Art, architecture, history, travel


1986 Cuzco, Macchu Picchu and Bolivia 3/4

Copacabana peninsula, Lake Titicaca

Copacabana peninsula, Lake Titicaca (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did I mention we are using the same backpacks we used on our honeymoon in Egypt in 1982?

Stella took us into town to a shopping mall with a travel agent were we booked our trip to Cuzco, Macchu Picchu and the flight back from Bolivia. She didn’t seem sure we knew what we doing, but we were. It all seemed a little adventurous to her. Bolivia just sounded so interesting.

We were going somewhere she had never been. Her favorite destination was the United States. Jackie, Stella’s daughter told us, I’ve never been to Bolivia. It’s our neighbor like Mexico is to you.  Katie got a really nice purse it was really soft. Later we gave it to Marion. We also went to a very famous silver shop, Camusso. They had really nice things.

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Tiwanaku, Bolivia

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Macchu Picchu

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Macchu Picchu

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Macchu Picchu

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Macchu Picchu

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Fresh Fish, Copacaana

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Cuzco, Peru

We got up early and to take the plane to Cuzco CUZ, the capital of the Inca Empire. Pancho took us to the airport . When you get there you drink coca tea and rest because of the altitude change. Those that didn’t sure regretted it. The train for Macchu Picchu leaves at the crack of dawn. It follows the valley of the Urubamba river valley that is a beautiful view in itself.

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Human Sacrifice, Ollantaytambo, Peru

Macchu Picchu remained hidden until 1911 when discovered by Yale archeologist Hiram Bingham. The thing about it is the days and nights are about the same leangth. Being near the equator it gets dark early.  We spent that afternoon exploring the ruins. We spent the night at Macchu Picchu, also known as the lost city of the Incas.  In the morning we climbed to the top of Huayna Picchu, the small peak. The view is actually better from the ground. As is so often the case, something big looks better when you’re not standing right underneath it.


When we got back to Cuzco, the children were buying bundles of grass to feed their cuy or Guinea pigs. Yes, they’re actually native to SA.

Back at Cuzco we visited the nearby fortress of Ollantaytambo and Saksaywaman.

Believe it our not in fourth grade I had a friend who moved to St Louis from Bolivia he spoke French. There was a scary guy on he train named Jerry. He had come all the way from Iquitos in the rain forest in one day, sea level and was obviously suffering from altitude sickness. We got to Puno after dark we had been warned about the crime at the train station and the backpack slashers. We got out of there as fast as we could. The next day we got on a boat and were on our way across lake Titicaca for Copacabana in Bolivia.Much of Bolivia is Called the altiplano. It’s the highest plateau in the world after Tibet. In the sixteenth century Bolivia provided fantastic wealth to the Spanish empire from Potosi or mountain of silver. Today the silver is played out and tin is mined. Bolivia is a poor country as shown is the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. One of the best buddy movies ever made. Originally known as Upper Peru the name was changed to Bolivia to honor Simon Bolivar. On the boat we met a couple from Austria.

Changing Money At that time inflation was rampant in Bolivia. The government couldn’t print enough large bills so the money changers just bundled them together with rubber bands. One night I ran out of money so I had to change with the waiter at the restaurant since the banks were closed. While driving to La Paz we saw trade caravans crossing the desert on Llamas, following the same route they had used for centuries.

Our Austrian friends told us they were leaving La Paz because they people made them feel unwelcome. That’s a shame because they had come such a long way.

Did you take water from the Titcaca see. Along with Mexico Bolivia is very popular with Germans and Austrians.

Tiwanaku is the famous archeological site outside of la Paz. Its totems are well know and have great psychological significance. We gave a post card to our German friend she said this is just for me I’m not sharing it with any one.

On the flight back to Lima from LaPaz LPB we stopped in Arequipa AQP the white city and flew over the Atacama desert.

The Atacama desert is the driest desert in the world. Some parts have seen  less than 10mm of rain in 200 years. This is what makes the fishing so great. Anchovies and Tuna. The Birds eat the fish and the poop collects. A very important source or nitrate very important during WWI. The cold Humboldt current comes up anticlockwise from antarctica. It is much warmer at comparable latitudes on the Atlantic side of the continent.

1986 Next Stop Peru 2/4

A visit to Lima, Peru on vacation through Sout...

A visit to Lima, Peru on vacation through South America, July 2010 (cc) David Berkowitz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

archivo de presentación en la Plaza San Pedro,Lima

archivo de presentación en la Plaza San Pedro,Lima (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though our plane arrived a day late, Pancho was waiting for us at the airport.  When we asked him how he knew how to find us, he said that’s easy I just called the airport and asked if any planes were arriving from BA today. They said not today but we do have one tomorrow, mañana. I think our plane arrived about 6 pm. It was Thursday. The flight on Lufthansa took about 8  hours including a stop in Santiago to pick up fuel and more passengers. That’s the SA way. No way to call ahead and let him know in those days. That just the way things were done.


Map of Lima

So different in those days without Yelp or google. A good deal of time was spent on research, reading relying on locals and friends.
Finding things and getting lost.

Now I should say a few things about the Finns and the connection with
SA. Eduardo del Rosario and my father-in-law, Mr. Finn had been in basic training in the Mojave desert in California during WWII.

They renewed their friendship at Fort Knox during the Korean War. When Rosario returned to Peru he became a general. They had a daughter named Stella. They sent her to college in Cincinnati. She used to visit the Finns on weekends. Pancho was studying in Kansas, he used to drive to Cincinnati for dates sometimes. That’s about 700 miles, before interstates. It’s a wonder what a man will do for love. Katie was about nine years old.  Katie told me he had a record player hooked up in his car so he could listen to music. No CD’s or eight tracks, then. The first time I met Katie she told me her brother was staying with friends in Peru. I thought well isn’t that interesting. I never thought of Peru as a place people actually visited. There were Political problems in Peru in the 60’s. The Generals’ had staged a coup and overthrown the President. There was trouble with the US over fishing rights, especially tuna. I remember my dad telling me about it.

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Pancho owned ladrillos Rex in Lima, a foundry that made bricks. They have four children. The little boy really liked his He-man space mountain. He had all kinds of other He-man toys to play with. Pancho built his own house with bricks from his factory. One of the girls gave up her room to me and Katie. Pancho paid as much for his car as he did for his house. Labor is cheap imports are expensive. When we arrived at their house from the airport, they had a special surprise for us. It was Budweiser from St. Louis. We did get to try some of the local beer as well.

Lima is one of the oldest cities in the Western hemisphere. It was founded by Pizarro. Its port is Callao. They had a terrible cholera epidemic there in 1991. Peru was one of the last countries to win independence from Spain. At one time the entire South America was ruled from here, known as the viceroyalty of Peru, Limeños are very proud of that fact. Lima is also home to one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of San Marcos. I had an Austrian friend in Cincinnati who used to teach Pharmacology there during the summers, their winter.

A word about the calendar we arrived in September so it was just about the end of winter there, but since Lima is close to the equator 60 F is about as cold as it gets, but with the humidity it’s still a chilling cold. The climate is moderated by the cold Antarctic Humboldt current. More on that later.

Unlike the dialect spoken in BA the Spanish of Peru is modeled on Castilian Spanish. Peru is also under the influence of two native languages Quechua and Aymara, also due to many Asian workers, Chinese and Japanese. It is a fascinating country a melting pot in its own special way. In many ways Lima is just like any other city on the Pacific coast in California, in many ways not. Miraflores and San Isidro are nice. One day we went to a Chinese restaurant with Stella’s friend, Linda. The special dish was pigeon. Pancho didn’t tell us about it until after we ate it. It wasn’t bad. It tasted like pigeon, though.

Well, Pancho took good care of us. One night, we went to a Bodega. Things didn’t really get hopping until after 11 pm. Unlike Argentina, they have a curious way of getting on the highways here. They don’t necessarily use an exit if there was a hole in the fence somewhere, they just get on there. Why waste all that gas driving all the way to the exit? The other cars will slow down won’t they? Some people here drive like maniacs. I’ve seen that in Spain and Mexico, too.

One Saturday Pancho took us for a drive. We drove up into the mountains with the children. It was beautiful. I still don’t know how the seven of us fit in that car. It was a big Mercedes like the one I have now. On the way back we stopped at some friends. They are always doing things like that. Dropping in on people. They are very social. They throw lots of parties. One night went to a christening.

Senduro luminoso or shining path was a band of Maoist guerillas who were terrorizing the country. Blowing up power plants, bridges and other infrastructure. The had murdered a New York Times reporter in Ayacucho. Fortunately they were not active in Lima. One time Beatriz heard the fireworks at the Reds game in Cincinnati. She was scared. She thought it was the shining path. We said don’t be scared. We don’t have things like that here. She was good friends with Katie’s mother.

Lima is one of those cities you either love or hate. It does have a problem with air pollution. Katie and I loved it. We loved the history and the people. We ate at many nice restaurants and sometimes at home. The food is excellent especially the fish and shellfish. Pancho never let us pay for a meal. We really appreciated that. One night we ate a special place that had a decor with little huts like the African jungle another night on a pier that jutted right out into the Pacific Ocean. It was just beautiful. There is a special Inca museum called the Gold Museum.

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1957 Cadillac

One day we went downtown on our own. We saw some of the sights including Plaza de armas, Plaza St Martin, Parliament, the cathedral of Lima and the Palacio de Torre Tagle. Some of the older homes still have wooden balconies. We met a Deputy of the Parliament of Peru. He enjoyed showing us a round. He gave us his card. Like many Spanish towns the Plaza de Armas is laid out on a square grid. New Orleans and Cuzco have the same plan, if you look closely. The cathedral was closed the day we came, but we told them we couldn’t come back they let us in anyway. 

Pancho took us on a tour. He showed us a special square built for the anniversary of Peru all of the buildings around the square are identical. He is very proud of his city and rightly so.

We saw a coulple of old 1957 black Cadillacs. The ones that my grandmother loved so much.

gold museum
downtown Lima