Our big trip in 2007 was to Peru.
We took an Overseas Adventure Travel Tour.



Old Lima






We began our trip with a tour of Old Lima.  It was foggy the whole time we were in Lima because it is on the coast and pushed up against the foothills of the Andes Mountains.










Alpaca



We first flew from Lima to Cusco and immediately got on a bus to go to the Sacred Valley which is about 7500 feet elevation.  This is an alpaca we saw on the way at a center for preserving the native life.  We ate alpaca meat several times.  It is not a treat.











Sacred valley





This is the Sacred Valley of the Incas.  It is quite long and very beautiful.  The Urubamba River is on the left.  There are Incan and older ruins everywhere.










Terraces




The Incans and their predecessors really did farm and live along terraces that covered large areas of the mountainsides.  Climbing up these terraces was no small feat for those of us who were used to lower altitudes.  It was astonishing to see how fast the natives could get from the bottom to the top of the terraces.









Rock wall








The Incans were fabulous rock masons.  This wall extends for miles along the Urubamba River.  Apparently, it was constructed to limit bank erosion.  It has been there for over 500 years and is still serving its purpose.














Machu Piccu rock wall








The Incan religious sites were characterized by having rock walls with very narrow, mortar less joints.  These joints are reinforced with a boss and hole system between the blocks.  All of this precision stone cutting was accomplished without iron tools!





Machu Piccu 1








Machu Picchu is just as majestic as we have all been led to believe.  However, we were astounded by how high (over 2000 feet) it is above the adjacent valley.  It was an enormous job to just get to this site before the advent of trains and roads for buses.





Machu Piccu-2







This picture is intended to convey how high Machu Picchu really is.  We would hate to have to climb up there.  The surrounding mountains are really rugged.






















These are residences in Machu Picchu.  There are many passages connecting different parts of the site.  Note that the stones are not so closely aligned as in the religious sites.









cusco






This is a panoramic view of Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incans.  It is about 10,500 feet in elevation.  We were about 7,500 feet in the Sacred Valley.  The tour company did this to help us adjust to the altitude.  We still had problems whenever we exerted ourselves too much.








Market in Cusco








This is in a very large market in Cusco.  It is like a super market in the U.S. except that each area is owned or rented by an individual.  This was the pork vendor.








Family group


We had lunch with a native family near the shores of Lake Titicaca.  They served us the type of meal they would eat.  It was a lesson in how to eat a variety of vegetables to get a balanced diet.  We didn't see any starvation in Peru.  This diet works.  They have 10s of different beans and over a 1000 kinds of potatoes!


The people were really nice and fun loving.








Shaman










I, Don, had twisted my knee when we were white water rafting on the Urubamba River.  This Peruvian shaman treated us to a healing ceremony.  I know it sounds crazy, but I was in much better shape after he did his thing and blew over coca leaves at my  knee.




Titicaca-1







One of the reasons we went to Peru was to see Lake Titicaca.  It is the highest lake in the world.  It is many miles long and wide.  Truly beautiful.








Titicaca-2








This was at a place on the west side of the lake where people  came to fish and swim.  There were even fish farms in the water.







south end Titicaca






We traveled to the far southern end of the Lake and entered Bolivia.  This is a really great view of the lake.  You can get a feeling for how large it is.









Blessing cars






We went to Copacabana, Bolivia to see the cathedral and have lunch.  While we were there, the priest and shaman were blessing cars.  The tradition is that a car must be blessed in order to provide reliable, safe service to the owner.  This was quite a sight.







Reed Island-1






A tribe of natives (the Uros) built and lived on islands made of the reeds that grow in abundance in the shallow waters.  Living this way afforded them great safety.  Their decedents still live this way although the islands are in shallower water and are primarily accessible to the tourists.






Reed Island-2






The islands really are remote and the natives really do live on them.  However, they do have some modern amenities.  Notice the solar panel.









Fertility temple




Our tour guide continually emphasized that the conquistadors had forced the Incans to adopt Catholicism.  However, the natives had simply added Catholic belief to the faith system they already had.  We saw examples of this in cathedrals throughout Peru.  The guide also told us that the conquistadors had made the Incans tear down the Incan religious edifices and use the stone to build Catholic churches.  Well, this is the ruin of a15th century Incan fertility temple that was right behind our hotel in Puno on Lake Titicaca.




Phallus church










This 16th century Catholic church is within 50 yards of the 15th century fertility temple above.  Note the carving on top of the bell tower.  Yes, it is a phallic symbol which was probably taken from the temple!




Llama



At the end of our trip, we finally took a picture of a llama.  Of course, this is the animal we all expected to see all over Peru.  In fact, we saw 1000's of times more cattle!  There were very few llamas.  Apparently, they are a bit hard to get along with, and they don't taste very good either!











Of course, this is only 21 of the 300+ pictures that we took in Peru.  I hope these gave you an idea of what we saw.  It was a fascinating place.