Sunday, October 19, 2014

Peru 5: Final Thoughts

Going through my pictures again, I felt like taking one last abbreviated trip before I stop blogging about Peru and move on to the many other posts that are on the back burner. 
The Wilcahuain Ruin near Huaraz is a burial site. There are two sites a short distance apart.
There are many small alcoves inside to facilitate meditation and a place to leave offerings. 

One of the pottery artifacts in the small museum at the ruins.

Agriculture on a hillside. I love the patchwork feel of the fields.

Lupine grows wild and is also cultivated in Peru. The cultivated seeds are about the size of Lima beans and are toxic! So after the harvest, the beans are boiled all day long, then put into a burlap sack and placed in the river for two weeks. The river water washes the toxins away. Afterwards, a traditional salad is made with the beans.

Temple ruins at Chavin. This complex was inhabited by elite priests who practiced their spiritual crafts. Chavin is thought to be the "mother culture" of Peru, and pre-dates the Inca by quite a few centuries.

Typical stone masonry of the period and culture.

One of the most interesting things about this site are these acoustic canals. The people who designed the site moved the nearby river so it would flow underground canals. The holes in the ground amplify the rushing sound, which in turn enhanced the spiritual component of the rituals.

No ritual is complete without a mind-altering drink. The priests imbibed in some sort of concoction made with this cactus that was growing on the premises.

On the solstice, the priests would drink the cactus beverage, meditate in complete darkness, and at sunrise approach this carved stone stele which the light would only hit and light up on that one morning. Even without a drink, meditation, or the auditory enhancements provided by acoustic canals, I felt a magnetic force pulling me in toward this carving. There are things on this planet that defy logic, and I felt that here.

Carvings of different important totems. I believe this is supposed to represent a jaguar, which corresponds to an important constellation and the altar in front of the temple.

I wish I had more pictures of the market and all the ladies in their traditional dress. They don't like their picture taken and I was the only non-Native person present, so I just snuck a few pictures in the animal section. Those guinea pigs are ready "for the restaurant" and housed in a mesh bag. 

Galcier-fed lake surrounded by arboreo del papel, or paper tree.

Our pack animals coming up a mountain trail.

Re-adjusting the packs on the animals before going downhill again.

We found these butterflies half frozen on a very cold morning. They still moved a little and were just waiting for the sun to come up so they could fly again.

During this trip we had to hike over nine passes.  The next few pictures commemorate some these passes.


15,600 feet - the highest I have stood on this Earth thus far.

At 14,500 feet, it is always surprising to find fossils!

One of the unique traits of this trip was experiencing the immense empty valleys. Well, almost empty. Farmers leave their animals here in the dry season and their poop is all over the place.

Another magnificent valley.

When you think Peru, you often think Inca, and terraces. The Inca were not as active in this mid- to northern part of Peru, and thus these terraces were the only we got to see. They were not impressive, but nonetheless interesting to see them carved into a hillside.

Coming up to the Santa Cruz mountains. 

The Santa Cruz chain of mountains were the ones I found most beautiful.  The 45 minutes we spent resting with this viewpoint was one of my favorite memories of the trip.

As mentioned before, there were lots of animals that we encountered.  This cow followed us for about a mile.

There was a canal system that brought some of the lake water down to the villages. 

The quinoa harvest!

Saying good-bye to our donkeys at the end of the trek.

Peruvian National Flower: Cantuta
Adios Peru! I miss it and think about it daily. I can't wait for the next trip. So much for one just one "trip of a life-time!" I'm starting a new savings plan...

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