A Travellerspoint blog


Red roofs, llamas and hidden symbols ...

Even though I am backtracking to the past 2 weeks, thought I should still write about this fabulous place called Cuzco.

From Arequipa and the Colca Canyon, Brel and I set off to Cuzco. My Lonely Planet says that Cuzco is the heart of what was once the mighty INCA EMPIRE (Cuzco actually means NAVEL OF THE EARTH in Quetchua). It is a beautiful colonial city (with its famous red roofs) built on hefty Inca stone foundations.


Check out the view from our hotel with the Main Plaza in the middle:


All the churches are built on top of old Inca temples (thanks to the Spanish who wanted to colonize the indigenous and therefore get rid of their temples). The streets are of cobblestone (you can feel that each stone was placed precisely) and they twist all over the city and always seem to be climbing up and up and up. Soooo steep!


We puffed and puffed our way around the narrow passages and mysterious streets, climbing up and up ... all the way to the CHRISTO BLANCO who sits on top of the mountain, protecting the entire city. Check out the real llama who happened to be there when I passed by ...



Brel did some horse backriding up here (of course!).

The view of Cuzco from here up is quite amazing (definitely worth climbing all the stairs):



The indigenous are the majority here but still must constantly fight for their rights. We arrived in the middle of a demonstration (seems very common in the big Latin American cities).
I am of course, as always, fascinated by the women ...


and the llamas that are all over this city. Women bring them along , with their kids (dressed in traditional costume) so as to make money with the tourists who want to take pictures. Nothing is free in Peru, evrything has a price.


And one night we were walking and walking and found this wall of cactus. Anything is possible here. Lots of surprises ...


I'm sorry, but more roofs. Ok I am obsessed!


There indigenous women and children in full costume. Yes, they actually wear these incredible "clothes" everyday. And you see them working their piece of land, walking their animals and doing everything they do, dressed like this.

Could not resist this pose:

And coming down from the mountain we had an encounter with a llama. He was running away and I was able to catch him. Such funny animals.


Even the llamas (females) wear big earings! The indigenous make up most of the population, the tourists the rest I think. Lots of tourists here!!!! The street names are being switched back from spanish to Quetchua spelling. So great! (The Spanish had changed everything to Spanish, of course).

There are still Inca walls present all over the city and they are really incredible!!! Large stones that fit into one another (like puzzle pieces). They didn't use any cement of any sort. The stones were just fitted into one another.


We have read so many legends and stories of the Incas and their gods, the sun (Inti), the mountains and la Pacha Mama that it almost feels like they are still present here in Peru. There are traces of them everywhere, walls, stones, hiden symbols. Those are my favourite. Something called SINCRETISMO which is the fusion of two cultures, the Spanish and the Inca, indigenous. When the Spanish arrived in Peru, in Cuzco, they wanted to catholicize the people and so aside from building churches to cover all Inca temples, they asked indigenous artists to paint saints, the Virgin etc. And so these indigenous artists did it but always managed to insert their own symbols...SO GOOD!!!! I took a tour of the Cathedral in Cuzco where there are a lot of these paintings, the most famous one being the LAST SUPPER. If you look at it carefully, you can't help but notice the big plump guiney pig in the center of the table. The guiney pig, or CUY is part of the indigenous people's diet (still today. All indigenous kitchens have live guiney pigs roaming around). There are a lot of CYUERIAS where you can eat the little rodent.... I tried it. They like to tell us tourists, that there is no cholesterol!!!

Also in the Cathedral I saw the virgins always painted in the shape of a mountain (their Pacha mama), traces of corn in the decorations and even the red crest of the condor disguised as ribbons....

Cuzco is also the place where I have had the best Capuccino. I know, i know it sounds crazy but Brel and I mostly go local when we eat but once in a while a good capuccino can't hurt. The yummiest, with lots of foam (heavy enough that it doesn't sink) sprinklled with chocolate and served in a gorgeous handmade ceramic cup ....ah the little things ....

Hasta luego Cuzco.

Posted by patsybrel 15:44 Comments (2)

3 unforgettable days in the Colca Canyon (Arequipa, Peru)

(It's a miracle ... Brel CAN walk now! )

View SOUTHAMERICA 2007 on patsybrel's travel map.

Oh, THE Canyon trek...
I shouldn't have waited so long to write up the details of SUCH an adventure! It's been 3 days already and we've moved to a different place, a new landscape and a whole new adventure has begun. Hopefully I can reccount it with exactitude ...


I think the Canyon was one of the most amazing experiences so far, definitely a highlight. It was tough and grueling (physically) and so awe inspiring (the landscape, the people met along the way....). And I can't tell you how good it felt to make it up all the way, on my feet. I really didn't think I could make it. Gracias Alvaro (our guide)!

And Brel...
The guide encouraged him along the entire way, telling him stories and legends about the incas, never letting go of his hand (when he needed it) and often even taking their own way, off the beaten track... an adventure of their own. Brel was in heaven (and will be changed forever I am convinced).


15 km of walking up and down tiny little paths of sand and gravel (slippery I tell you) in 2 days. I understand why people get all decked out in special shoes (so as not to slip all the way down- Brel's converse were not ideal), clothes made of special breathable materials (soooo hot under that sun!). I have to stop here and tell you all about the sun. Brel noticed it first. It was a full circle sun with a black "aureole" all around it and then a thin ribbon of rainbow colours. Really spectacular, I must say. Apparently it has a name and 1 of our fellow trekkers (from Manitoba) said that we, Canadians, are also lucky to experience this kind of sun. Not in Montreal.

A taxi picked us up for the trek at 5 am. We made it to the terminal and for some strange reason, and with no apparent warning whatsoever, just before we got on the bus, Brel started puking his lungs out. A long and wet stream of liquid ... oh, oh, bad start I thought. Couldn't even run to the bathroom to wash him off as we would have missed the only bus to our 6 hour destination...Just had time to buy 2 plastic bags on the way, just in case ...

Got on the bus and we had to fight for seats. The tourists (sadly and unfairly) always win. Each guide had saved seats for his group while the locals, (often the most loaded- corn, kids, live animals...) get to stand for hours ....often falling asleep standing up. Quite an amazing feat as the road is so bumpy....

After a few hours, in the middle of nowhere (just a gorgeous Andean landscape) the bus decided he couldn't go any further. Shit ... And so people started running out to pee. Loads of women included. Easy for a man to pee on the side of the road but how do 15 women do it at once??.... they all ran to the river...and poor Brel who had stop puking but had to go #2 so badly...I ran out with him and found an abandoned house wall he could hide behind, so as not to be "the show" for a loaded bus watching .... Poor guy had diahrea. It's never fun but even less on the road, and really bad timing off to a trek ...

Anyways we made it to our first destination. People were filming along the way, the landscape was so crazy. Finally some green in Peru... And you should have seen the women who hopped on the bus along the way....GORGEOUS in their traditional outfits, so different from the previous ones I had seen.

Check it out ...


Nice vegetarian lunch. I had warn the tourguide that I was vegetarian so as not to have to eat chicken at every meal. Just can't seem to digest Peruvian chicken (nor Ecuadorian chicken for that matter).

Then off to the first part of the hike. We got a little briefing and when we looked down at the "road" and all that we were to accomplish just on that first day, it was a little scary. Brel seemed a little worried ...


Check out a little village in the Canyon. There are 4 in total....


Brel is happier now ...


Even though this first day is all down hill (5 hours)... Hard to breath at first as we just had eaten a lot and had to adjust to the climate and altitude ... After an hour I was fine. Making my way down nicely, although trying not to slip and wearing a t-shirt on my head so as not to get sun burned. Made it all the way to a bridge (thank god it didn't swing!) and continued for about 3 hours. the final hour was the toughest. Brel had no more energy (neither did I) and it was all the way up for an hour. Climbing over rocks....But the guide was persistent with both of us and we made it to the family with whom we were to spend the night. Brel's tiredness came out in tears and so we both cried at the top before enjoying a nice cooking session by a fire, the way they still do it in indigenous families here. Our guide was the cook and we were his assistants and the warmth felt so nice. The guiney pigs were running around the kitchen floor (mud) and it all felt so special ...Off to bed by 9.

Day 2.
I was afraid and worried. I had heard and read other people's accounts of that day which was to be a 3 hour walk UPHILL .... The first 3 hours were pretty smooth. We walked through a typical Andean vilage and were lucky to run into the eldest woman of the village (89 years old and she keeps on walking (no choice in this canyon where there are no cars) and you should check out her feet...


The eldest church tour ...


Then a visit to a little museum, created by one of the villagers to show the daily life, instruments and food of the indigenous living in th canyon. Interesting and nice. Beautiful woman ...


And another one met along the way. And I thought I was loaded. The women here are soooo courageous, tough and hard working.


Then walking to a natural pool. Here it is from the top.


We walked and walked until we finally made it IN ...


Brel had slipped a few times and hurt himself. he wasn't in the best of moods. But we made it. The swimming was really cold but so nice. My calves , thighs and ass were in pain from day 1 and I thought the water would help me heal and get me ready for the hardest part .. it did! Lunch and 2 hours to relax before attacking the monstruous walk up. At this point we could decide if we wanted to ride a mule up rather than use our feet. I thought about the mule but felt like it would be cheating... It was decided that Brel would ride up (with my backpack- at least I removed the load off my back which didn't help). I started and the first hour was ok (aside form the heaviness of the heat). We started the journey up at 3:30 because apparently the sun is at its hottest at noon here... I was sweating like a pig and my own smell made me want to run away...There was no way to run UP...

Check out part of the path we had to take up....SO CRAZY!!!


I lost the group, each of us going at his/her own space and then was rescued by the guide who took my hand when needed. I felt like Brel the day before...The hand was reassuring and I felt accompanied, really nice. Brel passed me on his mule. He had a big smile and his guide came beside me and told me "your son is really good". Youpie, more encouragement.


Made it up to be reunited with the entire group. Heaven!!!!!




Then we walked back to the village where we had lunch on the first day as we were to be lodged for the second night. It was around 6 pm , the sun was coming down , the light was changing, the mountains were turning orange, the mules were resting, the kids were playing in the streets, and the women, dressed in their crazy colours were walking home slowly ...like me. Magical atmosphere, magical re-entry into civilization (ha, ha, ha). The hottest shower I've had in SA (sooo good on the aching muscles, less on the crazy sunburn) then supper and bed early.

Day 3
Up at 7 to take a bus to the Cruz del Condor, a condor lookout. We were so lucky, we arrived and there were 3 gliding majestically....



And the landscape on the way back o the city ...OUT OF THIS WORLD.



I want to do more treks!!!!

Posted by patsybrel 15:01 Archived in Peru Comments (1)

3 day trek in the COLCA CANYON ...

3 jours de marche dans le Canyon Colca ...

Petit message tout court pour vous dire que nous partons marcher pendant 3 jours (donc pas de panique si vous n'avez pas de nouvelles de nous)...

A quatre heures au nord d'Arequipa au Pérou s'étend l'impressionnant canyon de Colca, le canyon le plus profond du monde avec 3400 m de profondeur. Son point culminant est à 4350 m d'altitude et on trouve le rio Colca dans la vallée. (MERCI Wikipedia)

Pensez a nous et on vous revient avec des photos jeudi. On a besoin de vous savoir avec nous car ca va etre difficile!!!

Off for a 3 day trek (so don't expect to hear from us for the next few days) ...

Colca Canyon is a canyon of the Colca River in southern Peru. It is located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Arequipa. It is one of the deepest canyons in the world at 10,725 ft (3,269 m); it is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States. However, the canyon's walls are not as vertical as those of the Grand Canyon. The Colca Valley is a colorful Andean valley with towns founded in Spanish Colonial times and formerly inhabited by the Collaguas and the Cabanas. The local people still maintain ancestral traditions and continue to cultivate the pre-Inca stepped terraces.
(THANK YOU wikipedia)

Back on thursday with photos. Until then, think of us and send Brel (and me) some positive vibes and good energy to make it down and then up again!!!

P & B

Posted by patsybrel 19:56 Archived in Peru Comments (11)

Les lignes de Nasca ... une experience ratee !

The Nasca lines ... a disaster!


OK, OK ...
NASCA. I was sooooo looking forward to this part of the trip!!! Brel had researched it for his project at school, we had seen tons of pictures of these ancient geoglyphs (drawings made in the sand years ago (pre Inca)...

And we came all the way out here to fly over the lines. They are impossible to see from the ground and can only be seen in full from the air. It is of course an expensive tour ($45 USA each for 30 minutes) but it was accounted for in our famous "budget". One of the (many) must sees ...

We got up early and made sure to skip breakfast just in case the little plane ride made our stomachs turn (thanks for the warning Lonely Planet!).

We got into our little plane (4 passengers + the pilot) ...


Brel sat in front as the copilot ...


He was excited. I was so scared ...
Je me demandais pourquoi je fais tant de choses dont j'ai si peur ces jours-ci???
Et si Brel apprecie au moins??????

Et puis j'ai pris mon courage a 2 mains. On a decolle. J'ai essaye de prendre des photos.


L'avion planait a gauche et puis a droite.



Il n'y avait pas d'air. J'ai vu un dessin (a peine) et puis j'ai passe le reste du temps a me concentrer sur ma respiration. Je ne pouvais bouger ma tete ni a gauche, ni a droite tellement je me sentais mal. Je pensais m'evanouir, vomir, mourir ...

Et puis Brel a commence a vomir dans son petit sac... Et je le voyais mais je n'avais aucune force pour l'aider ... et puis il n'a plus lache sa fenetre et il a tout vu.

Et puis il m'a raconte et decrit ce qu'il a vu. Et c'est a travers ses descriptions que j'ai "vu" les lignes de Nasca. Et puis jamais plus je prendrai un petit avion et je m'excuse de ne pas avoir de photos des fameux dessins.

Allez voir sur google LIGNES DE NASCA / NASCA LINES.


Posted by patsybrel 19:35 Archived in Peru Comments (5)

Du sable, des dunes ...

et encore du sable (Huancachina, Perou)


Avant de continuer notre periple et de quitter le desert du Perou pour retrouver ses montagnes (ce soir), je voulais vous montrer notre aventure dans le sable (d'il y a 2 jours)...

Huacachina est un tout petit village dans le desert du Perou connu pour sa petite lagune plante en plein milieu du desert de sable, qui dans le temps avait des pouvoirs magiques de guerison. On ne peut meme plus y mettre les pieds tellement l'eau est polluee. Mais il reste toutefois, que c'est un cadre splendide.

Un petit coin de ce petit paradis ...qui est completement deserte en ce moment car comme c'est a 10 minutes de Ica (la ou il y a eu le tremblement de terre) les gens on peur d'y venir.


Tel que convenu avec Brel, nous avons fait un tour en SAND BUGGIE dans le desert pour pouvoir faire quelques essais de SAND BOARDING, question de troquer un peu de neige contre du sable...

Brel au volant de la dite machine dont j'aurai pu me passer (bruit infernale + cause d'une sorte de mal de mer mais bref ...)



Grace a cet engin, nous avons pu nous rendre dans ces dunes ... digne du desert du Sahara, il me semble. Jamais j'aurai pense voir ceci au Perou... Peu importe on on regardait, il n'y avait que ciel et sable ...


Et puis Brel etait pret ...



C'est lui la ...

Et puis une petite pause coucher de soleil ... absolument magnifique!!! Mes photos sont ratees mais je vous laisse imaginer ...


Ca donne envie de voler. Peu importe ou on regardait, on ne voyait que ciel et sable ...


Et Brel qui avait envie de jouer a cache cache ...



Et puis une photo pour ma maman qui aime tant l'herbe haute (qui pousse dans la lagune) ...


Et encore un des amis de Brel. Couleurs splendides!!!


Et un autre qui malheureusement ne pouvait jouir d'aucune liberte ...


Et puis finallement, la lagune vue d'en haut, juste apres le coucher de soleil ...


Besitos de arena, encore!
Patsy et Brel

Posted by patsybrel 18:41 Archived in Peru Comments (7)

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