Adventure Peru
By Stephen Thorburn


Judy and I had been planning to go on a vacation. She’d been looking at a cruise in the Mediterranean and even booked one. We realized after the fact that we’d booked for a trip at a time when it would be cold and rainy. So Judy started to look for an alternative. A day or so later she surprised me with the news that she had found a great deal on a 10 day tour of Peru. I was thrilled at the idea. She canceled the cruise and booked the tour of Peru. I can't help but think that Father's hand was behind this turn of fortune.

We were very excited about the trip although Judy was a bit nervous about the high altitude. We were assured there were steps that could be taken to minimize the ill effects of altitude sickness. A high carbohydrate diet, avoidance of alcohol and to drink the coca tea and or chew the coca leaves would be the best way to handle the altitude.

We had a flight from Vegas to LA and then from there to Lima. Nine hours on a plane was difficult. The trip from the airport took us through the less desirable areas of Lima. My first impression of Lima was not a good one. We arrived and met our tour manager, Washington Geronimo, at the hotel in the Mira Flores district of Lima. Mira Flores is a quaint somewhat upscale part of the city reminiscent of Greenwich Village in NY. It is an area that caters to tourism.

Washington Geronimo is an excellent tour manager, a native of Cusco and an Inka who speaks the native Inka language. He is very knowledgeable and was a great source for information during our trip. There were two other local tour guides, Carlos, who gave us a tour of Lima, and Edith who is a native of Puno on Lake Titicaca and who also spoke the ancient language of the Inka.

We had booked and extra day in Lima so we could relax and unwind from the flight and explore the city a little before the tours began. We explored the Mira Flores district, the JFK Park, the shops and the beach area. It was definitely a better part of the city then we saw on our way from the airport.

On the next day Carlos conducted a tour that featured the points of interest in Lima. We visited the main square and the San Francisco Monastery. The monastery was quite an interesting and impressive place with elaborate artwork, adornments and grandeur. We saw the rooms where the monks prayed, where they ate and the main sanctuary as well as the library. The library was like a set from a Harry Potter or Indiana Jones movie. There are ancient manuscripts and one of the oldest bibles in existence. Unfortunately, there is no effort or money to preserve the contents of the library for future generations, and most of the books are deteriorating quickly as are many of the numerous frescos at the monastery which are also suffering the ravages of time. The predominant religion of Peru is Catholicism (50%) and other forms of Christianity (40%) and the rest being a mix of other religions and the Inka religion of Pachamama. More on that later.

You may click on any photo to enlarge

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The San Francisco Monastery entrance

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The San Francisco Monastery

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The library of the San Francisco Monastery

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A crucifix and painting. Notably absent are the two other cross. Also interesting about this painting is the image of Father (presumably) peeking through the clouds.

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The cathedral of the San Francisco Monastery

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The elaborately carved monk's prayer chamber niches of the monastery

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The monk's prayer chamber of the monastery

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An elaborately decorated gilded shrine

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Ceiling fresco in the monks dining hall

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A painting of the Last Supper.

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Another gilded shrine in the monastery

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The gilded niches of the monks rectory

The next day we took a flight for Cusco. Lima is at sea level. Cusco was our first introduction to higher altitude which is  at 11,600 feet. It was immediately noticeable. We were told we should not exert ourselves and try to gradually adjust to it. It was felt but not as bad as we had anticipated.

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The city of Cusco as seen from the mountains surrounding the 11,600 feet above sea level valley in the Andes


From the Cusco airport we took a bus to Urubamba about an hour outside of Cusco to our hotel where we stayed for two nights. We traveled to much higher elevation over the mountains to get to Urubamba. Cucso and Urubamba are a part of Peru's Sacred Valley region which extends from north of Ollyantaytambo to as far south as Lake Titicaca. Urubamba was absolutely stunning in its beauty and grandeur of the Andes mountains. Everywhere you look there is farming. Even the extremely steep mountainsides are farmed. I was surprised at how high and how steep the terrain is and yet there were people up there doing their spring planting. We were learning that the culture and life of Peru was very different and it was fascinating and enlightening.

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The highland farms in Urubamba Valley of the Andes

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The highland farms among the eucalyptus trees in Urubamba Valley of the Andes

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The eucalyptus trees in Urubamba Valley of the Andes

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Judy with our tour manager Washington Geronimo

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The highland farms in Urubamba Valley of the Andes

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A mud brick structure in the Urubamba Valley of the Andes


In Peru the forested areas are primarily Eucalyptus trees and not good for construction. Most structures, homes, farmhouses and city buildings are single story mud brick structures with Eucalyptus supported thatch roofs or corrugated metal roofs. They actually prefer the corrugated metal due to problems with large hail. Few farmers can afford tractors and plow their fields by oxen. Late October and early November are spring in Peru so most of the fields were freshly plowed and or planted with small sprouts coming up, very picturesque.

From Urubamba we traveled by bus to the Inka ruins of Ollyantaytambo an hour or so outside of Urubamba along the Urubamba river valley of the Sacred Valley region of Peru. The Andes mountains were very steep and visually impressive. It was quite a beautiful ride to the ruins.

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The Andes Mountains of the Sacred Valley region of Peru

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A freshly plowed field in the Andes Mountains of the Sacred Valley region of Peru

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The Andes Mountains of the Sacred Valley region of Peru

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A freshly plowed field in the Andes Mountains of the Sacred Valley region of Peru

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The Andes Mountains of the Sacred Valley region of Peru

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The city of Urubamba in the Sacred Valley

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Farming of the Urubamba Valley

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Farming in the Urubamba Valley
We journeyed to the outlying areas and were given a demonstration of wool dyeing and weaving by some of the locals and sat down to a fabulous lunch of traditional Peruvian food.
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Peruvian women using natural dyes to color the wool

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A Peruvian woman weaving Alpaca wool


We learned from Washington that Ollyantaytambo was where three great valleys converged and where the Inka brought offerings of agricultural products such as corn, potatoes, quinoa and coca to Inka storage structures. There were agricultural terraces that rose up the mountainside and temple structures at the top. Looking across the valley at the mountain facing the ruins was the face of the bearded long skull etched in the rocks. There were also storage structures on that rock face as well. The bearded face appears to be a 'long skull'. Long skulls are found all over the world and are believed to be a race of beings that created giants and then a smaller race of people who were believed to be the original native Inka. Above the head the Inka built stone structures which form a crown on top the bearded face. It is said the Inka trail once began here and made its way through the valley and on up to the city of Machu Picchu (pronounced with both c's).

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The terraces of Ollyantaytambo

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The grain storage chambers of Ollyantaytambo

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Outlined to show the faces and the angel of Ollyantaytambo **
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Another view of the Ollyantaytambo terraces


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Stone structures of Ollyantaytambo

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Stone wall at Ollyantaytambo

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Stone structures atop Ollyantaytambo

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Stone walls at Ollyantaytambo

Later in the day, we took in the ruins of Moray. Moray is an agricultural laboratory of the Inka farmers. The circular terraces were designed to learn about the differences in growing corn at different elevations and sunlight conditions. The terraces were not only interesting but beautiful and they were nestled in the high foothills of the Andes in a very scenic part of the Sacred Valley. These vistas have to be experienced. Photography barely does them justice.

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The farming in the highlands of the Sacred Valley of Peru on our way to Moray

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The farming in the highlands of the Sacred Valley of Peru on our way to Moray

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The farming in the highlands of the Sacred Valley of Peru on our way to Moray

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The Inka agricultural laboratory of Moray

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The Inka agricultural laboratory of Moray

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Terraces at the back area of the Inka agricultural laboratory of Moray

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Inside the terraces of the Inka agricultural laboratory of Moray

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Another area of the Inka agricultural laboratory of Moray

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Mud brick structures in the highlands of the Sacred Valley of Peru on our way to Moray

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The farming in the beautiful highlands of the Sacred Valley of Peru on our way to Moray

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The beautiful highlands of the Sacred Valley of Peru on our way to Moray

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A Peruvian woman and child in the highlands of the Sacred Valley of Peru on our way to Moray

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The farming in the highlands of the Sacred Valley of Peru on our way to Moray

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The farming in the highlands of the Sacred Valley of Peru on our way to Moray

We headed back to Urubamba to rest up because the next morning's wake up call was scheduled for 3:45am so we could have enough time to take in Machu Picchu.

We took the bus back to Ollyantaytambo where we boarded the train to Machu Picchu that takes around an hour to get there. The train took us to the town of Machu Picchu where we boarded a local public bus for the trip up the mountain to the ruins. Along the way to Machu Picchu we were amazed at the beautiful mountainous terrain. We couldn't help but notice that there were numerous images in the rocks along the route to Machu Picchu at 9000 feet above sea level. I was struck by the strong similarity in the look of the rocks to those found in the Sacred Valley of the Colorado Rockies. We saw images of chimps, an owl, sentinels, at least one dog's head and faces of all sorts. I'd say they were signposts along the way to the temple and home of the Inka priests at Machu Picchu.

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Train to Machu Picchu

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The Sentinels

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The Dog's Head Head

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The farming in the highlands of the Sacred Valley of Peru on our way to Machu Picchu

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The Stone Head

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Jabba The Hutt

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The Sacred Valley of Peru on our way to Machu Picchu

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Inca Ruins on the way to Machu Picchu

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The Urubamba River

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The Lion

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Two Chimps

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A Sentinel

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The Urubamba River Valley

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The Sacred Valley of Peru on our way to Machu Picchu

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The Sacred Valley of Peru on our way to Machu Picchu

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The Owl

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A Strange White Marking

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The Sacred Valley of Peru on our way to Machu Picchu

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Ollyantaytambo viewed from the right side


We had beautiful weather during our stay in Peru with one exception. It rained at Machu Picchu but did not damper our enthusiasm, or our spirits, neither did it hold us back from being in awe of the grandeur of the place. Machu Picchu and Ollyantaytambo each beg the question: Why build extensive stone structures with granite quarried at great distances away, carried up steep mountains and shaped to fit perfectly together? I can only conclude that there had to be a very special reason why these locations were chosen. It boggles my mind. We are told that these cities were constructed over a 100 year period and then abandoned before they were finished, and the trails destroyed to hide them about 600 years ago when the Spaniards were beginning their quest to conquer the Inka. The ruins have been restored as much as was possible since their discovery in the mid 40s. Tourists from all over the globe visit the site daily. We were given a two hour guided tour by Washington and then we had a two hours to explore the city on our own. Naturally, we climbed in the pouring rain, up large granite steps, all the way to the top, to the most incredible and breathtaking view of the ruins, and the majestic mountains all around. Once at the top of the city and taking it all in I had a thought and simply went with it without hesitation. I had the notion to teach Judy how to soul paint. She was receptive to the idea and we both proceeded to soul paint the area. A tourist looked at me puzzled at what we were doing, and I simply looked at him and said we're soul painting. He looked surprised by my answer, but accepted it, and then went about his business. Once she understood what soul painting was and how to do it we soul painted at several locations including: Ollyantaytambo, Raqchi, Moray and Lake Titicaca as well.

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Our first look at Machu Picchu

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Above the clouds

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The terraces of Machu Picchu

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A spectacular view of Machu Picchu

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The Stone Structures of Machu Picchu

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The Temple Altar

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The Stone Structures of Machu Picchu overlooking the Sacred Valley

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The Inka Sundial

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The Stone Structures at the far end of Machu Picchu

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The mists of the Sacred Valley

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Notice the building at the top. We climbed all the way up there

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A stone building at Machu Picchu

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Inka Reflection Pools for viewing the solar eclipse

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A view from about the middle of Machu Picchu

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Overlooking the Sacred Valley from Machu Picchu

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A view of the major portion of the city at Machu Picchu

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View from about half way up the terraces of Machu Picchu

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Judy atop Machu Picchu

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The view from the very top of Machu Picchu

We returned to Urubamba for the evening to rest up for a day of exploring Cusco. Cusco is very large and quaint Peruvian city, and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

From Cusco we boarded a bus to embark on our journey to the temple and silos of Raqchi and from there onward to the city of Puno on Lake Titicaca.

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A beautiful lake on our way to Raqchi Temple in the Sacred Valley

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A beautiful lake on our way to Raqchi Temple in the Sacred Valley

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The Urubamba River on our way to Raqchi Temple in the Sacred Valley

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A farming village on our way to Raqchi Temple in the Sacred Valley

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A farming village on our way to Raqchi Temple in the Sacred Valley

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The beautiful Andes Mountains on our way to Raqchi Temple in the Sacred Valley

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The beautiful Andes Mountains on our way to Raqchi Temple in the Sacred Valley

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The beautiful Andes Mountains on our way to Raqchi Temple in the Sacred Valley

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The beautiful Andes Mountains on our way to Raqchi Temple in the Sacred Valley

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Another farming village on our way to Raqchi Temple in the Sacred Valley

The large temple structure at Raqchi and surrounding storage silos were a central location where the people of the four Inka kingdoms brought offerings. From the Pacific coast kingdom the offerings were of fish. The north in the Cusco region brought corn and potatoes. The southern offerings were quinoa and textiles and the jungles to the east brought fruit and coca. Olyyantaytambo, Machu Picchu and Raqchi were administrative facilities for the Inka kingdoms and the structures are impressive. That said, Lake Titicaca was not an administrative facility, but rather, it was considered the capital of Peru and of the Inka kingdoms, and there are no visible temple ruins or structures other than agricultural terraces which mark the area. Only legends of a sunken city in the lake and of a huge gold disk which was thrown into the lake to keep it out of the hands of the Spaniard conquistadors remain as a testament to the importance of Titicaca to the Inka.

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The Temple at Raqchi

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The Grain Silos

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Inside an Inka Grain Silo

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The ruins of the grains storage silos of Raqchi

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A row of storage silos

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In front of a restored Grain Silo

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A Peruvian woman spinning Alpaca wool

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The Temple at Raqchi

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The Temple at Raqchi

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At 14,500 feet above sea level

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At 14,500 feet above sea level

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A Falcon

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At 14,500 feet above sea level

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The High Plains of Peru


We made another short stop in a small Peruvian village on the plains of southern Peru. There was a large hill which stuck up from the flat plains region. This hill has some interesting markings etched into the rock face. A gorilla, a calves head and an Inka priest gesturing with his hand the way to Lake Titicaca. One of the interesting correlations with the stone images of Colorado's Sacred Valley is the presence of the images of a gorilla, which is not native to either location, and of a cow which is seen in both locations as well. With the way pointed out to us we journeyed on to Puno.

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Outlined ***

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Dogs Head

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Outlined


Peru is full of profound majestic beauty not all was beautiful. On our way to Puno we passed through the city of Juliaca very armpit of Peru. The city government taxes all structures which are complete in their construction. Needless to say, not one finished structure can be found in the entire city other than government buildings. Every building has the facade of an intended second story which is left incomplete and rebar can be seen on the top of every building in the entire city. There are very few paved streets and the city in general looks filthy and really horrible. We were told that people have money there. Probably because it is the center of the 'White Market' (cocaine drug trade). I kept saying to myself as we passed through the city, please bus, don't fail us now! We almost didn't make it to the lake because there was a general strike against the city government and the entire city was completely shut down in the days prior to our arrival.

An hour out of Juliaca and not before going over the mountains at over 14,500 feet above sea level we came to the city of Puno on Lake Titicaca which it the highest navigable lake in the world at 12,500 feet above sea level. The effects of altitude were very apparent, but still manageable. We walked slowly and drank the coca tea and chewed the coca leaves, and it helped a lot with the altitude.

The lake is a gorgeous sight to behold. Half of the lake is considered to belong to Peru and half to Bolivia. Much of the peruvian side of the lake is shallow with an abundance of Totora reed which the Uros islanders use to build the floating islands upon which they live. These floating islands are connected into communities. The Uros islanders speak two ancient Inka languages and live almost exclusively upon the lake surviving on the natural flora and fauna of the lake and tourism. The tourism has provided much needed funding for schools on the islands. The life of a Uros islander is not an easy one. They face great hardships and very primitive conditions. In spite of these difficulties they are a happy people that do not envy the life of the mainlanders. They prefer their culture and communities and life on the lake.

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Puno at Lake Titicaca

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The city of Puno at Lake Titicaca

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The city of Puno at Lake Titicaca

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The city of Puno at Lake Titicaca

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On Lake Titicaca

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On Lake Titicaca

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On Lake Titicaca

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Totoro reeds growing on Lake Titicaca

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The Floating Islands of Uros

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The Floating Islands of Uros

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A Reed Boat

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One of the Floating Islands of Uros

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Our tour guide Edith with the President of the community explain how the islands are made

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Edith and a young Uros islander in traditional dress

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Uros islanders demonstrate their trading practices

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One of the Floating Islands of Uros

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A small reed house on the Floating Islands of Uros

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A reed boat to take tourists around the islands

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A small reed house on the Floating Islands of Uros

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One of the Floating Islands of Uros

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A community of Floating Islands

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Uros islanders in traditional dress

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On Lake Titicaca

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On Lake Titicaca


The people of Peru are mostly Catholic and Christian, However, when it comes to the practice of daily life and in particular the rural farming communities outside the cities they profess Christianity while participating in the culture and rituals of Pachamama. Pachamama translates as Mother Earth and is a belief which focuses on harmony with nature and the elements. This changes a bit with regard to the people who live near or on the lake. There are two additional concepts they hold in high regard. Our tour guide, Edith, told us that Pachamama (Mother Earth) is practiced but they also recognize Copacati (the spirit of Lake Titicaca), and also Pachatata (Father Milky Way). I suspect that these early Inka were taught about Father, and perhaps by the 'people of the lake'. It has endured as a part of their religious beliefs through the ages as Pachatata. I asked about the legend of the sunken city in the lake and she acknowledged the legend, and also spoke about the gold disk which was thrown into the lake. I showed her a photo of the lion of Thor's Gate in Colorado and of the Pretty Angel. She and Washington were both quite impressed with the clarity of the rock images and surprised to find out the region in Colorado was also called the Sacred Valley. Washington accepted the idea that the images from the Keep were carvings but was unwilling to go beyond saying that the images in Peru were more than natural phenomena. Edith, on the other hand was more open to talk of the subject, and later pointed out the Inka profile in the hills above Puno overlooking the lake. She told us that the Lake was considered a very spiritual place and that the Inka regarded it as not only the physical capital of the Inka kingdom but its spiritual center as well. I wish I’d had more time to have a more private discussion with her about the people of the lake and the legends, but, unfortunately, the opportunity did not present itself.

While in Puno, we were lucky to be there at the time of the one year anniversary of the merchants association for which there was a big celebration. The city of Puno has about 300,000 residents, and I think all of them were in the main part of the city for the celebration. There was a parade about a mile in length consisting of locals in brightly colored and fantastically decorated costumes dancing and weaving through the city streets from 8am to 8pm. Interesting note there were many paraders dressed as gorillas and bulls. I asked about the gorillas (not native to Peru) in the parade and Edith said they were a direct result of the things seen in the rocks of the Sacred Valley. No doubt there are many people familiar with the images in the rocks.

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The parade in celebration of the one year anniversary of the Puno Merchants Association

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The parade in celebration of the one year anniversary of the Puno Merchants Association

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The parade in celebration of the one year anniversary of the Puno Merchants Association

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The parade in celebration of the one year anniversary of the Puno Merchants Association

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The parade in celebration of the one year anniversary of the Puno Merchants Association

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The city of Puno overlooking Lake Titicaca

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The city of Puno overlooking Lake Titicaca

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The Inka profile at Lake Titicaca as pointed out by Edith

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Judy and I at Lake Titicaca


From Puno it was a day of travel by bus back to the airport in Juliaca and a fight to Lima and bus back to the hotel for an overnight stay and then a bus to the airport and a long flight back to LA and then a connecting to a flight back to Las Vegas. From Titicaca to Las Vegas it was two full days of travel.

We were both very pleased and impressed with our tour of Peru. My only regret of our trip to Peru is that the night sky never cleared up to view the Milky Way. I would have loved to behold it reflected off the still waters of Lake Titicaca. The 11 day adventure was an absolutely unforgettable experience. We learned a lot and saw a lot. It was a fantastic journey which should be included on everyone's bucket list of the greatest places on earth to see. For us it was a spiritual journey to incredibly beautiful and majestic vistas and amazing historical places. You could really feel the energy of these very magical places, Ollyantaytambo, Machu Picchu, Raqchi and especially at Lake Titicaca. We left our soul's imprint on Peru, and perhaps that is why Father's hand was upon the adventure from the beginning.

Many thanks to our tour company Gate 1 Travel, and their excellent tour manager Washington, and our local guides Carlos and Edith.

Caligastia's Comments

*** The indicated photo has a sculpture of a gorilla on the left and a cow on the right. It should be noted that Angel's Lair ALSO has the same carvings and that the gorilla is a creature not indigenous to this hemisphere. The Lair has been dated, from the Bible, at 500 BC. This date is beyond contestation. It follows that identical carvings appearing in Peru connect the two places via those who were operational at both places.

**  The carvings at Ollyantaytambo also have a similar theme. At Angel's Lair we have a carving of my face, a bearded man. At Ollyantaytambo we have a bearded king. No native American, be he a Ute or an Inca had ever seen a bearded man until after Columbus discovered Cuba in 1492. Native Americans do not grow beards and the image of a bearded man is as anomalous as the gorilla. Regardless, it makes an undeniable connection between the two areas and the story
being told.

Angel's Lair is the central hub of a global network  prepositioned in time to actuate rapture on a global scale. The story appears in the rock sculptures and in the Bible that cross confirms the story.


gorilla   cow
                                                        Gorilla at Angel's Lair                                                                         Cow and Calf at Angel's Lair

Bobs face
                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                     Bob's Face