Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Impressions of Lima, May 2007

Admission is charged everywhere, and though I expect that in museums, I have an issue with paying to enter a house of God. I get quite stubborn about this, actually. We were able to sneak into this church. Such golden splendor! I wondered how many public bathrooms....just for starters...could be built so no one would need to urinate on the sidewalks. This was no house of God.

I was that nasty tourist who dared take a few flash photos
inside a church! But, just look at the gold! It's real!

There are treasures inside the old buildings, and this ceiling was one of the few we were fortunate enough to see.

I don't care for large cities, in general. I saw men urinating on the street...rather casually....and more squalor than I have seen anytime in recent history. The people are friendly and helpful, though visibly more stressed than they are in the small cities and villages. Still, I had no wish to linger, and stayed out of Lima on my second trip to Peru. I was coughing and gagging from the diesel fumes, so I was more than just a little bit cranky.
Though this city of almost 8 million people is choked with pollution from diesel belching cars....lots of them, taking up every square inch of the wide city streets without painted traffic lanes....there are gems of Colonial architecture to see among mostly unfinished building projects.

Peruvians are excellent drivers! We were very impressed both by their skill, patience, and courtesy. It's really amazing!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Photos from First Trip to Peru, May 2007

A friend sent me this photo, but it is true that guinea pig is on most menus in Peru. As far as I know, it is the wild guinea pig that is eaten, and not this domestic one. We didn't touch any "pigs", but did try llama once.

Pretty Pigs

Two Guinea pigs, wearing Peruvian local dresses, are displayed during the Guinea pig food festival in Huacho, Peru, Sunday, July 20, 2008. Guinea pigs are native to the high Andes, and have been an important source of protein for millennia. Nowadays, in Peru, the animal is served with a generous portion of Andean tubers.

Reliving that wonderful trip to Peru last year, I realize now that it was merely a warm-up for what was to come this year. My experience this year was so much richer....and, even more satisfying than before.

There were so many men....and, also, alpacas....that I wanted to bring home with me!

Sunday, June 8, 2008


I have debated whether to explain my references to the difficulties I had on this trip. Dwelling on any negatives isn't a good thing.....but, honesty IS. Hoping that my account may help someone else, here it is.

Though I am old enough to have middle-aged children, I continue to be in denial about my real age. When I look in the mirror, I see an attractive woman who is in great shape. (Darn those lying mirrors!)

On that last hike, when we climbed from a starting point of 12,000 feet to 13,000.....I came face to face with seeing the end in this physical body......and, let me tell you....denial feels a whole lot better! But, denial can kill you. My traveling companion asked if I wasn't proud of myself for having "done it" and my response was an easy "no". Unless you have a death wish, pushing yourself to the brink is nothing to be proud of. No, we must take good care of our bodies and our minds and not abuse them in any way. To push ourselves ever further is pure ego. And, my guess is that denial belongs to ego, as well.

My lab work was back when I returned to Austin, and I finally had a medical explanation for how I had been feeling. The diagnosis: complete adrenal exhaustion and intolerance to glutens. If I needed a reason for my difficulties traveling, I had it.

I share this for one reason. Always take how you are feeling seriously.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Day 13, Puno and Home, Sweet Home

These are random photos which include some of my favorites. Peru is a photographer's dream!

It was finally our last day, and we walked into town for last minute shopping.....for things we had not been able to decide on previously.....and also for lunch. Our pick-up was not until later in the afternoon. We were happy to see Silvia with a driver! Our flight from Juliaca to Lima took an hour and a half....and then we had to negotiate the large airport with our now much heavier luggage. We had a long time to wait until the Continental counters even opened and we could finally get rid of it. It was shortly thereafter that I lost Doreen whose flight to the States was 45 minutes earlier than mine....but,
we still had hours more to pass. Remembering spending the night in the Lima airport last year, I was grateful to know my flight was expected to be on time!

The flight home from Lima was blessedly uneventful. No one wanted to sit by the door where the seats would not recline, so I had all 3 seats to myself. I slept most of the way!

My cats greeted me at the door and then went back to bed. All was well!
For me the magic lies in Cusco and Machu well as the Sacred Valley. There, I could stay forever, I think.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Day 12, Lake Titicaca

We left Uros right after breakfast, and headed to Tacquile. I had read about the 500+++ steps, and had thought I could just lounge in a little restaurant while others checked out the island.
But, we landed on the opposite side of the island.....and there was nothing there. Nothing.
We set out on a stone path. I did not know it would go on for an eternity, straight up and up.
The path went relentlessly higher. I had difficulty breathing. I would have chewed on my coca leaves except I was too sick to my stomach to even think about doing so. At first the landscape was barren, and then grew increasingly lusher and more beautiful.

Clothesline of women's skirts. I do appreciate the beauty of the island, and the opportunity to capture these images to keep forever.

Reaching the end of our long upward hike was disappointing. There was nothing to see....just gray two-story buildings, housing local government offices....There were no stores, only one building for woolen goods. They were not doing big business. Solas other currency, or credit cards accepted. No one had a smile for us, either.

There is a coop of knitted and woven goods. Both quality and prices are high. Women do the spinning, everyone does the weaving, but it is men who do the knitting. Here you see a married man as designated by his red hat. Unmarried men's hats are white. Men and women live together...even having children....from an early age. Marriage takes place only after years of being together, when they are ready to make that serious commitment.

Far down below where we were having lunch, laundry was being done, and fields tended. The village elders direct each tour group to a restaurant they designate. It is a socialist island, our guide told us. Had I known that I had no choice in where to eat, I may not have wanted to go to Tacquile......but, if I had known how much serious hiking was required....I'd known I had no business attempting this adventure.

Silvia pointed out a group way down below us, saying they were "old people" who could not climb any higher. I asked her what she meant by old, and she said "Retired. From 55 to 70." Yes, Silvia....that's where I belong! I belong with
I thought this looked like the subject of a long-ago painting.

We passed through a series of gates. They were similar, each with rough figures on top which seemed to be facing all in one direction.

Ah, the last gate and the lake at last! And, below, our waiting boat. I difficult can it be to go down? Besides, I was going down from 13,00 ft. to "only" 12,000.

It was a l-o-n-g ways down. The steps were uneven and there
was nothing to hold onto. Could I maintain my balance? Keep my weight off my left knee? The island had not felt that friendly, so staying was definitely not an option.
This nice man, a leader of another tour group, kept me sane by laughing at my quips, as well as physically assisting me down these 566 steps to the boat! We had crossed the entire island on foot, which would have been fine, except for the altitude.
I had difficulty with lagging behind, being the last one. I have difficulty accepting any limitations that I have.

As we headed back to Puno, the sky got darker and darker. It was then that I noticed the two boat "captains" were only barely out of their teens. Soon, it was raining heavily, and we were rocking in rather large waves. There were no life preservers on the boat. I knew this because it is the very first thing I had checked the morning before.

By the time we reached the floating Uros islands, where navigating through the reeds might have been impossible without good visibility, we had left the storm behind. I was very grateful to get back to Puno and our hotel. Though we had been gone only one night, we had to check in all over again....doing the routine with passports and all. I was so ready to go home!:-)

Our route....based on as gradual a rise in altitude as possible:
Lima to Arequipa
Arequipa to Colca, back to Arequipa
Cusco to Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu
Cusco to Puno to Lake Titicaca
Puno to Lima