Fun with a llama

The last day in Cusco I set up PhotoBooth outside the sound and lighting booth and got pictures of the tech guys and then of all the dancers with a giant llama used in another show that was backstage. The music is an old Peruvian folk song that is used in one of Dana's dances and that the tech guys danced to every time they heard it.

Lima - this is a long one

Tuesday, June 9 - Sunday, June 14:

After our trip to the theater after our arrival we took cabs to the Pacific ocean which was about 20 blocks away. We walked through a nice park on a cliff above the ocean. We saw the huge statue of Christ in the distance and the surfers in wet suits just ~200 ft below us. We walked to a nice shopping mall where we ate dinner. I had tiradito, a less fussy ceviche dish that one of the embassy employees had told us about. It was quite good.


From Cusco to Lima we flew over the Andes Mountains and then as we were landing in Lima at sea level we passed some fishing boats - maybe catching the fish for my tiradito. Here's the group that went for the walk along the coast. The bright blob in the background is the statue of Christ.

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Here is our hotel, which was adequate but not nearly as nice as the one in Cusco- outside, inside and the lovely view

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Some scenes around our hotel. We stayed in the Miraflores area of Lima which is a nice residential area. It was safe to walk alone in the day but not at night.


After out first night in Lima when I got almost a full 8 hours of sleep bedtime became later and later. After opening night we went to a Chinese Restaurant with Embassy folks and the director of the dance festival and as we were leaving we passed a Casino so we played slots for about an hour. Susan, who you see playing here, actually made some money. Everyone else lost everything although I don't think anyone played more than $5.00. Then we met up with Dana and went to a gay bar called BoBo Bar and danced for a while.


After the Friday night performance we went to the Embassy Public Affairs Officer beautiful house for a nice dinner party. Dana has some wonderful friends in Peru and they were invited as well. After this party many of us went to a lesbian bar called Twin Life. In this picture you see fashion designer Miragolas, lighting designer Qui Que, his girlfriend Desiree, then Mecho, who helped me navigate the huge computer mall and has a great sense of humor (Miragolas is his girlfriend), Richard from MIT and dancer Shu Chen. Dana's love interest, a Japanese Peruvian guy named Johan who is also very nice, is in the back behind Desiree.

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Saturday we went on a city tour with a guide. We went to a museum of ancient artifacts, the main square and then to the catacombs under the Church of San Francisco used for burials and a hiding space from pirates, Unfortunately we could not take any pictures in the church (last picture).


I think it was Saturday that the techies - Sara, Susan, Richard and I - performed a dance we choreographed mostly using dance movements that we liked from Dana's choreography. We used the laundrymat song from Dr. Horrible's Video Blog and it lasted two minutes. The company thoroughly enjoyed it and hopefully I can get a video of it from one of the dancers. This picture is from Miyako's collection.

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Saturday night was the final performance and afterwards we went to a really nice restaurant near the hotel where I ate ravioli and a cappuccino parfait (ice cream). Then the whole company went back to Twin Life bar. That night it was packed and very loud so we mostly sat on the sofas outside what I would call a dance cavern and people watched while drinking our favorite Cusquena beer.

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Sunday was the day for shopping, which I had done none of in Lima, and leaving. The best shopping we were told was at the Inca Market about 7 blocks from the hotel. And it was. The goods ranged from cheap trinkets and silly tshirts to beads to textiles to religious art to fine silver jewelry. You had to do a little bit of bargaining but not too much. I found prices were pretty consistent for the same goods in the various stores. Sara was good at finding the unusual stuff in Cusco and she did the same in Lima. I bought some nice things from the guy in the rust colored scarf. I like the way he sort of blends in with his wares. From the market we went and at falafel at an Arab-Peruvian restaurant.

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Before heading to the airport we piled into 4 taxis and had a scary crazy ride to Tati's parents beautiful home for snacks and dessert. Tati's mother served all sorts of unusual fruit desserts and wonderful cakes and pisco rum, straight up. For some reason my favorite was the relatively bland but delicious artichoke salad tea sandwich.

Tourist police

So it was a great trip. Dana's dancers are all great to travel with - fun and no drama. There were a couple of illnesses and mishaps. Sarah the dancer had a stomach flu after the Cusco performance but was well agin by the first Lima performance. Richard the MIT student had some stomach pains the first morning in Lima and as a precaution Dana sent him to the Anglo-Peruvian Hospital where they discovered he had appendicitis. He was operated on that night and two days later was back to normal. The Embassy staff was very helpful in getting him the best care possible. Sara from MIT had her purse stolen in a restaurant. We were all sitting in a group of tables around hers and saw nothing. They were good. Her passport and iPhone were stolen and she and Dana stayed a extra day in Lima to get everything settled. The police were very responsive and helpful but alas the thief was long gone. I had a cold and lost a red alpaca scarf that I had bought in Machu Picchu. But luckily Dana found it at the BoBo bar the last night we were there. He had become friends with the doorman. He was also a good friend of the owner of Twin Life by the time we left.

I would definitely go to Peru again in a heartbeat. I need to see more of Lima and some of the more ancient archeological sites in Peru. I would also love spending more time with Dana's amazing friends from Lima.


After our trip to the embassy we all visited the theater to meet with the technical crew and set up some equipment. The theater was in a heavily guarded school (most homes and buildings are heavily guarded in Lima) that specializes in English language learning - The Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano. Dana did some interviews with local press. I believe it was during this time that Susan and Sara and I discovered the local cafeteria that sold empanadas and Dunkin Donuts. We visited there a lot over the next couple of days.

Here are some press sites:
more pictures

Some shots around the school and theater:

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Dana being interviewed for a local dance blog


Ceasar and Fernando were part of the theater crew. These guys were great.

Diplomatic Affairs

Lima is a huge city!

We arrived Tuesday morning and after settling into the hotel (which is sparse but has the most important amenity - wireless) Dana, Sara, Connie and I were whisked away by a cultural attache named Jose Carlos to the US embassy to meet the ambassador. Security was very tight but once inside it was just like any other office building, except that there were certain elevators we were not allowed to use. There was an official photographer waiting with the ambassador to take our picture as soon as we walked in which was fun. He sent me the picture which was great. It is so much better than anything I could do.

We talked to the ambassador for about 20 minutes about dance, movies, arts funding, real estate in Washington and the unrest in the north of Peru. He said he was planning to attend the performance Thursday, which he did. I stood next to one of the secret service men during the performance. There was one situated on either side of the audience and then several outside the entrance to the theater.


Here's the impressive embassy building from the outside:

Last days in Cusco

Sunday, June 7 & Monday, June 9

The performance in Cusco went really well. There were about 150 in the audience which was better than we expected. I hung out in the tech booth most of the day with the theater lighting and sound guys who were all fun as well as professional.



Again on the way to the theater there was all sorts of stuff going on. There have been protests due to the unrest in the amazon area so there was a strong police presence and then there was some sort of typical Sunday morning parade.

I had a very good trout ceviche for lunch.


After the performance we had Pisco sours and food at a children's themed restaurant. We had fun with hats. After that we went to a bar and danced the night away.


On Monday several of us went to the church of Santa Domingo, a Spanish church built on top of an Incan temple. There was a interesting museum of large religious oil painting which were used to teach the Incas the ways of Christianity. The gardens were also lovely and the inside of the church - where photography was not involved - was filled with wonderful paintings and statues. On the way to the church we paid to take pictures with two women with farm animals.


After leaving the church we walked down another typical Incan stone wall street and came across a small. This is where I made my first purchase of beads. The saleswoman's little girl was cute but a bit shy.


Lunch was a ham and cheese sandwich with fries and a beer with coco leaf flavoring. I would never have it again but I am glad I tried it. Note the funny color of the ketchup.

We spent our last night in Cusco at a big handicraft market. We saw a lot of the same stuff we had seen at other markets but I did buy some gifts. Dana helped me get the best price. After the market we ate some pretty decent Mexican food

Machu Picchu

Early Saturday morning we took a van to a train station and a 4 hour train ride down to a town called Agua Calientes (Hot Springs) 8000ft above sea level. From there we took a 30 minute trip up to Machu Picchu where we will had a two hour guided tour of the Inca ruins. We stayed until around 5:00 and got home about 9:00. It was a amazing trip.

The Incas built the site around 1400 AD and abandoned it about 100 years later. Walking around the site we really had a sense of what it had been like living in this isolated small area surrounded by huge mountains. Our guide was good. I had read most of the information in the travel book but she provided that information and more. It was a beautiful sunny day, around 70 degrees. Everyone who went was glad they did. It was not cheap but it was worth it.

We had to take a train and a van home. On the train there was entertainment which was scary and cheesy. One of the conductors dressed up and wore a mask that was a little clown and a lot scary (I had a nightmare about him that night and cringe when I see the mask in the markets) Then there was a fashion show featuring alpaca wool garments. You were of course encouraged to buy the garments. The van ride was nice because we drove through small villages and saw some of the night life. There was a parade on the highway that seemed a bit dangerous. The stars were bright which was unusual because the moon was almost as bright as the sun. If the moon had not been up the stars would have been absolutely amazing. The moon made it possible to see the snow on the mountain peaks.

Some sites on the way to Machu Picchu. I took the picture of the outside of the train from the bathroom. Shu-Chen, Ricardo and I posed for Ricardo's camera at a train stop.

The cute but touristy town of Agua Caliente (we actually had a nice meal there before returning). The man sitting next to me on the train was a Spaniard who works for the cell phone company - Telefonica. He was very nice and gave us some good places to visit in Lima. I took his picture next to a Telefonica ad.


Looking down at Machu Picchu at the start of our tour. Katie and Sarah had been encouraged to pose this way when they visited the pyramids in Egypt. We insisted that the do the same here.
Tati and I posed as we did in a similar setting in India. Sarah and Susan from MIT. Susan had bought a new SLR camera cheap the day before and was very excited to use it. Tati and Miyako both protected from the sun.
Florain, Miyako and Shu-Chen strike some dance poses.
Fun with Llamas.

The train ride home. Tell me that guy isn't scary! I took the last picture while waiting for the van at the last train stop.


Friday, June 6

Good news: my altitude sickness is gone and we are all in the same hotel - the good one.

We went to the theater Saturday morning to continue the technical setup for the show (which is Sunday). The technical crew at the theater Josse, Fidel, Luco, William - are all lots of fun even with the language barrier. Two of the MIT group speak spanish fairly well so we are managing. After the tech setup we all went out for pizza and beer.

In the afternoon we all went to a travel agency and paid for our tickets to Machu Picchu, did a little shopping, went to the market that is very near the theater to buy baskets (we could not transport the props for one of the dance pieces so bought substitutes here).

Later in the hotel lobby we worked on the music for the new piece with the various audio/video software we had. We needed to incorporate some poem readings by one of the dancers Shu-Chen into the music, timing it with video and adjusting the levels of the music so she could be heard. While working we ate our dinner - beef and chicken jerky, nuts and fruit, Twix bars, starbursts, beer and coco tea..



On Sesame Street there was a cool little cartoon and song about finding your way back home by noting the landmarks. I have thought about that a lot as I go back and forth from hotel to theater. The above pictures are sight on the way to the theater up the hill, through the Santa Clara arch, past the sewing shop to the Kusikay Theater. On the way there are many people who approach me with flyers for restaurants, entertainment, etc. We have started collecting ones for massages.

In the last picture in front of the theater you see Dana, dancers Kelly, Miyako, Florian, Ricardo, then Sara and Richard from MIT, Enrique the lighting designer from Lima, Susan from MIT, Luco the sound guy from Cusco

Dana buying baskets at the market and the group working on sound and eating junk food

Tomorrow, Machu Picchu!

Cusco - first day

Happy Birthday, Mom!!

The Washington contingent left around 8:15pm June 3 (almost 2 hours late due to storms) and now four planes later we're finally here. We almost did not make the last flight due to some customs issues involving a $10,000 projector (bought at a discount for $5000) but we did make it with Dana being the last person on just before the doors were shut. There are 16 of us total - 5 technical people (that includes me, a lighting designer from Lima and 3 video and sound experts from MIT, Boston), 10 dancers and one girlfriend. When we arrived in Cusco there was a band of Andean musicians playing for us and lots of people trying to sell us something.

Cusco, (11,000ft above sea level) is a beautiful town nestled in the Andes mountains. There are narrow steep stone streets, big plazas, and again lots of locals trying to sell us something. We are split into two hotels and the techies and one of the dancers, Ricardo, are the lucky ones. We are in Casa Andina, a modern hotel with hot water, internet access, free breakfast and a good location. The other hotel has only occasional hot water.

I am suffering from altitude sickness - head ache and a little nausea. It probably did not help that we ate some absolutely delicious but rich food and drank local beer at a place called the Inca Grill and then walked up to the theatre 10 blocks away and then made the round to trip again to get DVDs and other equipment for a tech run through. I went to sleep at 9:00pm and missed a nice meal at a tea shop. I have been drinking coco leaf tea which is supposed to help but although it is differently delicious I am not sure it is having any effect.

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The Cusco airport and the tech crew - Richard, me, Sara, Susan, Enrique (AKA Batman)

Our hotel room/internet cafe (Sara and Susan)

The views from our hotel room. The main plaza is to the right where the churches are.
The stone foundations you see here and which are all over the city are from the Incan era.
The Spaniards built on top of them.

The main plaza and my Andean trout/potato dinner - our hotel is off to the right of this church