Monday, April 12, 2010

Bolivia and Carol's words on Peru

We honestly didn’t think we could top the experience we had had in the last 9 months, and with a bit of travelers fatique, we were completely unprepared for our South American experience. What could we expect ? Well, truthfully we really had no expectation at all and all the better because we have been completely amazed by this leg of our trip and especially with Peru. It has not stopped surprising us with its beautiful scenery, its incredible Andean peaks, its ocean which we saw in Lima, its sacred lake Titicaca, its exotic Amazon and of course the hauntingly beautiful Incan ruins in Machu Picchu. The history is something I really didn’t remember from school, but being here and hearing it directly from the Incan Indians themselves has been an unforgettable experience! Although most Peruvians are Catholic by force of the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500’s, you have the feeling that there is a deep pride in their Incan culture and that it is still practiced among many people. We toured the great Cathedral in Cuzco (the original home of the Incans) and the tour was eye-opening! The Spanish Conquistidors had hired local artists to build and do the artwork for all Cathedrals. What the invaders didn’t know was that the native Incans had their own interpretation of the great Catholic works of art and they snuck into the art their own belief system which included the belief in many gods including the most important being Mother Earth, the Sun and the Moon, although there were gods for just about everything from nature. For example, in the painting of the last supper, they include a platter serving guinea pig and a platter of corn. Judas is colored with dark skin signifying the skin color of the Spaniards. At the time, the Spanish had no idea they had been duped.
Women line the streets dressed in their ancient costumes and not only for tourists but they are dressed like this everywhere, in their homes, while farming and while selling in the market. The women wear braids on each side of their head and wear a hat that sits balancing right on top of their head and looks several sizes too small. Most are dressed with very bright primary colors and wear a black hat. Men are not usually dressed up unless for festivals and unless you are visiting one of the sacred islands on lake Titicaca where the men dress up everyday in black trousers, a white blouse and a hand weaved wide belt and a hat with a color to signify if they are married or not. Dancing and holding festivals where they are dressed much like what you see at Mardi Gras is very common, maybe 700 occasions per year!! All are colorful and where some scary masks and what we have learned is that one very important dance is the Diablo/Angel dance where good meets evil. We were very lucky to have seen one of these dances at the island of Taquile on Lake Titicaca.
Today, as we crossed over to Bolivia on a catamaran cruising Lake Titicaca, we had the honor to join in a local Indian ceremony on the sacred Island of the Sun, with offerings to Mother Earth, the Sun and the Moon and many blessings for us for good health and good travels. It took place on top of a cliff overlooking Lake Titicaca. The sun was strong and there was a beautiful breeze. It was truly magic.
Now we are on a bus traveling the outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia and the roads are crazy and it seems that anything goes here as far as the unspoken rules of the road! More later!! and yes we made it to our hotel in La Paz alive!

Mountains surrounding La Paz

Sun ISland with a local Inca Priest

Those reeds boat are very interestingly built!

Locals washing their hairs in lake Ttikaka

Cruising the lake

Lama embryo for witchcraft!

Vehicles getting ready to be blessed by priest!

Luca Inca (the sequel)

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