Ica and Huacachina: Two marvels in the Peruvian desert August 18, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Peru , 1 comment so far
Less than an hour inland from Paracas is the city of Ica, where a huge sand dune looms behind the highrises. Friends with more money than I possess recommended Las Dunas, an all-inclusive resort, but I chose to stay near the city center at La Posada del Sol, which was clean and friendly and close to the internet cafes.
Partly I decided to stay in Ica because I needed to spend a solid day at work on an assignment due that night, and I needed a solid internet connection. But partly it was because of a kind offer by Raul Pino of Pino Tours, the city’s first tour operator and a student of Maria Reiche, the amazing German mathematician who brought fame to the region with her lifelong study of the Nazca Lines.
Peruvian penguins and a touch of luxury August 8, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Peru, ecotourism , 2comments
PARACAS, Peru – The pungent scent of the sea washes over the landscape like the rhythmic waves, and I contemplate the pleasure of lingering here in the peaceful beauty of the Paracas Hotel and enjoying a sumptuous breakfast buffet. But I’m scheduled for the first boat to the Ballestas Isles, and the penguins await.
I gather sweater and sunglasses and hat and head for the pier, where 22 people are buckling up with lifejackets and taking their seat aboard our skiff.
As if to see us off, a line of four Peruvian pelicans sails by just over the sparkling surface of the water in search of prey.
Lima’s love affair with light August 6, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Peru , 1 comment so far
LIMA – One more entry about Lima, just because it deserves it.
This city has been called grey and dreary and at first glance one might understandably think so, given that the coastal fog that shrouds the city lifts so rarely. But that’s given Limeños the inspiration to play with light in ways that other, more sunny cities don’t, to sparkling effect.
Case in point, the Circuito Magico del Agua, the water park in Central Lima.
Huaca Pucllana: The ancient pyramids of Lima July 31, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Peru, Uncategorized , 3comments
Who knew that Lima’s fashionable Miraflores district was the site of an ancient ruin? Most Limeños, in fact, didn’t even know until relatively recently.
This was the version presented by Alejandro Olivo, our guide, whose grandfather farmed these lands and who used to play soccer here when he was a boy. As far as he knew, these were just hills, and what was once a city off 44 temples was leveled by the wealthy Marsano family in the 1980s to make way for what is now Miraflores. The government finally intervened to seize the land and opened a park and a small visitor’s center here in 1991, and subsequent archaeological investigations revealed a fascinating slice of Lima antiquity.
Caral: The oldest city in the Americas July 31, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Peru, Uncategorized , 1 comment so far
I’d been reading about Caral, considered to be the oldest city in the Americas, in the fascinating book 1491, a new look at archaelogical discoveries in the New World by Charles Mann. So when Sarita suggested a day trip, I jumped at the chance.
Sara booked a tour, and after a few mishaps inevitable to group travel, we were on our way. The three-hour drive up the coast took us past dramatic wind-sculpted dunes, rickety hillside favelas and cement block towns. Most drifted off to sleep; the 5:30 a.m. wakeup call had come far too early (and, in the case of Jeff, it didn’t come at all, which is why we were half an hour late).
Peru redux: Lima eight years later July 30, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Peru , add a comment
LIMA, Peru – I landed in this misty Andean capital a week ago for the wedding of my dear friend and former student, Sara Fajardo. Eight years ago I had come here with her and spent a month divided between here in Lima and in Ayacucho, where we translated for a medical mission and then did interviews with local members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The omnipresent grey mist cast a watercolor wash over the city, dampening its vibrancy, but not for long. Peru’s particular essence began to come back to me as we drove along the coast between towering cliffs and crashing waves toward the sparkling enclave of Miraflores. The cliffs were carved by the ages but soon I saw something different: They had apparently been carved a good bit more recently by bulldozers. I was shocked at the absolute dearth of greenery as we entered the seaside drive – the cliffs on the left had been stripped of the lush vegetation I had remembered, and dust was everywhere. A huge seaside construction project was going on – President Alan Garcia’s new “Costa Verde” – a project that promises “a better Lima for all” when it’s finally finished – “but that will be for my grandchildren, not for me, at the rate they’re going,” said my gravel-voiced taxista, Oscar, with a chuckle.