Pisco, Paracas, San Martin Harbor and the Tambo Colorado Incan Ruins, Peru

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March 11th 2015
Published: March 11th 2015
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Pisco, Paracas, San Martin Harbor and the Tambo Colorado Incan Ruins, Peru

Even though this port is advertised as “Pisco”, we won’t be going there. Pisco is 20 miles away and we will only be skirting it on the way to Tambo Colorado, the Inca Ruins that we’d like to visit. The ruins are 2 hours away and we will pass through the small, resort town of Paracas, which is on the water, and about 20 miles to the north. We are just 140 km south of Lima.

We’re off at 7:30am and quickly find ourselves on the edge of the Atacama Desert. One of the driest deserts in the world. There is not a plant, large or small, to be seen. It is sand dunes as far as the eye can see from the base of the Andes jungles to the Pacific Ocean. As we travel northward, we can look back across the sand dunes and see our ship way out at the end of the sand harbor. Desolate.

Peru starts in the west with the Pacific Ocean. As you move inland, there is the Atacama Desert, then the jungles of Peru, and furthest east are the majestic Andes Mountains.

Our first stop is at a wonderful business called Sumaqkay, that hand makes beautiful, soft, Peruvian fabrics. Many of the fabrics are made of Alpaca wool. There is a room with 6 huge looms. Only one is being worked today to show us how it is done as it is early Sunday morning. A 20 year old young man is expertly throwing the shuttle back and forth on the loom. He changes the color of the yarn by switching out shuttles that have different colored threads in them. He is weaving a traditional Peruvian design in vibrant yellows and reds. We look at all the yarns and looms then walk across a small flower filled yard to the little store right next to the weaving room. Oh my. BEAUTIFUL goods made out of the fabrics from this local business. There are fine blouses, pants, wall hangings, things for children such as hats, toys and sweaters. We buy a little stuffed girl pig for a soon-to-be grandchild ;-) We name her CHANCHO. We are told this is pig in Spanish. We certainly hope so and that we aren’t really calling her mushface or something horrible ;-)

Now for the most important part of the day, the ride to Tambo Colorado, the Incan Ruins. Peru has a turbulent history both in terms of its people as well as from Mother Nature. First of all, Peru is rising 5” a year due to the clashing of Teutonic plates below the crust of the earth in this region. Secondly, Peru has many hits from earthquakes. In 2007, 79% of the houses in Pisco were totally destroyed by a 7.9 earthquake. 1200 people died. As we roll along, we see a lot of shanty type homes and are told that even through it has been over 7 years since the terrible earthquake, there are still very few resources for re-building homes. There are completely demolished homes along side those being rebuilt with rebar sticking out the top of the unfinished walls. The government wants the people to re-build with stronger products such as bricks and rebar. Bricks and rebar cost these poor people dearly. 40% of the population of Peru is extremely poor. The people look for any way to make a $. All transportation in Peru is privately owned so many people will get a tuk-tuk ( we saw lots of these in Southeast Asia) and then use it to take people and “stuff” around to make money. There are 200,000 privately owned taxis in the town of nearby Pisco alone! People will also set up, right on the road, small stands to sell fruit or clothing. Anything they think they can makes some money doing. The government is still working to get electricity and water to these shanties but those who live closer to cities are given priority.

As we get back on the road we find we are, unbelievably, on the Pan American highway again. You may remember when we were in Ushuaia, Argentina, we sent a picture of us at the very end of the Pan American Highway, which goes from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Today we are excited to be back on the Peruvian portion of it ;-)

As we leave the Paracas area, and the desert recedes to the east, we begin passing irrigated fields. We see grapes, asparagus, artichokes, corn, cotton with yellow buds, and pecans. Almost all of these crops are for export to Europe, the USA and China. The farms are privately owned. Many of the fields are surrounded by eucalyptus trees to slow down the winds coming from the desert and off the ocean. Fishing is also a major industry as the cold Antarctic currents come through here and bring “food” with it for fish. The currents bring algae and plankton that fish feed on. This, in turn, brings the anchovies which are food for seabirds, larger fish and whales.

We move along an agricultural valley and reach the Incan Fortress of Tambo Colorado situated between the Pisco River and the Pacific Ocean. The Incas were actually the 5th people to inhabit these lands. First were the Paracas, then the Nazcas (have you heard of the Nazca Lines?), then there was a time of Empires and finally Kingdoms before the Inca’s inhabited this area.. Tambo Colorado (red resting place) was established in 1440 A.D. and at the height of the Inca civilization there were 10 million people. This was a very advanced civilization.

We jump off the bus to see this magnificent place. Today is the most fabulous weather, warm/cool with light breezes and sunny. Unfortunately in Coquimbo/Santiago, Cope left his Australian Bush Hat on the bus. So the first thing he does is wade through the vendors wanting to sell us hats at the side of the bus and bargains for new a new hat. 6 bucks. ;-) He loves this bargaining stuff ;-)

This site was the administrative center ruled over by Pachacutec, the ninth Inca ruler. As we walked the ruins we could imagine warriors and families living on these grounds. There is a central plaza and you can still see the “red and yellow” pigment that was used to paint the adobe walls. We see bedrooms, storage areas for grain, family dwellings, kitchen and even rooms with “piped in” water for baths and showers. This water comes from the advanced irrigation techniques used by the Inca’s to bring water also to the crops. Running for 16,900km right behind this mighty fortress, is the world renowned Inca Trail. We take each other’s pictures on this amazing trail. ;-)

Down by the buses there are vendors and Jean stops a young boy who is selling rocks. He wants $1.50 for a rock but he doesn’t have any change so Jean offers him $3 for 5 rocks and he agrees ;-)

This has been quite mystical morning thinking about people who pre-dated us by hundreds of years and seeing how this advanced civilization lived. This magnificent civilization was brought to its knees and finally it’s demise by the Spanish Conquistador, Francisco Pizarro, who crushed them as he made his way down the Peruvian coast in 1528.

Next Port: Lima, Peru


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12th March 2015

Sounds like a wonderful place to explore! I think I might put that one on the future travel plan! Stay safe!
12th March 2015

So happy to read your blog
Thanks for sharing! I thoroughly enjoy the updates on your trip.

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