Richard Incorvati


Richard Incorvati

An educator and unapologetic American, travel has come to define who I am. If you long to visit an airport terminal for the sake of staring at the departure board desperately wishing you would be on any of those flights, then you understand. When a train rages by over a trestle or through a tunnel and you wish you were on it regardless of where it will stop, then you and I have a great deal in common. Here is where I can share the joy of what I do best with others.

North America » United States » Tennessee » Bristol August 20th 2010

The following is dedicated to the life of Mrs. Mary Wiliamson, whose life was dedicated in great part to raising a fine family and whose son I consider to be a very decent friend. NASCAR has never appealed to me. I cannot buy into the fanaticism. NASCAR fans rejoice in attending an event where there is a real possibility someone could die at any moment. For them it is thrilling. For me it only raises the question why anyone is willing to take the risk. The governing body of NASCAR changes rules as often as a group of boys do so at a kickball game during recess. Imagine the NBA saying that a three-point shot is now worth twelve, but a layup attracts a one-point penalty if not shot with the opposite hand. Becoming a multi-million-dollar ... read more
People Watching
Sage Advice?
Heightened Anticipation

South America » Peru » Cusco » Aguas Calientes July 20th 2010

On the surface, Aguas Calientes is wholly forgettable. No one ever chooses to stay here. It’s an inconvenient necessity. Now known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, it is no more than a holding tank and transfer point for the ruins above. There are three types of people in Aguas Calientes: residents who exclusively live off tourists, tourists who are going to Machu Picchu, or tourists who have been and are awaiting the train to leave. The formula is rather simple…No Machu Picchu = No Aguas Calientes. Without the ruins, this community would turn into a Nevada ghost town in a matter of weeks. The only way to get here and to leave is by train. Every last element, material, and cement block was railed in. It is quite amazing when you think about it. Real character evades ... read more
Two Types of Tourists
Big Business

South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu July 19th 2010

It has gotten to the point now that I wear my increasingly soiled khaki travel trousers as point of pride. I want to see how dirty they can get before I break down and disinfect them in the laundry. It’s a good thing Rosalinda isn’t here. She would have shut the trip down until every last stain, spot, and streak was removed. There is only small stirring at Ollantaytambo’s train station at five fifteen in the morning. Departure is not until six. I am a stickler for being exceedingly early in fear of my chasing after the caboose with the contents of my belongings spilling out of my backpack while in full sprint. A vendor is opening her kiosk and cannot manage to lift the steel door and prop it open in the rain. She calls ... read more
Central Plaza from Above
Wider View

South America » Peru » Cusco » Ollantaytambo July 18th 2010

Ollantaytambo’s cobblestone streets eventually devolve into gravel, an invisible fence for tourists. A gravel road parallels the stream that runs into the Urubamba River. It further deteriorates at an ordinary church painted in mustard yellow. To the left are the far extensions of the ruins, then wilderness interrupted by verdant crops. A young chap in a Yankees cap walks by me with his hands in his pockets. “Señor,” I startle him. “Buenos días. What is there on this road?” “Oh, no one ever goes up there,” referring to the other Ollantaytambo into which he feels I belong. “Gracias.” That’s all I need. It is the path less taken. According to Frost, that has made all the difference. Having downed noodle soup for breakfast and with a bottle of water in my pack, I hug the right ... read more
Above Ollantaytambo
Mayoral Campaign
Very Humble

South America » Peru » Cusco » Ollantaytambo July 16th 2010

Cusco is the launching pad for the Sacred Valley, which earns its name by having reached the swerving heights above Urubamba. The Andes crash from the heavens at a sixty degree angle into the Urubamba River. The massive ridges crisscross every few kilometers forcing the river to make wide loops for most of its course. From the drab and uninspiring urban grid after which the river is named, I haul my backpack off the van’s roof and take a passenger’s advice on how to move forward. In thirty minutes, another bus deposits me in front of the central market of Ollantaytambo, and absolute jewel of a spot. Ollantaytambo is what you make of it. Tucked into the west end of the Sacred Valley, it can entice, overwhelm, and enchant - or simply be a bland transfer ... read more
A Place to Wander
A Question of When
Out of Place?

South America » Peru » Cusco July 15th 2010

It’s not that I don’t like hippies, it’s that I have no use for them. None has ever caused me personal strife. They rarely annoy me. As far as I know, hippies don’t cause violent crime or even foment revolution; they’re usually too stoned to bother. They are simpleminded, overeducated, and generally useless. Never has an entire social subgroup amounted to absolute dead weight. Cusco is full of hippies, bucket loads of them. The vast majority congregates and vegetates on the Cuesta Santa Ana. It is a sharp inclined street of bare-bones collective accommodation and other basic services. A man with Jesus facial hair has taken a seat in the sun next to his girlfriend. His untamed beard needs a gardener. He and she are decked out in the obligatory and mindless vertical striped linen pants ... read more
An Aloof Self-Importance
Welcome to La Cuesta Santa Ana
La Cuesta Santa Ana

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco July 14th 2010

To come to Cusco is like flirting with an intoxicant. This colonial masterpiece of the Spanish Empire puts me in a very familiar element. For me it is a temporary suspension of reality, for other travelers it can become a very, very prolonged one. Many come for weeks and still haven’t left. Cusco’s rules of engagement with the safe and friendly confines of its historical core rarely change. It allures then has a hard time letting go. Stay here long enough and it generates a false sense of being a local; nothing could be further from the truth. Cusco relieves travelers of any sense of responsibility while in its grip. Consequences and challenges are few. They can do as they please. Make a mistake in Cusco and recovery is painless. Structure and services are at anyone’s ... read more
Narrow Alleyways
Siete Culebras
La Compañía de Jesús

South America July 12th 2010

The signs at the beginning were ominous. I don’t know what stood out more on our bus, scheduled to twist and turn for the next twenty-one hours from Ayacucho to Cusco. The fluorescent red faded among the tired and worn window frames on the outside of the coach. As I walked around to the driver’s side, I peeked below the undercarriage. None of the few inches of slick mud had clung to the balding tires. I pointed this out to Rosalinda, who has made many long bus journeys in Peru. Even she scrunched her eyebrows in disapproval. The coach to the halfway point of Andahuaylas was as full of passengers as it was freight. Massive sacks of grain, bread, and potatoes were stuffed into the lower compartments. All provide an extra source of revenue for the ... read more

South America » Peru » Ayacucho » Ayacucho July 11th 2010

It is a chance to get out of town and see the region. The antibiotics have taken effect; both sides have called a truce. With enough toilet paper in my daypack to hold me over, I am willing to make a go of it. The Wari, whose decline started somewhere near 1000 AD, controlled what is now all off Peru before the Incas. They left behind a city on a hill about twenty miles outside of today’s Ayacucho. It is an area that covers a little less than four square miles. Its ruins are an ongoing archeological project; much has already been excavated. Machu Picchu it is not. Bare retaining walls of smaller piled stones rise as high as thirty feet. It was once the protective shell of the community. Nowadays, they share dry, undulating landscape ... read more
Wari Ruins
Wari's Sacrificial Stone

South America » Peru » Ayacucho July 10th 2010

For the longest time I have looked forward to seeing Ayacucho. A classic university town, it has shed its notorious reputation as the intellectual birthplace for the Shining Path. Nowadays, the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) has left Ayacucho behind and has taken to the jungle for the economic pursuits of drug trafficking. In its wake is a vibrant and energetic city reborn yet still eschewed by the foreign masses. From Lima it is a long ride. From Huancavelica it is a shorter one, but completely hideous. Coming north from Cusco is a twenty-plus hour affair, which brings into question why anyone would take the risk of long-distance bus travel in Peru. Rosalinda and I have dragged our belongings to our room two blocks from the Plaza de Armas. The sun’s rays are waning. We are shattered ... read more
Central Statue
Plaza de Armas
Balcony on Plaza de Armas

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