Monthly Archives: November 2016

Road Tripping in Peru

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img_9147One of my favorite things to do in a country is drive.  Of course, I love trains as well,  But, driving allows you to stop at will. You see things that are not in any guide books, or posted on line.  You get the authentic feel of a country, catch unexpected views,  stop at random roadside stands, and see everyday life in towns.

Since as this blog posts, I am on the road again – this time in Spain, I decided to share some of my favorite random photos from driving in Peru.  Mostly in the Sacred Valley.

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Maras, Peru: Salt Pond Collectives

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Seriously  one of the surprisingly coolest things we saw in South America – A collective of salt ponds, owned (as the name would suggest) collectively, and farmed by individuals.

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As visitors, we were allowed to walk on the ledges between  and around the ponds and flowing, salty streams.

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And sample the delicious natural salt crusting off of the edges and forming in the ponds.

Farmers come to their ponds to bag up salt to sell, and sometimes,  just hang out and talk.

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These boys were hard at work scraping and bagging salt.  They let me take their picture, but they did not stop working!img_9127

The ponds extend all the way across the  side of the mountain.

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And right to the edge.

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Like I said – very cool, and tasty!

For More on South America: Go Here

For more Sweet Spot Travel: Go Here

Ancient Aliens Part 2: The Ruins of Moray

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While it is true I could not stop calling them “crop circles” for the entirety of the trip – they are actually more oval and in truth, called The Ruins of Moray.  Yet mystery surrounds them nonetheless. Theories range from experimental farming by the Incans,  to outdoor theatre, to landing pad for aliens.  All I really know is,  we liked them…whatever their purpose. But, I have to say, I am leaning towards alien landing site because you can never have too many alien theories.

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The walk around.

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Stairs – cool and functional!

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Rules don’t apply…

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Bird’s eye view.

A quick stop, but worth every minute!

Also see: Ancient Aliens Part 1: Lines of Nazca

For More travel in South America: Go Here

For more Sweet Spot Travel: Go Here

Ruins for Peru: Marco’s Pisaq

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photo-jul-30-4-50-58-pm  I am sorry to tell you this – but for the most part, this is going to be a boring post.  It is nothing against the Ruins of Pisaq, really – they were amazing and the town was quaint and came with the appropriate amount of South American dogs (aka the street cleaners)…

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This dog has done his job well!

And I always love a good market (Teen picked up a, if not cool, completely “Peru appropriate” hat)…

photo-jul-30-4-49-32-pmHowever, I have to say the most memorable thing in Pisaq was Marco.  Marco, is apparently the man in Pisaq, who “makes things happen.”  For us – well he made the best Empanades in all of Peru happen.  Marco is kind of a mystery, though.  All we know is that whenever there was a question on cooking, pricing, firing, ingredients, materials, you name it – in the little back-of-the-building Empanada quiosk – the workers would yell to the front of the shop for “MARCO!”.  Marco would come, as if out of thin air, do…something…to make all well and disappear as quickly as he arrived.  All I know is, I have never had empanades quite like these before, and fear I never will again.

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All good to go now…thanks to Marco.

Don’t get me wrong,  the ruins were beautiful – with perfectly formed terraces…

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Tucked inside walls of mountains…

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To the halfway point…

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And continuing up…

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To see the amazing views from above.

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All of which I feel sure…Marco somehow had a hand in.

 

For More on South America: Go Here

For more Sweet Spot Travel: Go Here

Getting Spit on in Oyantaytambo

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photo-aug-02-11-32-54-amTo be sure, this is not the first time we have been spit on in our travels.

We were innocently there to see the ruins that day.

Through the Incan courtyard at the base…

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To begin our accent at the bottom…

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Stopping halfway up, aghast at how much more hiking up there is to go…

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To finally reach the top to see the “big rocks”…

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And the view…

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And then back down again…

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetTo maybe enjoy browsing the market at the entrance…

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But first, a distraction. We just thought they were cute, and merely wanted to express our admiration…

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But we found out all too late,

the feeling was not mutual…

Chinchero, Peru

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She’s there.

The town of Chinchero – we were going to skip it.  We had such an ambitious schedule of sightseeing on the day we drove near Chinchero, we were going to go on by.  However, our cab driver, Juan – who was taking us from Cusco to Oyantaytambo – encouraged us to make a stop.  He said the church is unique, we did not want miss it.  Ok, we have seen alot of churches in our day and were dubious about the claim.  However, we hate to think we missed something special.  So…we stopped.

To get to the church involved a walk up hill which, after hiking two ruins already that day, did not thrill the Teens.  But we pressed on up the colorful, quaint streets until we reached the church yard.  The church was an old village church – And what do you know, the man knows his country!  It goes down in my book as not only one of the most beautiful churches I have seen, but also as one of my favorite places in Peru.

Honestly, I am not sure I captured it in pictures – but I tried.

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A little Llama shopping.

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The market.

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The church yard

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The church.

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The beautifully painted ceiling

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A little fun.

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She’s still there.

Next time: The Ruins of Pisaq

For More on South America: Go Here

For more Sweet Spot Travel: Go Here

Ruins of Peru: Rock Sliding in Saqsayhuaman

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Jaguar Teeth

The ruins of Saqsayhuaman were impressive – ok, maybe not Machu Picchu impressive. Nonetheless, in addition to the pretty cool “Jaguar Teeth” rock construction (see above and below),

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And some awesomely huge, oddly fit together stones,

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That is one big rock…

Saqsayhuaman Ruins had one thing no other ruins we have ever been to, offered…

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A naturally smoothed rock slide! Nothing was put on the rock to make it smooth – no Disney-esk manipulations.  Just smoothed by time, and a lot of behinds. We felt the need to contribute…

The Teens spent most of our time at Saqsayhuaman going down one way,

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or another…

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Racing with new local friends,

photo-jul-30-11-33-37-amUntil it was time to leave,

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For More on South America: Go Here

For more Sweet Spot Travel: Go Here

Beautiful Cusco and the No Tocar Lady

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Planning the next adventure…

Cusco is a stunning city and as it happens, the perfect jump off point for our quest to Machu Picchu! We spent days there both coming and going.  In that time we were able to learn some very pertinent pieces of information about Cusco and Peru.

Like, for instance, Peruvian cats are pretty much the same as cats everywhere as in “Lady, hurry up and take my picture and move on down the &$# road so I can get on with what’s really important… my nap time.

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Queen of the market.

As the ever present South American stray dogs, take whatever they can get and sleep wherever they can…

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A rest between trash pic ups…

The merchants work and sell in style and technicolor…

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Teen became a Chincha drink connoisseur … I think hope the kind without alcohol…

Processed with VSCO with g2 presetThe churches were grand and beautiful so as not to be outdone by the majestic surrounding mountains..

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Santa Monica Monastery

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Compania de Jesus

Side Photography Note:  There was a big sign in the way, preventing me from taking this photo symmetrically. Teen pointed out later, the sign said “no foto”.

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I like my Jesus in a gold sequined loin cloth…

And unless you want to be boosted for soles for services rendered – as in payment for letting you take their photo with the baby Llamas…

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Seriously? I only bribe my kids  and pets to pose for me…

Take the photo from the back…

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Be prepared to walk, alot…

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Catch stunning views everywhere you go…

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Oh – and very important!  If you are going to seek out the not to miss, but hard to find 12 sided stone, watch out for the “No Tocar” Lady.  No matter the time of day or night, the minute you get anywhere near the ancient stone, she will leap out of the shadows proclaiming her battle cry of “No Touching!!!!”.  Yeah, well, can’t blame a tourist teen for trying…

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So close…

On the chance of any Incan God repercussions, for my non-payment of the Llama girls, unauthorized photos,  and Teens aggressive attempts to spurn No Tocar Lady, we thought it best to move on…

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Cusco, Peru

Next – The Ruins of Peru.

For More on South America: Go Here

For more Sweet Spot Travel: Go Here

Ancient Aliens Tour Part 1: Lines of Nazca, Peru

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We had decided long before our trip we could not miss seeing the lines of Nazca in Peru.  Never mind that there is no real convenient way to get there, never mind that from Lima it takes a taxi – more than 3 1/2 hour bus ride – 30 minute plane ride to even get close, never mind that you have to actually fly over them to see, never mind that air sickness is imminent as the plane roles from side to side to view the lines, never mind that in actuality they are hard to pick out the figures – kind of like trying to see one of those pictures through a random pattern (which I could never do!).  No, none of this was a deterrent as we collectively decided it was something we weren’t leaving Peru without seeing…and seeing as how I eventually had to go back to work, and the Teens had to start school some time, we decided to just suck it up and go for it.

We got up and left our hotel at one of those hours of the morning when it would have been way more fun to just be going to bed.  The taxi picked us up at our hotel in Mira Flores, Lima and took us to the bus station.  From there we caught a bus for the almost 4 hour ride to Paracas/Pisco.

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Yes, the view was somewhat bleak (although I like all views a country has to offer!)…

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We arrived in Pisco where we were to catch the small 12 seater plane that was to fly us over the lines.  However, we had some time to kill, so we went into the nearby seaside town of Paracas.

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Having been warned of the possibility of motion sickness on the small plane as it had to roll form sided to side for viewing the figures, I was way too afraid to eat.  However, this did not stop Teen, who with his uncanny food finding skills, located a vendor with the best wrapped tamales in the entire country of Peru…

photo-jul-28-11-51-36-amFinally, it was time to go to the airport (and I use that term loosely) to get weighed for our flight, strap in, and get ready for our first “Ancient Aliens” adventure…

We were given a map of the Nazca line figures we were going to fly over, and instructed in techniques on how to best avoid getting motion sickness (umm, yeah, forget that, I took motion sickness pills). And finally, we were on our way!

photo-jul-28-1-12-51-pmIt took 30 minutes in order to get to  where the actual figures were, but along the way we began to see signs of the amazing several mile – absolutely straight lines that criss crossed the terrain.

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And finally… The Lines of Nazca! We flew in and around the area for about an hour. Here are just a few of the several we saw that day.  They were harder to pick out than anticipated, but once we got the hang of it, it got easier.  The plane would go around each figure, turn on its side so each side of the plane could get a good view.

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The Hummingbird

 

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The Parrot

I think we all agreed, fittingly, “the spaceman” was our favorite although I was not able to get a photo of him (hmmm?).

And then it was back to the quaint town of Paracas to (finally) eat and get ready for the long trek back to Lima.

photo-jul-28-4-07-06-pmA long day to be sure, but undeniably worth it!

Next time – Cusco

For more travel in Peru: GO HERE

For more Sweet Spot Travel: GO HERE