Piscos, Pals and Pictures in PERU!

Part of the excitement of moving back overseas is the opportunity to visit friends who you've served with at previous posts and experience the culture with the "locals."

We just returned from an amazing week in Peru, where we did just that.  We hung out with our friends in Lima.   We flew to Cusco and saw the ancient Incan Ruins.  And we took the kids to their FOURTH Wonder of the World ... Machu Picchu.  (Read here about our previous trips to Petra, The Pyramids, and the Taj Mahal).

Our arrival into Lima was wicked late that Saturday evening, March 28th, but our dearest friends from Chennai had a taxi waiting for us at the airport, and food and drinks at their house ... despite it being midnight when we got there.  All 9 of us stayed up until almost 3 am catching up on the latest, but surprisingly awoke early the next day to begin playing tourists!  

It was an action packed day filled with a delicious brunch on the coast, an hour bus-tour, shopping at the local artisan street fair, and even seeing a high school girlfriend who lives in Lima for dinner.

 Okay - so we may have had a *wee* bit of trouble finding the taxi driver who was waiting for us with a laminated sign at the airport ...

 But our 36 hours came to a very quick end, and we said our goodbyes as we jetted off to Cusco. 

Cusco is one of the most important archaeological sites in South America, one of the most visited tourist attractions in all of Latin America and is the most visited tourist attraction in Peru, receiving almost a million visitors a year.  The Imperial City was laid out in the pattern of a puma -- one of the 3 levels of Inca spiritual life: the condor - above the earth; puma - on the earth; the snake - below the earth, and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO.
 L: Our Hotel in Cusco.  R: Matt & Riley eating alpaca from a street vendor.

 After a late night stroll, grabbing a bite at 10pm in the hotel ... where Grady finally realized he was zonked and passed out on the couch while we ate.

The Plaza in Cusco
We packed a lot of sight seeing into our two days in Cusco, and after a quick trip to Starbucks, we were on the road with our guide.  Our first stop was to Tambomachay, known as the Baths of the Inca.  The structure has 3 levels, as was common among Inca buildings, and had been built with perfectly fitting-together unequal-shaped bricks without the usage of mortar.  It consists of a series of aqueducts, canals, and waterfalls that run through the terraced rocks. 

 I spy with my little eye ...

Next, we went to the Inca fortress of Saqsayhuamán, (which when pronounced, sounds almost exactly like Sexy Woman).  Sitting at an altitude of about 12,000 ft., it is difficult to grasp the enormity of the complex, as well as the overall structure and shape. 

This monumental complex was planned and built by Andean Man and was one of the most important religious complexes of its time.  The Incas called it the House of the Sun and the Spaniards called it a fortress because of its location high above Cusco, its zig-zag shape, and immense terrace walls.  Climbing to a higher level gave us a better view of the complex but also yielded a very good view of the sprawling city of Cusco. 

Our last stop of the day was to Koricancha or Temple of the Sun.  It was dedicated primarily to Inti, the Sun God and was the foremost temple in the Inca Empire.

The inter-sanctum of Koricancha once displayed the great wealth and strength of the Inca empire in the form of hundreds of solid gold panels covering the walls, as well as golden statues, altars and an enormous golden disc which represented the sun itself.  All the gold and many of the priceless artifacts were plundered by the Spanish when the Inca were conquered and Cusco fell under their rule.  At least two major earthquakes did significant damage to the church, but the 1950 earthquake collapse of the Spanish architecture revealed the still-standing Inca walls and several previously hidden chambers.

Grady is standing next to one of the limestone blocks, showing the intricate Lego-like system used to build the stone structures.

While testing out a selfie-stick, the lady holding the little lamb jumped into our picture at the last minute.  Best. Photobomb. Ever.

The next morning we checked out of our hotel and began our drive through the scenic landscape to the Urubamba Valley, the "Sacred Valley of the Incas”.  In route, we stopped at Awana Kancha, where we saw animals native to the Andes.  It’s a camelid farm dedicated to the animals and intricate textiles produced from their wool. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Perlman family vacation without a little regurgitation … though this time it wasn’t from the kids.  It was from the llama who decided to spit the largest mouthful of goo all over Sheridan’s face, mouth, and jacket.  It. Was. AwesomeDisgusting.  Awesome.

We continued the drive to the town of Pisac and visited the colorful Pisac Market, where the local Indians meet to sell their merchandise as they have done it for centuries. 
 Overlooking the Sacred Valley
Grady HAD to have this fedora.

After stopping for a late lunch, we finished our tour in the town of Ollantaytambo, a massive citadel located 50 kilometers from Machu Picchu, from where we climbed up to its imposing Inca fortress at the top of the mountain.  Nowadays this is an important tourist attraction on account of its Inca buildings and as one of the most common starting points for the three-day, four-night hike known as the Inca Trail. 

After a long day of driving, touring and hiking, we bid adieu to our guide, and checked in to our luxury hotel in the Sacred Valley.  Where we stayed until we took the train the next day to .........

......... Stay Tuned!


Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

This is incredible! What an amazing trip and amazing photos! Thinking of you, sweet friend! XOXO

Christy said...

Wow what an amazing adventure for you all. I think of you and your mom all the time Jill. Sending you love and hugs and prayers always. xoxo Miss you friend.

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