Monday, December 2, 2013

Road to Puno and Lake Titikaka

November 18, 2013 – The Road to Puno
After our tour of Machu Picchu, we spent the afternoon in Aguas Calientas, its gateway city.
That evening, we travelled all the way back to Cusco to pack our bags for our goodbye to our first Peru home.  Early the next morning, we piled our bags and selves into a van for the trip to Puno – on the shores of Lake Titicaca.  Many talk about the train ride between Cusco and Puno.  While it may be quite beautiful, the truth is that it takes longer and is less reliable at this time than road travel.  Hopefully these first 2 pictures illustrate that it is also very beautiful!  The first one shows the familiar terraced farmland of the Incas.


We stopped along the way to pick up gifts of fruit for our Tequile Isle hosts.  This is a commodity they have a hard time getting.  I could not resist this picture of the colorful plaza market!  (More on Tequile ahead!)

When we stopped for lunch, I took this picture of a woman in traditional daily dress.  Most of what we had seen prior to this was either modern garb or their more formal attire.
After several hours of riding, knitting, and admiring the changing countryside, our driver pulled over to get this special shot – the highest point of our journey.  4335 meters above sea level.  This translates into more than 13,000 ft!  It was here that Pecos quit worrying about our altitude sickness as we “moved like gazelles” toward the vendor at the roadside market who was selling yarn!  The first we had seen as most Peruvians sell produce or items they have made from the wool.
Translation: Altitude 14,300 ft
We arrived in Puno that evening in time to find dinner, peruse the nearby shops, and settle into our new hotel rooms.
Lake Titikaka, November 19, 2013

We arose early this morning to a wonderful breakfast smorgasbord.  We packed an overnight bag and arrived at the front door to our waiting chariots!  There is nothing like a bicycle taxi ride through the Puno streets at dawn!  Our destination was the port where we headed out on Lake Titicaca toward Isla Tequile.  The gentleman standing on your left by the taxis is our Isla Tequile guide, Cecile. 


An inside view of our lake transportation and our driver in traditional Tequile attire.  You can tell by his hat that he is married.  (More on that later!)

The port at Puno is filled with beds of reeds that our boat passed through.  My pictures of this were not very spectacular, but the next 2 pictures show our approach to an interesting phenomenon of the lake.  They show one of the numerous reed islands floating on the lake built by the resident’s (Uros) ancestors and continually replenished with new reeds by the current residents! 

This 3rd picture is the view from terra firma (?).  The buildings are one room homes with the “living” room on one side and a bunk bed for the family on the other.  Cooking is done outside.  The textiles that the Uros people make are crewel-type textiles done with yarn and crochet hook on woven fabric showing important scenes of their daily life.

Machu Picchu

November 17, 2013
After a beautiful evening in Ollantaytambo, the night brought in a rumbling thunderstorm.  We arose at about 4 AM (our wake-up calls were scheduled for 4:30) to catch a 5 AM train to Machu Picchu, the sacred city of the Incas that the Spanish did not find and ravage.  The storm had reduced to overcast skies and light sprinkles as we boarded the train to Aguas Calientas.  Once there, we transferred to a bus for transport to Machu Picchu.  The weather continued to improve so as you can see in the first picture, Ann and the guide led us down the path to the city in comfort – dry and relatively warm.

The next 2 pictures show our first sight of the city of Machu Picchu at the Inca trail entrance.  (While we were guided up a steep trail to get to this point, we did not actually hike the Inca Trail.)  These are the views that the Inca ruling class would see when they visited the city.  The first is actually the back side of the city, the second the city itself.  Machu Picchu was the home to religious leaders and the educated classes.  The rulers came to this city for spiritual needs but actually resided in Cusco.  In Machu Picchu much learning transpired.  Farming and textiles were important aspects of Inca life and here is where they studied different crops and farming techniques.  The terraces you see cascading down the slopes were filled with crops in Inca days.  When the Spanish took control, of the empire, the residents of Machu Picchu quietly abandoned the city and slipped into the jungle on its edges.  The jungle soon grew over the city which local tribes knew about but was not found by westerners until the 20th century.

We officially entered the city through this arch.
Here you can see typical Incan building construction.  They studied how to build so that earthquakes would not destroy their homes and temples.  The stones used for walls were cut and fit together at many junctures.  The windows were trapezoidal with the base wider than the top and the sides slanting between.  If you can enlarge the picture to look through the right window, you will see a nice surprise for us – a chinchilla enjoying the morning sun and breeze!

As we walked along the paths of the city, these “lawn mowers” wandered among the terraces.

As mentioned previously, farming was extremely important to Inca culture.  Thus, the movements of the sun and the moon and the resulting changes of season also were important to study.  This structure was fashioned to indicate when the sun solstices occurred.   The window on the far side was situated so that it shown on the table in the center in a certain way.  Then they knew when it was time to plant or harvest.  There is another structure (not pictured) to follow the movements of the moon.

Though it looks like just another view of the city, I wanted to feature the ceremonial baths here.  The triangular structures you see in the middle right of the picture are the gables.  These structures would have supported thatched roofing tied to stone out-posts built into the wall.


Next is the plaza providing the entrance to Wyna Picchu, the peak in the background.

Here is our guide, Julio, who was incredible!  Not only was Julio a wealth of knowledge – way more than I have managed to remember! – he also had a fantastic command of English.  He particularly liked taking group pictures for us using Ruth’s camera.  (Many of the tour’s official pictures were taken with this camera.)  Julio spent 3 hours with us on a 2 hour tour!

The last 2 pictures are of sacred areas of the city.  The first is the Temple of the Condor, a stone rendition of the bird with wings spread; its head is a slightly raised structure on the floor.  It was hard to get the entirety in one picture so I apologize for cutting off the view of its head!  

Finally, the last picture of Machu Picchu is the Temple of the Sun and Royal Tomb below which honor the 2 most important forces in Inca life, the sun and mother earth.

Let me take this opportunity to acknowledge that others have taken much more beautiful pictures of Machu Picchu which are available on line and in numerous publications.  I took these to provide you with our journey in the Sacred Valley and hope you enjoyed them!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

On the Road to Ollantaytambo

November 16, 2013
We loaded up in a van and headed to the sacred valley -- specifically Ollantaytambo our home for that night.  Once we climbed above Cusco, the road to Ollantaytambo was largely a high plateau studded with farms, framed with mountains as seen in the roadside shot.  

 Our first stop was Chinchero, the home of many of our Tinquay teachers. In fact we wandered into an area where we saw a familiar sight -- women sitting weaving just as we saw at Tinquay.  I loved the area near this shop with stone walkways and traditional style houses.

After more driving, we stopped at a small market where we got our first view of the sacred valley.

We still had a ways to go though and one more stop where we learned about the production and got a taste of chicha, corn beer (very low alcohol content).  We also met the resident's guinea pig stock (common in the Peruvian diet).   They also raised chickens and other more familiar food stock. 

Continuing our journey, we passed through Urubamba -- also the name of the river we followed from then on and arrived in Ollantaytambo in early afternoon.  
We first checked into our hotel.  You can see the horrible conditions we had to endure in the picture of the garden below our balcony where avocados and flowers flourished and also the view from our window.  

We all enjoyed our perfect afternoon walking, eating, taking pictures in the plaza and along the road to our hotel.  Ann and I had coffee on our way to the plaza then explored the ancient Inca walkways just off the plaza.  The main roads are modern, but the town has maintained the adjoining walkways linking other businesses and homes.
We got a particular chuckle from the sign we saw on one plaza shop.  Had to take a picture to share.


That night was filled with thunder, lightening, rain, and the sounds of the passing trains.  Oh yes, they passed literally steps outside the hotel door.  That made it easy to make our 5am train the next day!We even had time for eggs and fruit for breakfast.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lynn's Peruvian Textile Adventure Continues

November 15 - No class for me today!  Planned it so I could see the sights of Cusco.  Had a great day!

First I wanted to show where we are staying.  
Hostel Santa Rosa de Lima.  It seems to be part of a convent.  There is a door on the second floor stairwell to separate us from the nun's quarters.  No elevators and we are on the 3rd floor at 11,100 ft altitude.  

 Resting along the assent is imperative.  Beautiful garden shown is right outside the door of the hostel.
 We then walk through the convent to the school court yard.  They had a Friday pageant that is pictured here.  

We have to knock or ring to get into the complex from the street

The last picture is the little kiosk where I would purchase my water each day since you cannot drink tap water here.


After finishing the pictures of Santa Rosa, I headed out to see what Lima had to offer.  First stop was the Museum for Machu Picchu. I could not take pictures there but spent a good hour reading and walking through the building.  They were also exhibiting the best entries from a recent contest of handwoven textile from villages across Peru.  All were stunning but it was easy to pick out the winner.  Unbelievable detail!
As I headed for San Blas, the art district, stumbled across the Coca Museum.  This is a big product in Peru and used extensively in the high altitudes to help acclimate.  Yes, it is the origin of cocaine, but it is highly concentrated before it gets to that stage.  It is used for tea, candy, & the leaves are chewed with a sweetener similarly to chewing tobacco.


It has also been found to have many nutrients helpful for workers putting long hours as you can see in the chart.

The next point of interest I wanted to capture for you was the Plaza De Armas and its Cathedrals  which the Spaniards built on top of the Inca temples.

The best Inca ruins are high above the city -- but how to get there?  Suddenly the answer appeared as I looked up to see a sightseeing bus a out ready to leave!

The bus took us all over the city passed more plazas and churches, mercado's (markets), the university, and up to the hill over looking Cusco where the White Jesus stands right next to the Inca ruins.

It was a beautiful view of the city.  A great way to spend my last day in Cusco!


Lynn Davis
Kiwi Knitting Company, LLC
2540 E. 6th St
Tucson AZ 85716

(520) 881-1319

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lynn's Peruvian Textile Trip

First Day: This will be a little much but I am just now getting all set up. 

First day in Cusco after 17 hours travel.  Found the Starbucks.  This the view from their balcony showing the Plaza de Armas and beautiful mountains surrounding the city.
Second Day: We had to take it easy to adjust to the high altitude -- 11,100 feet.  But at about 4 PM, we participated in the opening parade down Qoricancha (street name) near the Center for Tradition Textiles of Cusco past the Plaza Dr Arm as to the Convention Center.  
The pictures show the colorful garments of the Peruvian participants.  

As you see - many are helping us learn new skills -- or at least try to learn them!
During these next few days we are attending lectures, weaving and knitting classes.  In each case, there are Peruvian teachers and an English helper/translator.  Back strap weaving was challenging but the chulla knitting class much more fun.  You'll be seeing more of this technique!


This picture is the colorful fountain in the courtyard of the convention center where classes and lectures occur.  Each day before class and after there are tables set up with refreshments and the various groups sell their beautiful textile goods in booths around the edges.
Tomorrow I will get a picture of the market place.
If you want to see even more check out Jim's blog