Our big trip in 2007 was to Peru.
We took an
Overseas Adventure Travel Tour.
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
foothills of the Andes Mountains.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The people were really nice and fun loving.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We went to Copacabana, Bolivia to see the cathedral and have
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.
A tribe of natives (the Uros) built and lived on islands made of the
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
The islands really are remote and the natives really do live on
them. However, they do have some modern amenities. Notice
the solar panel.
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.
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!
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!
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.