The Sacred Valley, Peru, July 31, 2003 — After having spent the day before at travel agents to book our tour of Machu Picchu, we were somehow convinced that we should also take a bus tour of the Sacred Valley, a series of sites and towns around Cusco that have important Incan ruins, etc. It turned out to be a decent way to see lots of places in one day and learn a little bit along the way from our very odd tour guide. But it was mostly a way to get tourists to visit markets all over the region. Clearly our inexpensive tour was subsidized by kickbacks or other “incentives”. Since we weren’t really in a shopping mood, I focused much more on photography, with an emphasis on the the women who ran the markets dressed mostly in traditional clothing.
Cusco, Peru, July 30, 2003 — We arrived in the beautiful city of Cusco on Day 53 of our trip. Cusco is a great little tourist town, and it’s the jumping off point for Machu Picchu and Peru’s Sacred Valley of amazing Incan ruins and other sites.
Back in 2003, digital photo technology was still new to me. And it was hard to figure out what to do with all the photos I took when traveling around the world with only a bit more than 2gb in memory cards (plus a Mac Book). Flash cards were not cheap then and things like cloud storage were non-existent (not that we had access to fast Internet much of the time). Sometimes problems occurred. Photos were burned to CDs (I don’t know if DVD burners were around then, but we certainly didn’t have one.) Then they were mailed to my brother Jeff for safe keeping. Turns out some of those DVDs had corrupt files. So, long story short, only two photos remain from Day 53 and one of those is a low res JPG. Nevertheless, it’s the better shot of the two.
I present it here….Cusco’s main square, the Plaza de Armas and the Church of la Compana de Jesus:
Lima, Peru, July 29, 2003 — Day 52 found me traveling to the outskirts of Lima with our Servas friend Pedro (careful readers will remember Pedro from day 49) to visit some newly unearthed Incan ruins. The ruins were nearly deserted, which was cool. And Pedro proved to be an able guide since he was an architect who had spent time in Italy and Peru studying how to restore ancient buildings. Nevertheless, I remember almost nothing about the ruins, not even its name. Searching Google leads me to think we were at the Pachacamac ruins, but the pictures online are quite different, probably because in the past 10 years considerably more of the ruins have been excavated. Regardless, my picture is nice enough, so that’s how I’ll remember the place.
For those wondering, Sherri chose to stay back at the hotel to write and take care of odds and ends.
Lima, Peru, July 27, 2003 — Lima (at least 10 years ago) was one of those cities that everyone warns you to be very careful when touring; the signs that crime was rampant were everywhere: from the wide variety of police and soldiers stationed regularly in the nicer parts of town to the hooks attached to all the tables in restaurants that are used to secure purses and bags from being swiped. Nevertheless, we spent day 50 of our trip wandering around Lima, where we happened upon an old, deserted fair complete with beat up old ferris wheel, and a local festival that was decidedly for local consumption not for tourists. I got some cool photos that day, including some portraits of the soldiers and cops, as well as some interesting shots of the fairground.
Lima, Peru, July 26, 2003 — Our first day in Lima turned out to be a national holiday, so we didn’t do that much other than catch up on some errands and meet with travel agents about possible itineraries within the country — during the entire trip we rarely had anything planned more than a few days ahead, but Peru was one of the places where we didn’t want to miss out on the big sites like Machu Picchu, and that required some planning and organization. The day’s highlight was a dinner with a local family, who we had connected with through a group called Servas that serves to connect travelers with local families (sometimes for overnight stays, and sometimes just for meals). The patriarch of the family was a former agricultural engineer, who took great pleasure in describing all 16 varieties of Peruvian corn and the countless more varieties of potatoes. It was a weird but enjoyable evening. I took a portrait of the family, but I clearly didn’t have enough room to work with and only had an on-camera flash. So, it’s really a terrible shot. But this is a picture of the day blog, and I have no alternative photos (and Sherri tells me that it looks OK in black & white), so I’ll post it here.
In flight between Buenos Aires and Santiago, July 25, 2003 — We spent day 48 in transit, first flying from Buenos Aires to Santiago, where we connected for a flight to Lima, Peru. The flight from B.A. to Santiago had amazing views of the Andes. We tried very hard not to think of the movie Alive. This is a composite photo of the view (I’m sure there are tricks to photographing through airplane windows, but I’ve never bothered to learn them — so this is just a basic snapshot with some weird color issues caused by the window tinting, I guess).
Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 24, 2003 — We further explored Buenos Aires on Day 47 of the Trip Around the World. We spent the morning in a marshland called the Constanera Sur Wildlife Reserve overlooking the Rio de la Plata. It was a peaceful estuary, with joggers and fishermen. Plus, we got to see some strange guinea pig-like animal. The afternoon was a little more lively as we visited the Plaza de Mayo, where the mother’s of the “disappeared” children had been holding weekly protests for 25 years. We then wandered into another protest, which seemed to have something to do with textile unions and students (yes, we were confused). In all we wandered into three well-attended protests in four days in Buenos Aires, no doubt related to the fact that the country had only recently begun to recover from its bank collapse and economic crisis.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 23, 2003 — We spent the day wandering around Buenos Aires, marveling at how inexpensive everything but the luxury goods were; the bank collapse had recently occurred, and though it was not hard to find Rolexes and Cartier, it was also easy to find an amazing $3 lunch. We wandered the Recoleta neighborhood, including its famous cemetery where Evita was buried. Most importantly, Sherri found her tree, which she was kind enough to leave behind so others could enjoy it too.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 22, 2003 — Visiting Buenos Aires was a last minute decision thanks to the recommendations of our Santiago hosts. We went on a package tour, which was very cheap when booked in Chile. And it included a bus tour of the city, so that’s what we did on Day 45 of our trip around the world. Turned out to be cheezy, but a great way to see a huge city fast. In addition to seeing the Evita balcony, we spent a fair amount of time in La Boda, a “bohemian” neighborhood with a street called El Caminito full of colorful houses.