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Lima arrival

Thursday 16th August 2012- Arrive Lima
We left Heathrow early (VERY EARLY) on the morning of the 16th. In fact, so early that we arrived before most of the flight staff! You can’t book in the requisite 2 hours if you are leaving at 6.30 and the staff don’t arrive until 6! Still, it was a really easy check in. The flight left promptly and we arrived in Madrid at mid morning, time to have a snack, before catching our Iberia flight to Lima. Although it’s a long flight, it was quite interesting view-wise. The most amazing thing for us was suddenly realising that in fact it was not the Atlantic that we had been crossing for 4 hours, but the Amazon forest. Definitely WOW.
48879366571_2fee53f846_o.jpgWe must have kept up with the sun, because amazingly it was still the daytime of the 16th as we crossed the Andes (brilliant view as it was a cloudless day). The divide between the fertile Amazonian east and the arid west of the mountain was really clear.

The reason for this is that, despite the moist Pacific air, almost all the rivers of the Amazon flow east, down into the Amazon basin, leaving the western side very dry. The hills this side look layered and sandy.
The plane crossed the whole city of Lima (nice view), out to sea (Pacific), past some islands, and back into Lima airport.

We realised we had now crossed the Equator (for our first time ever). It was a very easy entrée to Peru, and we arrived at the entrance hall at early dusk (5 pm local time) to be met by our guide. He finally found his taxi and we drove through Lima to Miraflores along the beach, up the cobbled hilly entrance to the area, past the huge casinos and some very lightweight “adult” shops to our pleasant hotel, Casa Andina (Petit Thouars St).
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MIRAFLORES is an upscale luxury district of Lima with parks, bars, boutiques, galleries, hotels and restaurants. It is built on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific. In the centre is Parque Kennedy- a vibrant park often with entertainment. The ancient site of Huaca Pucllana, a pre- Inca mud brick temple, is found here (see our last day in Peru for more on this).

We had a room on the fourth floor, so it was nice and quiet. As it was only early evening we decided on a walk before a meal and bed, to help us readjust to a new time zone. The concierge (who was helpful and friendly) suggested we go left, so we headed out to the next road and turned left down Calle Enrique Palacios. A 5 minute walk brought us to a local supermarket. The green area (fruit & veg) had plenty of familiar fruit (the joys of globalisation) and some we had never seen before, though they looked quite exciting. In the end we only needed water, raisins and some biscuits so we grabbed these and paid.

Some local fruits we knew- cape gooseberry, papaya, dragonfruit, passionfruit/ granadilla, tamarillo (the deadly nightshade/ tomato relative we get in W’rose- pic right).
28919880-5a86-11eb-9e3f-e97f0c77ccfb.png28007c10-5a86-11eb-9e3f-e97f0c77ccfb.pngLots of native fruits we knew nothing about- taperiva (like a green potato), cupuaçu (a cocoa tree relative with fruit like a small coconut shell previous left), ungurahui (like big blueberries), guanabana (like a prickly gooseberry- below right), pepino (like a small stripy melon), cherimoya/ custard apple, mammee apple.
Some vegetables we’d never before seen- pacay (a sweet peanut family legume aka the “ice-cream bean” left) and yacon (a tuber).

It was time to head back for supper so we went back to the hotel as the food in the restaurant looked nice. We asked the waitress for recommendations, so she suggested soup (Aguadito de pollo or Peruvian chicken soup with coriander). Steve wanted the tres leche pudding (it’s a well known Peruvian dessert- sponge cake with three milks- condensed, evap and cream), but he found it a bit too sweet. Glad I stuck to

the Mazamorra morada (typically Limeñan, like a sort of jelly with fruit and purple coloured as it’s made from the purple corn they grow in Peru). We washed it all down with a lovely Arequipa pale beer whilst many locals watched a match on the TV. An early night (by Peruvian time, but it was about 3 am our time!)

LIMA HISTORY PART 1
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Lima is the capital (and the largest city) of Peru. Nearly 2 million people live there (making it the 5th largest in South America). Before the Spanish arrived the valley between the Rimac, Chillon and Lurin rivers was occupied by the pre-Inca culture of the Huari (or Wari) who were part of the polity of Icshma/ Ycshma/ Itchyma. The wooden statue (left) is typical of the culture’s artefacts. This culture was taken over, probably fairly peacefully, by the Incan Empire in the 15th century AD. During the Incan Civil War (see later) the Lima area was held by Inca Atahualpa, who was himself defeated by the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizzaro in 1532. The King of Spain granted Pizzaro the Lima area and he built a city close by. He named it La Cuidad de los Reyes, The City of Kings, and it was inaugurated 18th Jan 1535. The rebel Inca leader, Manco Inca, besieged Lima in Aug 1536 but failed to take it and concentrated his efforts back in the Inca heartlands. Lima became the capital of the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru in 1543 and quickly gained power (and especially after it was granted a Real Audienca, which was a derogation of judicial and administrative powers from the crown of Spain to the Viceroy) and flourished throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. It was the centre of the Latin Spanish trade network and the trade in gold and silver from Peruvian-Bolivian mines. This attracted pirates and privateers, which led to the strengthening of the city walls (1684-7) under Viceroy Melchior de Navarra y Rocafull, although these suffered in the 1687 earthquake. A more powerful earthquake in 1746 destroyed most of Lima and all of Port Callao. The influential Viceroy Jose Antonia Manso de Velasco, spent much of his time rebuilding the city. The Bourbon Reforms of the 18thcentury led to a decline in the city's fortunes as it lost its trading monopolies and the elite began to entrench their position. In 1820 Argentine and Chilean freedom fighters under General Jose de San Martin attacked, forcing Viceroy Jose de la Serna to sign a Declaration of Independence. When Peru finally gained Independence in 1826 Lima became the capital of The Republic of Peru. During the War of the Pacific (more later) Chilean troops briefly occupied Lima. As the city expanded more people from the Andean regions moved to Lima, creating shanty towns (pueblos jovenos).

Posted by PetersF 18:49 Archived in Peru Tagged lima miraflores archaeology inca pachacamac Comments (0)

Pachacamac - an ancient Peruvian site

Friday 17th August – Pachacamac

We woke normal Peru time (thank goodness) and had a pleasant hotel breakfast (after spotting some interesting tea choices of manzanilla (apple- I loved this), anise and coca. We were up early enough to walk to the chocolate shop Xocxactl and to the nearby Parque Kennedy, where we saw a sweet cat and a beautiful flowering tree.
After packing and dropping out bags at the desk we were collected by our private guide, Maria, at 9 o’clock. The small minibus drove us out of Miraflores along the Pacific towards the Christ statue on the hill. Apparently this 37m statue of Cristo del Pacifico is a bit controversial. It was only erected last year (2011) by Alan Garcia (the departing president) as a gift. Our guide complained that it was basically just a copy of the Rio Christ the Redeemer.
Then we headed inland along the main Pan-American through the suburbs.
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There were loads of small, half finished houses built up the hills. Apparently, in Peru, you only pay house tax (like taxe d’habitation) when you declare your house complete. Hence no house was ever technically complete- many houses had semi- construction on their roofs as if for another floor. So, poorer households save for each section of work, sometimes taking several years e.g. for bricks to replace corrugated iron, then for plaster etc. Only very wealthy people say their houses are finished- like some wealthy parts of Lima to the north. 48878876288_a790b2bec4_o.jpgWe continued out of Lima towards Pachacamac (town). The hills around Lima are very interesting as they look like layers of sand, folded over- so very different to what we see. Then, a short drive to Pachacamac Archaeological site. We parked the minibus in the front. A small group of llama went past with a herder and several very friendly hairless Inca hounds. When I asked, our guide said it was government policy to put native flora and fauna on archaeological sites for authenticity.
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Firstly we went into the excellent Pachacamac Museum. It was arranged mainly chronologically, with a nod to themes. We looked initially at the Huari/ Wari culture who preceded the Inca in Pachacamac (who only ruled the area for a very short time). The pottery was beautiful as was their totem to Pachacamac (look at it using the mirror to see both sides properly). I found the quipu examples very interesting.
THE PACHACAMAC SITE
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Quipu-
The Inca were a pre-literate society, but as a highly organised and centralised empire, wanted to keep tabs on what was going on. Their means to this end was the quipu. This was a long string hung with series of shorter, knotted strings. 48879394466_3e7683279b_o.jpg
By varying the knot type, the distance between knots and the colours, they could record troops, tributes, agricultural produce, population and probably their legends/ stories. It was almost writing. It would be read or “written” by a quipucamayo (memory guide). Unfortunately the Spanish did not agree with “unchristian” writing and he ability to read the quipu has been lost.

Then out of the museum to drive into the site and up to the first structure- a beautiful stepped structure (I always hesitate to say pyramid as, although the shape name is correct, the link with burial Egyptian-style can confuse).

48878865993_e77da85ac2_o.jpgPachacamac was a pre-Inca site built by the Moche and Huari between 200-800AD with Inca additions 800-1450 AD. It is 30 km south of Lima and the Temples of the Sun and Moon are especially impressive. The buildings are made of sun-dried bricks and only the aridity of the site has preserved them. So far 17 pyramids have been discovered along with a cemetery. An Early Intermediate (200-600AD) multicoloured fish fresco is impressive. The Huari (Wari) 600-800AD built the city as an administrative centre and their designs appear on much excavated material. Between 800 and 1450 (when the Inca arrived) the Huari Empire had collapsed and a confederacy, the Ichma (Yschsma), was in control. The Ichma joined the Inca Empire who included the Huari creator god Pacha Kamaq into their pantheon, retaining his oracle. Pacha Kamaq means Earth-maker and the Inca added him as a brother to Manco Capac. Another legend places him, Viracocha (the Inca creator god) and Manco as sons of Inti. In this version he makes man and woman but forgets to feed them. The starving
woman asks Inti to become their god and her son Wichama (?Viracocha) throws Pacha Kamaq into the sea to become God of the fish! The Inca 1450-1532AD built five more buildings: the large Temple of the Sun, The Acllahuasi (Chosen Women or Maidens House) for their sacrificial woman, the Palace of Taurichumbi (for the emperor) and the Seat of the Peregrinos (Pilgrims to the oracle) are all Inca additions. Sadly, Francisco Pizarro heard about Pachacamac in 1532, when holding Atahualpa prisoner, and sent an expedition to seize all the gold and silver there and destroy the oracle.
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The structure is currently being excavated and restored and its design and building was very clear. Bisecting it was the main North-South road, with
high protective walls.
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We continued our drive clockwise round the site where we could very clearly see the limits of Pachacamac town (the site boundaries are government marked as, even though not visible, it is clear that there is a lot of archaeology to find). The houses come right along the edge of the site. We stopped to look over the Palace of TauriChumpi (below- access not currently available).
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The Inca did not rule Lima for long, but a look at their “conquest” tactics is interesting. They operated a divide and rule system. A tribe/ confederation would be earmarked and the leader “invited” to join the empire. If he agreed, and most did, he would become an important regional leader. His children would be educated in Cusco (as elite hostages) and taught the Inca way of life before returning as the next leaders. A second thrust
would see enforced movements of people to areas they did not know (often speaking a different language) and a move of local Quecha speakers (as the Inca were) to troublesome areas (as with the Han).
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A note on the Wari Culture
Also known in the Spanish version, Huari. They were a Middle Horizon culture in the central Andes, in a similar area to the later Inca, 500-1000AD. Their capital city, also called Wari, is close to modern Ayacucho/ Huamanga. There are a number of their ruins in the Cusco area, including Pikillaqta (south of Cusco- we saw it whilst driving from Puno to Cusco). They probably added to the building of Sacsayhuaman. The Wari extended, much as the Inca did later, north towards modern Lima where they took over the ancient oracle of Pacha Kamaq and built the temples and administrative centre of Pachacamac, as well as adding to Huaca Pucllana. They were a centralised state, which could reasonably be described as an empire. They built temple, roads and terraces. Like the Inca they were pre-literate, but clearly had significant social groupings.
In 2013 an undisturbed tomb at El Castillo de Huarmey was discovered with 3 royal or noble women with high status grave goods. They probably fell foul of a prolonged drought c800AD and by 1000AD most of their population centres had dramatically declined, and raiding/ intergroup warfare had become common.
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Then we drove around past the Painted Temple (so called because much of the original red paint is clearly visible) and ended up parking at the bottom of the Temple of the Sun. A huge cactus impressively sat by the minibus as we began the gentle(ish) walk up to the temple. For me, it was interesting to see details of the original construction (a core of earthquake resistant boulders covered by mud-clay plaster that was clearly originally painted red and white- some still visible.) It’s estimated that over 50 million sun-dried clay bricks were used to build this temple alone! The Temple(s) are in fact, four pyramids, superimposed, built on an imposing rocky outcrop with spectacular ocean and inland views.
48878852098_6d9c3febac_o.jpg48879569372_a1eeb153f8_o.jpgWe walked around the temple on the zigzag path, which was probably also the original Inca entrance to the top where we rewarded by a magnificent view- out to the low pre-Andes one way and the Pacific and Islas de Pachacamac the other way. Our guide explained about the niches and the practise of sacrifice. Apparently, according to her, young noble people (mainly girls) would be raised in seclusion. If everything in the world was good (i.e. your sacrifice was not needed) when you became a woman you would be discharged and helped to find a good husband. However, if things were going pear-shaped (e.g. famine, no rain) you would be required for a sacrifice (which they may well have considered an honour!). The niches and seats at the top are known as the Pilgrims Seats (Sieti de Peregrinos).
We walked back down and the minibus took us to the last important structure- the reconstructed Maidens Temple or Acllahuasi (House of the Chosen Women). Now many people get all hot under the collar about reconstructions (see the fuss about Crete), but if done well, can give a real insight into how they lived. The reconstructed building shows the classic Inca architecture of a zigzag entrance, trapezoidal doorways and polished granite foundations. The Maidens (who would be priestesses by definition) living quarters look simple.
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Posted by PetersF 18:49 Archived in Peru Tagged peru lima llama archaeology inca pachacamac Comments (0)

Peru- Paracas

Ancient sites, deserts, pisco and beaches

Friday 17th August – Down the coast to Paracas
We drove back to the hotel and decided we just had time to have a light lunch there. We explained that we didn’t have much time to the waiter, so he brought us some lovely soup (sancochado which is beef, yucca/cassava and potato) and cold Cusco beer whilst we sat outside. Perfect timing as
the taxi collected us at 1.30.
We drove through Lima, over the major roads to the main Bus Station. Totally unlike our bus stations- we had to queue to hand/check in our luggage and get a receipt, then find the correct departure door and wait. Ours was Nazca via Pisco and Paracas. A longer wait than expected as the coach in was late, so we started half an hour later than we should have. Still, it was quite easy all in all. The coach was luxurious with footrests, free internet and
complimentary food! We set off south down the Pan-American Highway out of Lima and quickly we left the city and headed along the desert coast of Peru. It was interesting scenery of sandy hills, coast and small villages. By the time we reached Pisco town it was dusk and we arrived at Paracas in the later dusk having watched the sunset from the bus.
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The coach let us off and we had to collect our luggage by using our receipts as proof. Paracas bus station was a large open shed with a few plastic-tablecloth tables and a water bottle shop. Our taxi collected us and after a few minutes of road surprised us by turning off along a sand track (if that). Still, it turned out it was only a short cut to another road with our hotel on the left. The sweeping entrance was good and the lobby all marble and shiny. Our room was gorgeous- huge with a comfortable balcony over the swimming pools (yes, two) and Paracas Bay. We had pre-booked an evening meal at the hotel (Bahia Hacienda Paracas) as it was said to be popular and we had a wonderful sea view. Our really helpful waiter recommended some seafood, caught locally and very fresh, which turned out to be an excellent choice. A Chupe de pascado and a Lima butter bean lime salad (butter beans have been eaten for over 6000 years in Peru). He found some super local wine (Ocucaje Peru Fond de Cave Chardonnay – they have been in the wine/ pisco business since 1898 and this fruity white wine was great with the fish) to go along with it. We were persuaded to try Pisco Sour, which Steve liked, and I hated.
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Pisco is the capital of Pisco Province. It is a Quecha word meaning bird and the Spanish set up a villa close to the indigenous settlement. A vineyard there did so well that the 16th century Spanish invented a yellow/ amber brandy which is now called pisco. Chile has long tried to claim the brand, and even renamed one of its towns Pisco.
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Saturday 18th August – Paracas reserve
We woke quite early (still adjusting to the time zone, I think) and spent the early morning watching the bird life from our balcony. As it was dawn, but pleasantly warm, there were lots of birds feeding on the early fish shoals and even more so when the early fishing boats came in. I particularly enjoyed watching the pelicans with their distinctive looks and fishing techniques, as well as the large Peruvian Boobies. Steve got very interested in watching the kite surfers and decided he’d like to try kite surfer one day.
The bird life is the most abundant of land life in the area- a huge variety of birds are there- 216 species. We saw white-tufted grebes, Peruvian Pelicans, Peruvian boobies at least.
We had time before breakfast for a pleasant early morning walk along the bay (going right, towards Paracas town), then had an excellent breakfast of tamales (boiled corn and cheese in a banana leaf), before heading to the lobby to see if we could go to the Ballestas Islands. Unfortunately it was too windy (we didn’t notice in the bay, but when we later left it we could see the problem), so our guide proposed a tour of the Reserve instead. This turned out to be a better choice than the Ballestas as over the day we saw pretty much all the same animals (dolphins, guano birds, seals to name just a few). The minibus collected us and another family and set off left towards Paracas town (a very small town or a large village depending on your point of view), then slightly inland into the paracas themselves.
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Paracas is a Quecha word for sandstorm, which is what happens each year late Aug/ early Sept as the winds pick up and the skies fill with sand. The dunes in the area are a result of this phenomenon.
We stopped to buy a Reserve pass, then drove to the Red Mountain (a pre-Inca necropolis), which was opposite the Paracas Reserve Museum. The necropolis, Wari Kayan held several hundred burials in the Topara style c.100-250AD. They had associated ceramics (plain, red and white slip), food and weapon offerings. Each burial was seated and textile wrapped, facing north and looks very similar to early Nazca Culture burials. The museum started with an interesting room about how the area looked million of years ago (a rainforest before it dried out), including some fossilised landscapes. The remainder of the museum was really dedicated to the environment, both marine and land, around Paracas (including an environmental part upstairs).
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When we had finished our guide took us over the sand (literally- just like when we drove through Wadi Rum in Jordan) towards the Pacific. We came over and down a paracas to Red Beach (Playa Roja), which was a truly beautiful bay with very red sand. The island in the distance was called Pannetone Island (because it looked just like one). We spent a while here enjoying the rollers of the Pacific. Annoyingly, for Steve, he managed to break his sunglasses and it was so bright he had to wear them with 1 arm only until we got to Arequipa where he bought some fake Gucci’s to replace them in the Plaza de Armas. Then we drove back up the sand dunes and ending in an alien looking environment our guide jokingly called Mars (red, arid sand, no visible water, small rocky outcrops and NO ONE else around). He explained that the small piles of rocks (well larger than pebbles but smaller than rocks) were small hills made by people. They are called apachetas and relate to pre-Inca and Inca beliefs in the power of mountains. If you make or add to an apacheta you can have a wish or good luck (slightly different interpretations, but the general gist is the same), so of course we had to do this!
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Read the section about Inca mythology to understand the importance of rock piles. Certainly in Inca (and probably pre-Inca) times a small pile of rocks would mark your household place or huaclla (the size of which, of course, depended on whether you were a peasant farmer or an emperor!). It is understandable, given the terrain, that Andean cultures would have a thing about mountains (what with the earthquakes, volcanoes, altiplano and Andes peaks). Many sacrifices and necropoli are associated with mountains.
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The minibus took us past more sand dunes and beaches (no-one seemed to use these beaches- in Europe they would have been packed. Apparently Paracas is trying to develop itself as a seaside destination). We parked a short walk from the overhang that looked down over The Cathedral, where we were lucky enough to spot a whole school of dolphins. The Cathedral (or rather what was left of it after the natural arch was destroyed the 2007 tsunami) was covered with guano birds. It was very windy and we soon left to visit Devil Beach overhang. Our guide said this was one of the more dangerous beaches as it had a terrible undertow. We were getting rather hungry, so we headed back to our hotel for a late lunch of fresh seafood, which we ate outside with a glorious view of the bay. For wine- a recommendation from the maitre d’ was a local white; Vista Alegre Pinot from one of Peru’s largest vineyards, establish 1857. A lower alcohol wine since we had a longish journey, it was light and fruity and pleasant for lunch.
We spent the afternoon sitting on the beach chilling, before our taxi took us back to the Paracas coach station shed to catch the coach to Nazca. The same system of luggage check-in and off we set.
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Paracas Reserve
This is the only coastal / marine reserve in Peru. It is a World Heritage site of 335000 hectares (land and sea) and covers the ecosystem, geography and archaeology of the local pre-Inca Paracas and Chavin cultures. The sun shines around 18.7 °C all year and there is virtually no rainfall. Wind in general is 15 km/h but in the paracas time reaches 32 km/h.
In the sea there is abundant life -fish like bonito, toyo, anchovy, guitarfish, tramboyo, mero, corvine, chitas, lorna, silversides, pampanito, over 250 algae species, turtles, zooplankton and phytoplankton- the food chain fuel. Not to mention sea mammals Seals, sea lions, bottlenose dolphins, whales, Humboldt penguin and marine otters (seacats).
Between sea and land are crustaceans, algae and molluscs. In places there are stagnant pools where life has found a niche (mainly bullrushes (totora) which are woven into baskets).
On land the lack of rainfall makes it look very arid- animals are basically the desert fox, a few bats and reptiles (two lizard types and a gecko). The few plants that survive here are cacti and bromeliads (tillandsia).
The peninsula supported the Paracas Culture (c1200 BC – 100 BC), who perfected a water irrigation system enabling them to live in the arid area. The Peruvian archaeologist Tello excavated in area in the 1920’s at the Paracas Cavernas shaft tombs (evidence of reuse and of ritual use of the heads followed by re- interment). The Paracas culture was invaded from the north c150 AD by the Topara culture and they seem to have co-existed for some 100 years. Their interaction contributed to the development of the nearby Nazca culture. Interestingly the Pampa de Santo Domingo site (occupied from c6500BC) yielded a decorated quena (Peruvian flute)- the earliest example.
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Posted by PetersF 12:17 Archived in Peru Tagged birds desert beach peru paracas pisco inca chavin Comments (0)

Peru : Colca Canyon condors

Wednesday 22nd August – Colca Canyon

We used our alarms to wake us, as there was NO WAY we’d naturally wake at 5 am. Breakfast (in the dark, but filling) at 5.30am and collection by bus at 6am. We passed the interesting street statuary (larger than life brightly coloured dancers) and collected the other people, before setting off for the road up to the Canyon.
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We stopped in the main Plaza de Armas at Yanque to watch the local women dance in their traditional clothes a sort of twirling dance called the Hillori. Our guide said it is performed every morning. Now it is said to be a celebration of Quecha peoples over their Spanish conquerors, but it doesn’t take a leap of imagination to see it as a pre-Spanish dance of celebration to the sunrise (in keeping with native sun worship). Our guide told us the “history” of the dance- When the Spanish took this valley they wanted the people to adopt Christian beliefs, but the people were not very enthusiastic. So, the Spanish took all the men away to work the mines, locking them in each night. The women in the village had Spanish soldiers billeted nearby. This way the tribe would die out. However, the men knew better. They had a way out, so they dressed as women and snuck back to the village en masse one night. Lo and behold nine months later came a population explosion. The Spanish had no idea what had happened and the women used their beliefs against them, claiming they were virgin births!
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As we drove along our guide told us about the history and customs of the area.
Originally, in pre-Inca times, there were the Hill People and the Valley People. Although originally of the same tribe, they had developed their own cultures over time and their interactions weren’t always harmonious. They bound their infants heads different (back to front or on two sides- later both banned by the Spanish), have different agriculture (terraces with crops, mainly corn and potatoes or Andean plateau livestock hill farming). I would imagine this is a folk recall of the Amyara and Quecha tribes moving north from the altiplano into the colca valleys. Archaeological and linguistic evidence shows this double immigration.
The local Quecha (pre-Inca) in the valleys had already an extensive terracing system, which was added to by the conquering Inca. As we drove I wondered why all the small fields had low stone walls topped with cacti. It was to deter donkeys from entering the field and hoovering up the crops. Apparently if your donkey entered a field the owner could take the donkey until you repaid him. If you refused the donkey went to “donkey jail” until you paid bail (which pretty much everyone did!). We drove along the winding banks of Rio Colca to the village of Maca, which had a very pretty little church (the 17th century Barogue Iglesia de Santa Ana) and courtyard. We stopped for toilets, church visit, stroll because we’d be too early for the condors otherwise.
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Then after 20 mins we carried on up the road, over the river to a tunnel through the rock. The story went that if you could hold your breath all the way through you could have a wish (I didn’t manage). The Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon and home to a stunning array of wildlife. A bit further up, passing terraces and small ponds all the way, we arrived at the Mirador Cruz del Condor (a 2 hour trip in total). Quite amazing! At first we perched by a wooden barrier close to a small statue, looking down/across the canyon and two brownish juveniles crossed several times. We moved a bit right and the two adults took off, sometimes flying solely, sometimes as a pair and sometimes the whole family group. At one point all four swooped overhead only a few metres above us.
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Brilliant! It was quite busy, but there was plenty of space for everyone. When our guide came back he told us we’d been REALLY lucky seeing so many and so close. It was now nearly lunch (we could not believe how long we’d been there) and we headed back down the same road, stopping briefly for some panoramic shots. Then we went back to the same buffet restaurant as yesterday.
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I was keen to try some local fruit, so tried the chirioya (custard apple) which is native to the Andean highlands. Its sort of heart shaped and custardy-creamy and tastes like banana meets strawberry. Another local fruit was the Aguaymento (Peruvian cherry or pysalis), which we already knew.
Then we headed to the coach station. Unfortunately, this is where the Lima guy’s negligence really hit us as the luxury coach we should have been booked on was full, so we were on a rickety “extra” coach for an unpleasant journey to Puno (should have got a refund, but didn’t). We went back the same way as we came up to where the road split to Puno, then headed through the Altiplano towards the large lakes outside Puno (we got off for a leg stretch), through the modern town of Juliaca (dusk) and finally to the bus station at Puno where our efficient lady guide met us and (thank goodness for efficiency) told us she had sorted everything out properly for us. A taxi drove us from the station to our hotel in central Puno. Neither of us was hungry (and we didn’t need the free air!) so we took the lift to our room (good, a bit corporate) and slept.

Colca Canyon- Cultures
The local people come from the Collawa/ Collagua and Cabana Cultures and it was they who started cultivating the valley sides with terraces. Interestingly the Collawas are Aymara speaking (coming from Lake Titicaca) while the Cabanas are Quecha speaking (coming from, probably, the Wari culture). They cropped potato, quinoa and maize. Either they or the Inca carved small colca (granaries of mud and stone) into cliffs or canyon walls. There are still pre-Inca hanging tombs in the area. The Inca arrived at 1320 AD and the Colca area (Caylloma) joined the empire. The Spanish, under Gonzalo Pizarro arrived in 1540 and took the valley, In 1570 Viceroy Francisco de Toledo ordered the people
to abandon their villages and move to centrally located Spanish pueblo (a clear attempt to control the population). Missionaries arrived in 1565 and built the first chapel in 1569. The first road was not built until 1940!
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Colca Canyon- Geography
The Canyon, at 4,160m, is over twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and probably the deepest in the world. The river starts at Condoramo Crucero Alto (High Condor Cross) in the Andes, through Colca Canyon, over Majes Plain and to the Pacific. Chivay, elevation 3650m is at the mid point. Above Chivay is livestock farming (mainly alpaca and llama), below is terracing. The area is home to the Andean Condor (Vultur Gryphus), Giant Colibri hummingbird, Andean Goose, Caracara, Chilean flamingo as well as the vizcacha (a rabbit sized chinchilla relative), the zorrino (skunk family), deer, fox and vicuna.
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Posted by PetersF 19:55 Archived in Peru Tagged animals birds peru church colca inca mama chivay yanque Comments (0)

Peru : Puno to Cusco, over the Andes

Friday 24th August – Along the Andes to Cusco

We woke early and had a leisurely breakfast. Our super efficient guide collected us, gave us a quick tour of Puno city (not a very large city, low
buildings migrating up hills- much of it looked quite poor, though along the lakeside was nice), before dropping us at the coach station for the Inka Express to Cusco.
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Puno Town
It was established by Viceroy Pedro Antonio Fernandez de Castro in 1668 as San Juan Bautista de Puno, capital of Paucarcolla Province and changed to San Carlos de Puno to honour Carlos II King of Spain. Quite a number of Spanish settled, surprising given the altitude. There is only 2 miles of flat land between the lake and mountains, which is why much of the city has been built up the hills. As you go further uphill the houses become poorer and
steeper- generally unpaved and definitely not available to cars! It is easily the largest town in the southern altiplano and thus a magnet for people moving away from the harsh life of the altiplano. It is a Capital folklorica del Peru due to the indigenous dances. Puno is so high it has extreme weather- though at a tropical latitude it never goes above 15 °C and in winter (July/August) can drop below 0 at night. It is generally dry and the sunlight very strong.
We did see the huge condor statue of Kuntur Wasi view spot (700 steps!).
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A really comfy coach with (again with internet) with free drinks (yummmmm, Inca Cola). A little know fact- Inca Kola was invented in 1935 by an English immigrant to Peru! The tour guide gave us a pass for all the things we’d be doing on the way and off we set. Now surprisingly difficult to leave Puno as the main road A... was shut for roadworks and the diversion was a dusty, thin track. Then through Juliaca, a modern town where we ploughed through the main street (slowly, due to the fact the police were on strike and were in the road holding up placards demanding more pay). Jualiaca has the nearest airport, Inca Manco Capa International, which is very high for an airport. The Puno Province is important for agriculture and livestock, especially cattle, alpaca and llama.

However, having got out the road is lovely, past Sillustani (see below) and Lakes. Sillustani is a pre-Inca site, a burial ground, by Lake Umayo. They are towers, chullpas, built by Aymara-speaking Colla people in the 15th century (the same group that moved to Colca Canyon). The towers contain families, probably of the elite, but many have been grave robbed, sadly.
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We headed straight on up the Altiplano plateau with its beautiful colours (yellow soil, red and orange folded hills), little isolated farms, wandering livestock. We passed local trucks, brim full of people but generally traffic was sparse. There were lots of cows/ bulls around and our tour guide told us these were the famous Pucara (Pukara) Bulls (not so famous that we’d heard of them) and that they were often depicted on ceramics as “Toritos de Pukaca” or Little Bulls of Pucara (we chose NOT to buy a china bull later at the market!). Shortly after we descended (a little) into the town of Pukara (107km N of Puno). The Plaza de Armas was typically Andean but the red church against the hills was memorable. However, the best part of this was opposite the church- the Pukara Lithic Museum (Museo Litico de Pucara www.pukara.org). I thought this was fascinating- it was dedicated to displaying pre-Inca Pucara culture carved stones for southern Peru/ Bolivia. The older, more delicate pieces were inside (no photos please) but larger pieces were displayed in the garden outside. S briefly lost me but we refound ourselves. We met (again) an Indian couple who we kept seeing on our trip through Peru! Outside, in the Plaza was a fairly naff market with stuff we wouldn’t want to buy, so we topped up our water bottle supply instead. A close by excavations has dates of 200 BC-200AD.
PS- Pukara also means an Inca fortress.
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Then off again, following the river Ramis (I was surprised how wet the Andean plateau was) and up into the mountains (we could see the snow-caps before us).

Eventually we reached the stop of La Raya, which is the border between the Puno and Cusco departments and the highest point of the road (4335m). The views of the hills and plains were amazing and (of course) a small roadside stall had been set up. This is also a meeting point of two plates, the Chilean/ Nazca Plate sub ducting (going under) the South American Plate (or Cusco Plate as our guide insisted) Plate. This had led to the huge snowy mountains behind us, Chimpulla and Yana Khuchilla. The South American Plate is moving over the Nazca Plate at 60mm per annum, which sounds quite fast, so its unsurprisingly that it has led to vulcanism and earthquakes.
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We didn’t stay for long, mainly for photos, before we set off down to Sicuani for a buffet lunch. We parked at the edge of the typical Andean town to eat at a large glassy restaurant. We finished quite quickly so went outside to the open area for a stroll. They had pet llamas and alpacas, including a baby llama with a bow, and a friendly dog who wanted to play. In front was a weir on the river with a hill behind (and two cute children in traditional costume playing).
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After gathering us up we headed over the train crossing towards Rachi (Raqui) and the Temple of Viracocha (Wiracocha). The entrance (over the Vilcanota river) to the Inca site is quite imposing as the huge Inca walls are mostly intact (with stone walking up steps set in). We parked outside and walked through a small courtyard with shops into the archaeological site itself. The guide quickly talked us through the site by the huge ancient walls, then left us to explore (good, always preferable to me). 10 minutes before we were due back we went back to the shops as she’d recommended looking at the silver jewellery. She was right, it was nice, so I bought a Viracocha pendant.

RAQCHI and the TEMPLE OF VIRACOCHA
Although Raqch’I is a Quechua word, its original name may have been Cacha. It is 3,480m high and on the Vilcanota River on the edge of the Sacred Valley, on the Inca road. The whole site, apart from eight rectangular buildings round a courtyard (a tampu or lodge), is inside a huge 4km wall and dry ditch.
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Raqchi’, as a site, clearly consists of several specific areas. There is a temple, an administrative/ religious area, living area, storage, agricultural and possibly a defensive area.
Temple
The first area we came across after the courtyard were the walls of the great Temple to Viracocha (Wiracocha). The temple is a huge two storey building 25m high and 92m long. The red adobe wall rests on andesite foundations and has windows/ doors. There is part of the roof still evident. The temple roof was the largest in the Incan Empire with a peak at the central wall and stretching down over the columns to overhang by 25m. Each wall was flanked by 11 columns. It was, sadly, destroyed by the Spanish. The sheer size of the temple suggests it was a site of some importance to the Inca. What remains of the temple gives some idea of how Inca temples were used. The design means that in entering one of the two doors, a pilgrim would be immediately blocked by the line of columns. They would then be forced into a more meandering zigzag path around them towards the statue of Viracocha, volcano and fountain. The temple is a kallanka, a large building covered with thatch.
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Administrative Quarters (wayrana)
Leaving behind the giant walls we walked over to the area called administrative and/or religious. This is because its unclear on whether it was used by priests, administrative officials, both or if they fulfilled both functions. There is a suggestions that these larger building may have been used for barracks, given the large perimeter wall. I think this is unlikely on a temple site. Like many of these functional building they have three walls.
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Living Quarters (Kanchas)
Behind the administrative area are 12 building for priests/ administrators. They are divided into separate square lots, the largest being 4x6m. They all have niches in the wall, maybe as cupboards, maybe to hold sacred artefacts (some have cover posts). The passages joining the living areas were straight and orientated to the mountains and, presumably, specific sun points.
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Storage
There are 220 circular buildings in parallel lines around the site, probably storehouses (qullqas or colcas). Each one is 10m diameter. The nearby hillsides are covered with terraces, which would have produced the cereals (corn and quinoa) to fill them. These colcas are uniquely circular rather than round. Possibly pottery and valuable alpaca textiles would also have been stored.
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Baths
Close by was a spring which fills a pool, probably ceremonial. Possibly llamas were kept nearby to offer as sacrifices (similar to the site Mayobamba). The pond (qucha) is fed through two stone fountains. Next to it is a raised platform with a deep ash layer, presumably from burnt sacrifices. Ash from rituals was often ceremoniously put into the river. It is very possible that the spring, widely regarded as sacred, was related to the origin myth of the K’ana people in the Viracocha legend base.
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Defense
Its probable that the site was a pre-Inca site, but the walls and buildings are definitely Incan. The site is on a ridge overlooking the valley.

Raqchi legends
According to Inca myth Viracocha came to the Kacha area, but was attacked. He brought fire from the sky and burnt the hills. The Kacha people pleaded for forgiveness, so he extinguished the fires before heading to the sea never to be seen again. They then built a shrine (wak’a) to him at Raqch’i. When Sapa Inca Huayna Capac took the region he was told the myth and decided to build a temple around the shrine. This account was written by Pedro Cieza de Leon. The stone idol was later Christianised as an apostle! I would say the sky fire is a reference to an eruption of Kinsachata (now dormant), evidenced by the volcanic lava all around. A large field (which we did not visit) may have held an area for worshippers to use and a ceremonial bathhouse.

We drove out of Rachi (there is a small modern town right next to it), along the Vilcanota (Urubamba) River to Andahuaylillas with a beautiful (but a bit OTT) church, often called the Sistine Chapel of America. The Plaza in front of the square was particularly imposing with a beautiful tree in flower (bright red and furry) and a mountain behind. The church itself, San Pedro de Andahuayllilas was a no photos job and inside was VERY golden and silver- like someone had no idea of restraint). It was built by the Jesuits 1570-1606 on top of an Incan (or pre-Inca) ceremonial site. Apparently there is so much
gold in there that locals volunteer a 24/7 security watch. We bought a postcard and waited for everyone in the plaza, before our descent to Cusco.
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En route we passed the pre-Inca site of Pikillacta perched on the hilltop to our left, but did not stop. Pikillacta, despite being in what is now core Inca territory, was a pre-Inca site, built by the Wari/ Huari people. It was occupied c550-1100 AD as a ceremonial centre. For whatever reason it was never completed. When it was abandoned the builders appear to have deliberately burnt it. The site was almost certainly religious. The large central patio/plaza may have been for rituals and feats. The elite would feast and drink chicha (maize beer), maybe with village leaders. The halls around probably held sacred objects in niches (now lost). Wari artefacts show offerings of plants and animals around a central ceremonial post. Attached, smaller buildings (over 500) were for smaller meetings. In sector 4 the buildings appear to have been linked to the Wari culture of bringing out their mummies for ceremonies, possibly giving them offerings to help protect the living. One room contains an immovable rock, possibly used as a sacred object similarly to the later Inca.

Then down into Cusco itself, along the main entrance road, round a huge roundabout (where’s all this traffic from?), past the wonderful bronze of Pachacutec on a huge round stone pedestal, and into the bus station. The guide, Carlos, who collected us gave a running commentary through Cusco (go to this place, try that restaurant etc) until we got to our hotel. He sat down with us and gave us details of all our trips, his telephone numbers, times and places to be, even maps in case we got lost. Best organised of all the guides in our trip.
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The hotel room was ghastly (more on that later), but we wanted to have a walk anyway, so we headed down to the Plaza de Armas (5 mins walk through Inca cobbled streets, pedestrians only) where we popped out of an alley into the corner of the Plaza. The hotel, Carlos V looked like King Carlos V was indeed the last person to stay there. It had so seen better days. We went down Calle Tecsecocha to the end, turned left, and right at once onto a pedestrianised street, Procuradores (with lots of tiny shops) to the almost corner of the Plaza. We wandered around the Plaza, admiring the cathedral and the Jesuit church, browsing the gift shops, and sitting by the fountain and golden statue of Pachacutec. As it turned dusk we looked for a restaurant and on the side opposite the cathedral went to the second floor to a lovely large (not that cheap) restaurant (Tunupa). The attentive waiter found us a table (posh) and we ordered ceviche (well, we had to try it somewhere), which turned out to be the most ENORMOUS plate you could imagine, filled with seafood of all description. Nice white wine to join it (Tacama Blanc de Blancos –a sauvigon/ viognier/ chardonny blend that had a
really fruity feel of apricot, lycee, almost lime- strong 13%). The floor show was great, focusing on Amazonian dances (and it was only polite that I joined in!). The shops below stayed open late so we had a browse and bought a ring (for E) and a T-shirt (for M and for S), before heading to bed.

The Dance Show (Amazonas Region)
They danced La Chumaichada- an Amazon-French dance; the Huanca, and Los Danzantes de Levanto – a brilliant dance involving the male wearing a white shirt with overlong sleeves, a black vest with red ribbons, black trousers and a peacock (or other) feather hat. A ‘pifador’ played a whistle, antara and tinya drum.

Posted by PetersF 20:49 Archived in Peru Tagged peru river cusco puno inca pukara andahuaylillas racqui urumbaba Comments (0)

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