At 4am this morning we left our rustic accommodation in the Sacred Valley, Peru
We are now ensconced in a VERY fancy high rise apartment in Medellin, Colombia, complete with rooftop pool, gym, pool room and jacuzzi. It all feels a bit weird but we will get used to it.
Peru has been an amazing experience, exotic but easy, despite the language barrier. We learned enough Spanish to get by and mime or Google Translate filled the gaps. Everyone has been very tolerant and helpful.
So what did we love? The scenery of the high Andes has been wonderful and amazingly diverse, high plains, jungle, steeply folded mountains. I cannot think of a country with such a diversity apart from perhaps our next destination, Colombia.
The flora and fauna has been equally fascinating, exotic birds and beautiful butterflies abound. Janaki has been wonderfully patient as I chase around with my new camera trying to get 'the shot'
An array of very strange insects (I only got bitten once....)
And a wide variety of beautiful flowers with many different types of orchid and a surprisingly large number of cacti given the altitude.
There has been so much to see that I have made a special album for the wildlife, link here
The history has been very interesting, notably the remarkably sophisticated pre-Incan pottery
And the amazing Inca stonework, from the high terraces
to the dense communities
to the intricately joined structures of the temples.
Here I have had to be the patient one as my tolerance for history is considerably lower than Janaki's. Fortunately pretty much all of the historical sites have great wildlife or views.
We have been blessed with off-season crowds (still big in places) but generally fine weather and the air, apart from in Lima, has been clear and crisp. It's not everywhere you can take a picture of the moon like this with an ordinary camera.
There were a few less lovable aspects of Peru. The architecture outside preserved historic districts or high mountain villages is unremittingly aweful. The 'functional unfinished' school.
Almost every town is a forest of bare brick, concrete, empty windows and rebar. Part of the reason for this is that you don't have to pay full property tax until the building is 'finished'. Duh, why would anyone finish a building? There appears to be no environmental aesthetic, in strange contrast to the huge interest in decorative fabrics and pottery. Perhaps that is just for the tourists ...
On which subject, the sheer number of souvenir sellers, mainly selling the same stuff, gets tiresome. You are bombarded with offers wherever you go. Pisac was the nadir, not only were there streets full of stalls but the locals had entirely lost their town square to a permanent mess of high-sided and covered souvenir stalls which seems like a real loss to the community.
Even on the hiking paths there are rows of old ladies in local dress hawking a variety of nic nacs, very few of which they have made themselves. We bought as much as we needed and then some. In this case we succumbed and purchased some bracelets for bartering along the way.
The last issue, the mainly plastic trash, is shared with nearly everywhere we have travelled. It is everywhere, Including some surprising locations. It is pretty depressing when you are driving across the high Andean plateau, many miles from everything, and you have to look at the view past a twenty yard strip of old plastic rubbish. The only respite was in the state run archeological parks that were kept immaculate.
I've dwelt on these issues a lot but it was certainly not enough to spoil a truly amazing experience. When we come back to Peru we will escape the 'gringo trail' and explore the Andean foothills above the Amazon basin.
The S. American album is growing here