Peru 2011: Andes

Swarthmore Alumni Tour

October 2011

The Andes and Machu Pichu


    We visited a textile institute that preserves the old ways. The lady
    here is showing us some of the natural products used to make dyes.


    Potato fields being prepared for planting. Potatoes are a major crop
    in Peru, and many varieties are grown.

    Feeding a young vicuña at one of our lunch stops.

    One of our hotels, converted from an old monastery.

    School child with knapsack in a village dating to Inca times.

    Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo. Our guide said he preferred this site to
    Machu Picchu. We walked around the lower part but did not have time
    to go up.

    Inside a home in the village. The locals raise guinea pigs for food.
    Our guide Ernesto is demonstrating a foot-plough. Before the Spanish
    arrived, the Andeans had no work animals (horses, oxen, donkeys) and
    plowed by hand.

    At Machu Picchu.

    Machu Picchu.

    Our guide Ernesto, pointing out some exceptionally fine stone work,
    which is found in the most important buildings at Machu Picchu,

    The high mountain peak in the background is named Machu Picchu.
    We were told that the Machu Picchu ruins were named after the mountain.

    It is hard to resist taking pictures of Machu Picchu.

    Temple of the sun.

    Taking a break. Next to Ginger are Eric and Jayne Fuglister. Eric
    was a classmate of Ginger's at Swarthmore and also a math major.

    This is called the quarry. Machu Picchu was evidently a work in progress.

    We did not wear sunglasses at Machu Picchu so as not to miss the rich colors.

    The setting and play of sun and clouds against the surrounding
    mountains are impossible to capture with photographs.

    "Sundial" at Machu Picchu. The right side of the stone is cut at 13
    degrees from the perpendicular. The sun at its highest point will
    shine parallel to that side. Machu Picchu is located 13 degrees from
    the equator.

    Wild Llamas (pronounced "yamas") roam throughout Machu Picchu. They
    are not aggressive, but they have the reputation of spitting when
    annoyed, so people do not mess with them.

    End of the Inca trail, and the entrance to Machu Picchu for Inca royalty.

    This is in Machu Picchu. The large flat stone surrounded by rope
    represents a condor. The semicircular stone in front of the head
    represents the collar of the Andean Condor. The large boulders
    behind are thought to represent the wings of the condor. According to
    our guide, the Incas believed that when they died, a condor would carry
    their spirit to a mountain top, after which (we don't remember the exact
    method) they would become part of the life-giving earth. Our guide
    was pure Andean (no Spanish blood) and still adhered to the old
    religion (only half of a percent of Peruvians still adhere to the old religion).

    Close-up of the body of the condor.

    After we left Machu Picchu, we visited this massive Inca amphitheater,
    called Sacsayhuamán. It was a site for religious and ceremonial
    events. The jagged wall, built with huge stones, imitates lightning.
    Some of the stones here are much larger and heavier than those of

    City of Cusco, elevation 11,200 feet. We felt mild discomfort due to
    the altitude. The hotels keep oxygen for guests who find the altitude
    a problem. We did not ask for any, but our tour director was feeling
    bad and used oxygen both nights.

    These small collections of symbols appeared on many roof ridges in the Andes.
    They frequently combine the Christian cross with symbols of the earlier religion
    for fertility of the soil and good harvest. They symbolize protection, prosperity,
    health, and being blessed. A tile roof is an improvement over the traditional
    thatched roof, and our guide said often the family's parents paid for the roof
    and were "godparents" for the roof.

    Farewell lunch, with traditional music and dancing. We saw many sets
    of pipes in this style, though usually much smaller. It took a lot of
    lung power to play this set.