A trip to the Peruvian Andes


33 Responses to “A trip to the Peruvian Andes”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the great memories. I spent nearly a year living in Cusco, Puno, and Juliaca during 1973, and have been to Ollantaytambo many times. It was the closest I suspect I will ever get to living on another planet. I loved it! And thanks for the plug for Kiva. I love that too.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I had the good fortune to go to Peru last winter, so seeing your pictures brought back some memories.

    I think one of my favorite moments was explaining to some fellow American tourists why bringing coca leaves or coca tea back to the United States would lead to a long and uncomfortable conversation with the DEA. Apparently they never picked up the coca->cocaine process.

    Also, it’s a shame you didn’t have the good fortune to climb Huanya Picchu in the background. If you get up at the crack of dawn and make it to the front of line, there is nothing liking getting to the top to see the sun over Machu Picchu in the morning.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant post. As a Peruvian who’s seen much of the country, I feel you did a great job capturing the beauty of the places you visited. Thank you.

    Good point, Anon #29. Chicha is not made with saliva. It’s airborne yeast that begins the fermentation process. I’ve had regular chicha (made from plain corn), which had kind of a moldy flavor. I wasn’t crazy about it. However, chicha de quinoa (chicha made from quinoa, with some cinnamon) was pretty darned tasty. Chicha is also an important ingredient in one of Peru’s favorite dishes, Arroz con Pato (oven-roasted muscovy duck with cilantro rice)

  4. Anonymous says:

    My biggest regret from my trip to Peru? That I didn’t pack some of the Coca-Cola to bring some back with me. Coke in Peru (hey-o!) was so much better than American Coke, not just because of the sugar vs. corn syrup (I can get bottled Mexican Coke easily here in LA), but also because there were different tastes. The spice flavors were more prominent. So good.

  5. ameca says:

    Fantastic post! Wish I had more time to write a meaningful comment, but am late for work!!!

  6. WombatNation says:

    Great photos and writing. My wife and I went to Lake Titicaca as part of a trip to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile 17 years ago. As Bob indicates, photos can’t do the colors justice. I have a great photo I took from the top of Isla del Sol that shows the beautiful blue water, but it’s still a poor substitute for being there.

    Not to keep picking on the Spaniards, but our guide (an archaeology student) showed us some rocks near Copacabana that the Spaniards called La Horca del Inca. They naturally assumed a flat rock spanning a gap between two tall rocks would be used for hanging people. Of course, right?. Actually, it was an astronomical observatory for a pre-Incan culture. Remind which society was primitive and which was civilized. I took a photo there of a circle of sunlight in a shadow cast by a hole the Chiripa people had drilled through another rock. On the solstice, the circle of light will be on the flat rock.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Great trip and great photos, but you need to start drinking manioc beer if you are to truly immerse yourself in the culture. It is in many ways at the very center of the life of the indigenous. Buena suerte.

  8. Anonymous says:

    In the picture of the “Last Supper”, thats not Chinchilla, its Cuy, or guinea pig, a popular native dish. I was quite surprised to see guinea pig served as a meal considering i’d had one as a pet while growing up.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi Bob, Just read your piece on your trip to Peru which was very entertaining. I have a little biz designing and importing knitted alpaca things from Peru and have been going out there since 2003, so that’s how I came across your article! I wondered if it might be possible to borrow your very nice image of a young shepherd girl in red tending sheep in the Isle of Taquile? I’ve lots of photos of my own, but this one just captured the atmosphere I was looking for to include in some promotional literature I’m working on. Hope to hear from you. Sam

  10. Cheryl says:

    Great blog and really brought back memories of my last trip to Peru. Kudos to you and all you are doing through Kiva. I also support Kiva and found your blog through your Kiva profile. I like you re-lend All money I get back in loan payments and find it very satisfying!

    I am very interested to hear the results of the projects you visited.

    A coworker of mine started a Canadian foundation called Alma Foundation (www.almafoundation.ca) which is more micro philathropy (vs finance)and
    I along with some coworkers are just preparing to head down to visit some of the projects that he has funded!

    Keep up the great work!

  11. Anonymous says:

    I remember getting some coca tea in a health food store in Florida in the 80s. A nice buzz indeed, though, as a friend opined “Drinking a lot is NOT a guaranteed good time.” Of course it must be illegal. Right? And yet do a Google product search for coca tea and see what you find. Or Amazon even. But the Border Patrol FAQ site says “No coca tea, no way!” I just ordered half a pound. I wonder if I’ll be able to tell if my increased heart rate is from the yummy microtraces of cocaine or fear of an incipient bust.

  12. mdh says:

    BoB Harris, I’ve been a huge fan since you guestblogged on Eschaton. This piece is epic. Thank you again.

  13. Antinous / Moderator says:

    … and the occasional midnight bathroom scorpion

    I was so freaked out the first that time I saw one. After the first half-dozen, I started to think that they were kind of cute. Now I go out to the desert at night and look for them. They’re even cuter when they’ve got babies.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The pictures here are interesting (and beautiful), but I wonder about the framing of your narrative, and I especially wondered at this “I also hope I didn’t accidentally incentivize a job that doesn’t develop other skills that would help her improve her life” &
    this: “equipping the poor to, basically, not be poor anymore.” It sounds condescending. I applaud any effort to help others and to prioritize seeking solutions to end poverty, but I am wary of any strategy that seems to privilege the economics of capitalism: especially one that involves loan refinancing. Perhaps, another part of your approach it to critique and scrutinize the economic practices that allow others (investors) to profit from “loaning” monies? Or perhaps you also consider interventions that would lessen the impact global capitalism has had on these communities? Maybe I’m missing something, but something about this doesn’t sit right with me.

  15. Stefan Jones says:

    Wonderful travelogue / pictorial!

    I’ve been donating to a microloan outfit called Finca. Any opinions on it? Is there a reputable rating agency for microloan outfits?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for this! Three trips to Peru, and I hate that my last was six years ago already. The first two trips were based out of Iquitos, in the northeast, where my father led fish-collecting trips on the Rio Negro. We basically got in a boat, picked a direction, and went. We found villages and rivers not on the map and had amazing adventures.

    That last trip was my honeymoon, to the south of Peru, and even though I am well over the crappy ex-husband, I am still not over one thing. I fell ill the instant we landed in Cusco, and spent all five days in bed. It hits me harder now that I was so, so close to Machu Picchu and never made it… So thank you for these pictures and stories, and kudos for the micro-loans.

    Liz Fear

  17. russtolium says:

    Wow…. biblical post. Really great condensation of your experience. My only question is, how do you get a scorpion away from the toilet without grabbing a stick and royally pissing it off?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Wow, what a fantastic diary. Amazing photos, detailed observations, a surprising narrative, and a great cause. Makes me want to pack my bags. My deep thanks.

    Friends who visited Cusco said that they stayed at a place infested with bedbugs, which horrify me (nothing like waking up with one half-buried in your arm and others crawling away…

  19. sosb says:

    I tried chicha while I was there, didn’t realise it was made with spit. Yummy though.

  20. Mr. Customer says:

    Nicely done! I haven’t been back since 2005, so this post really brought back my travel nostalgia. It’s like Bob is reliving my experiences for me, but with better narration.

    Plus, he’s better at Jeopardy! than I, so my envy knows no bounds.

  21. neward says:

    great post, interesting place, I’m definitely interested in visiting. Fitzcarraldo is one of my favorite films.

    Look for a tutorial to adjust levels, saturation, color balance in GIMP/Photoshop. Your issues with the colors in your photos can be happily edited away.

  22. armahillo says:

    Love the photos, Bob. Lucky to have that trip. :)

    Could one of the Boing Boing people please ensure that all posts containing this many photos have an abbreviated excerpt for RSS feeds?

    It practically killed my mobile RSS reader.

  23. jbeene says:

    Chicha is NOT made with saliva. It is fermented just by leaving out in room air, covered with cheeescloth. Manioc beer (Amazon basin) does have saliva.

  24. Terry says:

    I took a class on the Inca while studying archaeology. I remember the day we discussed Machu Picchu and Hiram Bingham’s ‘discovery’ of it. It seems Bingham’s ‘discovery’ actually occurred while he was sitting in a bar, drinking with a native. When Bingham asked about the nearby ruins, his drinking buddy explained that he knew of them, and promised to take Bingham there the next day. The rest, as they say, is history.

    It was on that day I decided I had made the right career choice. I could sit in a bar and drink with a native. Hell – I’d be GOOD at it.

  25. sparkwatson says:

    Thanks for the very fun post. I spent some time in Northern Peru (also book researching) and it’s definitely one of my favorite places in the world. I’m surprised there’s no mention of the food in here besides Chicha. Peruvian Ceviche is the best in the world, and the rest — especially in the North — is just incredible.
    Your book sounds great – I’ll keep an eye out for it.

  26. dculberson says:

    Bob, thanks a ton for this post! I went to Peru .. shoot, almost 10 years ago. (hard to believe it’s been that long!) We went to many of the places you did, but not Wiracocha or the salt mine. We did hike the Inca Trail which was amazing, and took the train across the Altiplano, which was very difficult as an American — because the train goes about 15mph and the trip takes 12+ hours. I kept thinking, THROTTLE UP MANNNNN! Hard to turn off the rush-rush mentality.

    You’re right about the Coca tea; 8 hours or so after hitting Cusco, the altitude really got to me and some tea and resting really helped. Our guide had planned a full day of activities, and it being my first day at altitude I had to bow out half way through. They mean it when they say leave a solid day aside of low-activity things to adjust to the extreme altitudes there. By the time we made it to Titicaca, the altitude didn’t bother me one bit. (The heavy drinking French group we passed had a couple members laid out though!)

    I love love love Peru, it was so beautiful and I met so many great people there. This post made me think that I should check out doing some Peru specific funding on Kiva; I never thought of that.

    Looking forward to your future posts!!

  27. hadlock says:

    Some of the bars in Cusco make a Cocoa Sour, which is sort of a frothy Lemon Sour that’s been mixed with coca leaves in a blender. Delicious!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful pictures! The rock that you have on here as a giant sundial, is the very rock where I got encouraged by my mother to get close to “to glean energy from our ancestors”, then when I my hands got too close for her comfort, screeched at me, the way only a mother can, “Don’t TOUCH it!!”, in front of about 50+ other tourists! :)

  29. JordanF83 says:

    Wonderful post with wonderful pictures! I saw most of these things when I was there in 2005. Juliaca also stood out in my mind as, well, really horrendously awful.

    Once thing you didn’t mention but surely observed is how, in almost every town but especially Juliaca, almost every single building has rebar sticking out of the tops of the walls. I was told it’s a form of tax evasion- they don’t have to pay if the building isn’t finished.

    I didn’t try chicha either, so don’t feel bad. ^_^

  30. Genteel Bartender says:

    This was just awesome. Great post!

  31. knodi says:

    I’m going there for my honeymoon in July. I haven’t booked all the tours/tickets yet, and your post has me rethinking my itinerary! Excellent job, I may even read your book.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Point of information: the tasty rodent in the Last Supper painting is most likely a delicious guinea pig (cuy) rather than a chinchilla.

    Tastes like chicken, good with fried potatoes.

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