“!Ama Sua, Ama Kjella, Ama Lllulla!”

If I were given the power to create a morning, it would be just like this morning. The air is cool, the sun bright and the breeze strong enough to rustle leaves. Everything is quiet. All the animals are asleep: Fern and Maddie are on my bed and Gracie is in her crate. All I hear are the leaves sounding a bit like the ocean coming to shore.

I have saved all my errands for today: four stops of errands. I figure if I have to waste time going from place to place I might as well waste a single day.

When I left you last, I was on my way into Peru.

After we went through all the border stations, we took a bus to Lima. The trip was about 600 miles down the coast of Peru straight through to Lima, but when you travel, it doesn’t always happen the way it’s planned. The bus broke down two hours into the trip. We got off and sat in the sand. All along the coast of Peru, the land is like a giant desert with cities and towns popping up out of the sand as if they were oases. The bus chose to break down in nowhere land. We had food and water and books to while away the time, but we didn’t expect to be waiting so long until we were off again. The driver and his mate tried to fix the bus-nothing doing. The mate hooked a ride back to Lima. We waited. About three or four hours later the new bus arrived. We had waited about five hours, eaten all our food and finished the water. We grabbed our backpacks, bordered the bus and fell asleep. It was dark when I woke up. That was the best part of the ride. All around us outside the windows was nothing but blackness until the bus happened up on a town or city. Each lit up the night like a tiny Las Vegas. It was quite late or quite early, depending upon your perspective, when we arrived in Lima. We took a taxi to the hotel and promptly fell asleep, clothes and all.

The nest day we walked all around Lima. At the Plaza de Armas, where Pizarro founded the city, we went into the magnificent cathedral and walked around the government palace. Those buildings were spectacular as were the windowed, ornate carved wooden balconies on the outsides of the buildings. What was less spectacular were the tanks and armed soldiers ringing the central plaza. Lima had had a strike and there was now a 9 o’clock curfew, and the show of arms was to maintain that curfew. We just walked by and kept touring. It provoked interest in us, not fear. I hadn’t ever been where the military was out in such force, not even during my trip to Russia.

I think we walked miles and miles over the next few days. The curfew was raised to midnight while we were there. We didn’t stay out that late anyway. After dinner we went back to the hotel where we watched the Olympics. The narration was in Spanish, but it was still easy to follow. It was Nadia Comaneci we managed to see while sitting in that small TV room in a hotel in Lima. One day we rode out to see Incan ruins about 20 miles or so outside of the city. They were right on the water. The ruins were still being dug so we got to see work in progress. We walked down and in some of the buildings, none of which had a roof. The buildings were the color of the sand.

We flew out of Lima a few days later to Cuzco, which had been at one time the capital of the Incan empire. The plane flew over the Andes, and we were so close to the mountains I could see the shadow of the plane as it passed over the snow-capped endless Andes peaks. We had been warned to take it easy at first in Cuzco as it is almost 11,000 feet in elevation. I figured I’d throw up once every morning and be fine. That’s exactly what happened.

It was outside of Cuzco where I first saw llamas all along on the roads and in the rocky fields. I watched girls using hand looms which looked like spinning tops. The hats had changed. Many were now mostly red brimmed and looked like small Mexican sombreros. Others resembled fedoras but with a tall center. The women’s clothes were still bright and beautiful. Some men wore wool caps which also covered their ears. There were patterns knitted on the hats and even llamas. We went out to Sacsayhuaman, an Inca ruin close to the city. It was magnificent. I couldn’t begin to imagine the feat necessary to lift those stones  then add one to another to build the walls. From the top part of the ruins, we could see Cuzco spread out below us. On another trip we went to Ollantaytambo, a couple of hours out of Cuzco. The town is built on Incan foundations, and the ruins were amazing. I learned how to recognize Incan construction, especially doors and windows. I am a lover of windows and take pictures of them everywhere. It is my way of seeing the past and remembering those long ago people who looked out the same windows and thought how beautiful.

Tomorrow we’re going to Macchu Picchu.

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13 Comments on ““!Ama Sua, Ama Kjella, Ama Lllulla!””

  1. Bob Says:

    Today the temperature is forecasted to hit 108F which is only 42.2 C. Somehow it feels cooler in Celsius. Right now at the nearest airport to my house, about two miles away, it’s only 100F but it’s only two in the afternoon which is still early in the day.

    It’s a shame that the Spaniards destroyed the Inca culture in their blood conquest to save souls and steal the imagined Inca gold. The only pre-columbian ruins I have visited are the Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. I climbed the pyramids and looked out the doorway at the top. This was the last image that those humans who were sacrificed saw before being dispatched by the Mayan priests. Their Aztec counterparts in Mexico City sacrificed many more people than the Maya by ripping out their hearts while they were alive and raising the still beating organs up to the sky to satiate the gods. Maybe, forced conversion to Christianity wasn’t so bad in the case of the Aztec.

    The airport in Cuzco is 10,800 ft. above sea level and La Paz Bolivia is at 13,323 ft. above sea level. I think La Paz is the highest airport in the world. I don’t know how the natives living and working at those altitudes can survive. I get out of breath in Denver which is about 5,000 ft. above sea level. I am looking forward to hear about your adventures at Macchu Picchu. There are people who think that the Inca civilization was a result of ancient contact with aliens. My personal belief is that all life on earth, including humans, evolved from alien garbage left behind millions of years ago after an alien rock festival. 🙂 It’s a theory, like Rommney trickle down economics.

    • Kat Says:

      We had a small bit, 5 minutes, worth of rain which left the day humid and sticky.

      When I was in La Paz, I did my daily run to the toilet each morning then I could walk around all day. I was in the higher altitude a bit at a time starting in Venezuela culminating in La Paz so the altitude was easier to take and wasn’t debilitating. It only took an afternoon to get used to Cuzco then we could walk and tour the city and the ruins around it.

      The Spaniards never found Machu Picchu so it was relatively intact when found in 1911. It was amazing there among the mountains, and I walked all over the site.

      • Bob Says:

        Of course you were younger and maybe in better shape 🙂 I know I was.

        We only reached 105 degrees. A cool spell, NOT 🙂

  2. Kat Says:

    We ended up with rain in the late afternoon. The day got to 94% humidity then the rain started; of course, I had waited to do my errands so I got soaked.

  3. Birgit Says:

    The Andes, Peruvian cities and Inca ruins must be very impressive. Unfortunately I didn’t have time for an extensive photo browsing today, but I’m looking forward to do it tomorrow.
    I remember singing in high altitude. We gave a concert in Breckenridge/CO at nearly 10000ft and we were all gasping for breath. But it was a good training, singing was so much easier some days later in Denver.

    • Kat Says:

      They are totally impressive.

      As I tke Wednesday off, you’ll have a little time. Thursday will be Macchu Picchu, Puno and Lake Titicaca then into Bolivia..

  4. olof1 Says:

    Now You’ve made me want to go to South America even more than before 🙂 Lots have changed of course but I those Inca ruins will be just the same 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • Kat Says:

      Those Incan ruins are amazing to see; their construction is still a mystery. Yup, they don’t change!

      • Caryn Says:

        Don’t you know, Kat, the aliens built everything. Ancient humans just moved in when the LGM’s left the planet. 🙂

  5. MT C Says:

    This is an absolutely amazing trip you are making and thanks for taking us along.

    I’ve thought about making nearly this same trip, but via motorcycle. When I had my first bike (no, I’m not saying how long ago) I read a magazine article at the shop I hung out at which detailed the difficulties in traveling that route by motorcycle. Parts was a biggie and at that time fuel was nearly unheard of in the area and the author carried thirty or forty gallons with him at all times. The additional weight, of course, led to more breakdowns/flats which led to more time spent trying to locate and make repairs. Seems like it took him nearly 9 months to complete the transit, but recommended it highly to all us readers. I’ve wanted to do that ever since, but for one reason or another I’ve never made it. Maybe next trip, although I really do think that this will be my last, except for one. And I’ll see you on that one!

    Thanks again.


    • Kat Says:

      Paul Theroux, the author, left Medford, Mass on the subway and made it all the way to Patagonia by train. It might be an alternative, at least over the mountains.

      I suspect that many small towns might still not have parts, especially small mountain towns. Things change in cities but far less so in small villages and towns.

      I am happy to take you along. It was the most amazing summer, topped only by my training all over Ghana for the Peace Corps, and it was those two years in Ghana which gave me the wherewithal to make the South American trip with few reservations. I had a plan and a route, and it worked out perfectly, even better than I’d hoped.

  6. Zoey & Me Says:

    This IS a grand tour, although having a daughter I would not like her stuck by the side of a road anywhere for four hours. Great post Kat, save for Coffee Book.

    • Kat Says:

      We were stuck with the whole busload of people so we were safe.

      My dad said I couldn’t go. He’d heard about a woman who went to South American whose whose finger was cut off so her ring could be stolen. I just looked at him-I was in my 20’s-as if I’d listen!

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