Thursday, February 27, 2014

Day 15: last day in Peru

Our last day in Peru! The morning was spent in Cusco visiting the City Square. Some enjoyed people watching, the beautiful view, and the perfect weather. While others took in some museums and more shopping. The afternoon we spent touring some sights around Cusco to include, Inca Fortress of Sacsahuaman, Temple of Kenko, walking city tour of Plaza de Armas & the Cathedral. We wrapped up the day with overnight flights home.  
The Inca Fortress of Sacsahuaman was a beautiful display of Inca will power and perfection! Large walls of perfectly shaped stone for what was mistakenly called a fortress is actually a temple.  Architects today continue to study the Inca's designs and ingenuity. The largest stone is a 135 ton block. In building and sculpting of this formation the chips carved off the stone were placed inside the formation as a form of solar heat. A great display of Inca history was presented at this sight.
From this sight we traveled to an underground cave and temple. The Temple of Kenko was used to bury the Inca ancestors as mummies. The Inca's believed the main source of wisdom came from communicating with their deceased ancestors. This included using some of nature's hallucinogenic herbs and plants from the area's various environments. 

A stop at a local Alpaca textile and silver shop. We were given a presentation on the natural coloring made from elements found in the various environments of Peru. We again partook in supporting the local economy.
 Moving by bus to the City to start our walking tour of the Basilica Cathedral and the Koricancha or the Sun Temple. The Cathedral was built square and with brick. Since the Spanish had natives build and design the church it is covered in numerous traditional Inca symbols. When the Spanish realized there was earth quakes they had to add 2 large chapels to each side of the church to support its magnitude during earth quakes. The Koricancha was a monastery in the middle of Cusco. It was built into the Inca ruins of the Sun Temple. Throughout the monastery there are ruins from the Inca temple and since the church was built upon it we are able to see how the Inca's built their structures. 
 Wrapping up our tour with a trip to the airport. A bittersweet ending to our amazing adventure in Peru. We arrived in Dallas and headed straight to the many amenities we as Americans take for granted: ICE water palatable from the tap, seats on toilets that flush toilet paper, knowing for sure you are going in the right restroom, easily reading a menu and communicating  freely, flights on time and schedules on the board hours in advance, and  turning on our cell phones to freely call home.
Thank you all for following our amazing travels abroad. HUGE THANK YOU to our loved ones that kept life on track while we gallivanted around the world! We look forward to our last class seminar and auction in April!

Submitted by Kristy Smith

Day 14 in Peru: a taste of Peruvian Agriculture

Today we visited Awanakancha, home of a llama and alpaca farm as well as a hand woven textile store.  We learned about the different breeds of llamas and alpacas raised in Peru 
We feed the llamas and alpacas during our visit. 
 We then learned about how the wool is dyed to get bright vibrant colors.  Many plants and seeds are used to create these colors. 

There were many women hand weaving textiles.  It can take up to 1 year to complete the beautiful handiwork.   We also had the opportunity to purchase items from a gift shop made with alpaca wool. 

During our visit to this farm we learned about some of the crops raised in Peru.  There are over 5000 varieties of potatoes.  These potatoes are dried down and can be kept for up to 20 years.  To rehydrate them, they are placed in boiling water for three minutes. 

As we were loading the bus, a few of us were sprayed by silly string by a passing car.  Our tour guide informed us of the festival that takes place this time of year called Carnival.  It is a competition between men and women that usually involves water.  At the end of the festival there is a big meeting and a water competition.

We proceeded to Ollantaytambo -Sacred Valley of the Incas.   This is an Incan military, religious, and agricultural center located on the top of the mountain. 

Submitted by Tracey Walsh

Day 13 in Peru: Machu Picchu visit

   The highlight of our extended stay in Peru began today as we departed 
from the town of Aquas Calientes. This required us to board a small 
bus that would take us on a 20 minute ride that would take us on a one 
lane gravel road filled with 13 switchbacks and hairpin turns.

Our very efficient tour guide from Yampu Tours then gave us a walking 
tour of this New 7 Wonders of the World Machu Picchu. This Inca 
settlement was discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. The city was 
abandoned by the Inca's and fortunate for us was not discovered
by the Spanish in the 1550's because they were under orders to destroy 
the Inca villages. It was estimated that this city was built in the 
1400's over a time frame of about 70 years.

         The engineer in the group Travis Bunde was always trying to figure 
out how they cut and moved the stones.                   The cowboy in 
the group Travis Johnson couldn't believe he was in a place like this.

The feat of taking a mountain top and transforming it into a city 
with temples, terraces for raising crops, storehouses and buildings 
was amazing to all of us.

After the main tour a group of us took the trail to the Sun Gate. 
This was a grueling hour long hike up a steeper and rougher trail but 
the views made it well worth the effort.
    It was hard to leave this beautiful place in the clouds, but we were 
all up to another adventure so it was back to the town of Aquas 
Calientes for lunch via bus. Then Peru rail to Ollantayambo and a bus 
to Cusco for our overnight stays there.

Submitted by Jeff Thompson

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Day 11 & 12: Cuzco; updates from the Peru-group

Thursday, February 20th

While roughly half our class was headed home on Thursday, 14 of us made the trek back to Santiago in a separate bus for an afternoon flight to Lima, Peru.  The day was pretty uneventful with a long bus ride to Santiago and 3 hour flight to Lima. 

Arriving in Lima late in the afternoon, we were greeted by our tour guide and were able to walk directly across the street to our very nice hotel and got settled. After putting our luggage away, we loaded up on Peruvian currency (Soles = 2.83 to 1 $USD).

Friday, February 21st

On our travel day to Machu Picchu, we felt a bit like we were playing the Amazing Race. We all awoke around 2AM after getting just a handful of hours of sleep.  Meeting in the hotel lobby around 2:45AM for breakfast,  we then walked across the street to the airport shortly after 3AM for our 5:00AM flight to Cuzco.   We quickly learned that our flight had been canceled due to "maintenance" issues and that they were unable to get us on the 6AM flight either so 9:40 AM would have to do.
Stranded at the airport in Lima
After spending the next 6 hours lounging around the airport, we were to make the 1.5 hour flight to Cusco.   We had missed our 9:15AM train to Machu Picchu, leaving our travel company scrambling to adjust our schedule.  Upon landing we were quickly escorted to a private bus that would drive us almost 1.5 hours to meet the train at a station between Cuzco and Machu Picchu.  On the bus our travel guide encouraged us to eat cocoa candies to help fight altitude sickness as Cuzco city is located at 11,000 feet.  I believe he said there is roughly 20% less oxygen there compared to where we came from.  We saw a lot of construction both in the downtown high-end part of the city and also in the shanties on the outside of the city center.  Interestingly we learned that residents always add a second or third story to their home that they never finish because once it is finished, then they have to start paying taxes.

The bus ride across the countryside was filled with outstanding views and a tremendous amount of information from our tour guide.  We learned that the land was suited for growing many types and kinds of crops and was done so by farmers that managed usually less than 0.25 hectares each.  Land was collectivley owned by the local community and was split to the families; legally it could not be bought and sold.  Driving thru some small towns we learned cock fights and bull fights were common and popular.  Also, some of the towns were built on ancient Inca sites with numerous streets, foundations, or buildings becoming part of the present day city and dwellings.  Our driver had his pedal to the metal the entire time because we were going to be late for our train.  Arriving at the station, we all more or less ran, chasing our guide as he made sure the train didn't leave.
Train view

Our train ride was an experience in itself.  With very nice accomodations and large open windows letting in the warm air and breezes, we ate fresh fruit, sandwiches, and beverages as the train made its way through the mountains.  We were now in the rainforest and followed the river with no roads for vehicles.  Most of the time there was just enough room for the raging river and our train track between the jungle covered mountains that shot up 1000-2000ft on each side.  The ride lasted around an hour and a half and brought us to the little tourist town near the base of Machu Picchu.  This little hidden hub is not very big at all and is very much surrounded by jungle.   It has streets just wide enough for people to pass in each direction and can be quite steep along the jungle valley.  It was very nice with markets, restaurants, and little hotels and hostels around every turn.
Little town in the rainforest
Upon settling into our little hotel with an amazing view, we ventured out to find something to eat.  We tried our hand at brick oven baked Guinea pig which actually wasn't too bad.  Wasn't a very well marbled critter, but it was edible.  After supper, some of the group wandered through the shops while the rest of us headed to the hot springs.  By following the little stream that flowed right through the city up the valley, we found the numerous hot spring fed pools and relaxed there for a bit.
Hot springs
Submitted by Ty Eschenbaum

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Day 12: part of our class coming home, part of our class traveling to Cusco, Peru

Friday, February 21st 2014
Part of our group has returned home safely. The next few days we will try to follow the group that continued traveling to Peru; destination Machu Picchu.
Our reporter in Cusco, Lima has assured me that everyone is doing well. As soon as a better internet connection will be available for our travelers, we will hear more.

by the Administrator, Olga R.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Day 11: Hacienda "Los Lingues" visit; homeward bound

The reality that our time in Chile has quickly come to an end set in today as our group of 31 became 17.  Some of our group departed for Peru while the rest of us started our journey back to Santiago to catch our plane home. 
During our six hour drive to Santiago there was plenty of conversation about the amazing trip as well as some well needed rest.  We also had the opportunity to make a stop at Los Lingues Hacienda.
At the 400 year old hacienda we enjoyed lunch and a tour of the beautiful compound, including a 100 year old church.  The history of the land is deep as the 2,000 hectors was once home the King of Spain during the Spanish rule.
Historical buildings at Los Lingues
Kari educating students from Santiago on SD Agriculture
Los Lingues is also home to many Chilean horses, which are sold in Chile as well as in Spain, Portugal and England.  Chilean horses were brought to Chile by the conquistadors who first settled the land.  Bred to manage livestock and built to handle tough terrain, these horses are also popular in rodeo in Chile. 
Rodeo events in Chile are not the same as in the U.S.  Rather than a sport, in Chile rodeo is considered to be more of a ballet in the art of riding and cattle handling. 
In Chilean rodeo, two cowboys display their horseman skills demonstrating how the horse moves and what it can do.  After the cowboy has demonstrated the abilities of the horse they then move onto cattle handling.  A steer or heifer is released into an arena in the shape of a half moon.  The cowboys must pin the animal against a padded wall.  One horse uses its body to pin the shoulders the other the rump.
 We said Adios to Los Lingues and hola once again to the open road; destination Santiago International Airport.
As I look back on this trip I cannot help but think how incredibly lucky I have been to have such an opportunity to not only travel to Chile and learn more about agriculture but also become immersed in their culture and beautiful country.  I believe I can speak for the entire class when I say thank-you to our friends, family and co-workers for your support.  We truly could not have had an opportunity to explore Chilean agriculture without each and every one of you.   See you in South Dakota!

Submitted by Kelly Nelson.
The remainder of class VII at the Los Lingues Hacienda

Note from the administrator: please keep following this blog for updates of our members currently traveling in Peru.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day 10: Livestock auction visit, Micro-brewery visit, Farewell

Wednesday, February 19th

Class VII started another busy day in the Bio Bio region, in the country-side around the city of Chillan, which is one of the major agricultural regions of Chile.
Our first stop was very interesting to our group, especially to the beef producers in the class, as we visited a Chilean Cattle Auction, which would be the same as a sale barn in South Dakota. The most noticeable thing when we arrived was the auction was almost totally outdoors. All the livestock were unloaded into outdoor pens with an extensive catwalk system above the livestock. Livestock sold at the auction included cattle (feeder cattle, finished cattle, cows, bulls); sheep; horses, goats and pigs. The sheep, goats and pigs were sold directly out of the pen to buyers on the catwalk. But the cattle were sorted into pens, branded with a paint brand after they were inspected coming right off the truck by agricultural inspectors and then put into order to go through the sale.
The sale began at 9:30 a.m. Buyers sat in a stadium seating setting.  Cattle were sold individually (which happens the majority of the time) and two auctioneers rotated the selling of the cattle. One animal came in from the right side and was weighed and sold, and the other animal was in an adjoining but separate pen waiting on deck to be sold by the second auctioneer and also weighed on a scale under that pen. Most noticeably was the quietness of the sale. Other than the auctioneer chant, there was not much noise indicating bidding or numbers raised or even hands’ raised. It was difficult to tell who was buying but obvious there was interest in the cattle and price discovery taking place.
Tourguide Fred and Gregorio, manager of the "CAR"
Gregorio Cornejo Baeza, General Manager of the Cooperative Agricola Remolachera LTDA. (CAR)cattle auction, visited with our group. He explained auction days are Wednesdays and the livestock comes in from midnight to 2 a.m. the morning of the auction. Monthly they sell 10 – 12,000 head of livestock that come from a 100-150 mile radius. Cattle sold at the auction either go back out to feedlots to be finished or to the packers for processing, if they are at the finished stage. Buyers come from up to 600 Km away (360 miles). Sales can go as long as till 8 p.m. at night, starting with the feeder cattle, then the finished cattle. The country monitors Brucellosis closely so all the cattle have to be tested for brucellosis prior to arrival by Ministry of Agricultural Inspectors and all animals must be identified with a system of traceability.  The CAR general manager indicated that prices had went up the week before, but this has been a hard time for the cattle business due to the long extended drought which in some areas of the country is going into its 5th year.  Fat cattle prices were averaging $2.20/kilo and feeder cattle $1.80/kilo.
Since the auction is a cooperative, 15% of the cattlemen which sell there are members of the cooperative and 85% are non-members.  Prices of the sold cattle are published every 15 days by official representatives so the cattlemen can track the prices and market. Overall the SDARL members really enjoyed their visit to the auction seeing the similarities and differences from a  South Dakota Sale Barn.
The group then returned to Chillan, for some time to visit a large local market selling many handmade and specialty Chile made products as well as locally grown fruits, vegetables, etc. Markets of these types are very popular in Chile. After a short visit to the market the group was treated to a 100% organic lunch by a local farmer with a small restaurant in his home called Amla Ata. In addition to the local restaurant, they have an organic apple orchard producing many common names of apples we are familiar with such as Fuji, Granny Smith, and Pink Lady. These organic apples are shipped by container to U.S. ports and sold in the organic markets in the U.S. under the label of Viva Tierra and often found in Whole Foods stores.
The final stop of the day was at a diversified farm still in the Chillan region. Unique about this diversified farm was that it is also home to the oldest micro-brewery in the region. Juan Huenuman, manager of Toropaire Brewery showed us the facilities where their six different kinds of beer are developed from hops that are imported. The farm used to grow their own hops but they found the climate in this region difficult to produce the quality of the hops they wanted to incorporate into their beers. He explained that hops need a dormancy period for several weeks and in this region of Chile there is not a period of time with cold enough temperatures for a long enough period of time to push the hops into the dormancy period needed. This small micro-brewery and its equipment can bottle 200 bottles of beer during one processing time period taking it through the fermentation process in the holding tanks and also in the bottles. All the steps are conducted by hand. The total time period to produce the beer from fermentation until it is ready to drink is 45 days. They are classified as a micro-brewery due to the level of production they produce being small producers of alcohol. They produce 24,000 bottles/year. Four of their 6 varieties have been recognized nationally in Chile for awards by an independent review team. Juan explained the micro-brewery industry is a fast growing industry in Chile. Their brewery was once the only one in the region and now there are 30 micro-brewerys’ in production. Nationwide, he estimated there are 300 micro-brewery companies in production in Chile.
As the day wrapped up we all enjoyed an evening meal at our hotel and time to look back over our time in Chile and discuss what we have seen, learned and enjoyed the most. Since some of our group will be leaving early in the morning for their extended trip to tour the country of Peru, Class VII took the opportunity as a class to thank our Chile Tour Hosts/Guides – Fred and Consuelo with Anglatin. They were super hosts and we couldn’t have asked for two more knowledgeable guides about Chile and Fred’s understanding of the U.S. agriculture. They organized some fantastic educational tours with a lot of variety and provided Class VII with a great learning experience in Chile.
Reporter – Lynn Gordon
Note from the administrator: more pictures will be added later due to limited internet access.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.