UPDATE#16 08/12 thru 08/14/08

Howdy Everybody,

The adventures of 2008 from 1/1/08 through 08/11/08 have been published on the website.  We will continue now with this latest edition.


 UPDATE 2008 #16   08/12/08 through 08/14/08.

At last update, we were in the first week of our adventure trip to the South American country of Peru.  We were visiting the mountainous areas around the north central city of Huaraz.  This high altitude region is known as the Cordillera Blanco and the Cordillera Negra.



     It started out as a relaxed morning.  We had no tour booked, we had no deadlines, and we had no firm plan.  We walked to the Z-Buss station office to purchase some tickets for our trip to Lima.  A nice tip from our tour guy, Marco, informed us that Z-Buss was running a special to Lima during the month of August.  We jumped on that idea and managed to save a bit of coin.

     After breakfast at our favorite panadoria, we dropped off a bunch of laundry at Danny’s Lavanderia. 

     Isn’t it interesting how differently other countries manage to handle their food supplies?  It kind of reminds me of “a bucket of chicken” from KFC.


     One little, two little, three little chickens; four little, five little, six little chickens; seven little…. Oh, well, you get the idea.


     The main Cathedral in Huaraz was nearly destroyed in an earthquake in 1970.  The slow process of reconstruction is ongoing.


     Having read about a mineral rich, thermal springs located not far from Huaraz, we decided on a self-guided visit to the Aguas Termales de Monterrey. 


     The book warned that the waters might look rather uninviting due to the brownish color.  The waters are clean and healthy, however, the mineral content includes a lot of iron oxide that gives it the natural color.  The pools were a delightfully hot temperature and we enjoyed the experience shared with some of the local Peruvians.


     The changing room was simply a brick wall set to the open air.


     We located another area for hot springs, however, the facilities were very confusing and we could not determine the conditions without paying the admission fee first.  We decided to forgo this set of springs and vapor caves.


     With no clear destination in mind, we hopped aboard a combi collectivo bus.  When we got to the center of Yungay, we asked about continuing uphill to the Lakes at Parque Chinancocha.  The driver’s route was heading up that way and we joined him.  I had the prime seat in front which was perfect for taking pictures of the countryside.  This gal proves that there is a degree of “high fashion” in the Andes.


     In the rural life of the Andes Mountains, the local indigenous people face hardships in many, many forms.  The terrain is rugged and harsh.


     The mighty Nevado Huascaran juts upward to 6768 meters (over 22,204 feet).


     It was from this leviathan that the devastating avalanche of 1970 came with its crushing mass of rock and ice.


     At our last visit here, this magnificent peak was shrouded in the clouds.  Today, it boldly stands in all its glacial beauty.


     The views at Laguna Llanganuco are spectacular.  The glacial water pools in the heart of the Cordillera Blanca.


     It was getting late in the afternoon.  Standing at the edge of the gravel road, we weren’t having much luck finding transportation back down to the village.  Along with us, a half dozen or more Peruvian men, most likely workers at the lake, were patiently sitting around in wait too.  After a while, a large stake-bed truck came along.  We all waved him down and climbed into the back joining some other locals.  Judy found a place on a huge bag of dried corn kernels.  The men stood bracing and holding on to steel bars spanning the truck bed.  The road was very rough and bouncy.  It was a challenge for me to hang on in the very back of the truck. 


     To complicate the situation, there was a goat herder transporting his 5 goats in the back too.  These goats were continuously “Pee-ing” and “Poop-ing” with every jolt in the road.  Not only did I have to hang on, but also I had to dodge the floods.  A sharp thinking Judy rolled up my pant legs so they wouldn’t drag in the mess.  At each bump, I would go airborne and come back slamming my feet to the metal floor.  This is what adventure travel is all about, never knowing what comes next.

     Now, here was the surprise of all surprises.  This goat herder was typically dressed for a mountain goat herder.  His clothing was clean but somewhat tattered and worn.  His sandals were made of old tires and his feet were leather tough from years in the fields.  The ropes that held the goats had to be many, many years old and must have been in the family for generations.  All of a sudden, we heard a strange, ringing sound.  Much to our awed surprise, the goat herder pulled out a cell phone and began to talk in the Quechua language.  Judy and I looked at each other in almost shock.  The world is definitely much smaller when even the rural, indigenous people can have a cell phone.  It was more proof that things are not always what they seem or what you might expect.


     By the time we got down to the town of Yungay, there were only a few of us left huddled in the back of the truck.  Most of the others had gotten off at various remote paths along the wayside.  For the rest of the way into the center of town, we had to walk.


     We waved down a collective taxi for the long ride back to Huaraz.  We lucked out by getting in with the family of the driver.  He was taking them into Huaraz and we enjoyed almost exclusive service at a very low price.

     This delightful park walk in Huaraz is lined with lovely statues framed by the backdrop of snow-capped mountains.


     This smiling entrepreneur has a unique style to display his dishes of regional potatoes.  Anyone?  “Papas a la Huancaina”, anyone?


     With our nice, clean laundry picked up, we yielded to the urge of returning to Samuel’s Restaurant.  This would be our last chance for their wonderful roasted chicken.  My pedometer indicated a startling 12.58 miles, however, I think that some of that must have been from all the bouncing and jouncing in the back of that truck.  We have had an absolutely fantastic day of sightseeing and spontaneous adventure.  Peru is just so wonderful; “Ya Juz Gotta Luv It.”

     Fortunately, we had paid a special day rate to stay in our room until our bus was scheduled to leave.  We had some time to rest up and enjoy a hot shower before checking out at 10 pm.


     The Z-Buss coach departed almost on time at 10:35pm for the all-night trip to Lima.  The spotlessly clean, modern bus had 2 floors.  The lower level contained 16 “Bus Cama” seats that deeply recline and have leg rests.  They are kind of like a comfortable lounging chair and are designed for sleeping.  The upper floor has 44 of the same kind of bed seats.  We reserved our seats in the lower level.  A stewardess was aboard to serve soft drinks and snacks.  The driving crew remains separate in their own, forward compartment.


     The bus company advertised the overnight trip to take 8 hours.  We expected to arrive in Lima at about 6:30am, which is about a half hour after sunrise.  This will give us the whole day in Lima for sightseeing.



     The bus service was pretty good and we even managed to get a little sleep during the night.  Much to our surprise, the 8 hour trip took only 7 hours and 10 minutes before our arrival time of 5:45am at the Flores Bus company station at Paseo de Republica and 28 de Julio.

     It took a bit of negotiation to get a fair taxi price of S./6 ($2.25 us).  It was still before daylight and traffic was very light.  The taxi driver sped along and never even stopped for one red light.  Our hostal was located on a one-way street.  The taxi driver just backed up our street to avoid looping around the block.  It was all quite funny and well worth a few hearty chuckles.

     The great folks at the Hostal San Francisco on Azangaro, 127, had room # 203 ready for us and we were ready for it.


     After a very short rest, we headed out for some sightseeing.  Our first stop was Pancho Fierro’s Restaurant across from the Monastario de San Francisco.  They freshly prepared very good food at a very economical price.

     A taxi whisked us to the San Isidro district in search of the offices of the Ferrocarril Central Andino (Central Andes Railroad).  The location was illusive and we only found it because I had the exact address.  There were no signs and the taxi driver had no clues.  Inside the modern office building, we were able to buy the tickets for our train trip departing on Friday morning.  Our reservations were made via internet from the US; however, we were unable to pay online.  We are very hopeful that this trip will be a major highlight on our adventures.  The train only operates two times per month.  Tickets in the Tourist Class coach cost S./160 ($60 us) per person for a one-way ride to Huancayo.

     A visit to the main Cathedral National de Lima required an admission fee of S./10.  This historical place, located at the focal point of the Plaza de Armas, is a must see.  The original was first constructed in 1555.  A successor was begun in 1564 and was still unfinished at the consecration in 1625.  An earthquake in 1687 and another in 1746 almost totally destroyed it.  The present reconstruction is based largely on the early plans.

     An area of the Cathedral is devoted to the coffin and remains of the most famous Spanish Conquistador and first Spanish Governor of Peru.


     During the 1980’s, a fierce debate raged over the authenticity of the remains.  A mysterious body with a disembodied head was unearthed in a crypt in the 1970’s.  After extensive testing, it was concluded that the entombed body on display was actually that of an unknown church official.  The brutally stabbed and headless body from the crypt was actually Pizarro’s.  The corpse was reunited with the head and transferred to the coffin in the chapel.  Now, how’s that for an interesting story of religious and political intrigue? 


     A fairly close translation of the inscription reads:

Here lies The Marquez Governor Don Francisco Pizarro.

Conqueror of Peru and Founder of Lima.

Born in Trujillo De Extremadura, Spain in 1478.

Died in Lima the 26th of June 1541.  The metropolitan government

moved here the remains on the 18th of January of 1985.

To celebrate the 450th anniversary of the founding of the city.

God is the holder of your Glory. AMEN


     The rest of the Cathedral is very ornately decorated with huge statues and devoutly religious symbols.


     The woodcarvings are fabulously constructed and tell stories of Christian historical events.


     The vast majority of statuary, artwork, woodcarvings, and decorative symbols were created, crafted, and constructed by highly-talented Peruvians artisans.


     The Museum of the Inquisition provided a lot of insight into the historical role of the Catholic Church and the Spanish Government.  A tribunal comprised of Catholic clergy and a Spanish government official judged the accused of “crimes” of religious heresy, blasphemy, the belief in any religion other than Catholicism, charges of witchcraft, and various sex offenses.  The notorious “Spanish Inquisition” continued in Peru from 1570 to 1820 AD.

     Lifesized models are used to portray the events, situations, and conditions relative to the historical perspective.

     In this room the inquisitors held their hearings and ‘charged’ the prisoners.  Only recognized Catholic witnesses could testify in the defense.


     The intricately carved wood ceiling is held together without the use of any nails or screws.  It is very impressive.


     The ‘Chamber of Secrets’, used as an archive for the court of the Inquisition, secretly stored all the files corresponding to the judgments and other secretive activities of the inquisitors.

    This was the ‘Room of Restrainments’. Detainees that tried to resist or escape the prison and the Tribunal were placed here and remained shackled, or in stocks, bound by hands and feet (painfully restrained – to break their spirit and keep them from trying again…).


     In some cases, the Tribunal used the so-called ‘questioning of torture’. Mainly when the statement of the accused was contradictorily or he refused to confess. The use of torture by the Tribunal was ‘only’ applied in about 6% to 9% of all cases. Although painfully brutal, torture procedures were claimed to be somewhat limited.  While a prisoner was being tortured an inquisitor and a doctor were always present.  The average time of such a procedure was not longer then 15 minutes.
    I guess I’m just wondering,  “What do you think you would confess after 15 minutes…?”
    Nonetheless, the uses of inhumane torture techniques were usual and common occurrences in these times and were liberally applied during normal trials as well.  The torture master was hooded to protect his anonymity.




     “Okay, Okay, I give up!  I repent!”


     This form of torture was most common for women.  Water was poured on the face to simulate the feeling of drowning.  Sound familiar?


     The Inquisition used two different kinds of prison cells: the public and the secret ones. The public cells were used after the verdict was pronounced and the prisoners served out their sentences according to the judgments of the Tribunal.

     Wealthy prisoners had to finance their stay on their own – you can only imagine what that meant. These cells were, by prison standards at the time, quite clean, the food may have included meat, fruits, eggs, milk, cheese, and, perhaps, even some wine. Some wealthy prisoners were allowed to receive visits from friends and relatives. Of course, they all had to be recognized adherents to the Catholic faith.

     The Holy Office financed the ‘detainment’ of poor prisoners.

     The secret cells could not have been very much fun. Most the time, the prisoners were locked away without even telling them the reason. The official charge was sometimes held back for weeks, month or even years and absolute isolation was maintained.

     I wonder, “What will this gal be accused of?”  She looks kind of guilty to me.


     Out on the street, this cart vendor was hawking some of the most gorgeous strawberries that I’ve ever seen.  At S./1.5, a whole Kilo (2.2 pounds) sells for the equivalent of about $.55 us.  That is less than 25 cents a pound.  How many Kilos would you like?


     The grounds and architecture of the Congreso (Congress) building are captivatingly beautiful.


     Desamparados, the historic Lima train depot.


     The impressive balconies of the “Palacio de Arzobispal”  (Palace of the Archbishop of the national Cathedral)...


     The historic “Casa De Correos Y Telegrafos” (Post Office and Telegraph Office).


     Of course, Judy had to peruse a few of the jewelry bead shops again.  She was accumulating ideas and mentally preparing her shopping list

     The Cathedral de Lima at night is certainly awe-inspiring.


     The surrounds of the Plaza de Armas in the historical center of Lima....


     We had dinner under one of the porticos near the Plaza.  Although the pedometer only registered 6.26 miles, we were quite tired from our very full day.


08/14/08    THURSDAY      LIMA

     Judy was up 45 minutes before the 8am alarm sounded.  The allure of a long soak in the nice hot shower held her attention.  It was breakfast at Pancho Fierro’s Restaurant again this morning.  With only about 8 small tables, the service is friendly and the food is quite good.

     There are some famous ruins outside of Lima.  I was confident that I could handle an independent visit to the site.  It took us quite a while and a lot of questions to locate the correct, local mini-buses to transport us to the ruins.  The stop for the main mini-bus had changed due to the opening of a new road section.  We finally found the Parada (bus stop) on the lower level of the new, Grau Expressway.  Our destination was the ruins of Pachacamac.  Strange as it seems, buses marked ‘Pachacamac’ do not go there.  We finally learned that the buses marked “San Bartola” provide the correct route that drops you at the front gate of the site.  The packed mini-bus takes about an hour.


     We located a nice young fellow to guide us about the extensive grounds of the ruins.  Our “Guia” is a student at the university in Lima and is fluent in English.

     The temple of Pachacamac is an archaeological site 40 km southeast of Lima in the Lurín River Valley. It already had at least one pyramid, a cemetery and a multicolored fresco of fish by the period 200-600 AD. Later, the conquering Huari Culture (600-800 AD) undertook construction of the city, probably using it as an administrative center. A number of Huari influenced designs appear on the construction in this period and on the ceramics and textiles found in the cemeteries of this period. After the collapse of the Huari empire, the Ichma culture at Pachacamac continued the growth as a religious state for the veneration of the Pacha Kamaq (Earth Creator), or creator god. The majority of the common architecture and temples were built at this stage (800-1450 AD).

     The Ichma joined the Inca empire and Pachacamac became an important administrative center. However the Inca maintained it as a religious shrine and allowed the Pachacamac priests to continue functioning independently of the Inca priesthood. This included the Pacha Kamaq, whom the Inca presumably consulted. Pacha Kamaq ('Earth-Maker') was considered the creator god by the peoples before the Inca conquest. He was reluctantly taken into the Inca religeous structure, but Pacha Kamaq was seen mainly as an ineffective rival of Viracocha, the traditional “Sun God” that reigned highest in the Inca Culture. The Inca continued to build five additional buildings, including a temple to the Sun on the main square.


     The sandy grounds are spread out over a large area and require a lot of walking and climbing.


     The “Mamaconas” or “Acllahuasi” translates to “the house of the chosen women."  Here, almost 200 beautiful maidens lived; they were dedicated to the cult for service to the Sun God, the Inca nobility, and the Inca priesthood.


     The Inca culture continued to develop the temple site until the conquest of the Spanish under the forces of Pizarro in 1535.  The temples were destroyed and the Sun God devilified as blasphemy to the Catholic theology.  It was along this pathway that Francisco Pizarro led the conquering army to inflict another crushing blow to the Inca Empire.


     Ramps such as this one were used to raise the heavy, adobe building blocks used in the temple constructions.


     The highest edifice, the Temple of the Sun, was constructed by the Inca Culture to honor “Viracocha”, their highest deity. Construction took place during the final period at Pachacamac.


     The Temple of the Sun overlooks the Pacific Ocean and several islands. 

     From this temple summit, you are in an ideal place to contemplate the two legendary islands known as Cavillaca and her small daughter. Cavillaca, a beautiful young lady, was coveted by all the huacas (gods) of the neighboring districts. One day, the god Cuniraya Viracocha walked disguised as a beggar and deposited his own semen in a piece of fruit that she ate.
     After nine months, she gave birth to a baby girl. Several weeks later, the beautiful young mother gathered all the huacas (gods) of the region, to discover who was the father of her daughter.  The heart-stricken mother, Cavillaca, thought and expected that only the daughter could reveal the true father "because she will crawl to her progenitor's arms".
     Of course, the baby girl crawled to the beggar's arms; and when seeing it, Cavillaca took her daughter and ran towards the sea until they both disappeared. Desperate, Cuniraya Viracocha took off its ragged clothes and got dressed with inspired elegance; but it was in vain, he could not make amends; Cavillaca and her daughter had become islands...


     There was a lot of walking through these extensive grounds.  Fortunately, the way back was mostly downhill.


     We had been very fortunate to have such a good guide that taught us much of the history and in good English so we could understand much of the importance of this marvelous site.


     In Lima central, lines of mini-buses call out for riders.  Our bus from the ruins dropped us off at this busy, downtown location.  From here, we had to find a connecting bus along the intersecting Abancay Street.


     In Lima, we had lunch at Restaurante Acllahuasi.  If you remember, that is the same Quechua name for “the house of the chosen women”.  It was pretty good, however, it seems like most of the ‘chosen gals’ must have gone out to lunch somewhere else.

     We located and walked to the Museo Banco Central De Reserva Del Peru.  Although the admission is free, you must leave your passport with the security guards at the entrance.  No passaporte, No entrada!


     The former Central Reserve Bank now houses an extensive collection of pre-Columbian, archaeological artifacts.  My sister, living in the Phoenix, Arizona area, has a deep interest in native North American pottery.  I will be interested in her thoughts on South American indigenous pottery.


     Most of these pottery vessels were created and designed for the drinking of important liquids.


     Within the huge, old, high-security bank vault, the museum displays a wonderful collection of Inca artworks made of gold and precious metals.


     The Sun God, Viracocha, was a favored symbol in many of their creative works.

     The Tumi is a sacrificial ceremonial knife distinctly characterized by a semi-circular blade, made of either bronze, copper, gold-alloy, or silver alloy; used by some Inca and pre-Inca cultures in the Peruvian Coastal Region.  The Tumi may also have been used in the ceremonial rituals of mummification and certain burial preparations for important leaders.


     Beautiful masks of gold…


     This vessel depicts a ‘mujer cargando masato’ or a woman toting an ancient drink made from mashed, fermented Yucca.  It may have been used to drink the mixture from.


     Tortoises, birds, mammals, fish, and reptiles were favorite subjects for their decorative artwork.


     An interesting numismatic display of early monies from around South America was displayed within the decorative ironwork of these historic teller cages.


     Yes, I know this is hard to believe, but that is actually a blue sky over Lima.


     The edifices and architecture are marvelously enhanced by the mere addition of a little sunshine.


     A regal contingent of colorful ceremonial guards stands watch at the Palacio de Gobierno.


     Let the “Madness” begin!  Judy’s mind has been racing wildly since she spotted that first bead store last week.  She was primed; She was eager; She was ready!  With an adamant fervor, she attacked the bins and shelves of the numerous jewelry bead vendors.  Lima has not seen determination of this magnitude since the Spanish Conquistadores swarmed the city nearly 500 years ago.  With a vengeance more determined than Pizarro himself, she picked through and selected her personal choice favorites to fill her mounting larder of jewelry makings.

    She literally dragged me through the myriad of stores (perhaps a million, or maybe not quite that many) with racks and bins overflowing with the bright, shiny pieces.  No strand, no bobble, no clasp, and no ornament went unnoticed.  The dedicated fanatic was in relentless pursuit for over 3 continuous hours (actually, it was closer to 4 hours, but who had the strength to count by then).

   My job was to interpret and negotiate.  Although not much negotiation was effective, I think that we avoided the common pitfall of tourist overpricing.  With prior approval to safely stash her purchases at the hotel for the next few weeks, she found the bargains too much for a gal to resist.  She ended up with quite a large cache of supplies and significantly less cash in her wallet.

     Nearly exhausted, we returned to Restaurante Acllahuasi for dinner.  At the place named for “the house of the chosen women”, apparently again, none of those ‘chosen gals’ had yet returned.  Oh well, maybe in the reign of the next culture.

     With all the jewelry beads safely stored by the cooperative hotel staff, we packed our bags and readied ourselves for a very early, morning departure on that very special train.




     This concludes this edition of the AMARSE Update logs. 

     Thanks for allowing us to share our life and adventures with you.

Lotsa Luv,

Fred Reed and Judy Law



 "AMARSE".  is pronounced "AM-ARE-SAY".

  Our website is:   www.amarse.net   .