Category Archives: 2010.05.13 Peru


May 27, 2010–Cuzco, Peru / 2010年5月27日――クスコ、ペルー


The ride to Cuzco was long, but not hard.  The 20-some hour trip was carefully cushioned by a Rambo marathon–that’s right, 1 through 4.  However, as soon as we arrived, Kaori’s chest began hurting.  I assumed it was due to either altitude sickness or over-exposure to Stalone, but she hurt so bad she couldn’t sleep.  So, early the next day we headed to the hospital where, after a full day of tests, they determined she had rib inflammation (what the hell?).  Two days later she was fine.  We hit the town.

カテドラル近くにあるインカの石組みで囲まれた道は、ものすごい迫力。この石壁はカミソリの刃1枚も通さないといわれるほど、見事にピッタリ と埋められている。

The town of Cusco has what one might expect of the number one tourist spot in South America.  Stuff for gringos.  Like funny “ethnic” pants, shirts and hats that tourists wear when travelling and store deep in a drawer somewhere when back home.  The town was disappointing, but the Incan stone work was breathtaking.  A lot of the buildings that the Spaniards built stand right on top it.  It’s a grave reminder of the hidden message that all colonial architecture bears. 


The stones are amazing.  Huge and cut with curves and corners numbering as many as 14.  All with superb precision.  I just had to strike a pose.


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The Beginnings?

May 21, 2010–Caral, Peru / 2010年5月21日 カラル、ペルー

Pushing through the thick blanket of fog that hovers over Lima for most of the year, we left the metropolis early in the morning heading for the village of Caral along hours of highway carved into seaside dunes.


We took a taxi up a long dirt road passing between the forbiding, rocky mountains of the Supe valley.


The Caral complex includes 19 temples.  Along the road to the main archelogical site, temples under excavation catch your eye as they sit slightly above the agricultural valley floor.


The town of Caral remains mostly unchanged with only a handful of houses and stores, despite the ruins being selected as a UNESCO world heritage site.  The people of Caral now have a new occupation, however, as ALL groups must pay for a local guide to accompany them on the site.


The ruins were ignored until two decades ago woven bags used in the construction were found allowing for precise dating which made Caral the oldest (?) city in the Americas (2600 BC), a bustling metropolis of 20,000 people when the Egyptians were building their pyramids.


The pyramide mayor is the largest pyramid in South America with an area larger than 4 football fields and dating around 2000 BC.


From what archeological evidence we have, Caral never experienced war nor did they prepare for it: no mutilated bodies, defensive walls, nor weapons.  What they did find were musical instruments, art and drugs.  A glyph is visible on a stone in the arena.


Below is a picture of an arena used for entertainment with a place for religious rights built in behind.  The stones, which apear scattered randomly are actully all pairs of one large/dark and small/light stone, believed to represent the duality in existance.


The sundial below has no shadow at 4:00, when it is believed that the days work ended.


No one knows exactly why the Caral civilization disappeared.  Perhaps we will know some day, maybe we won’t.


On our way home, we ran across a group of school children come to learn about their national history.  They were as eager to take a picture of us as we were to take one of them.

After saying good bye to the students, we met the school bus drivers, who were nice enough to give us a ride back to town and share lunch with us!!  What a day!


*遺跡に関する詳しいビデオはyoutubeで(Japanese only)

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May 17, 2010–Lima, Peru /2010年5月17日 リマ,ペル-

Lima, as we expected, is a BIG city.


There are huge residential areas sprining up everywhere, which cause problems.  There were two protests during the week we were in Lima.  As we was in Ecuador, a lack of water and who holds the rights to the water is a volatile issue.


Peru was the first Latin country to allow immigration of Japanese and there are a bunch of them, particularly the Lima area.  We visited a building commemorating the begining of the Japanese immigration, which started in 1899.  There they teach flower arrangement, Japanese, weaving, and all sorts of things.  They have a good size library, where we spent several hours feeling like we were in Japan.  That is until we asked directions from an elderly Peruvian Japanese woman and a mouthful of Spanish came our way.  It was weird to see people who looked like Japanese tourists speaking amongst themselves in perfect Peruvian Spanish.  Oh, and they had Udon noodles, which pleased Kaori very much.

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Civilizations Buried in Sand

May 17, 2010–Trujillo, Peru / 2010年5月17日 トルヒーヨ、ペルー

The forbidding desert followed us as we moved south down the coast.  After changing buses due to malfunction, which meant that we no longer had our reserved seats, we arrived some 12 hours later in the city of Trujillo.  Fortunately, there was a little boy, cute as a button, who was more than willing to keep us company with his collection of cologne samplers.


Trujillo itself, despite being one of the largest cities in Peru, has little to offer in town, with its major attraction being the Chanchan ruins lying 20min outside of town.  There was, however, a cool gym you might want to visit if you’re in town.


We decided to skip the Chanchan ruins and head to a lesser visited, more recently discovered site called Huaca del Sol y la Luna.  Some 25 years ago, a professor from the local university discovered a fresco on the Luna temple by accident when he was picnicking with his students on the site.


Located between the Moche River and Cerro Blanco, a holy mountain, the temple is part of a complex of temples built by the Moche people beginning in 200 AD.  The temple, which was rebuilt at the beginning of each generation of religious leaders, consists of five distinct layers as each temple was built enclosing the previous temple completely intact.  All of the temples and their colorful murals were preserved due to the Moche custom of covering and filling the previous temple with adobe bricks before building the next.


The “Decapitator” was the primary deity of the Moche, and this depiction is the most well-known of all murals in the complex.


From the top of the Huaca de la Luna, a religious complex, one can see  the city below and the Huaca del Sol, which was a political center.


Huaca del Sol was partially destroyed by Spanish looters, and over 1/3 was destroyed when the Spanish redirected the Moche River.  Huaca de la Luna was relatively unharmed despite being looted.

太陽のワカはスペインの盗賊によって部分的に破壊されたが、その後モチェ川の流れをスペインが変えたせいで約1/3が破壊された。月のワカは略奪されたにもかかわらず保存状態よく 残されていた。

Another highlight are the awesome dogs, which have no hair.  Not only do they look cooler with no hair, it actually results in a cooler body temperature.


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The Sweet Smell of Sea Salt

May 14, 2010–Mancora, Peru  2010年5月14目 マンコラ ペル-

We arrived in Mancora, tired of moving.  Well, more acurately, tired of sitting still while buses moved us.  And although Mancora is a major tourist destination, both locally and internationaly, during the winter months of the northern hemisphere, we arrived just in time to miss everyone else.  We pretty much had the beach to ourselves.  God Bless shoulder seasons!


Despite the constant flow of waste water bubbling up from the kitchen floor and being home to the hardest working mosquitoes around, our hostel was right on the beach.  Location is everything.


Mancora had just what we wanted: beach and sun.  Other than that there’s not much to see besides stupid shirts and hats, sand crabs and these guys…



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Onward Ho!! (To Peru)

May 13, 2010–Loja, Ecuador to Mancora, Peru

It’s not uncommon to see military propoganda at borders.  But you’d expect to see it here.  In 1995, there was an all out war over boundry disputes.  So the painting above (which reads, “the homeland starts here”) should actually read, “the homeland starts here…as of May 13, 1999”.


We chose Macara because it is a low-traffic border, meaning there is less a chance of being robbed or pickpocketed.  Theft and counterfeit currency are rampant at the more popular border, as one of our friends found out.  Despite being almost left behind by our bus after a lunch break (we spoted and chased down the bus mid-town as it was driving away), the border crossing was uneventful as we had hoped.


As we passed into Peru, we left behind the high Andes as we moved into a lush, heavily agricultural area of rolling hills.  Most of the rice consumed in Peru comes from this area.


The tranquil fields were highlighted with extreme poverty.  Houses in the countryside and many in the towns were made of sticks and adobe.


Streets we saw in small towns along the way were all unpaved (other than the highway we were on).


Also, as small towns appeared, the stench of garbage–disposed of at will–was overwhelming even as we passed by at high speed.


As we moved further southwest, the fertile valley turned into a barren desert like none we’d seen in the Americas thus far.


Surprisingly, the whole western seaboard, from Tumbes to Lima, is desert–dunes and all.


As the sunset we passed magnificent mountains as we headed towards our beach destination, Mancora.  On the menu: waves, ceviche (fish salsa?), and relaxation.


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