John and Gerry reach PERU- South America


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Machu Pichu Inca mountain stronghold

Machu Pichu Inca mountain stronghold

Cusco centre jan 03

Cusco centre
Peru jan 03


view on moutain section on way to Cusco 03

View on mountain section on way to Cusco
lake titicaca jan 03

Lake Titicaca

From La Paz we made our way via Lake Titicaca to Cusco the ancient capital and center of the Inca empire. Cusco is architecturally a fascinating place with its beautiful Spanish Colonial buildings superimposed in many cases on fascinating Inca foundations. John, right from the start had cited Machu Pichu as being the highlight of his trip. The train ride up to it through narrow gorges forcing the train in places to reverse and take a different tack to negotiate steep sections was memorable and when we did reach our destination the towering mountains above the tropical floor we were at was awe inspiring but for both John and Bob the rest of it was slightly anti-climactic. As we were bussed up the ever winding road through the forest that clung to the precipitous face of the mountain there was a palpable sense of excitement and anxiety in the bus but just as we reached the summit the low cloud ceiling descended on the entire sight covering it in a blanket of mist. Every few moments it would clear to reveal a tantalising window on this already mysterious place but not enough to show it in its entirety. After about 25 minutes,however, the mist lifted and you could see the whole sight in its resplendent entirety. Why John and Bob were disappointed was because of the light. Bob and particularly John had looked forward to photographing it from every aspect and I can sympathize with that as they are accomplished photographers but to my untrained eye I was simply happy to have had the opportunity to see it in its entirety and in many ways this mist and lifting of it seemed almost appropriately melodramatic. As for the ruins, they are unquestionably one of the worlds great sites though as much for their dramatic setting as their historic city. It struck me earlier today before writing this as I looked at the working of the Panama Canal locks that I have been every bit as inspired by the locks at home at Rooskey for in their own way they touch on that exciting point of travel that is universal wherever paths meet and likewise with Machu Pichu, for there are for me at least equally awe inspiring places at home that have the same air of mysteriousness shrouded by the mists of time.

Machu Pichu1

Machu Pichu
Machu Pichu3.jpg

Machu Pichu

Since before Cusco the road had been a bikers delight of winding well surfaced bitumen through dramatic scenery of gorges and mountains and the section beyond it, as you descended to the plains at Nasca, has to rate up there as probably the most sustained stretch of twisted mountain pass nirvana on the planet. Until recently it was, ironically, for most of it, an unpaved and therefore, dangerous route over such sheer terrain but the need to promote the Inca heartland has meant the upgrade of this road to facilitate tourism. There is still a 25 kilometer stretch just beyond Albancay that remains unpaved but which is in the process of being done but the overall effect is one of sheer exhilaration that leaves you buzzing when you descent back down from heady heights of over 14000 feet back down to the warm embrace of the evening sun at Nasca. Nacsa struck me as being very similar to parts of the Sinai or Oman for which I have a particular affection. John and Bob decided to forego the light aircraft flight over these puzzling lines so it was left to me to look at them on behalf of our travels. On the same flight another Irish person, Kare Henry, from Ballyhaunis was also booked so it passed a pleasant hour talking with someone from home. I enjoyed the flight greatly as much for the excitement of being up in a light aircraft for the first time as I did looking at these lines. The lines themselves are fascinating and the excellent presentation before the flight that went through the entire gambit of theories on their purpose and origin left me more inclined to favour mere human construction than any extra-terrestrial involvement but doubtless that uncertainty is part of their attraction.

Machu Pichu4

Machu Pichu
Machu Pichu5

Machu Pichu

river that flows near Machu Pichu

River that flows near Machu Pichu
weather closes in on pass Nasca 03

Weather closes in on pass Nasca

The trip to Lima beyond Nasca was particularly good as we descended along the coast in the evening sun and on reaching the city we stayed in the Miraflores district which, with its open air restaurants and night life, is a preferable choice if you ever visit this city. Ever the philistine, it was left to myself to do the obligatory tour of churches and museums. The Franciscan Church was incredible by the sheer wealth it has amassed over the years while the equally wealthy Dominican one where St.Martin De Pores spent his life somehow exuded a more peaceful air. It took us three days to reach Quito from Lima. The border crossing at Zarumilla was the very essence of apparent chaos as we along with huge articulated trucks threaded our way through a milling throng that at home would make Moore Street look like an airport runway.

hotel we stayed in Nasca.

Hotel we stayed in Nasca
shoe shine boys jan 03

Shoe Shine boys


mountian pass on way to Nasca 03

Mountain Pass on way to Nasca

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