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Monday, January 15, 2007

Back from Peru, with photos and videos

I'm back. Actually, I got back early Saturday morning, but I managed to catch a nasty cold on the way home, so I've mostly just been lying around. In any case, it was a great trip, and I am extremely grateful that Karen invited us to visit and that Femi was there for company (Karen had stuff to do, so she wasn't with us the whole time).

We bookended our time in Peru with some days at Karen's family's beach house. It was really relaxing, consisting mostly of eating, reading and lying on the beach (the water was cold, but I went in briefly a few times). The family's maids cooked excellent food (though I must say that having a maid is something I don't think I could ever really get used to), and there were lots of ridiculously good local fruits, most notably mangos that were a thing apart from the poor approximations available in the US. I read Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies," which turned out to be a really good book to read while visiting a foreign country, especially one that is part of the "developing" world -- it basically sets out to explain how different cultures evolved the way they did as a result of factors like proximity to other cultures, locally available plants and animals, and other factors of geography. His ultimate point is that humans were the same everywhere, but that entirely exogenous factors led societies to develop differently; the book ends up being a devestating critique of racist logic.

I already talked about how impressive Machu Picchu was, as well as Cusco.

Lima is a teeming metropolis of 9 million people, very vibrant and very polluted. The traffic is insane both in the sense that there's a lot of it and in the sense that there are few rules, lots of honking. (Are you not currently hitting another vehicle? You're fine.) At any number of moments during our time there, in taxis or riding with Karen, I was sure we were about to get into an accident, but we never did. We also walked all over, and I took many opportunities to eat the caramel-filled churros that you could buy for about 15 cents from sidewalk windows. And the empanadas (a glorious version of a Hot Pocket) that cost about 35 cents.

I took about 250 photos, and I've slimmed that down to a selection of 65 that you can take a look at on Flickr. (Unfortunately, if you choose the "View as Slideshow" option, you don't see my descriptions, so if you want those, manually advance the photos.)

I've got some videos, too, since my new camera does that, too. There's a look out the front window of our taxi early in the morning on the way to Machu Picchu, as well as a look at the train we took to Machu Picchu (it's about a four-hour trip, moving from an arid landscape around Cusco to almost jungle).

In a country that is not too many years removed from military rule, we also saw a military parade in Cusco.

There's also a panoramic view of (smoggy) Lima from the top of San Cristobal, a big hill with a cross on top not far from downtown.

Whew. I'll probably write a post or two more about Peru, but that's it for now.


lj said...

man, what a trip! I haven't looked at the flickr album yet, but that's an awesome self-portrait you've there in front of the ruins. is that at machu picchu?

teague said...

Yep that's at Machu Picchu. I figured it'd be okay if I didn't shave during the trip.