Category Archives: Peru

A Photo a Week Challenge: Tender Moments

Penguins, a girl feeding pigeons in Arequipa, Wooly and Raeski in Lima, llamas in San Pedro de Atacama, and a young mountain goat sticking close to mom in Rocky Mountain Natl. Park.


Where the Hat is King

Once you get away from the big city almost everyone wears one.   You are not fully dressed without one.  For those “in the know” the hat even identifies where you are from.  Whether at work, shopping or play, the hat is ever-present.  In Peru the hat is king.

In Chivay you can sit on a hat or even play on one.

Of course most hats are worn.

Even statues have hats!

And occasionally even Wooly and Raeski – especially when it’s cold.  Brrr!

(Extra)ordinary Winding Roads

I love winding roads.  From the Moki Dugway (see what the heck is a Moki Dugway), to crossing the Andes, descending toward Cerro Castillo and finally ascending to Machu Picchu.  I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I loved riding on the roads.

Out and About Chivay

In South American small towns invariably have a square in the middle.  Even in the most modest of towns the square is an important place.  There will be a church, some restaurants and streets radiating out from the square where commerce takes place.

The hat is very important in Peru.  Each region has distinctive hats.  In Chivay they take it to another level with hat sculptures.  They are irresistible  to children and sometimes accidents happen.  Some child may have spilled ice cream on the last hat.  The sculptures are designed so you can sit on them and rest weary legs and feet.

If you’ve had a tiring day you can always take a taxi.  However don’t look for the standard black taxi or collectivo here.  Each taxi owner personalizes their ‘cab’.  It’s quite the creative use of a motorcycle.

Chivay’s marketplace is quite orderly.  In Chivay each area of the marketplace has a purpose.  If you want groceries you go to one area and for other items you find the area where it’s being sold.

We also went on a hike outside of town that took us up on a hill that overlooked the town.  We highly recommend taking that walk.  The views are great at the edge of town.

Those views get even better outside of town.  And if you go you may even see someone walking to town with child in tow and their llama.  We really liked the bridge and appreciate the amount of work that must have gone into building it.

Chivay Surprise

I believe surprises can be placed in two categories – ones that are pleasant and ones that are not.  After the ride to Chivay there was still a lot of daylight left so we walked to the town square.  We knew the square is where all the action is found in small South American towns and Chivay is small.  On the way to the square we were pleasantly surprised.  The road to the square was lined with statues of folklore characters.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Peru – The road to Chivay

Many of you may have noticed I haven’t been entering photo contests recently.  Not to worry, after I catch up with processing photos from our previous trips I will start submitting to the challenges again.  I have over 1,000 photos from our trips to sort and process so for now I’m concentrating on documenting our trips.

You may recall that earlier this year we went to Peru.  After staying in Arequipa we went to Chivay.  It was a long day on the road but there was plenty to see.

We spotted lots of wildlife along the way through what is a seemingly desolate landscape dotted with volcanoes – some smoking, most not.

And we ran across a “must see/do” bucket list item.  The highest outhouses in the world located at Mirador los Andes.  Raeski gave one a try.  At 16,109 feet (4910 meters) you even huff and puff to do that.  🙂

Last but not least is the view of Chivay taken from the rim of Colca Canyon.  This is one of the deepest canyons in the world, even deeper than the Grand Canyon.

The town of Chivay from the top of Colca Canyon.
The town of Chivay from the top of Colca Canyon.

Subduction Causes Orogeny

Subduction Causes Orogeny or the Volcanoes of Arequipa.  The first title is more of an attention grabber isn’t it?  Now get your mind out of the gutter because this isn’t that type of blog.  Orogeny is simply mountain building that’s caused by subduction.  And that’s something that happens at a very high rate on the western side of South America where the Nazca Plate dives under the South America Plate.  It’s the reason for the many active volcanoes and very large earthquakes.

Arequipa lies in the shadow of three volcanoes, El Misti (active), Chachani (dormant), and Pichu Pichu (extinct).  Andean legend says when the earth was created that Chachani, a women, loved El Misti and chose to live with him.  Pichu Pichu also loved Chachani and cried a lot when Chachani chose El Misti which accounts for the lagoons at the top of Pichu Pichu.

Legends aside, Arequipa, a city of a million people, precariously sits in a beautiful and dangerous location – squarely in the path of ancient lava and ash flows.  Many of its building are built from sillar, a white volcanic stone, which turns a spectacular rosy pink in the evening sun.  Evening in the city’s main square is a must see.

Like many main squares in South America, a fountain is in the center and a large cathedral borders it.  One of the major activities in Arequipa’s main square is feeding the pigeons.  Don’t bother with the restaurants on the square.  There are better options a few blocks away.  We highly recommend Zig Zag Restaurant a few blocks away from the square.

Raeski and I did a lot of walking while in Arequipa.  Some of the streets are quite beautiful and don’t be afraid to walk the streets at night.  Arequipa is fairly safe.  Be sure to take something warm to wear after the sun goes down.  Arequipa’s elevation is 7,300 feet (2,225 meters) and the temperatures drop rapidly at that altitude.

There are many lovely photogenic architectural elements in the city.  The monastery (see post) is a photographer’s dream.  Arequipa is a photo-op waiting to happen at seemingly every street you venture down.

Dominating the central square is the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa.  Like all churches built in this era it’s the largest building in the city.  Regardless of your thoughts about religions, these old churches are worth a look inside.  Artwork, arches and stained glass await those who enter.

While many forego the trip to Arequipa when visiting Peru, we’re glad we didn’t.  Otherwise Wooly wouldn’t have captured this butterfly shot.

Arequipa Butterfly
Arequipa Butterfly

Peru Adventure – Arequipa, part one

Often overlooked and skipped on Peruvian tours, Arequipa is a treat to those who visit.  Ordinarily white, at sunset the buildings in the main square turn a vibrant golden.  Step inside the Santa Catalina de Siena Monastery and you enter another world.

The monastery has stood the test of time since 1579.  It’s survived countless earthquakes and still operates as a cloistered convent for the Dominican Second Order.   Encompassing 20,000 square meters, it takes a while to walk the corridors and peak inside the rooms where nuns used to work and sleep.  At its peak the monastery housed up to 450 people.  Today fewer than 20 nuns stay in an area that is closed to the public.

In early times it served as a place where the wealthy could protect their second born daughters.  To enter the convent a dowry of as much as 2,400 silver coins was required which is about $150,000 today.  At one time it was a wealthy convent until the money was sent to Rome.  Now they are poor.

The architecture is a blend of colonial and native styles – painted with bright and vibrant terracotta colors which happen to rub off on your clothes as Wooly discovered.  Every corner you turn and every doorway you step through is a treat.

After a major earthquake in 1592, the nuns built individual bedrooms since the dorm they stayed in was destroyed.  They built an arched sleeping area in each room.  The stronger arches provided early earthquake protection for the nuns.

Early earthquake safety - Sleep under an arch.
Early earthquake safety – Sleep under an arch.

Gardens inside the walled monastery are as peaceful as they are beautiful.  If you want to sit and contemplate you are welcome to do so after the tour when you are free to walk around on your own.  You can even sip coffee in a small courtyard featuring a snack bar.  And finally, when you come across a long and steep set of stairs – climb them.  The view at the top is worth it.  Just be careful because those steps aren’t uniform in size or height.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – Zigzag

Some roads in South America are noted for their zigzags with good reason.  You simply don’t want to take the fast way down.  Here are a couple.  The first is the main highway from Santiago that crosses over the Andes and takes you to Mendoza.  Raeski took this photo from the bus window.  The second dirt road takes you to Machu Piccu.  If you are like most, you wish the bus driver would take it a little slower.