June 2010 Archives

Peru - Moray Terraces

From perutravels.net:

"Moray (3,500 meters) lies 74 km from the city of Cusco. It is famous for its sunken amphitheater, made up of four circular terraces which appear to disappear into the earth like an artificial crater. The site was apparently an Inca agricultural research station designed for experimenting with crops at various altitudes (some of which run down to depths of 100 meters). It is believed that the terraces, built over containing walls filled with fertile earth and watered by complex irrigation systems, enabled the Incas to grow more than 250 plant species."

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(click to enlarge) Note the steps: Slabs of rock projecting from the faces of the terraces.

Peru - Driving the Donkeys

Donkey caravans in the hills near Moray in the Sacred Valley.

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Peru - Plowing the Potato Field

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A field near Moray in the Sacred Valley. They use two bulls, an older (more experienced) and a younger (more energetic), to pull the primitive plow.

Peru - Steep

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We were continually struck by how steep - almost vertical at times - is the land in the Sacred Valley. Tough for us flat-landers.

Peru - Chinchero Market Scenes

Color, camaraderie, and fancy hats.

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Peru - Chinchero Market

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Click to enlarge. Religious procession near Chinchero market

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Click to enlarge. The Chinchero market is a large and colorful occasion.

Peru - Dyed Wool

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(click to enlarge) Dyed wool, ready to be woven into beautiful textiles by the Chinchero weavers

Peru - Dyeing the Wool

We got an overview of the various phases of the weaving process at Chinchero, from spinning the wool to dyeing it to weaving the fabrlc.

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(click to enlarge) Purple comes from black corn ...

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(click to enlarge)... and red from the cochineal bug.

Peru - Chinchero Weaving Scenes

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(click to enlarge) Boiling water and cloth for dyeing

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(click to enlarge) Intricacies of weaving

Peru - Chinchero Weavers

Chinchero is a village in the Urubamba district of Peru, noted for its high quality crafts. The weaving tradition is particularly strong. We visited a weaving collective.

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(click to enlarge) This lady, well into her 80s, is the matriarch of the collective.

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(click to enlarge) Constructing the warp of a textile

Peru - Building Materials

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(click to enlarge) Adobe bricks drying in the sun

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(click to enlarge) When a home is finished, a good luck charm like this is put on the roof.

Peru - Corn Festival in Yucay

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As our bus passed this church in Yucay, a small town in the Sacred Valley, we saw the gaily decorated donkey. And then a procession, accompanied by blaring trumpets, emerged from the church carrying offerings for a successful corn harvest - a mix of local traditions with Catholicism that's typical in Peru. We learned later that a big tree branch fell on the procession when it reached the town square, killing one of the participants.


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Peru - Guido at Sacsayhuaman

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On the last night of our Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu tour, we were told we would have a dinner show. The show turned out to be a return trip from Cusco into the hills to Sacsayhuaman, which had been lit up for the occasion. As we walked into the field along the great ranks of stones, we heard a ghostly flute. The music came closer, and then Guido appeared. A magical moment.

Peru - More Guido the Flute Player

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Peru - Guido the Flute Player

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When we began our tour in Peru, our guide promised us a daily UPS, "unexpected pleasant surprise". On our first day of hiking, near Pisac, our UPS was Guido, a wonderfully accomplished flute player who appeared near the beginning of our path and accompanied us most of the way, thoughtfully positioning himself in various photogenic locations.

Peru - Sacred Valley

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(click to enlarge) View of the valley and river above Pisac

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(click to enlarge) Inca ruins near Pisac

According to Wikipedia:

"The Sacred Valley of the Incas or Urubamba Valley is a valley in the Andes of Peru, close to the Inca capital of Cusco and below the ancient sacred city of Machu Picchu. The valley is generally understood to include everything between Písac and Ollantaytambo, parallel to the Urubamba River, or Vilcanota River or Wilcamayu, as this Sacred river is called when passing through the valley. It is fed by numerous rivers which descend through adjoining valleys and gorges, and contains numerous archaeological remains and villages. The valley was appreciated by the Incas due to its special geographical and climatic qualities. It was one of the empire's main points for the extraction of natural wealth, and the best place for maize production in Peru."

Peru - Sacsayhuamán

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(click to enlarge) The stonework at Sacsayhuamán is as fine and precise as at Machu Picchu, and the stones are much larger. Truly a marvel. From Wikipedia:

"Sacsayhuamán ... is a walled complex near the old city of Cusco, at an altitude of 3,701 m. or 12,000 feet. The site is part of the City of Cuzco, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983. It was built by the prehistoric indigenous people of the Killke culture about 1100 AD. They were superseded by the Inca, who occupied and expanded the complex beginning about 1200 AD.[1]

Some scholars believe the walls were a form of fortification.[2] Others believe the complex was built specifically to represent the head of a puma, the effigy shape which Sacsayhuamán together with Cuzco forms when seen from above. There is much unknown about how the walls were constructed. The stones are so closely spaced that a single piece of paper will not fit between many of the stones. This precision, combined with the rounded corners of the limestone blocks, the variety of their interlocking shapes, and the way the walls lean inward, is thought to have helped the ruins survive devastating earthquakes in Cuzco. The longest of three walls is about 400 meters. They are about 6 meters tall. The estimated volume of stone is over 6,000 cubic meters. Estimates for the weight of the largest limestone block vary from 128 tonnes to almost 200 tonnes.[3][4]

The Spanish harvested much rock from the walls of the structure to build churches in Cuzco. This is why the walls are in perfect condition up to a certain height, and missing above that point. "

Peru - Views of Cusco

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(click to enlarge) Seen through a city gate

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(click to enlarge) View of Cusco and the Andes from Sacsayhuaman, an ancient walled complex above Cusco at an altitude of 12,000 feet

Peru - Shadows in Cusco

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(click to enlarge) Figure on the door of the Church of La Compania in Cusco

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(click to enlarge) On the steps of the Palace of Justice in Cusco

Peru - Cusco Central Market

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(click to enlarge) Every part of the animal is to be eaten. Lots of less appetizing parts are not shown here.

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(click to enlarge) Outside the market, a woman in a characteristic tall white hat.

Peru - Cusco Central Market Scenes

Photographing the visual jumble in the market, with faces peeking out, was a lot of fun.

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Peru - Cusco Market

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(click to enlarge) The Central Market in Cusco, like native markets in many other countries, more than makes up in color and vibrancy for what it may lack in sanitation.

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(click to enlarge) Peru boasts hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of varieties of potatoes. Here are just a few.

Peru - Cusco Scenes

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(click to enlarge) It seemed that as many women as men were getting their shoes shined.

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(click to enlarge) Kids playing in a handicraft market, while their parents try to persuade tourists to buy something.

Peru - Faces on the Street in Cusco

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(click to enlarge) Waiting for a bus

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(click to enlarge) On the Plaza de Armas

I'll be off-line for the next three days, back on Tuesday.

Peru - Waiting for a Bus in Cusco

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Peru - Spanish Religious Architecture in Cusco

The stonework architecture of the Incas is astonishing, but the church architecture of the Spanish is also very dramatic. Unfortunately, the church often destroyed the indigenous buildings to promote their own vision of civilization.

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(click to enlarge) Pillars of the Dominican Priory and Church of Santo Domingo, built on top of the ruins of Koricancha, the Inca Temple of the Sun in Cusco.

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(click to enlarge) The cathedral of Cusco, seen from the Plaza de Armas.

Peru - Guides

We had outstanding guides on our Country Walkers trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu. They were helpful, well-informed, energetic, communicative ... and often funny.

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(click to enlarge) Juan Carlos Yañez at the Temple of the Sun in Cusco

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Guides Pavel (left) and Juan Carlos (right) and bus driver Sabino (center)

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