The Valley Temple and Osireion: Echoes of a Bygone World Culture?

Seeing is believing. It was deja vu all over again, as a famous American Yogi once said. I gawked at the Valley Temple of Khafre in Giza and the Osireion in Abydos. Though they are in Egypt, they reminded me of monuments I saw in Peru, halfway round the world. Cyclopean blocks of unadorned stone... Continue Reading →

The Amazing, Colossal Sanctuary of Ollantaytambo

Streets in the old part of Ollantaytambo are narrow, cobble-stoned, inaccessible to cars and trucks. Along one side, water flows in ancient Inca canals, still used today, no more than a foot wide. Quechua is spoken more than Spanish. Life goes on here as it has for centuries. There is no indication that less than... Continue Reading →

A Taste of Lima, the Culinary Capital of South America

At almost sea level, my lungs were finally free of high altitude. They sighed welcome relief in Lima after 18 straight days at 7,700ft or higher. I had an extra spring in my step as I deboarded at Jorge Chavez. In our trip planning, my wife and I saw Lima only as a gateway to Puerto Maldonado when we arrived in early... Continue Reading →

The Veneration of Pachamama in Bolivia

I can't recall how many times I heard Pachamama mentioned in my travels through Peru and Bolivia. I read a little about her before the trip, but afterward it was obvious that she is without doubt the most important deity in the Andean pantheon of gods. The veneration of Pachamama is hugely important in the daily lives of Bolivians (and Peruvians), even... Continue Reading →

La Paz, the Heights of Charm and Frustration

Nuestra Señora de La Paz. That's a mouthful for a place that sounds more like a title. Most of us know it simply as La Paz. At just under 12,000 feet, it's the highest capital city in the world—in rarefied air. If you saw the movie Our Brand Is Crisis, you would've noticed Sandra Bullock's character taking days... Continue Reading →

The Intangibles of Isla Taquile

Take a boat tour to the Uros Islands out of Puno, and the package will likely include a visit to Isla Taquile (Taquile Island). Where? you ask. That's what I said when I booked it. OK, I thought, as long as I get to see the reed islands. Turns out, if I had done my research, I should also... Continue Reading →

Night and Day, A Tale of Two Peruvian Bus Companies

I walked up to the Transportes del Carpio bus counter in Arequipa to pick up pre-paid roundtrip tickets to Aplao, but it wasn't going to be as simple as that. Not by a long shot. The biggest problem was I didn't speak Spanish. The second was the clerk didn't speak English. The bus line, after... Continue Reading →

Islas Uros, What Price Commercialism?

It's like walking on a waterbed. Unnerving at first, there is a definite squishy firmness under your feet as you walk on an island made entirely of totora reeds, so thick that there is no danger of falling through into Lake Titicaca. Even so, the feeling that water is underfoot never leaves you. Lake Titicaca is an incredibly large... Continue Reading →

Arequipa, the White City, the Silent Stones

Rooms almost glow from within. Light reflects softly from surfaces as if they're white-washed, made of ivory-tinted, slightly purplish stone, called sillar. Their whiteness the Spanish invaders admired so much that they made building material out of it. And why not? This rhyolitic rock is plentiful in the Western Andes where volcanic pyroclastic flows deposited countless acres of them long ago.... Continue Reading →

Maracuya, Granadilla. I’ll Call It Passionfruit.

I have had my share of passionfruit the last several years. I consider it my absolute favorite exotic fruit whose incredibly heady aroma can fill a room with its unmistakable scent of the tropics. My frenzy started out in New Zealand where the fruit has a dark, purplish rind and crunchy seeds not unlike pomegranate. One time, my... Continue Reading →

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