Sunday, April 21, 2013


The deepest mystery of the Sicán culture is the identity of a man, with beak-shaped nose and OJOS ALADOS (winged or almond-shaped eyes), who is depicted everywhere on Sicán masks, ceramics, and images. Like the Chimu's mythical Takaynamo who landed at Huanchaco, the Sicán culture has a well-recorded legend of a mythical king who arrived by sea around 750 A.D with a wife and full royal court. This king, named Naymlap, founded a temple and installed and idol known as Yampallec- the origin of the name Lambayeque. Upon his death , the relatives of Naymlap spread the rumor that the kind grew wings and flew away, leaving his son to rule.
The dynasty founded by Naymlap included 12 kings, according to historical evidence.
According to legend, the last Naymlap king, Fempellec, committed a series of sins that caused a devastating flood and a period of crisis for the Sican people. This is certainly possible: nearly 1.5 meters of water coursed through Batan Grande during El Niño floods and a similar event might have caused Sican to abandon and burn the city  in 1050 A.D.
The Sican then moved their capital to Tucume, where even larger pyramids were built.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Over the Andes by Train

One of Latin America's great engineering achievements of the 19th century was the completion of a train line across the Andes between Lima and Huancayo.
The 12-hour journey begins in the desert coast around Lima and climbs through a subtropical river valley, dozens of rock tunnels, onto the puna, and finally up and over the snow-covered Cordillera. Needless to say, the 12-hour ride is a memorable experience.
The train was built between 1870 and 1908 and was the brainchild of American entrepreneur Henry Meiggs, who bragged that he could "get a train wherever a llama can walk". Polish engineer Ernest Malinowski designed most of the 61 bridges, 65 tunnels, and 21 switchbacks, built over four decades by 10,000 workers - more than half of whom were indentured workers, or coolies, from China.
The train, considered to serve the highest passenger station in the world, climbs nearly nine meters per minute until reaching Ticlio at 4,758 meters. Shortly afterwards it climbs to its highest point La Galera, a tunnel through the Andes at 4,781 meters.
While adusting to a higher altitude, it is always a good idea to avoid alcohol, heavy foods, and physical exertion. As the Bolivians say, COME POCO, TOME POCO Y DUERMA SOLO:)
(Eat little, drink little and sleep alone")  :)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Arequipa and the Colca Valley

LIMA / AREQUIPA                                                                                      --/--/-- 
A representative will meet you at the lobby of the Costa del Sol hotel, which is located inside the Lima airport. He will assist you with your flight to Arequipa.
Flight: LA 2125 (07:50 / 09:15) LIMA ->AREQUIPA
Transport will be waiting for you at the airport to take you to your hotel. There will also be a guide who will tell you about the city's attractions and services and finally assist you with your check in.
Freshen up and rest in your room. Lunch on your own.
You tour starts at the Main Square, one of the most beautiful squares in Peru, which is located next to the impressive Arequipa Cathedral, built in the 17th century and fully rebuilt after several earthquakes. Then you will go to the Monastery of Saint Catherine, built in 1579, which is an authentic medieval cloister and a small religious citadel used to date. You will then visit the Church of the Society of Jesus (1590), considered a classical example of the local baroque architecture, which houses an exceptional collection of paintings and murals. You will end the tour visiting the Yanahuara and Chilina districts, to have a scenic view of Arequipa's countryside.
Overnight at El Cabildo Hotel.
AREQUIPA                                                                                                    B/L/-- 
Breakfast at the hotel
The tour starts at the traditional village of Paucarpata (whose name means "terrace of flowers") where you can see impressive terraces of Inca fields.
After that you go to the Mansión del fundador, one of the first local buildings of the vice regal era. It was started in the Century for the founder of Arequipa and it is now open to the public. There follows a visit to Sabandía mill, built in 1785 in the typical Arequipa style, whose enormous millstones turned by water power are still used to grind wheat today. Finally, you will visit the Santuarios Andinos Museum to see the mummy named Juanita, the 14 year old daughter of an Inca noble, mummified by the cold. She was found on Mount Ampato in 1995 and exhibited at the National Geographic Society in Washington.
Enjoy lunch at Restaurant Sambabaia's, offering top international cuisine.
Overnight at El Cabildo Hotel.
AREQUIPA / COLCA                                                                                     B/L/D 
Breakfast at the hotel
Departure from Arequipa by Yura, passing by the skirts of Chachani, Pampa de Arrieros, National Reserve of Pampa Cañahuas where the slender vicuña is appreciated. Continue on to Vizcachani, Pampas de Toccra where a variety of birds are observed. Then border the crater of Chucura to arrive at Patapampa (4800 masl) and the lookout of the Andes where you can observe the volcanoes that surround the city of Arequipa. Descent to the town of Chivay for lunch.
Lunch included.
In the afternoon, optional visit to La Calera hot springs.
Dinner at Casa Andina Colca.
Overnight at Casa Andina Colca.
COLCA                                                                                                           B/L/D 
Breakfast at the hotel
Early departure after breakfast in the hotel towards the Condors' Cross (about 25 miles from Chivay) where you can observe one of the most spectacular areas of the canyon, and almost always appreciate the condors in their magisterial flights. We will return visiting the towns of Pinchollo, Maca, Achoma, Yanque and the lookouts of Antahuilque and Choquetico. Afternoon free.
Lunch at Casa Andina Colca
Dinner at Casa Andina Colca
Overnight at Casa Andina Colca.
WED 10
COLCA / AREQUIPA  / LIMA                                                                       B/L/-- 
Breakfast at the hotel
Morning free.
Halfway through the day you will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to Chivay to enjoy a delicious and repairing lunch (included in your package). After lunch we return to Arequipa, arriving in the late afternoon.
Upon arrival in Arequipa, you will be transferred to the airport accompanied by a guide. Help will be provided with your check in.
Flight: LA 2111 (7:30PM /9:00PM) AREQUIPA -> LIMA
Please note schedules may vary and shall be confirmed locally.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Fabulous Fashions of Taquile Island - Puno

Partly because of tourism, and partly because of tradition, the islanders on Taquile wear their beutiful traditional clothing all the time.

Women wear a white or red blouse or bayeta, made of sheep wool, a black shawl or chuco over their head, a red waist wrap called chumpi, and a dark-collored pollera, or skirt, that bulges from the waist. Contrary to appearances, they do not have big hips. Taquile women wear three to five polleras at a time-and during festivals, as many as 20!

The men also wear a white shirt with wide sleeves and black pants and vest. But the most distinctive feature of men's dress in the CHUYO, or hat which boys must learn to knit at early age.

The hats vary depending on man's marital status and public authority.
Single men were a "chuyo de soltero" , the "bachelor's hat", with red on the bottom and white on the top.
Married men, on the other hand, wear a solid-red hat with a repeated geometric design of a man and a woman holding hands.

But he most interesting ones are worn by the town elders (varayocs):rainbow-colored with ear flaps!

Monday, March 4, 2013


The name Huachina is Quecua: wakay means to cry and china means young woman. According lo a local legend, a young women and her lover strolled most afternoons in the countryside around Ica. But just when the couple was to be married, he dropped dead. The woman was wracked with sorrow and spent the days afterwards wandering through the countryside and retracing her walks with her lover. As she walked, her tears formed a lake.
One day she sat by the Lake , and an evil spirint in a man's form tryied to rape her. She jumped into her lake's water, imploring the water Gods to protect her by covering with a cloak of snow. She escaped the man , but she drowned in the Lake.
Now , every full moon, she floats over Huacachina Lagoon, cloacked in sparkling white light....

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Catacombs of San Francisco

Deep within the shadowy underworld of pleasant Historic Lima, two blocks away from the President’s Palace, there is a place so creepy and macabre that you shouldn’t miss on your next visit.
It’s housed beneath the ghostly Monastery of San Francisco, the colonial church dating back to the 18th Century, where on the surface you’ll find a library of more than 25,000 antiques texts, including the first Spanish dictionary published by the Royal Spanish Academy and a Holy Bible from 1571. But don’t be thrown off by the charming appeal of the monastery, because below rests Lima’s first cemetery.
The Catacombs of Saint Francis were discovered in 1943 and are estimated to contain the remains of 25,000 people, though some experts say the number is closer to 70,000. Once you make your way down to the subterranean level you’ll walk through narrow bone-lined hallways underneath the church where you’ll see several large and deep holes filled with bones and skulls arranged above each other in a circular pattern.
On this extensive tour you can appreciate the vaulted ceiling and semicircular archways tightly shut with brick and limestone so that the smell of the tombs, where coffins were once placed one on top of the other separated only by dirt and limestone, wouldn’t reach the church.
To this day you can distinguish skulls, femurs, tibias, and fibulae of the bodies that were placed within the old church to decompose.

Even before the earthquake of 1656 when the original church collapsed, the catacombs were used to house the bodies of deceased priests and nobles. When the church was rebuilt after the earthquake, the practice of burying individuals within the church continued even after the labyrinth of tombs was completely filled.

Miraculous resident
Church records indicate that some famous Peruvians from the colonial era were buried within the old church.
The remains of Friar Juan Gomez, a 16th Century doctor and “miracle worker,” who worked at the church hospital 40 years is among the thousands buried in San Francisco.
According to the Peruvian historian, Ricardo Palma, one time Friar Gomez saved the life of a man who fell off his horse by simply reciting three prayers for the man. The man, who everyone believed was surely dead, rose to his feet and walked away as if he’d never fallen of the horse.
The people cheered for the friar, “it’s a miracle, it’s a miracle, long live Friar Gomez.”
According to the Franciscan chronicles, in his attempt to flee the attention and applause of the crowd that had gathered, Friar Gomez supposedly flew away to his monastery.
The catacombs are the last stop on the tour of San Francisco. Before reaching the subterranean level you will see the church decorated with ornate woodcarvings, Spanish style mosaics, and faience tiles.
In the monastery there are plenty of religious works of art and you can also visit the choir stalls where you can see the large choir songbooks displayed on floor stands. Before exiting the monastery you will pass through a series of beautiful courtyards full of plants, walkways and private little nooks where it looks like the monks passed their time meditating.
The tour guides are knowledgeable and fluent in English and provide gross, but interesting little facts about the tombs.
The San Francisco Church and Catacombs is an impressive Colonial-style building located near the historical buildings in Lima’s downtown Plaza de Armas

Thursday, February 28, 2013

PERU CONNECTION: Q'eswachaka: The last Inca rope bridge in Peru

PERU CONNECTION: Q'eswachaka: The last Inca rope bridge in Peru: Every year, the residents of Canas, Cusco meet to repeat a ritual that has lasted for at least 600 years. A thousand people, from four c...