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Brian and Davina's journeys

South America

PERU | Wednesday, 17 February 2010 | Views [792] | Comments [2]

Arrive at hotel in Santiago (Holiday inn at airport)  to find that our travel agent despite my emailed request) had failed to reinstate our reservation ; and guess what – no room at the inn. BK however remains sanguine and then they manage to find a room for us. The staff here were unbelievable- nothing like many European Holiday Inns- great rooms and super staff. In fact everyone in Chile was very friendly, but all warned us against thieves in Santiago, and said that much more unsafe in Peru. It was not helped by our night in Lima in a lovely old villa that was surrounded by high voltage cables on the top of its walls. We set up a cordon sanitaire and don’t allow anyone near us and are getting totally paranoid. It is a great shame. However, have so far managed to get out of both Chile and Peru without mishap- so fingers crossed for the rest of the trip.

Another flight- this time to Cusco. We had planned to visit Machu Picchu, but closed owing to torrential downpours a few weeks ago, and people still trapped there. Cusco itself is fabulous- here it was safe to walk the wonderful cobbled streets, and it was wonderful to relax an visited the wonderful cathedral. The Jesuits also had a fabulous church- it looked actually bigger than the cathedral ( which was run by Dominicans) and there was a history of conflict between them. As both were keenly involved in the Inquistion we were  not taking sides. We visited a wonderful friary that was built over the remains of an Inca sun temple. The Spaniards deliberately built their religious buildings over Inca ones- I guess it achieved 2 things- 1- the spot was  already considered holy so that it would have the respect of the locals, and 2- it was highly symbolic- a bit like big fish eats little fish-Christianity dominates and triumphs over the Inca mother earth religion. Somewhat ironically we visited a village where grass was growing out of the steeple of the church. We thought this strange as everywhere in Peru the streets are spotless despite the poverty. Our guide told us that the locals were more interested in the earth mother than the mother church!

W visited an Inca museum and learnt that the Inca aristocracy bandaged the skulls of their babies in order to deform their skulls. They had different shape skulls depending on their social status. They also shaved their heads- so when the Incas arrived in an area ( and in the early 16th century their empire expanded massively )- they really did look as if they might have come from outer space or were gods. One shape looks just like the skull in Alien!

The negative about Cusco is the altitude. Despite taking altitude  pills, drinking Coca tea, it is a horrible feeling- can’t breathe properly, every step is an effort, headaches; very dry..it takes days to acclimatize.

We then visited the Sacred Valley- saw wonderful Inca remains-all the terraces were introduced by the Incas and their ability to build with huge blocks of hand carved stones up tops of hills is awesome. The scenery is spectacular- mountains and hills covered in lush green vegetation. Sadly drove past some villages that had had homes swept away when the river burst its banks, but our travel agent assured us it was better for tourists to come than stay away as the whole economy was very dependent on tourism.

Next day a 10 hour coach ride to Lake Titicaca. Even higher up than Cusco. Celebrated the next night by having  oxygen at the hotel- thoroughly recommend it. BK slept through most of the journey- thus missing spectacular scenerary, But we did visit a wonderful church- called the Sistine chapel of Peru. Every wall covered with beautiful, rather naïve murals.

Next day- boat ride on the lake to visit a floating island. Incredible- these guys pay no tax. They gather large floating sections of reeds, bind them together with rope, and built homes on them. They have to attach them to nearby land to stop them floating away. There is a leader on each island, but if somebody has a disagreement they either move their reed house away from the others, or, in extreme cases, they will saw though part of the island and take their bit away ( reminded me of a very old story about my brother and a friend of his, John?, who had a shared hut in our garden!)

The highlight of our trip here though was that we were very lucky to come during a festival. Our guide took us to a village where there were literally no other tourists to see a fabulous dance competition inside a stadium. We were , somewhat embarrassingly, given VIP treatment, and ushered through a gate in the fence, to sit on the trainer/manager bench.

Now off to Ecuador. Have spent the day in town, and tomorrow we are off on our 7 day trip to thr Galapagos- maybe the highlight of the whole trip. Will be out of contact I guess.

I have published a separate gallery of cloud photos by Davina. Originally I must confess to considering her photos out of plane windows to be of dubious merit, but have been convinced (no- she is not twisting my arm!)In her words: Every time we leave one culture, type of architecture, people, landscape, we go up into the clouds, go tuc tuc tuc tuc, a little further on our quest to go around the globe, and then down again, to meet the next new lot of experiences. The flight, and the accompanying clouds help punctuate it!. (not to mention their beauty) My favorite is one she took showing an amazing sunset.

PS- thanks to Angus for explaining about time zones etc and spherical earth-BUT  did u know that the earth is not spherical- it has an equatorial bulge ( a bit like BK?) and the highest point on the planet furthest from the centre of the earth is Mt Chimborazo in Ecuador- beat that!

PPS- forgot to comment on the Incas and their mummies. The head of the family (of the aristocracy) was made into a mummy when he died. When the family visited other families the mummy was brought with- as he had visited when alive so no reason to stop. Whilst the family socialized with the living, the mummy was left to socialize with the mummies of the house being visited!



Great update, and fascinating Brian, that you happen to touch upon my 'period' of history, Spanish Religeon in Southern America...Religious sites were built on previous Mayan sites due to their geographical significance, but you incorrectly assume this was part of a 'big fish/little fish' operation. In fact, Mayan religions worshipped several different gods and the phenomena of using existing sites to worship Catholicism simply gave them one more god to worship, on top of all their others. Angus 2-0 Brian Brian- Angus-though this is your period- i dispute your observation. The Catholic church did not want Christianity to be an additional religion for the locals. They wanted the monopoly and by building over Inca temples were aiming to graphically show that their god was more powerful than the Inca god. At the same time they wanted to win the hearts and minds of the locals- so by adopting their holy sites- they aimed to make catholicism more acceptable ( like Christian links with pagan harvest festivals, May day etc). But the Inquisition and Dominicans were on hand to be rather more ruthless in the elimination of any competition. bk

  Angus Feb 18, 2010 1:40 AM


Hey brikem21,

We really like your story and decided to feature it this week on the WorldNomads Adventures homepage so that others can enjoy it too.

Happy Travels!
World Nomads

  World Nomads Mar 15, 2010 12:39 PM



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