Tuesday, July 24, 2012

HOLA! Peru,contd: Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu!!


Before moving on to Cuzco and the Sacred Valley,we visited a wonderful Pre-Incan Museum....
                        ...and the colonial neighborhood....
...and the the Villa El Salvador,a huge "shantytown" on the outskirts of Lima. OAT is a supporter of this slum. It has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize,and has been visited by Popes and Presidents The motto is "AYNI",reciprocity. Everyone helps everyone,everyone is your soul brother/sister. Volunteers. Ingenuity."No water or electricity or sewers,but no lack of ideas".
Despite the bleak,grey and dusty area,spots of color are everywhere.Signs of hope.
                    This area was actually getting electricity
                        This little guy was our official greeter!
                   The outside of their "soup kitchen"....
                ...which was MUCH smaller than expected!
           Lady vendors in their colorful dresses are everywhere.
Finally left Lima,flew to Cuzco,and went out into the beautiful Sacred Valley area....our guide,Freddy had lots of impromptu,fascinating stops for us,including this one to chat with these ladies by the side of the road...
Freddy gave these little guys some extra food/drink left from our lunch...as you can see,they were happy about that!Look at those cheeks!
We had a cold,windy but great visit at the ruins/terrassing of Pisac...
We gave this lady and her child a ride back to her village,down the mountain...which saved her MILES of walking.
We stopped at a farmhouse...this lady had a migraine headache,so she was mashing up aloe vera to wash her hair in as a remedy...
                ...while her daughter shyly peeped out the door at us.
Freddy went up into their loft to show us the drying corn....

                  ...and I followed him up to see for myself.
                 Here she is,washing her hair in the aloe.
Then,wet hair and all,she showed us her house...see what's on the floor??!!
           Yep. Cuy, or Guinea Pigs,free-range...future dinners!
                               Kitchen cabinets
Beautiful corn with gigantic kernals,and pieces of Incan pottery they found in their fields!
Well,I never in a million years expected to EVER EVER EVER do this! Plowing a corn field behind two  fast walking oxen,at 9,000 feet! Not my best decision ever!!Whew!Max and I were the only two volunteers.A TOUGH chore! But we rocked it,Max!
                          Brilliant Peruvian colors
                   Great toothless grins are quite common!
                          Peruvian still life
This is  homemade chica,or a corn "beer" drink...strong and VERY popular.
Here is Freddy showing us a whip similar to the one his parents used to whip him with when he was naughty! Seriously. Ouch.

After sampling the chica,we played this traditional game,of throwing gold coins into the slots and ideally,the frog's mouth...

 Freddy gave us each a local food item to go to the market to buy,only speaking Spanish of course..
                           even the grandmas keep busy!
                           Beautiful produce piles
                              a rat's heaven!
 Freddy very kindly offered this old,bent lady some of our surplus food...
 At a local farmhouse,our hostess showed us how to make tortilla biscuits...

              Ann and I helped with all the stirring...while Patrick supervised.

             The main course!!!!!!!!!Guinea Pig! No comment.
                   Our wonderful hosts for the yummy meal
 We also were happy to be able to visit a local school that is also supported by OAT.This is "my " little guy,who held my hand most of the time...except for this picture! Boys are boys everywhere!
 Some of the children telling us about themselves,before singing. We of course had to then do the same...
...... while this little girl just watched very quietly from the corner.
 Another farmhouse visit...check it out! This is the kitchen!I found out here that I am VERY  allergic to Guinea Pigs!Major allergy attack!
                     Feeding them their favorite food,barley. In the kitchen.
                          Farmhouse decorations...
                             ..including a dead baby sheep
 To get to Machu Picchu,you take a train from  Ollantaytambo through the gorge of the Urubamba River.(these are now my two favorite words!)

 You get off the train in the cute little town of Agua Calintes,and take a zigzag bus route up the mountain.....
 ...you walk through some Inca ruins with teasing glimpses.....
                ...and then suddenly,there it is!Breathtaking!!!

I decided to go on this trip,which has been a lifelong dream,the day after my friend Peggy Marino passed away last winter. She and I often talked about travel dreams,and she had told me that Machu Picchu was one of hers. So,while up here,I spent some quality time talking to Peg and thanking her for the inspiration. I miss you,Peggy!

                      I was a very happy camper  hiker up here!!!
           We were very fortunate to have such wonderful viewing weather.
 This next series of photos is from our arduous hike up to the Sun Gate...it's a tough one for Flatlanders like myself not only because of the 8-9,000 foot altitude,but because of the incline,rough Inca Trail stones and huge steps. We were so glad to have made it to the top!

                   Our wonderful group of intrepid travelers!!!
                                 Adios Machu Picchu!

 After Machu Picchu,we went back to Cuzco....upon arriving at the city limits,our bus died. Our gallant men tried and tried to push it to get it started, to no avail.(at 11,000 feet,NOT fun!) Glen even wore his miner's lamp!  But our Freddy pulled off a miraculous feat by commandeering a 16 passenger van to get us to our hotel. Thank you Freddy!

Our final day  in Peru was spent at the enormous ruins of Sacsayhuaman...

                       ...amidst the llamas.
                                  Mama Llama!
                      Such adorable little faces!

 We also visited a curandero,an Andean medicine man.He conducted a religious ritual with sacred objects and chanting...

                       ...while our Freddy interpreted.
                     Have you ever been kissed by a llama??!!
                     Another delicious quinoa soup

Freddy took us to his appartement to meet his lovely artist  wife Dahlia.It was a wonderful way to end our time with him in Peru.Gracias,Freddy for your knowledge,wit and compassion.You are awonderful person and fabulous Trip Leader. 

On to Quito Ecuador;we first went to visit the Sinamune Disabled Chiuldren's Orchestra...who also performed wonderful folk dances for us. We all got to dance with them as well.Very inspiring!
                          Ecuador colors!
                        This is the winter time!
                         I definitely had hair envy here!
I bought this little folk art painting...love the oranges and the blues.
We went to visit the Mitad del Mundo(Middle of the World)  monument...this handsome guy was definitely flirting with me on our way in!
First we were treated to an exhibit of nasty Amazon creatures....

THIS is that VERY  nasty little fish that likes to swim up a man's ureter!OUCH!
Ever wondered about how to make your very own shrunken head?
Step #1: cut off the head

                          Step #2: remove the skull
             Step #3: boil,then stuff with herbs and preservative plants

                     Step 4:mount and display proudly!

The real thing!

              We went to the actual "line" on the equator...
Hmmm...just noticed that I have two different socks on!
...where it was demonstrated how water does go down the opposite direction on the south side...

...and where we were challenged to balance an egg on a nail...

...which I did successfully,thus earning me the title of "Eggmaster"!

Our entire group,however failed the challenge of trying to walk the line with our eyes shut. Impossible. It's an inner ear thing at the Equator.
Still flirting with me on the way out. Look at those eyelashes and that sly grin!!!

We were honored to eat dinner with Fabiola and family...she is not only a great cook,wife and mother,but an O.B. as well!

She decorated with 4th of July colors for us!A very interesting and fun evening!



  1. Ok first of all. I thought you were kidding about the guinea pigs until I saw one COOKED. omg. That's incredible. Second, your photos are so beautiful. I feel like I'm looking at National Geographic Magazine.

  2. Wonderful photos...memories of what must have been a spectacular trip!! Thanks for sharing the adventure, Sue!!


  3. Sue you are making me drool!!! What an amazing trip! What amazing pictures! Thank u so much for sharing this with us!!