We arrived in Puno c. August 26 by boat from Guaqui, Bolivia’s port on Lake Titicaca (elev. 12 500 feet). In Puno (or on the overnight voyage) I learned the joke, still popular among Peruvians today, that Peru claims to have the “Titi” end of the lake. We did not stop to visit the Lake or its Uros people on the floating islands. I did revisit Peru last August-September with my wife, Anita, our daughter, Jeanne, and grandson, Remy (this time with more leisure and more money). The four of us visited the Uros and the people of Taquile Island. That is well described in this post.
The last part of my 1967 trip was pretty busy. Not much time for reflection. Plenty now…
We took a train the same day from Puno to Cusco. High wetlands and picturesque desert to cross before getting to the very fertile valleys around Cuzco:
Spent five nights in the ancient Inca capital, amazed at the brilliant way the Inca could cut stone and how they used symmetry in windows on facing walls. Perhaps also amazed, the Spanish conquerors nevertheless destroyed or recycled much of what they found in or near Cusco that was not too big to move. Fortunately, enough magnificence remains to make Cusco one of the two most popular destinations in South America for Gringo tourists like me in the 21st century. The other one is, understandably, Rio de Janeiro. The ancient settlement of Ollantaytambo, halfway to Machu Pichu from Cusco, is the best-preserved example of what a complete Inca settlement was like. The ancient homes nearby are still occupied. Ollantaytambo is shown in Part One of my blog of our 2013 trip to Peru.
My eighty best slides of South America sadly didn’t make it across the pond when Anita and I flew from England to Montreal in 1972. Don’t know how we lost them during our few years in Cheshire while she finished training as a nurse, but I digress. Fact is, my favorite photo from Cusco – of the twelve-cornered stone – is not available for this post. So I refer you to this wikipedia article on Inca Architecture. Go nuts!
We took a train to Machu Picchu Town, now called Aquas Calientes, on the Urubamba River below the site. There were no buses to the site until the 1980’s, and not many decent places to stay, so we arrived and climbed to the site on foot. It took about an hour. After an all-too-quick, but spectacular, visit of this wonderful, ancient city we walked back down and took the train back to Cusco.
These are what I’ve selected of Cusco and Machu Picchu (Mapi for short) from my 1967 trip. I stood next to the sundial in 1967. Now it’s roped off. Also I include a slide of one of one of my four Peace Corp traveling companions at Mapi. Fortunately the conquistadores never found out about Mapi. It had been abandoned shortly before the Spanish arrived in Peru, probably due to a civil war among the Inca that was still being waged when 168 Spanish soldier/sailors under Francisco Pizzaro captured Inca Atahualpa at Cajamarca. The conquest is one of the most amazing – and shocking – stories ever. It involved surprise, pyrotechnic theatre, incredible panic – and a fatal degree of hubris on the part of the Inca king, who felt invincible, having all but totally conquered his Inca opponents in the civil war. Check this incredible story out here. For those who plan to visit Peru, or are interested in that fabulous country, I recommend a wonderful book comprising articles by poets and thinkers on ancient and contemporary Peru, called The Peru Reader.
More Lima photos:
Lima was charming but my companions and I were preoccupied with getting the papers we needed to enter Ecuador from Peru. Relations between those two countries were a little testy, as our little band of five would soon learn. A few surprises were in store for us. But they will have to wait until the next installment.