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Lace Curtain Liza

Diary of Adventures

Peru and back in a week!!!

12 October 2010

Machu Picchu did NOT disappoint. Lima did, but it wasn’t their fault. The Spaniards sacked Peru of all things gold and silver, melted down century’s old craftsmanship so these days there isn’t much in their museums, mostly stuff they were able to find accompanying ancient burial sites. “There has been a problem with grave robbers looking to make money in the antiquities markets.” commented our interesting guide, Marta. It’s a shame.

The indigenous peoples, especially the old gals, were pleasant and kind. The new generation just wants to take advantage of visitors and will tell you anything to make a sale. They can be aggressive and persistent, won’t leave you alone. I didn’t like that part.

I did buy some sweaters for my loved ones. The wool from the baby alpacas is quite fine and makes lovely sweaters, but they are expensive, even in Peru. Of course the price goes up $150 or more if you try and buy the same things in America.

One night we stayed in a former monastery, which was interesting because the floor plan was wacky. You couldn’t ascend to the second floor on any old staircase and hope to find your room as there were about three separate staircases that rose to different and separate parts of floor two. David and I got lost in our own hotel…. ;D It was the maintenance man who escorted us up the correct stairs to our room.

The floors were uneven, they would step down and if you weren’t paying attention to where you were going, that step down really took you down, or so I found out. So I came back with bruises down my arm from breaking my fall.

We were at this old fortress in Cusco and I swore on a stack of granite rocks those walls had petroglyphs on them, but the guide doubted me, never heard of such a thing. I also swore those walls had once been painted white, but he knew nothing about this conclusion. Then I saw more and more evidence when I went looking. Unfortunately my camera battery went dead, so I couldn’t come home with photos to play with on my computer. I really wish I could have brought home those photos.

My crown on my eye tooth fell off along the flight to Peru, but I was able to simply slide it back in place and all was well until I ate food, and then it would come out. I took to taking it out at meals so I wouldn’t bite down on the crown mistakenly and toss it around my mouth risking damage to the crown. The little plan worked quite well until last night when I was home having a snack and forgot to remove it. The crown came out and I bit down on and broke it. Think about $600 or more, no insurance coverage either, fixing it. Aw crap.

The days started early, breakfast at six and then a full schedule of sightseeing. It’s a whirlwind going through all of it in a week. Made some friends from Australia, Pamela Bruce and her travel partner Peter, and hope to hear from them again. She made a bee-line for me and it was an instant fast friend, we had a lot in common.

Pamela works for AstraZeneca at Export Park, Australia. Her travel partner’s name was Peter, but I didn’t get his last name. He told us that his son lives in Issaquah, which could mean I’ll get to see them when they visit his son in Washington. It was easy to remember their names: Peter and Pam.

The guide in Lima disabled the flash on my camera when we visited a museum, but we forgot to ask him to put it back in the end. We wasted precious battery time trying to fix it. David couldn’t figure it out, but I did, but by then it was too late and the battery went dead on us. We bought a new battery for my camera in Cusco, $56 no less, and it took about six photos and went dead again. So we took it back and the gal said, “Oh you are supposed to charge those batteries before using the camera.”

Well, duh. Then she charged us 10 soles to charge my new battery for an hour (which proved not to be enough), it only added a brief period of life. I didn’t know they had the same wall sockets as we do or I would have brought the battery charger.

We stayed at the Sanctuary Lodge at the top of Machu Picchu. It was very expensive but you could eat or drink all you wanted, although they closed the bar at ten p.m. The advantage was in the morning you could go back into the park and enjoy the sunrise. It was promoted as your “private time ~ without the crowds”.

Ah hem. Not exactly true, but still was nice to climb up to the guard house first thing in the morning without the sun making cancerous cells on your forehead. Visitors quequed up at the gates, five hundred deep in the line to get in first thing. That was about 12,000’ up the mountainside.

It was in the Amazon jungle, mosquitoes were intensely hungry, but avoided me and went after David. I have bug poison pulsating in my veins!!!! Har har

Food was good and by cracky, those are the best potatoes in the world growing there!!!! 400 different varieties no less!!!! I ordered guinea pig, but didn’t like it as there seemed to be a tough outer skin, a quarter inch of meat and then another thick membrane. It was tough to chew and I’d never order it again.

Indigenous peoples have 20 or 30 of them running around in their homes; only to be eaten later…..all I could think of was the pets in classrooms all over America!!!!

One home we went into had the skulls of their ancestors above the fireplace. That didn’t bother me, I don’t know why it did not, but it seemed natural as they believed it helped to keep the spirits of their ancestors alive to help protect them. Homes had dirt floors but weren’t dirty. Fish hung from the rafters to dry. Outside their homes, on the roofs were two bulls, signifying fertility and a cross for their Catholic faith.

The Cathedral in Cusco was a wonderful work of defiance. Mary looked like she was preggers again, Jesus hung on the cross with his face looking the other way, The Last Supper served up guinea pig and bottles of something they drink in Peru, not Pisco, it’s non-alcoholic and it is made from purple corn. I can’t remember the name right now. Helmeted Spanish guards were evil forces in their paintings. The devil’s fork was engraved in the granite sidewalk as you entered the building. It is all bittersweet as they are loyal to Catholicism but want you to know it came at a price. They have managed to weave their ancient traditions into the Castholic Church teachings.

We went into the catacombs of a cathedral in Lima where there were arm bones, thigh bones, leg bones, all from different bodies but separated out into bins. The skulls had their own resting place. It was more like an ancient mass grave to me.
I wonder why they needed to separate out the body parts? To me, this rendered their remains as inconsequential. They said over 2000 people were buried in those catacombs, but the number of skulls did not add up to that number. It all made me wonder because there were so many bins with other bones in them.

Hurry and go see the ancient civilizations of Peru before modern civilizations creep into their old world with big bucks and private resorts and it changes forever. There were no cars at the Pueblo of Machu Picchu or for that matter going to the top of the mountain, only buses were allowed, but those buses kept coming and going all day long…and this was the “shoulder season”.

Everyone was good about recycling everything and collection barrels were readily available, hence not so much trash strewn on the ground. I couldn’t believe seeing people light up cigarettes after ascending that tough climb to the top of the mountain and back. I mean, wouldn’t that burn an awful lot??? I don’t understand why anyone smokes, it’s a useless habit.

I tried to barter with one sweet old gal who was selling her products on the ground at our hotel near the Sacred Valley. I was interested in a wallet. She was outside sitting on the grass by the walkway, her handmade items spread out on her blankets. I asked her if that house way up top of the next mountain was hers: ‘Su casa????” I said and pointed up. She said “Si!!!” This house was way up the mountain; the trail leading up had a number of switchbacks.

We got going communicating in our own kind of way but she wouldn’t come down on her price, so I offered her my crown from my tooth, which she thought was hilarious…all in good fun. I ended up giving her what she wanted. I don’t have the heart to drive a hard bargain and feel superior. God knows they need the money. I shivered and crunched my body over at the waist while bargaining, but she didn’t fall for my theatrics. I gave her what she wanted anyway.

We went to an exhibit at a museum in Lima with black and white photos from “The Shining Path” attempted revolution not so long ago. It was gruesome and so senseless, the people just got tired of fighting with one another and then it was over when they captured one of their Communist leaders. Neighbors were turning in their neighbors; there were executions of college kids and politicians. America has had its riots, but they looked pale compared to these photos.

Tours get you everywhere, but don’t give you enough time to enjoy the local people like I would like to, in my own weirdly goofy way. I want to go back and stay a bit, but not on the same tireless sightseeing schedule. I want to return to the fortress and take some photos with my digital camera and play around on my computer with the images, which I swear have petroglyphs on them, no doubt the Spaniards were unable to erase. I am certain they tried. They just wanted to erase all traces of civilization before them and they almost did.

The foundations of Inca temples were still holding their own, even after many earthquakes over the centuries and even though the colonial invaders built their churches on top. The church in Cusco fell down during the last earthquake. but the Inca foundation was revealed intact. To this day they are appealing to the Pope to return their ancient ruins, go build their cathedrals somewhere else, but it’s a powerful church with its own agenda. It won’t let go.

The guide said that next year Yale is handing over everything Hiram Bingham took back with him, hopefully forever returning to these people what was theirs to begin with. Lord knows they have enough space in their lonely empty museums. It’s a tragedy.

One night we went to a restaurant and that’s when I tried guinea pig, which was awful. However they had folkloric dancers and a traditional Peruvian band, which was just delightful. They guy on the recorder could make his instrument sing like a bird. The dancers were intent on bringing you into their routines, one way or another. The guy in the mischievous devil costume and mask was jumping around teasing me, so I jumped back and we both laughed. It just gave him more energy to perform!!! We had fun!

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