Machu Picchu CREEPING CLOSER

2:19 p.m. on May 7, 2014 (EDT)
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YAY! I have recently checked the permit sales and all permits are gone for Machu Picchu through September and much of October. So that means I could find out how many are coming on my trip with Mountain Madness and the answer is a total of 4!  We will have excellent pampering from our own kitchen porters and our camp will be a small and fun one! We secured an additional permit for the day after we get to the ruins in order to do the hike to Wayna Picchu as well. So, 2 days acclimating in Cusco, a couple days hiking around other ruins,  four day hike in to Machu Picchu, tour the ruins, stay over in a 5 star hotel, get up and explore Agua Caliente before heading up the hike to Wayna Picchu, more ruins/town/people watching and then off to the return train to Cusco. I am getting so excited to go! Working hard hiking for fitness, some weights and some biking too. A few months to finish getting weight off and muscles built! We leave August 31!

 

 

11:24 p.m. on May 8, 2014 (EDT)
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This is a great trip.  We did it a couple of years ago and loved it.

Yeah, it's a little odd hiking with porters carrying lots of stuff for you, and camping alongsides lots of other people.  But there is enough room on the trail for everyone.  WE love the cloud forest at 12,000..orchids!

And Cusco is a nice town on its own.  We also really enjoyed a side trip to Pisac for the local market and then a hike up above in the ruins. 

And yes...we are making plans for a return trip at some point to other treks in Peru. 

 

7:21 a.m. on May 9, 2014 (EDT)
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Get some books on Machu Picchu before your trip, to get insight behind the engineering that went into the construction of Machu Picchu.  Armed with that knowledge you will appreciate details that would otherwise go unnoticed.  Also get hold of a book that will bring you up to speed on the Inca Empire; that will deepen your understanding of certain aspects of the how and whys of Machu Picchu.  Lastly if you can find a book that goes into how Mahcu Picchu was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham, it will fascinate you with its history.

Machu Picchu was under continuous restoration until recently, when it was declared a World Heritage site.  Its acceptance was contested because all of the restoration "sullied" the pristine nature of the site, something I guess the WHF is big on.  But the site is considered such a significant cultural treasure the WHF was willing to make concessions, so Machu Picchu will benefit from the protections this distinction is supposed to garner.  Alas with any further restoration activities severely restricted, Machu Picchu is destined to fall into eventual disrepair again. 

If possible spend a few days in Cuzco.  The Quechua are the aboriginal people of the region (they were under the occupation of the Inca).  They are simply a wonderful and very spiritual society.  You will be amazed at the number of Quechua who capable of multiple dialects, due to the emphasis on languages in their school system.  It is easy to hire guides that speak fluent English.  Try the roast alpaca when dining out.  It is reminiscent of a cross between elk and lamb, but order it rare, as they tend to over cook it, making it tough and tasteless.

On the other hand spend as little time as possible in Lima.  Lima is gritty, noisy, and not that safe as tourist destinations go.  Everyone seems in a real big hurry; I got passed on the sidewalk one time by a woman in 5" heels, and I walk on the fast side!  The strain of life and poverty is palpable in Lima.  Chat with enough people and the picture of dysfunctional social order emerges.  While on the Lima topic, anticipate flight delays in and out of Lima, as the weather is capricious; delays up to two hours are not uncommon. 

On your trip up to Machu Picchu do bring rain gear.  It has rained about half the times I visited there, regardless the season.  Usually a mild mid afternoon shower during the tourist season, but it can rain almost continuously in the off-season.  Another thing: you may want to bring medicine for food/water poisoning.  It seems every time I visit Peru, someone in the group gets stricken. You don't want to be on your hike and get hit by this bug, that could become a real emergency.  It sets in really fast and hits very hard.  I got it once; it took all the energy I had to get out of the jungle back to civilization where a simple shot had me feeling fine in a few hours.  Perhaps a US doctor will set you up with the juice.  If not, it isn't hard to get a doctor in Peru to provide you the set up.

There are actually several "Inca Trails" winding through the mountains of the region.  They all are very popular.  Significant portions of the trails are highly engineered; you'll be walking on hand hewn pavers and flagstones.  The trails were originally paved thusly, but erosion and neglect caused them to fall into disrepair, until restored to meet the demands of the burgeoning eco tourism economy that hit the area in the last quarter of the 20th century.  While only four will be in your party, you will find similarities between this venue and your Everest trek, in that it is a highly regulated trail, in efforts to mange wear and tear, waste, and protect water, flora and fauna. Camp areas tend to be crowded, and the trail busy.  This is not your john Muir secluded mountain hike.

I've uploaded some images.  just a tease, of what you may look forward to.  Click on each image to enlarge.
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Above:  A structure in Machu Picchu.  The observant will note the cylindrical shaped stones projecting from the short side of the building along the roof pitch.  The more observant will notice all of the buildings have similar roof pitches, the floor plans use the same length/width ratios, and even the inward tilt of the walls are all the same angle.  Why?  READ about it before you go!

Below:  Overview of Machu Picchu from just above the main entry point.  The site is quite large, perhaps 40- 50 acres.
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Above: Me and my wife posing by the Cuzco Stone of 12 Angles (corners).  The Inca were renown for their masonry work, perhaps the finest of all mankind.  They did not possess the wheel and bronze was the hardest metal of their technology.  So imagine  they managed to move incredibly massive stones, some large as a 2 car garage.  Often these huge blocks were quarried miles away, and transported up and down very steep terrain. Stones used on temples and royal structures had highly crafted finishes, such as interlocking surfaces designed to withstand earthquakes, so precisely finished you cannot slide a piece of paper between adjacent blocks.  The 12 angle stone is the epitome their skill.  I personally think the 12 angle block was a purposefully complex stone to showcase the skills of the craftsmen, as no other blocks in the area are nearly as intricate.  This wall was originally part of the royal compound, and is located on a side street just around the corner from the Temple of the Sun.  Machu Picchu has a larger block with at least 22 angles.  In fact quite a few Inca sites have a similar complex stone.  All are associated with either royal compounds, or very important temple structures.

Below:  Back in the 1980s I participated in a series of climbing adventures in the Peruvian Andes.  One was a climb up Nevado Verónica, here as seen from a hill above the ruins of Muray.  Muray is located in the Sacred Valley, southeast of Olantaytambo, the first city you pass on the train out of Agua Caliente.  IMO Nevado Verónica is one of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen, reminiscent of K2, albeit more diminutive (if such can be said of a mountain).  When we climbed it, the precise elevation was unclear, as maps and other sources placed it anywhere between 18,500 - 19,100'.

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Above: Nevado Verónica as seen on approach above from where the train travels along the Urubamba River to Agua Caliente.  Nevado Verónica is a seldom climbed mountain, perhaps because the approach is rugged and precludes use of pack animals to haul gear to its base.  We chose to climb from the back side - that is from Urubamba River - which is even more rugged.
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Above and Below: It seems there is a celebration almost every week in Cuzco, partially due to the culture embracing the Catholic religion as well as the animistic religions of both the Quechua and the Inca.  This often makes for a curious blend of rituals and iconic symbols.  The young lady is wearing the dance pageant version of the regional folk dress, whereas the men below are in examples of traditional festival costumes.  Inti Raymi is the most important Inca ceremony, marking the Austral winter solstice.  The world has become fond of Inti Raymi.  Sometimes over 100,000 visitors crowd into the valley, with past attendees including the Pope and the Dali Lama.


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Above: My wife is Peruvian.  When we travel to Peru, we engage in a little local charity work.  On recent trips we made a project out of this effort.  This is a picture of Cuzco locals enjoying a street fair.  We later met up with the woman and her grandfather featured in this picture, and learned their story.  She wanted to attend one of the local academies, but it was beyond the family's financial means.  As it happened, that evening we crossed paths with a trustee of one of the local charities that attends to the needs of the Quechua community.  A deal was struck: The trustee commissioned a painting from me which he donated to the Inca Cultural Museum, with the stipulation the museum would auction it off, keeping part of the revenue for their operations and donating the rest to a local community charity.  In exchange I agreed I would gift the commission to the young woman for her education.  She also asked if she could use a portion of the money to purchase one of the traditional costumes, so she could participate in cultural events, as well use it to make extra money working in tourism related work.

Below: The young woman showing off her new costume  It looks much prettier in person.  There is a lot of detail; it is 100% hand made, even the fabric is hand loomed.
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Below:  The painting that paid two years of her tuition.  The subject is the woman's grandmother.
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Have fun!

Ed

      

 

10:53 a.m. on May 9, 2014 (EDT)
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WOW ED! Fun Fun Fun! YEs I have been reading all about Hirum and his antics. Also about the Inca and listening to native music. Learning Spanish and my trekking partner is Puerto Rican. Mountain Madness brings its own kitchen along with us so w are a little better protected from random bad prep and food poisoning, but will have water tablets, and revenge cure for sure. As well as tummy fix it. We literally hit lima and then leave both directions so glad to know I am not missing anything. Of course, Kathmandu was pretty gritty too.

 

Balz: when I went to Everest I did it this way too. Porters hauled everything but our daily essentials. Will be interesting and fun!

11:29 a.m. on May 9, 2014 (EDT)
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Two great books to read about this area, both by the same guy.

 

The first is really fun:  The WHite Rock by Hugh Thompson.  It starts out as if it is just a few British lads off on a lark in Peru---only later do you realize/learn that they are quite knowledgeable scholars--searching for a lost ruin near Machu Picchu.  You will love this book.

 

And the second is his more comprehensive study of civilizations in Peru"  A Sacred Landscape.  IT will change the way you think about Peru--and civilization in the rest of the world.  All historic sites are tied to current excavations that will make you want to spend the rest of your life exploring them....

 

And we have a whole section on hiking in Peru and Machu Picchu on our website:

backpackthesierra.com

2:01 p.m. on May 9, 2014 (EDT)
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I was reading TURN RIGHT AT MACHU PICCHU my Adams and it was not well written. Such corn pone jokes that I found it a really drudgery. So I will read thes. And Balz, I have been at your page more than a few times and will go back for refreshers. THANKS! I am getting very excited!

9:29 p.m. on May 9, 2014 (EDT)
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Sounds like it'll be great! That's definitely on my bucket list, so unique.  Keep us posted and take lots of pictures.  It's great to hear about non-continental US trips!

9:38 a.m. on May 10, 2014 (EDT)
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Good ideas about one of the great places on Earth. I would spend more time acclimatizing in Cusco if possible. Three days would be an absolute minimum, but 5 would be a lot better. Cusco is a never ending source of entertainment, especially now that it attracts travelers from all over the world. I have had great times with various Europeans there, Israelis, and especially Australians. Have fun and expect the altitude to kick your butt. Coca matte really helps.

8:53 a.m. on May 12, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks, ppine. I haven't got the extra days, though you are right, more would be optimum. You may be familiar with the company I travel with; Mountain Madness. They took great care of me at Everest and are very solid in the guides they use and method of travel.

I get to Cusco on August 31. Very early in the AM. We tour the Sacred Valley on day two. On day three, we start out from the Inca Trail and camp lower than Cusco...(Cusco is 10, 909 and we camp this first night out at 9,842. The NEXT day we hike all day and crest over Warmisanusga Pass (Dead Womans Pass) at 13,776 feet. But we sleep at 12,172 feet at Runquracay. Mostly down from there to the ruins and then a train out on day 8 to Cusco.

 

I will be blogging and SPOT checking the whole trip and invite you all to follow if you would like!

7:02 p.m. on May 12, 2014 (EDT)
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Good for you Gift, I hope you have a really great time! I will be looking forward to your reports!

12:58 a.m. on May 13, 2014 (EDT)
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For a slightly different point of view -

As you know, Karen, For the past few years, I have been spending several weeks each summer (Peruvian winter) around the solstice in Peru as part of the American Climber Science Program (I am one of the Directors). This is a program to carry out environmental studies, primarily in the Andes. To get to and from our research areas, I fly in from here in the SF area to Lima, with a taxi ride from the airport to the bus terminal (I have used 3 of the local bus companies, one of which I like better than the other two), which takes me the final 400 km to Huraz. In 2011, Barbara and I went down a couple weeks in advance to do a tour. We used a local tour company, who provided the 2 of us with a guide in each of the main areas we went to and a driver, as well as arranging for B&Bs (in one case, staying with a family on Lake Titicaca).

I have to differ with those who said Lima is a waste of time. Like all big cities (Lima is one of the biggest cities in South America - 5th largest in the Western Hemisphere), it has its good areas and its bad areas. For comparison, we live in Palo Alto, famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for its large number of multi-billionaires (Zuckerberg, Melissa, the Jobs family, etc - the politicians seem to think all of us who live here are rich and should pay a lot more in taxes, even those of us on pensions and Social Security, living in 1953 tract houses). Just a couple miles from my house is East Palo Alto (in another county), periodically named as the city with the highest murder rate in the nation (don't go there at night!). I am sure, as a DA, you know parts of Las Vegas to avoid at night.

The Miraflores district is beautiful and quite safe. The waterfront is beautiful. Around the airport, OTOH, is pretty risky at night. We walked around Miraflores during the day and at night with no problems whatsoever. Among other sights, there is a huge adobe pyramid, built by the Wari people long (several thousand years) before the Inca came along. Here is a photo I took when we toured it and the nearby archaeological museum:


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We got to learn about how the ancient people raised guinea pigs, to this day a delicacy and a staple meat source in the diet (we were not able to bring ourselves to eat the cute little critters:


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After a few days in Lima, our local guide took us back to the airport for the flight to Cuzco (the original spelling in the Latin alphabet, recently changed to Cusco in many places). The first part of the flight had a cabin pressure of 8000 feet (pretty much the standard these days), then gradually raised to 11,000 ft for the landing in Cuzco. We were greeted at the stairs of the plane by our local host, who ensured that we got our luggage promptly. Now I have no problems with altitude, and Barb adjust s fairly rapidly. But we noticed that the airport building had lots of couches with oxygen bottles next to them for the new arrivals who needed them. And yes, as someone said, there were men wandering around selling coca leaves and the restaurants all have teabags with coca leaves. Our expedition MD did some research on the controlled studies of coca and altitude adjustment. The results show absolutely no prophylactic aid for acclimatization, with only a little analgesic effect. Ibuprofen has been shown to be far more effective. There are two drugs that are effective, one being Diamox (acetazolamide) which has both prophylactic and treatment properties. Your doctor can prescribe it for you to take with you. It does have some side effects, I am told (I have never taken it, so this is from the label). One, which many people complain of, is that it makes beer and other carbonated beverages taste flat. Another is that it makes your extremeties "tingle". Also, it is a diuretic. Most of our expedition members use Diamox, with only a few of us getting along just fine without.

Once in Cuzco, we did a bit of walking around, then met up with Sergio, our local guide. I speak Spanish, as a result of having spent some time in Honduras when my father was with InterAmerican Affairs (State Department), but it was still nice to have a local guide who knew the territory. From my father's experiences in Latin America, plus my time in Chile and my sister's time in Peru, I was aware that there are a number of indigenous groups in South America. But I had not realized how strongly they continue to identify with their ethnic heritage, to the point of telling us (once they got to know a bit about us), that "I am not Peruano, and not Inca - I am Quechua" (or Aymara or Urus, or one of the half dozen others we talked to).

Besides the Spanish-imposed architecture (often built on the foundations of the Inca temples - the Inca people were actually a group of mostly Quechua who were the warriors who formed their confederation by promising defense in exchange for services such as stonework from the Aymara, fruits, meat and feathers from birds, and vegetables from Amazonia, other plant foods like the 200 varieties of potatoes and over 100 of corn, along with alpaca and llama for meat and wool from the Quechua, fish from the sea from the Wari descendants and from Lake Titicaca from the Urus, and so on - you might recall "confederations" in Europe and Asia that exchanged "military protection" in exchange for goods and services from the indigenous peoples).

If you look at the town layout of Cuzco, you will see the streets describe the shape of a puma, one of the sacred animals. After visiting Sacsayhuaman (don't miss this!), we visited many of the sites in the Sacred Valley. Here is a view of Sacsayhuaman:


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Barb is 5 feet tall, so you can get some idea of the scale.

We traveled the Sacred Valley to Ullantaytambo, with Sergio explaining many of the differences and similarities. Sergio is a grad student in archaelogy, with an interest in the astronomy of the indigenous people which led to many interesting discussions, since I am an astronomer by professional training.

After a night in Ullantaytambo, we boarded the train for Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Macchu Pichu. Dropping our gear at the hotel and got onto the bus to meet Cesar, our local guide at Macchu Pichu. At the gate, there is a plaque for the purported "discoverer" of Macchu Pichu:


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There were, in fact, earlier European and American visitors to the site. But Bingham set the wave of excavations and removal of artifacts in motion. Most went to Yale University, which is in process of returning most of the artifacts.

A warning - there are many many New Agers who believe fervently in the "magic" of Macchu Pichu as a "power center" of the universe. When you are there, you will see dozens of them practicing their yoga poses on the terraces.

The guides do play it up a bit. And many of the tourists eat it up. I guess I am a bit jaundiced by having grown up on a reservation and having a fair acquaintance with the history (good and bad). Here is one overlook of the site:


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The tall peak behind Macchu Pichu is Huaynapichu (also spelled Waynapichu - with various signs within the site spelled both ways). Our guide did a pretty good job of taking us around and explaining things. One benefit of having a personal guide who knows a bit of your background is it is easy to get things tailored. So we got to learn more about the construction process - how the blocks were extracted (similar to the way the Egyptian pyramid blocks were split off) and how they were shaped so precisely (90% of what is foisted off to the public is about as real as UFOs and Sasquatch - and if you believe those, well, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, even if they violate the basic laws of nature). 

Here is and example of the hokum - at one of the higher points of the main building area is a block of granite that is carved into a gnomon. As such, the shadow can be used to tell the time of day and to track the seasons. The guides tell the story that this is a rock of great power and energy. They say you can feel the energy coming from the stone. In fact, if you hold your hand near the stone, you, too, can feel the energy emanating from it. And if you hold a compass near it, you can see the energy as it controls the needle of the compass.


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Now note - the rock is in the most exposed place of the settlement. As such, it is in the sun most of the day (Macchu Pichu is only a couple degrees latitude south of the Equator, so gets direct sunlight most of the day, days in which the sun is above the horizon 11-13 hours of the day. Even on cloudy days a lot of solar radiation gets through the clouds. So the rock is naturally quite warm and sometimes hot to the touch. Being a very dark grey, almost black, helps with the energy absorption. And the magnetism? This is an intrusive rock, magma that cooled slowly as it intruded into the surrounding rock (recall that the Andes are on the boundary of one of the largest tectonic plates, and the Andes are still active seismically and with vulcanism). As the magma cools, it traps the local magnetic field. Since the Earth has a magnetic core and a significant magnetic field (which helps shield us from incoming cosmic rays and solar flares), the rock is naturally magnetized.

Cesar left us on our own about noon, with Barb wandering around to some things that interested her, while I headed for the Sun Gate (Karen, that's the way you will approach Macchu Pichu - I hate to disillusion you, but there is more than one "Inca Trail". The Inca Trails covered Peru and neighboring present-day countries like the Interstate Highway System. THE Inca Trail usually means one particular one that ends at Macchu Pichu).

We went back down to Aguas Calientes for a pleasant night and good meal. Next morning, we got up at 4AM for a quick breakfast, then in line for the 4:30AM bus up the hill. The procedures have changed for gaining entrance and getting the permit to climb Huaynapichu. When we were there, you had to get up at 4AM to catch the bus and get in line for one of the 400 passes to Huaynapichu - 200 for 8AM and 200 for 11AM:


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Most people, for some reason, wanted the 11AM tickets. Currently, you purchase your tickets as a part of a package of entry plus hike. I figured the 8AM would be a cooler part of the day, and 11 would be really hot (it was!). Barb decided to hike to the Sun Gate. Here are a couple photos on the way to Huaynapichu:


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The stairs -
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A view from the top. That's the Sun Gate across the way, the notch in the ridge descending from Macchu Pichu, the mountain (the ruins were named after the mountain, not the other way around - pichu roughly means hill in Quechua. The switchbacks are the bus road - riding the bus is an exciting experience. The drivers know exactly when an oncoming bus will meet them at the turn and who has the right of way and who has to stop and wait. There was a massive slide this winter that took a few days to clear so the buses could again run. People had to walk down the hill.
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This is the view Barb got on her early morning hike out to the Sun Gate. Huaynapichu is out of the frame to the right:


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That evening we took took the train back to Ollantaytamba, where we met our driver for the ride back to Cuzco. The next day was the Inti Raymay festival, the Winter Solstice celebration. This was originally a celebration where the Inca (that is, THE Inca) called together representative groups from the various members of the confederation. Since this was a religious festival where The Astronomer (more properly "astrologer and sooth-sayer", gathered all the information from the heavens and the entrails of llamas to forsee the fortunes of the following year. The ceremonies were suppressed by the Spaniards and the padres since they were pagan. But a few decades ago, they were reconstructed and became a pageant to entertain the tourists. OK, so they are a bit hokey, and the New Agers get turned on by them. But they are fun and you do get to see part of what the Inca and their subjects believed in and practiced. If you know what to look for, there is some science behind it. Remember, it took some time and study before scientists like Tycho, Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler puzzled out the patterns of the heavens to figure out why the planets move the way they do - for centuries, those who studied the heavens could only discern the regular patterns, not the causes.

The Inca was the Son of the Sun, and thus a holy figure. His attendants and army were the Inca people, coming from all the ethnic groups. During the Festival, each of the groups - the Quechua, the Urus, the Aymara, the Wari, those from Amazonia - would each report on how the crops and other suppliers had fared. Those who had fared well were directed to provide for the areas which had suffered (one wonders if this is a modern change of the original, the governments of most South American countries be at least nominally socialist and populist).

Some images:


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The Amazonia contingent
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The Inca himself (look closely at his feet and see if you spot something of more recent origin):


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After the festival, we headed south to Lake Titicaca, the largest fresh water lake in South America and the highest altitude navigable lake in the world. It is a major supplier of fish to the surrounding countries. We were astounded to get out on it and realize its size.

The Urus people live on floating reed islands on the lake. We took a ride on this boat.

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Another view of the lake - that's Bolivia's mountains in the distance:


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After leaving the Urus floating islands, we went to one of the farther islands to see ancient sites built by yet another ethnic group. That night, we stayed with a family at their home on the shores of the lake. One of their young sons was developing an interest in astronomy. So we stayed out late as I pointed out "European" constellations and he pointed out Aymara constellations to me, including a "dark" constellation of the 3 Llamas.

Karen, there is so much to see in Peru that you will want to go back more than once. The view you get with Mountain Madness will be a "western" view. The view you get with local guides who take pride in their heritage of thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans is quite different.

9:56 p.m. on May 13, 2014 (EDT)
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When Bill speaks of THE Inca, what he means is the society carries the same name as the nom de guerre of their leader; in other words The Inca is The emperor.

Bill is also correct to say there are good sections of Lima: Primarily Miraflores.  But it is a relatively small tract of real estate, you can easily stroll from one end to the other in under an hour.  And yes, it is safe to wander about Miraflores, but certainly to a lesser extent past midnight.  One clue it isn't like Kansas: many of the well-to-do Miraflorians have their own security guard and some have security walls enclosing their properties.  You'll be ok keeping to areas with people present, but under no circumstances should you take a stranger up on an invitation to accompany them on an unsolicited "private tour".  And there is really no need for that; you can get an excellent professional tour guide at a quite reasonable fee.  In fact the tour guides we commissioned in Peru worked their butts off.  We could call them at most any hour with a request, which came in handy several times when itinerary disruptions occurred.  Also beware of the scams pitched by those who strike up a conversation, claiming they are "practicing English."  Indeed they are, but over half such encounters are initiated with a more financially motivated objective in mind.  If you wish to chat with the locals, your best experience is had by you taking the initiative, and picking your target versus they picking you.  Kennedy Park (named after JFK) is a good place for these encounters.  Another safe area is the Embassy district.  It adjoins Miraflores.  Most of the best restaurants in Lima are in these two areas IMO.  Regardless, I still would rather spend time in Cuzco than Lima.

Since Bill commented on the Inca Trail, let me complete his description thereof.  The Inca trail formally refers to the system of "roads" traveled by the Inca (emperor).  That is the reason why there are regularly spaced garrison compounds along these byways.  The Inca also had many other non-royal roadways built.  There were an extensive network connecting the far flung corners of the empire with Cuzco, under the belief it facilitated communication across the regime.  It is said the system worked so efficiently that the Inca could dine in Cuzcos on fresh fish from the Pacific, delivered by a foot currier system similar to the American Pony Express.  On a more pragmatic reasoning, the same roadways served to keep the empire subjects in line as well as discourage invasion, as the roads facilitated rapid deployment of the military to any such trouble spots.

Lastly Bill mused that socialism was something modern culture overlaid upon our perceptions of the Inca.  From my understanding they were indeed a socialistic society.  (But I cannot affirm or deny the bit about crop sharing edicts arising from the original Inti Raymi festivals.)  It is said no one went hungry under the Inca.  I take that statement and match it to the tremendous efforts taken to erect their public infrastructure and deduce that significant man power was expended on these efforts, given the Inca were a primarily agrarian culture.  Additionally when you get up close to the aboriginal communities you will also note the highly communal practices on a local level, that extend to a lesser degree to a regional level.  I have a theory the monument and temples were part of a labor program, similar to the WPA and Conservation Corps of the 1930s - keep them busy, keep them fed, keeps them out of trouble.  There is strong evidence to suggest this communism may be pan regional.  Peru is at ground zero for El Niño.  Its affect on regional agriculture was so profound it defined where permanent settlements were possible.  El Niño caused wild fluctuations in climate: Areas could flood or be thrown into severe drought, and the coastal fisheries could be ruined for entire seasons, sometimes longer. Given these circumstances it would be logical for regional cooperation to take place - that is provided matters were not so grim that warring for resources overruled sharing insufficient food reserves.

Ed

 

10:01 p.m. on May 13, 2014 (EDT)
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Nice posts my Whome and Bill S.

Lago Titicaca is one of my favorite places on Earth. It sits at 12,000 feet and is 4x the size of Lake Tahoe. It is full of enormous trucha (rainbow trout). Negotiate a boat trip with the "Bolivian Navy" and spend Easter at Cocacabana watching people have their vehicles blessed by priests with alcohol and trying to change Monopoly money into real money.

Visit Isla del Sol to find the birth place of the World and Father Inca and Pachamama.

9:18 a.m. on May 14, 2014 (EDT)
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WOW....GREAT primer guys! I can always count on BillS and Ed. BillS I wish I were coming through the bay area this trip so I could carry on my tradition of meeting up with you and Barb for coffee before departure! OF course, I think you may be down in Peru about then anyway.

I am traveling with Mountain Madness. They set up EVERYTHING for us including our tour of the ruins. BIllS I got the 10:00 AM tickets for the hike up Huaynapichu. Looks like I may wish I had opted for earlier. But coming in off the trail the night before and then touring the ruins after which we will be eating (and celebrating with a bit of drink)  we wanted to enjoy a sleep in in our 5 star hotel rooms! There are only 4 on our trip and the other two did not do the deluxe tour so they leave the day we arrive at Machu Picchu while me and Mags stay over, hike  and return.

The question of Lima will be for another adventure as I am literally in and out of there going down and just a few hours at the airport coming back.

 

Those pictures are breath taking Bill! It has increased my building excitement for the trip! I will let Maggie Figs read this too!  Between Ed, Balz and Bill I have such great pre-event pictures and narratives that I feel like I am getting to know the place before boarding the plane! Thanks so VERY much!

6:15 p.m. on May 15, 2014 (EDT)
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Are you bringing your Spot again like during the Everest base camp trek? If so I want the link!

9:05 a.m. on May 19, 2014 (EDT)
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Yes Rob, I am. I need to set it up again. I will hook you up. Private MEssage me your email so I can be sure you get the updates along the trail. You are probably still on the list but let's be sure the emails match up!

Balz I am reading The White Rock and am totally riveted! This guy can WRITE! I was so turned off by Turn Right at Machu Picchu that I learned NOTHING. But this is fascinating! Thanks for the tip!

July 31, 2014
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