Archive for November, 2009

Up, Down and Around in The Sacred Valley

With the parents gone, Lou and I have joined forces once again, heading out for the archeological site of Pisac. Passing fairly rapidly through the Sunday market that purveys a range of near identical handicrafts at each stall, we wheezed up the selection of terraces that consistute the bottom of the site, expecting to reach the top…about five or six times.

The site was huge, winding its way around the hillsides that look down into the sacred valley, of which the settlement was once the capital city. Dizzying drops looked down from impossibly constructed buildings, clinging to sheer rockfaces. The site was spectacular and endless, a truely pleasant surprise, even if my legs needed a couple of days afterwards to ride out the beating they took.

Pisac, Peru
30th November 2009


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Family Presence Drops by 66% in Peru

Sadly had to say goodbye to the folks today as they headed in a taxi off to Cusco airport. We’ve had a lovely month together bumbling around various bits of Peru, giving me a great opportunity to get to know a selection of the wide variety of the regions of desert, mountains and jungle that make up the country.

Cusco, Peru
26th November 2009

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Top Notch Riding

Pa and I, deciding that the exhaust fumes and constant touted offers of massages, photos with llamas, cheap jewellery and expensive knitware were not really our bag, decided to escape to the countryside on a mountin biking excursion; this turned out to be a fantastic decision.

Renting a couple of squeaky but funcional front suspension bikes, we muddled around the centre until we found the bus terminal from which transport to the widely acknowledged ‘mountain biking bit’ of the region departed. Cheerfully tossing our bikes on the top of the next departing combi we eventually left the bus at a crossroads in the middle of nowhere by the reccommendation of the bus ayudante and pointed our wheels in the direction of the most rural looking exit.

Thus followed a four hour epic that passed mirror calm lakes supporting reed boat fishermen, tiny adobe villages, sweaty breathless climbs to bitterly cold ridges, fast downhill curves and long traverses across the bases of huge natural bowls in which we seemed to be the only forms of life amidst the vastness of nature.
Eventually sporadic directions from locals led us down a gravelly, sheer switchback to the salt pans of Salineras, hidden in the crook of a valley. After marvelling in a slightly exhausted way we proceeded through a gate down a narrow dirt track that clung to the side of the hills overlooking a dizzying drop and decended into a technical section of rocky path that spat us out at the bottom of the valley, a languid cycle along the river and onto the paved highway to Urubamba, where the bus to drag us back up the valley to Cusco awaited.

In our own way, we’d bumped into the local mountain biking scene, seeing for the first time in hours a selection of mud-dusted bikers, all who had obviously enjoyed picking their own lines down the valley.

Great fun, and I’ll be sure to investigate more options in the Sacred Valley if I end up spending more time in Cusco.

Cusco, Peru
24th November 2009

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MISSING: Have Seen This Person?

Height: Approx. 6ft
Weight: Approx. 75kg
Age: 36
Description: Shoulder length hair, beard, brilliant incandescence surrounding head
Clothing: Long blue, red and gold robes
Occupation: Saviour of Humanity
Last Known Location: Huancayo Central Plaza

We would greatly appreciate any information on recent sightings of The Messiah (excluding those of his form in bread/rock walls/clouds etc.), who disappeared in the middle of a crowded Plaza de Armas a couple of weeks ago during the town parades. His mother is very worried because even though she acknowledges he is a very naughty boy he would never wander off for this long.

Any information can be emailed to i_once_was_lost@hotmail.co.uk. Bless you for your kindness.

Cuzco, Peru
22nd November 2009

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Elementary Level Civil Unrest

Its national children’s day in Peru, and what better way to celebrate than to get the little tykes out parading the streets and waving placards with numerous messages about respecting children’s rights and such. Heartening indeed that a spirit of voicing political opinion in a very public way is fostered in Peruvians from a young age, much better than the training to sit in a corner and grumble quietly that we Brits seem to have cultivated.

Cuzco, Peru
20th November 2009

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All For Naught

Wandering around the broken-tooth fortifications of Saqsaywaman outisde Cuzco with Dad and reading about how the Spaniards had torn down the impossibly engineered stone walls to build their own houses, Dad mentioned a poem that sprang to mind about the inevitable ravaging of time on empires and the men who founded them, no matter how mighty they once were. After a short bit of internet digging the poem was found, and by crikey it’s a good one.

Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Cuzco, Peru
20th November 2009

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Machu Picchu, Almost In Glorius Technicolour

After a groggy bus ride at six o’clock in the morning up the winding switchbacks leading to the entrance gate which I pass with little delay, I round the corner along the paved entrance to the breathtaking wonder of the world that is the Lost City of The Incas, Machu Picchu.

Confronted by astounding stone terraces 2000 metres above the river Urubamba that froths and churns and backed by the iconic image of the imposing mountain of Wayna Picchu, I take out my camera to capture the moment. Flicking the lens cover open, I position the jaw dropping landscape in the viewfinder and press the shutter.

Beeeeeeep. Battery empty.

Below is the last image that was taken on the dying battery, unaware of it’s impending end; a worthwhile shot in the central plaza of the pathologically ugly Aguas Calientes, posing with a tacky Inca statue. A fine alternative, I’m sure you’ll agree, to world class ancient mountaintop monuments.

Aguas Calientes, Peru
17th November 2009

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