Thursday, May 21, 2009


Oh dear, our longest absence from the blog, I think. All fine, just very mobile and somewhat remote. Not much Wifi in our lives.

Returned from Machu to Cusco, left Peru, arrived The Islands early last week. 5 days on a luxury boat racing to keep up with downloading all the pictures. Stunning, spectacular wildlife, just what I'd pondered it might be. Wow, what a place! A crucible and a cathedral at once; more on that someday soon. Hundreds of pictures from lots of different islands and bays. Rosie saw her first sea turtle yesterday, Al (and K and I) our first shark. Iguanas, cormorant, flamingo, penguin, boobie, rays, friggin' remarkable.

On San Cristobal island, back to Santa Cruz in the morning. Back to Otavalo May 30.

Hugs. P

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Inca trails

The hardcore way to arrive at Machu Picchu is to hike 4 days along the ancient walking route of the Incas; it seems like an awesome idea. Our personal semi-heroic trail to the monument consisted of managing children, keeping up the strawberry yogurt supply, locating lodging in skanky villages and busy cities, you parents get the idea. We made it up there yesterday, and it was stunning. No sunrise due to foggy am, but rounding the corner of a stone pathway and seeing the whole complex emerging from the dawn mist – tears in my eyes. Pick the most stunning Andean col, then apply formidable engineering and artistic vision. On some levels, I’m a fan of those Inca folks.

Today we’re back down towards civilization in a little village that has been continuously occupied since the 1200’s. It’s a bit touristed these days, but I had a lovely couple hours hoofing along some hillsides, often walking on paths that showed evidence of ancient terracing from the 1400’s. I found myself pondering a bit about regime change. As I looked down into the valley at the small peasant patches of corn, barley, potatoes, quinoa and stone irrigation channels, I wondered how much it mattered whether the boss in Lima (or Cusco) was Pucaran, or Incan, or Catholic, or Fujimori. In many ways, and we’ve had a lovely opportunity to see some up close, the folks in the villages are still just raising the cattle and the children, planting the crops, gathering the firewood, wearing the hats (I’m deep into the “Hats of the Andes” photojournal). The government always demands some of your harvest or money, sometimes the power struggle rages through your own neighborhood. The Inca ruins are a ton like the Roman ruins 1700 years later. Would they have caught up without transatlantic interference? Bolivar liberated in 1820; does the 300 year interval determine how it is now? Most of the folks in this village, and my friends in Otavalo, are indigenous folks small-farming along. Will the new norm elsewhere start looking more like this?

Someone has estimated at the time of the Catholic invasion, the Incas had 19 years of food stockpiled in stone storehouses. Then a bitter civil war broke out between the two sons of the emperor (Huascar and Atahualpa), which weakened the kingdom significantly for the convenience of Pizarro and the boys. This fascinates me. The Incas had convinced the populace from Chile to Columbia that overproduction, stone hauling, and supporting The Man was vitally important. But it turns out that they were quickly brought down by internal and external strife. Keeping your eye on the ball can lead to other problems; may we all remember the importance of noticing lots of elements of life. The bee will bump up against the window until it falls down tired; the fly will buzz around chaotically and locate the other exit.

Hugs. Thanks for helping me journal. P

Inca capital

I was excited about a number of stops on our Peru trip, but I had only a vague sense that Cusco was, not in fact the liquor (that’s pisco) but the launching point for Machu Picchu. I’m now a fan! It reminds me of Florence and Kyoto – the sort of place where they’re running a city inside a museum. Not huge like Quito, but tons of beautiful and old architecture. This was the capital of the Inca Empire, and it feels like it. Many of the buildings have Inca walls incorporated into them. And there is lots of the magnificent thing – car-free areas! The narrow narrow streets like Philadelphia and Charleston and lots of Europe. It’s lovely here.

See photos of us crossing the pass from the Titicaca drainage into the Cusco (and Amazon) drainage (a cute baby alpaca and our cute baby gringa) and enjoying the town before heading off to the The Wonder. P

Sunday, May 3, 2009


And then we headed (in a bit of first class bus luxury – photo) from Arequipa to Puno and Lake Titicaca. The highest big lake in the world, at 12,500 it’s a breathtaker on all levels. Much too much to show here, but see some funs shots of our host mom where we overnighted on one of the islands (with the girls’ hats her mom handknit), the mind-bending floating islands where folks have lived on reed rafts for hundreds of years, awesome. And onshore, we ended up staying in the storeroom of a friendly restaurant. See some fun shots of cultural intercambio (ukulele and juggling lessons, recording the kids singing and playing it back for them on the iPod, renting the neighborhood foozball table, lovely.

Back now to civilization – hot bath, internet, TV, coffee, soft beds, central heating. All well. P

Wildlife on land and wing

The condor is a big deal down here, figuring in folklore and religion. In Colca Canyon, we saw tons, up close. Even with our point and shoot, we caught a little action. On the way over, we passed through vicuña country; they’re a cousin of the alpaca and llama – and mighty cute. And this spectacular shepherd ambled over the hill at like 12,000 feet tending the flock. With baby. Amazing.


Just back out of the woods on a great adventure. The last 3 nights have been in the upstairs storeroom of a restaurant and a guest house of a local family on an island in the Lake. Wow, what a spectacular thing to get to see. I´ve been fascinated by this place for the past, well, 35 years or so and am so pleased we all got to see the floating islands and local folks. Stunning. Dang wifi won´t work here, so pix will have to wait. But I wanted our legions of fans to know we hadn´t wandered too far off on a Paddington hunt. Tomorrow to Cuzco as we make our way to Machu Pichu.

Hugs. P

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