|Quick history: The Chavin Indians developed the first known civilization in Peru. The
civilization reached its peak from about 800 to 400 B.C. The ancestors of Peru's
Indians also include the famous Incas, who built a great empire in Peru from the 1200's
to the 1500's. The first Eurpeans reached the country in the 1520's, led by the Spanish
conquistador, Francisco Pizarro. They conquered the Incas in the 1530's and made
Peru a Spanish colony. Peru declared its independence from Spain in 1821.
|For five weeks in September/October 2004, we traveled
from Ecuador, mostly by bus, to Peru and Bolivia. Both
countries are rich and varied in their indigenous history and
cultures which extend far beyond and before the Incas.
|Our next stop was Lima, a 10-hour bus ride
from Trujillo. The capital city of Peru, Lima
was founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535.
With a population of nearly 8 million, about
1/3 of Peru’s people live here. Above, the
the Archbishops Mansion on the Plaza.
|We had the good fortune to meet Gonzalo
Ravago and his wife, Magdala. An avid
sailor, Gonzalo e-mailed us when he noticed
our "Passage Notes" in Cruising World
magazine. It was friendship at first sight and
they became our hosts in Lima. We toured
their city and visited Huaca Puc'llana, a temple
of the Lima culture. They introduced us to
Pisco Sours, the national alcoholic drink and
took us to their home for dinner.
|We visited the catacombs beneath 17th c
San Francisco Monastery. It was very eerie
as we ducked under low ceilings and
followed the guide through the maze of
corridors and rooms to view the bones of
the 70,000 (!!) people buried here. The
smell was musty and dank, and my
claustrophobia kicked in immediately.Bones
were separated by type...skulls, femurs,
ulnas, etc., and displayed in clear, plastic-
|On the bus ride from Arequipa to Puno, we
spotted herds of alpaca, llama and vicuña,
grazing peacefully on the pampas.
|The curious thing about Taquile is that the men
are always knitting and the women are always
spinning yarn. Old men, young men and boys
all have knitting needles in hand and make
beautiful sweaters, scarves, hats and other items
including their wife's clothes. They knit as they
walk or as they sit and talk. The woman spin
with a drop shuttle. They hold it with their feet
or throw it like a top to the ground and spin the
alpaca and sheep's wool into yarn.
|As we stepped off the boat, it was a weird, undulating
sensation beneath our feet, like walking on a waterbed.
|The Uros make reed boats called balsas
similar to those we saw in Huanchaco on
the coast, but these are large enough to
ride in and hold up to 15-20 people. They
have beautiful woven puma or llama heads
on the bow and stern. We were
disappointed to learn, however, that the
Uros only began incorporating the
figureheads after a visit from Thor
Heyerdahl in the late 1950's when they saw
his reed raft decorated in that fashion.
|s/y Nine of Cups
September - October 2004
|Republic of Perú
Capital City: Lima
Land area: 496,093 sq miles...about twice the size of Texas
Language: Spanish became Peru's official language soon after the
Spanish conquest and remained the only official language for several
hundred years. In 1975, the Peruvian government made Quechua, the
language of the Inca, an official language along with Spanish.
Currency: Nuevo Sol expressed as “S/”; S/3.35 = $1US
Highest Point: 22,205' (6,768M) Huascaran, an extinct volcano
Government: Parliamentary republic headed by a President
Political Units: 13 Regions
Chief products: One of the world's leading producers of copper,
lead, silver and zinc. It also ranks among the world's leading fishing
countries (anchovies, sardines, tuna).
|More indigenous people live in Peru than in any
other country in South America. The
“indigenes” make up nearly half of the country's
people and about a fifth of the total indigenous
population of North and South America.
|The Central Railway extends from the
Greater Lima area to mines and ore
refineries located high in the Andes. The
railway climbs to15,844' (4,829M) above
sea level, higher than any other
standard-gauge railroad in the world.
|Although Paddington now lives in
London, England, he originally came from
Darkest Peru where he was brought up
by his Aunt Lucy after he was orphaned
following an earthquake when he was just
a few weeks old. When Aunt Lucy went
to live in the Home for Retired Bears in
Lima, she decided to send him to
England to live. After teaching him to
speak English, she arranged for him to
stow away in a ship’s lifeboat.
Eventually, Paddington arrived on
Paddington Station and was adopted by
|Peru is the third largest country in South America.
|We found a hotel and immediately arranged a
tour. The first stop on the tour was the Huaca
Arco Iris (Rainbow Temple also known as the
Dragon Temple). This temple was covered by
sand until it was uncovered in the 1960’s so it
was very well preserved. Subsequent El Ninos
have taken their toll, however.
|We started our trip in Guayaquil
aboard a plush Royal Class Ormeno
double-decker bus complete with
videos, baños, sleeper seats and
meal service.The bus stopped at
both the Ecuadorian and Peruvian
borders to handle passport details.
Our first stop was Trujillo Peru…a
16-hour ride on the PanAmerican
Highway which took us from the
plantain plantations of Ecuador to the
desert coast of Peru.
|Many of the colors in the designs
painted on the walls have faded and are
barely visible. We were able to walk up
ramps to several levels of the temple.
|An interesting part of the visit was the live
“viringo” dogs which wandered around the temple
and which were supposedly direct descendants of
the original dogs kept by the Chimu. The dogs are
totally hairless. They grow to the size of a
Dalmatian. I held one of the puppies. According
to the guide and a newspaper article on display,
the blood of the dog has been successful in the
treatment of asthmatics. Hmm! Dog soup! There
are no animal rights activists in South America.
|Next we went to the Tschudi (Choo-dee)
Complex (named after a Swiss naturalist). This is
one of the nine major compounds of Chan Chan,
each one built by one of nine successive Chimu
rulers. There are high adobe walls surrounding
the compound, within which are several
ceremonial courtyards, plazas and a labyrinth of
paths leading to the sanctuaries used by the
priests for sacrifices as well as the royal living
quarters. Of particular interest were the designs
and symbols on the walls. Pelicans and other
birds and animals and sea creatures (rays, fish,
etc), as well as geometric patterns, were very
evident. Chan Chan (Sun Sun) was the capital city
of the Chimu Empire and was built around 1300
AD. The Chimu Empire existed from about
1000-1470 AD and was conquered by the Incas
in about 1471, which puts them in the same
timeframe as the Aztecs of Mexico. Chan Chan
is considered to be the largest mud city in the
world (dubious honor, methinks!!).
|We also went to see Huacas del Sol y del la Luna (Temples of the Sun and the Moon), built by
the Moche, another pre-Columbian civilization (pre-Columbian = before Columbus and the
Spaniards arrived), which pre-dated the Chimu. They thrived from about 100BC to 700AD
(same time as the Mayans in Mexico) and are known for their exquisite ceramics and pottery.
The Temple of the Moon was “adopted” by Backus, a large corporation which owns all of the
beer companies (among others) in Peru. Backus has financially sponsored the excavation of the
temple for more than 10 years and the results are remarkable. There are six levels; one level
built upon another by each successive king. The paintings on the walls were extraordinary…
original rich colors of red and yellow with black and some blues and greens, mostly depicting
the gods and animals they revered such as the condor, jaguar, octopus, fox and owl. We went
up and down ramps and viewed several of the six levels. It is still an active dig site and a wall
uncovered this past June and July was already on display for us to see. It was a work in
progress and we were able to view it. Absolutely fascinating!
|The temples were constructed of adobe bricks…millions of them…and brick-making is still done in Trujillo. We stopped at a “modern-day” brick-
making site. Oh, my…what a life! The people (it appeared whole families) worked out in the hot sun in a large open pit, several feet deep. They
mixed the local clay soil with water then packed it into forms which rendered about 4 bricks at a time. Two boys (10-12??) were each packing and
leveling the forms. Then, they would each hoist the whole thing and carry it to a level spot where they would remove the forms, sprinkle them with
sand and let them dry. Several other people traipsed back and forth with armloads of dried bricks to a waiting flatbed truck where other men were
stacking them to take them to the oven for firing. This is what they did all day, every day. The whole group receives about S/80 ($24) per 1000
bricks and they make about 500 bricks per day. Our hearts broke as we saw a whole stack of bricks fall off the truck in front of us and smash to the
ground. We noted the boys’ cheeks all bulging with coca leaves, chewed to ease fatigue and hunger.
|Many of the 50 million bricks used in the building of the temple have symbols on
them…about 100 different symbols have been identified to date. The theory is that each
community was “taxed” a certain number of bricks by the king and the symbols identified
each groups’ accounting of their contributions.
|Only a 15-minute ride from Trujillo, the small
port town of Huanchaco, is known for its
distinctive fishing boats made of the local
totora reeds. These boats, used by local
fishermen for centuries, are comprised of two
tubes of woven reeds and the fishermen
straddle them rather than sit inside. Hence,
the boats are called “cabellitos” (little horses).
|Totora reeds used in making cabellitos played
an important role in several Peruvian cultures.
|Boys play on cabellitos in the surf.
|We sampled the local cerveza. This
cabello marino (seahorse) caught our
attention and warranted a photo. We
wandered around the Plaza de Armas, the
huge main square colorfully surrounded by
the Cathedral (photo right) and several
old mansions and alive with flowering
plants and trees. All in all, a lovely city
and a good introduction to Peru.
|We paid S/1 to walk out on the pier. The
sunset was memorable.
|Moche pictographs like the mural above
show this type of boat being used 1500
|Rows of cabellitos along the sea
wall made for a photographic delight.
|The Rafael Larco Herrara Museum is located in a little suburb called Pueblo Libre. This
private museum boasts the largest collection of ceramics from all the various Peruvian
Pre-Columbian cultures in the country. We spent several hours discovering the similar and
unique characteristics of the nearly 30 cultures, covering five eras of development from
7,000 BC to the arrival of the Spanish in the mid-1500s. The different shapes, styles,
designs, colors and motifs were fascinating. Not only pottery was on display, but also
textiles (including weaving and dying processes) and metallurgy.
|At the Artisan’s Market in Pueblo
Libre, we came across a woman named
Amanda who carved extremely intricate
designs on “calabazas” (gourds) which
were absolutely stunning.
|Street artist on downtown Lima avenue.
|Nacional Reserva Paracas
|Gonzalo & Magdala invited us to go with them
to Nacional Reserva Paracas, a 2-1/2 hour
drive down the Pan American Highway which
hugs the desert coast of Peru. The scenery was
dramatic as mega sand dunes drifted down to
meet the rugged shore. Above, Marcie &
Magdala relax on the boardwalk in Paracas.
At right, the Candelabra, a giant etching in the
desert sand a la the Nasca Lines.
Far right, red footed cormorants and Humboldt
penguins at Islas Ballestas.
|We parted with the Ravagos in Pisco.
They headed back to Lima and we
caught a bus to Nasca. The world
famous Nasca Lines dating back to
900BC, were discovered in the 1960s
and are huge geometric and animal figure
designs drawn in the desert sand and
visible only from the air. There are
several dozen, but we saw about 15 of
them from our little 4-seater plane. No
one knows exactly why they were drawn
or by whom, but best guesses indicate
the Nasca people built them as part of a
ceremonial tradition. Other theories
range from agricultural calendars to
UFOs. One of the lines resembles an
|We boarded a 4-person Cessna and took off
lickety-split for a 30-minute ride over the Lines.
The pilot talked like Jose Jimenez and we worked
hard not to giggle when he talked.
|It was very bright and there was little
contrast on the white sand below us. If
you squint (and use some imagination),
you can make out the monkey above.
|Love Them Spuds….
Scholars believe that the first people to live in Peru were tribes who came from North America about 12,000 years ago. These people learned
to farm, tamed the llama and began to cultivate the potato, which grew wild in the highlands. Potatoes became an important food in Peru long
before they were known anywhere else in the world. Most botanists believe the white potato comes from a species that first grew in Bolivia,
Chile, and Peru. The Incas grew potatoes in the valleys of the Andes and made a light, floury substance called chuno which was used instead of
wheat in baking bread. Spanish explorers in South America were the first Europeans to eat potatoes and
introduced them into Europe in the mid-1500's. About the same time, English explorers brought potatoes
to England and also introduced them into Ireland and Scotland. White potatoes were probably
introduced into North America in the early 1600's. However, they did not become an important food
crop until Irish immigrants brought potatoes with them when they settled in Londonderry, N.H., in 1719.
How about them taters?
|From Nasca, we headed once again by
bus to the city of Arequipa. This
overnight trip took us from the sea high
into the Andes and we began to feel the
effects of altitude almost immediately.
We both experienced shortness of
breath, headaches and mild nausea.
There are several remedies for
“soroche”, however we stuck with mate
de coca (coca tea) and coca candy
which seemed to help. Arequipa ended
up being our favorite city in Peru. We
were particularly impressed by its
magnificent plaza, filled with vibrantly
colored, blossoming trees and flowers
and a large fountain in the center.
On one side is the Cathedral, an
immense ornate building which stretches
the entire length of the block.
|The Cathedral was originally built
around 1656, but was destroyed by a
fire and rebuilt then destroyed again
by an earthquake and rebuilt yet again.
|An indigenous woman selling
trinkets carries her baby on her
|Monasterio de Santa Catalina is actually a convent for cloistered nuns, which was built in 1580. By custom, the second daughter of rich Spanish
families entered the convent. This convent, however, allowed the wealthy young ladies (nuns) to have servants and live a fairly luxurious life until the
Pope heard about it and sent a new Mother Superior there. She immediately released all the servants and sent all the money to Rome (so the
Cardinals could use the money to live in luxury???). The place is enormous, an entire city block surrounded by high walls. The entrance fee of S/25
(very high for Peru at US$7.50) was well worth it. Guides were available, but not necessary as most of the exhibits had information placards
available in four languages plus the guides seem to hurry everyone along and we had no intention of hurrying! It was exquisite. This place, by the way,
is on the “1000 Places to See Before You Die” List and we can see why. We were fascinated by the rooms, nooks and crannies that we could
wander into and explore. There was lots of period furniture; the religious oil paintings, mostly 18th century, were wonderful. There are seven “streets”
(all named after cities in Spain) leading to separate areas of the compound with numerous side lanes and alleys meandering off. We would enter one
room, which led to another and another and another with little anterooms off them. It was spacious with lots of high ceilings and skylights. The floors
were all cobblestone brick with little trenches along the sides to provide an outlet and direction for water. There were long corridors of archways, the
walls painted in vibrant colors of indigo, terra cotta and yellow with stenciled art adorning them or sometimes beautiful scenes in tiles. There was a
small tea garden which offered snacks and we sat and enjoyed the ambiance and morning sunshine while sipping café con leche and eating a pastry.
In all, we spent about 3+ hours there…absolutely wonderful. By the way, about 20 nuns still remain there in a separate cloistered area of the convent.
clothing, especially the
women's hats, is most
distinguishes one group
from another. Those
little hats are actually
imported from England
and all the women
wear them. In
exchange for this
photo, I bought that
little doll she’s holding.
|Sta Catalina entrance
|Historic photo of nuns
|Colca Canyon is described as the Grand
Canyon of Peru. It is spectacular and is allegedly
the deepest canyon in the world at 3,400 meters
(11,000 feet) deep. Maybe we’re biased, but
the Grand Canyon in our estimation was more
“grand”. Nevertheless, the scenery was great
and watching the huge condors gracefully glide
through the canyon, riding the air currents was
beautiful. Condors are not very pretty birds up
close, but oh, to watch them soar, six foot wings
extended, is awesome.
The altitude took its toll on both of us...nausea,
headaches, lightheadedness, shortness of breath.
"Chew coca leaves; drink coca tea", we were
encouraged by our guide...and we did.
|We noticed small piles of rocks, like cairns, all
over the place and were told that these were
“apachetas”. The local people construct them
as a tribute to the volcano gods for good luck.
|A little girl in Andean garb with an alpaca
next to her at a souvenir stop.
|M & D with the splendorific canyon in the
|We stopped at the little town of Yanque on the
way to admire the church.
|School kids in traditional costume perform a
folkloric dance in the town plaza.
|The land is rich. Terracing allows every inch
to be used for agriculture
|A red bell flower was cantata (also spelled
“k’antu) which is the national flower of Peru.
|Reserva Nacional Salinas of Aguada
Blanca is home to lots of vicuñas, the
smallest of the cameloid species found in
Peru and South America. The road side
sign announces “Zona de Vicuñas”.
|Founded in 1668, Puno is Peru’s major
port on Lake Titicaca and is also a
central place to stay in order to visit
some of the islands in the Lake. At an
altitude of 12,000+ feet, we were still
laboring with catching our breaths, but it
was becoming somewhat easier. We
had seen a huge condor sculpture, high
on a hill, as we arrived into town and
learned it was a “mirador”, scenic
overlook of the city. We decided to
take our time and climb the steep streets
and then steps. Usually this would not
have been a chore, but oh man, the
altitude made it monumental.
|Not sure if it was worth the climb, but we were
certainly breathless when we arrived.
|The Yavari is an iron-hulled boat built in England in 1862 in kit form. Its 1383 pieces were shipped
to Arica (now part of Chile), transported to Tacna by train, then carried by mule to Puno, where it
was reassembled and finally launched on Lake Titicaca in 1870. It was 100’ long with a 17’ beam
and 10’ draft. It was originally designed as a gunboat, however the guns never arrived! It remained in
service, however, as a transport vessel for over a century and was then stripped and abandoned.
|In 1987, theYavari was acquired by the
“Yavari Project” and since 1998, the boat
is once again floating and open to the
public. Restoration work continues with the
hope of using the boat as a tourist ferry for
crossing the lake.
|Lake Titicaca - The Floating Islands of Uros
|Puno is on the shores of Lake Titicaca,
the highest navigable lake in the world.
Our first excursion onto Lake Titicaca
was a day tour to the Uros Islands and
Taquile. It was a 20-minute ride to the
floating Uros Islands. Our English-
speaking guide provided history as well
as lots of legend, lore and local color.
There are several floating islands of the
Uros people and we visited Kamisaraki
which in Aymara (their language) means
“Hello, how are you?”. The islands are
made of layer upon layer of totora reed
and are totally free floating.
|My favorite shot of Taquile. How pastoral a scene. A
young shepherd tends his flock, his floppy woolen hat
bouncing as he runs, the shimmering lake and
snow-covered Andean peaks as his backyard.
|There are houses, a school, even a post
office (above) on the island.
|Lake Titicaca - Taquile
|Taquile, a real island (not floating) with ~2,500
people, is very different from the Uros and in
fact, the two groups do not get along. Their
language, Quechua, is the Incan language, as
opposed to the Aymara language of the Uros.
We landed at the docks and began a slow,
labored ascent to the village above, via a
switchbacked, scenic trail. It was hard enough
for us to climb the trail with just daypacks. The
locals, however, carried full loads of supplies
back and forth up the trail on a regular basis.
Young and old alike, managed the climb
|The men’s hats are particularly distinctive,
like floppy long ski hats (dingleberry hats)
and signify their marital status as well as
their intentions sometimes. For instance,
worn a certain way, a young lady knows
she’s being flirted with.
|From Puno, we headed to
Copacabana and Bolivia and then
returned to Peru a week later en
route to our ultimate destination,
Cuzco and Machu Picchu.
Board the bus and come along with
|Return to Home Page
(oh, so boring!)
|Caral is believed to have been built between 2627 BC
and 2000 BC, making it the oldest city in the Americas
as well as one of the oldest cities in the world.
|Peru is one of the top producers of silver,
copper, lead, and zinc in the world.