The last two days have been mostly planes, airports and buses. Leaving the ship by zodiac and flying to Guayaquil, then on to Lima, overnight at the airport then an early flight to Cusco, Peru, arriving near noon, board the bus to the main town plaza and have lunch. After lunch we visited the Circuito Religioso Cusco Basilica Catedral which has at least 25 altars and many famous painting and altar pieces. Peru is 98 % catholic but they retain many of the ideologies of the Andean culture opposing the catholic faith, such as women being equal to men with the privilege of giving communion, the idea that the Virgin Mary is actually equal Jesus Christ.
Back on the bus for a winding road through the Andes Mountains and our destination for two nights, Urubamba and our wonderful accommodations, Sol & Luna. Cusco has an elevation of 11,000 feet (I started the altitude medication in Lima.) At lunch we were served coca leaf tea which is said to help alleviate the symptoms of this as well. I am not having any problems, no headache, dizziness or shortness of breath. The Urubamba Valley is only 9,000 feet so we have more
time to adjust.
Along the journey we had a wonderful guide, Dante, who is informative about all aspects of the Peruvian history, lifestyle, economy and geography. We stopped at Awanacancha, a farm where South American camelidae are bred. This includes llamas, alpaca and vicuna. We also had a demonstration of the Peruvian weaving. The women are taught the craft of their ancestors and do all the weaving without any patterns. These works of art can take from 1 week for a small wall-hanging to a month or more working 40 hours a week for a table runner. Beautiful weavings, sweaters, hats, gloves and many other products were available for purchase.
Peru has very poor sanitation systems. No paper in any of the toilets is allowed, small wastebaskets are for the toilet paper. Seeing the local housing I doubt if most of them have any bathrooms at all. The average wage of a Peruvian is $280 per month. There appears to be no building plans for structures, no building codes, or building inspectors, most homes or other building appear to be unfinished with partial roofs, few windows (tarps flapping in the open spaces) and have finished walls.
are 103 distinct environmental climate ecosystems in the world and Peru is home to 87 of them, the only country in the world with such diversity. I quickly noticed that there were lots of trees growing at 11,000 feet, amazing, and then Dante explained that this is because it is tropical. They have over 8,000 kinds of potatoes of which they only cultivate around 3,700. They also grow a wide variety of corn and quinoa. These provide the staples for the Peruvian diet.
The Sol & Luna property where we are staying is owned by some French and the property consists of small casitas and lovely manicure grounds. It is also home to the world’s largest hummingbird which is about a foot long. We had a wonderful dinner, I had the Peruvian delicacy, Guinea Pig feet as an appetizer (won’t do that again) a great white fish with squid and scallops, and finished with butterscotch brownie (really a light fluffy mousse) with a chocolate coating. We enjoyed a lecture from Peter Frost who is a naturalist who works for National Geographic studying the Incas and who will be joining us for the next two days as we
visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu.
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