Posted tagged ‘Peru’

“Quiet diplomacy is far more effective than public posturing.”

August 18, 2017

Yesterday was a perfect day. The weather was warm but breezy enough to keep the heat at bay, the sun shined all day and we even found a table by the water at lunch. My sisters arrived with cake and presents. We went to lunch at one of my favorite places. As a surprise my sisters had invited my friends, and I was definitely surprised. My lobster roll was filled with huge chunks of lobster and the fries and onion rings were perfect. Just ask the gulls who snapped up the French fries we threw on the rocks. After lunch we came back to my house for cake and ice cream and presents. My sisters had chosen the best cake, mocha, and my favorite ice cream, coconut. After that, I opened my presents and was overwhelmed by the generosity of my sisters and my friends. We then sat on the deck a while chatting and laughing. I can’t imagine a better day, a better birthday.

Today is cloudy and a bit humid. The breeze is blowing the top branches of the oak trees. Rain is predicted for later. I do have to go out but not far and off the main roads. The bird feeders need to be filled again, and the fountain is empty of water. Gracie drinks much of the water away. The fountain is the perfect height for her. I fill it, she drinks it and we do this several times a day. She has a water dish on the deck but she ignores it. Dogs aren’t logical.

Quiet seems to be the order of the day after the excitement of yesterday. I don’t hear a sound: not a kid, not a car and not even a bird. I had Alexa play sixties rock, but I kept singing with the music instead of writing so I turned on the TV to MSMBC. It is still reacting to Trump’s latest diatribe so I turned that off. Instead, I watched the Food Channel with Giada who was making a Peruvian chicken dish and showing pictures of her trip to Peru. I suppose I could just turn off the TV, but I’m not in the mood for quiet, for silence. I have stuff I could do, but I don’t want to do them. I’m just fine with being a sloth, napping on the couch, wearing my comfiest clothes and going barefoot.

“Like you’re riding a train at night across some vast plain, and you catch a glimpse of a tiny light in a window of a farmhouse. In an instant it’s sucked back into the darkness behind and vanishes. But if you close your eyes, that point of light stays with you, just barely for a few moments.”

August 2, 2012

The humidity of the last few days has prompted an early hibernation for me. I started out with doors and windows opened then raced to close them and turn the AC on. Today and the next few days will be in the 80’s, warm for us, so I’ll hunker down and enjoy the cool air.

On with the travelog!

First, I apologize for the oversight so I’ll introduce the other half of the we I keep using. It was my roommate Francie, who had traveled only once out of the country on a guided tour of Italy with a bunch of high school kids, so this was, for her, a huge risk. She was the best of companions.

In Cuzco, we went to the market and bought some fruit and some coca leaves. We had read that chewing them allows the Peruvians to work at high altitudes without getting overly fatigued or hungry. We figured they’d help so we gave chewing them a try. The leaves weren’t worth the chew. We found out later they are mixed with something or better consumed in tea.

In those days, there was no tourist train to Aguas Calientes, the stop nearest the road to Machu Picchu, so we got up early and took the local. It was filled with Peruvians with their produce and reminded me of travel in Ghana. All that was missing were the goats and chickens. It was an amazing train ride. We traveled on rail so twisty we could see the front of the train from the back. I hung my head out the windows many times to see the train and the view along the way. We passed through Pisac and Ollantaytambo in the valley of the Incas and could see terraces up the mountains, places where the Incas planted their crops including potatoes and quinoa. After about four hours on the train, we arrived at the station where we had to buy bus tickets to get to the ruins. The road to the ruins was an amazing back and forth twist of a road, a zigzag switchback allowing travel up the steep hill.

All the pictures I see of the site now are filled with people roaming around. I didn’t find that. There were few people so I could take pictures without anyone in them. Machu Picchu is easily recognized as it sits between two mountains. The first view I saw of the ruins was from the hill which overlooks all of Machu Picchu. I don’t think I could move for a bit, astonished as I was by the sight. Finally I headed into the ruins where I walked around for hours. I went up to the sundial whose corners each point to a different direction. I took pictures through windows of the same view the Incas must have seen. I walked up and down the terraces. I took picture after picture of the ruins, the mountains and the ruins across from us on another mountain. I sat and just looked all around me. I think I forgot to breathe.

On the way down to the train, small boys raced the busses which had to negotiate the twisty road. The boys beat us to the bottom. We boarded the last train and headed back to Cuzco where we’d spend one more day exploring other ruins including an Incan foundation which still runs with sweet cold water. Then we took the train to Puno, a regular train back then. The ride was magnificent with the snow-capped Andes beside us for hours, the stops at small stations where we saw Peruvians in bright colors sitting in the sun, and in my mind’s eye, I still see the small children dressed in colorful clothes, red shawls are what I remember the best, who waved at us as the train passed. We always waved back. The second part of the trip was over the Andean plains, an amazing contrast from the mountains but no less beautiful. There we saw llamas, herds of llamas, shepherded by boys who followed behind them.

The trip to Puno took about 11 hours. We found a hotel and then wandered. Puno is right on the shores of Lake Titicaca. When I was a kid, that name always made us giggle when the nun said it. It was as if she were swearing somehow. We bought dinner from a stall along the street, and I bought a small, woven woolen wall decoration from another stall. The cloth was green and on it were appliquéd people who looked like all the Peruvians we had seen. One of them was playing Andean pipes. I still have it.

The next morning we went to the lake and booked passage on a hydrofoil guided tour which would stop at three islands on the lake then take us across to the Bolivian border where we’d board a bus to La Paz.

The journey continues!

“!Ama Sua, Ama Kjella, Ama Lllulla!”

July 31, 2012

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.

If no man could become rich in Peru, no man could become poor.”

July 30, 2012

No movie last night: it was “spitting rain” as my mother would have said so my friends and I played games, ate inside and watched the Olympics. Today is still a bit damp, but I think the sun is making a decided effort to appear. The morning is a lot lighter than it’s been.

We’re still in South America, in Guayaquil, Ecuador. We got here on a small boat from Duran where the auto-bus had finished its run after scaring the heck out of us while showing us the most amazing sights. Guayaquil was hot, and the hotel we found had no screens so I was a mosquito magnet. I don’t remember anything about the city. I just remember swatting and scratching all night. We stayed only a day as the city was really planned as a transit stop. The next day we took another local bus toward the border, and the people were again most accommodating in the passport transfer from the back to the front. We got to the Ecuadorian/Peruvian border too late to cross so we had to stay in Ecuador overnight. That border town reminded me of something out of an old western movie. People were walking out and about all night, and the cantinas were all open and crowded, mostly with men. Our hotel was right on the main drag, a cheap hotel right near the border. For a bathroom it had a hole which necessitated good aim. The hole was out back.

Because I had not slept the night before, I fell sleep right away and heard nothing. My friend was awake most of the night because of the noise and the people walking by our room right on the street. She was a bit frightened by the thought of our room being so central so I think staying up was really a sort of guard duty for her. The next morning we got breakfast and changed dollars into Peruvian sol as the rate was so much cheaper in Ecuador. We got double what we would have gotten into Peru, and knowing we were heading to Machu Picchu, we changed a lot of money. The two of us walked through the border into the first building, passport control. Signs were all over about the amount of Peruvian money you could bring into the country. We were way over the limit. We noticed clothes flung over a screen and realized someone was really being searched. My friend immediately started to panic as we had hidden a lot of money in our bras. I told her to write down on the entry form an amount of money above the limit so we looked honest. That worked. We got a lecture but that was all. The next building was to prove we had a ticket out of Peru before we could come into Peru. Anyone who didn’t was directed to a small building where they were forced to buy bus tickets they’d probably never use. I realized the guy checking tickets spoke no English so I gave him the sheaf of plane tickets, and he flipped through the pile and let me go. I told him my friend was with me, and he hand gestured her a wave out of the building as well. We boarded a bus to Lima.

More tomorrow if you don’t mind.