spanish under the leader Manco Inca, it was eventually wrested from Incan control and many of its stones were used to build Spanish cathedrals and homes in Cusco. Still, it was an impressive sight, with unbelievably massive stones, both natural and shaped, and amazing views of the sprawling city beneath.

Dropping down from the heights of Sacsayhuamán, we then toured another of the massive cathedrals looming over the Plaza de Armas. A particular highlight was a painting of the last supper featuring native foods such as corn, potatoes, tropical fruits and, as the main course, guinea pig.

Victoria arranged for a group of teenagers connected to her and her family to meet the Pace group for a casual game of soccer. Given the complete lack of soccer skills or experience among our group, it was a relief to all when the two groups were mixed on each team. A half-hour or so of alternately fast-paced and … less fast-paced soccer followed as the ball flowed from the Cuzqueños to the Pace students. Afterwards, several of the locals joined us at a cafe for drinks and snacks. Through a mix of Spanish and English to the groups discussed school, and family, and hobbies and got to know each other better.