Friday, October 31, 2014

Peru Road Trip - Part Two

Hey all,

I'm back with the second part of our trip.  We had a wonderful first three days and the second four where just as amazing.  The Andes were beautiful and very different from the greener Andes we hiked in Chile.  Different, yet amazing.

The high plateaus in the Andes, barren except for the tall grasses and sparse cactus almost echo with loneliness, but they aren't lonely.  There were many animals we saw as we drove through.  Both wild and domesticated.

And as we traveled, we saw things that both impressed and amazed us.  While we didn't LOVE the scenery, because of the type of geography it was, we were still intrigued and curious about what we saw.  Who were these people who could eke out a life in such bleak surroundings?

But the more we traveled, our slight disgust (I admit it, my Western mind saw the ugly and didn't understand the beauty) changed.  We quickly began to respect the people who lived here.  They lived, loved and laughed.  They built homes and communities out of nothing.  They raised their families, governed their people and then, finally died, all the time knowing they had done the best they could for themselves.

We saw empty plains, small villages, lakes and cities and each one showed us something different and amazing about the Peruvian people.  And I look forward to sharing them with you.

So here we go...

We woke up to this view out of our hotel room in Colca Canyon.  Not too shabby, huh?

Our neighbor--a domesticated Alpaca--with the beautiful Andes behind him. I didn't get too close.  He wasn't unfriendly, but I didn't want to get into his personal space.  *smile*

On our way to the Condor Lookout, we  came upon many locals heading to work.  This is just one of a dozen we ran into.

In Colca Canyon they have several valleys with pre-Inca agricultural terraces.  It is an amazing bit of farming.  The terraces are cut into the whole mountain like stacked staircases.

Here I am at the Colca Canyon Condor Lookout Cross.  You can see the sculptured mountains behind me.

 Unfortunately, we didn't see many condors the morning we went, but we weren't too upset.  We'd seen them the previous day as we wandered the high Andes.  Love those unexpected treats.

This pic I got online, so you could see the monument.  Great pic, whoever took it.

 Once we left Colca Canyon, we headed straight to Lake Titicaca.  On the way we drove past the Mirador de los Volcanes which offers views of several volcanoes that soar to more than 20,000 ft.  And before them are thousands upon thousands of wayfarer stones.  It's a pretty cool sight.

And on the way we discovered a wonderful surprise.  We weren't expecting to be able to see Andean Flamingos since we didn't travel in Northern Chile, so seeing these birds grazing in the middle of nowhere was dance worthy!

Not quite as brightly colored as those in zoos because of their diets, but it was still so cool to watch.  And the first time I'd seen flamingos in the wild.

The next morning we woke to the sunrise over Lake Titicaca.  We got up early so we could take a boat trip out to the Uros Islands.  

Not too bad of a view, huh?  Lake Titicaca is as big as the country of Costa Rica.  We could only see a teeny, tiny portion of it.  Even when we were out on the lake.

Our first look at the amazing Uros Islands.  These floating islands are where the Uros people live and their culture is quite unique.   They do everything here.  Live, work and raise their families.

This is the first island we visited.  We got a little lecture about how the islands are built.  Pretty amazing and informative.  You can check it out HERE on this cool blog.

This is the inside of one of the huts on the island.  I tried one of the beds.  Actually it was pretty comfortable.  I was pretty impressed.  Some of them were bigger than the room I live in.  
 The outside of the another, smaller hut.

We took a totora reed boat to the "capital city" of Hananpacha.  That's where the kids go to school, there is a real post office, restaurants and shops.  Primitive, but workable.

As you can see it's much bigger than the smaller island.  These communities may seem odd to us "land dwellers", but I have to say, I thought them quite astonishing.

The next day we visited the UNESCO site of the Santa Catalina Monastery.  I have to say, this is the most amazing place I've been in a long time.  This is a map of the monastery.  As you can see, it's bloody huge!!!!

One of the first courtyards in the convent.  Serene and beautiful, it goes by the name of Silence.

Another courtyard.  The three crosses are another area where the nuns would pray.

 As you can see, they love their courtyards.  I have to say I wouldn't mind being cloistered amongst such peace and beauty.

Most of the rooms had their own kitchen.  Very different than what I expected in a convent.

The living quarters were simple, but comfortable.  Again, very different than what I expected.
The convent had dozens of streets and alleyways.  It really is a small city in itself.

A street scene, one I loved getting on film.

 One last look at Santa Catalina Monastery.  It was a gorgeous, unique and interesting place, and I'm blessed to have had the time to visit.  I'd go back in a heartbeat and spend even more time, it was so lovely.  I think it was the perfect way to end our mini-vacation.

So, there you have it...  Our Peruvian road trip.  We still have a couple of places to visit, the biggest one being Machu Picchu at the end of next month, but this was the biggie.  So many places, so little time.

Plus, things are a changing.  Again.  I'll have more to share on that in NEXT weeks blog.  So stay tuned.  You never know what I'll be up to next!

And on that note... Click on the pic for a special message to my fans!

Hugs to all!!!!

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams


Ray said...

The scenery in the arid photos looks rather normal to me. I grew up where as soon as you left farmland you were in sagebrush as far as the eye could see. Go north as far as Grand Coulee and it gets really rugged.

Then there is Spain.

The rest of your pictures are absolutely beautiful. The Uros Islands are amazing.

What was the highest elevation you encountered in the Andes. I remember driving in the Rockies in a car with a carburetor. When I got above a certain elevation I had to push the accelerator to the floor to keep going until I stopped in a garage to have it adjusted for the altitude.
Was it difficult to walk at altitude?

CJ England said...

The highest WE went was 4885 meters as we drove through the pass from Arequina to Colca Canyon. The car labored a lot.

We had some trouble breathing, but not as much as expected. But at Lake Titicaca, where we were for longer, we did. As long as we walked slowly, it wasn't so bad. But sleeping was really difficult. Felt like a boulder on my chest.

Phylis said...

Your pictures are beautiful CJ! What an interesting trip. Thank you for sharing...I'm still playing catch up.