Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Day 104 Feliz Navidad

Computer points are few and far between in the high country of Peru, but in virtual silence, I steadily made my way to Cusco for Christmas as planned.  Surprisingly, it was almost a White Christmas for me this year, despite the tropical latitude.  I spent the ten days afoot from Lake Titicaca bouncing between 4,000 and 5,000 meters - 14,000 to 17,000 feet - of altitude which sees a fair dusting of daily snow in this wet season.  I love it!  Cold is far far easier on the feet than hot.  The limiting factor to my daily distance is the number of hours of daylight rather than achy feet.

I've been following an old Spanish Colonial road, one they lovingly call a highway, though potholed packed dirt/mud with few bridges to cross the raging runoff streams - plunge right in.  The 17th- and 18th-century towns established by Spaniards for Spaniards look identical to ones of the same era in Spain and in Mexico, in architecture and design, and with the mountainous backdrop, it's easy to see Galicia in every town.  Red terrecotta-tiled roofs on stone or adobe houses with stone lintels and doorframes.  Very much Spanish style.  At the lower elevations, below the treeline, beehive hornos are everywhere.  Many of the churches have the typical Gallego three-tiered bell tower, though here they lack the ubiquitous stork's nests of northern Spain.  Some of the churches are plain on the outside yet loaded with gilded treasures and painting on the inside; others are the opposite with carved masonry on the grand portals yet plain on the inside.  Interesting.  On the other hand, the slightly younger towns built for Peruvians contain Spanish Mission style churches that look very much like the ones of the same era in the American southwest.

Incan and pre-Incan remnants abound, some of which are noted for tourists others not.  It's amazing, though logical, that some of the ancient circular stone buildings with grass roofs are still lived in by the alpaqueros.  More common are the adobe houses with either grass or corrogated metal roofs.  The life of the animal-tenders is pretty simple, and little has changed about it in the centuries with the noted exception of cellphones - everyone's got one, from the small children to the grandmothers out there tending their flocks.  They have a funny idea that during the daily thunderstorms, using a cellphone puts one in a protective bubble of electrical neutrality and they can't get struck by lightning.  They hunker down under the cover of their heavy alpaca blankets and chat away during the storms.  They laugh at me walking in my rain gear and offer me blankets to keep my dry - even a dry one weighs a lot more than my whole backpack!  I'll stick to Gortex.

The pilgrim route to Mexico divides itself into natural stages and the arrival of Cusco completes the first major etape, about a third of the way.  The second major chunk of the globe is between here and the Darian Gap between Colombia and Panama.  This might take until April-ish.  The next smaller subdivision is making my way to Lima, again along old Spanish Colonial roads, which of course are largely on top of Incan Roads, themselves on top of earlier transits.

7 comments:

Amy R said...

Hello and Merry Christmas! Will you stay in Cusco for more than a day?

gsieben said...

Are you really going to skip Machu Picchu and go straight to Lima!?!

Winter Pilgrim said...

Skipping Machu Picchu and the bizillion tourists and requirements for registration and guides... moving ahead along an old Incan route into the thick of the mountains and toward Lima... just sticking around Cusco long enough for a package with a few fresh supplies to arrive, then onward. Not sure where New Years Eve will be celebrated.

The Solitary Walker said...

An amazing, incredible journey. With you in spirit.

Janet Duca said...

Hello my friend. How exciting that you are about half way through this journey. I think skipping Machu Pucchu is a bummer, but if in the interest of time you needed to move on that's completely understandable. Peru is a beautiful country with many fine people and wonderful food. If you need help Dante's family is just a phone call away. I miss you and am happy to read that you are safe. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year. Janet, Peter, and Bruno (new kitty you need to come meet when you return home)

Sheila Phelan Wright said...

I trust the package arrived and you are off again. I love the cell phone and storm story, especially as I just heard last week that my two loopy aunts would go sit in the car they won in a church lottery when there was a storm. Afraid to drive the thing, but were sure it kept them safe from the lightening.
Cheers for getting to Cusco. Hope 2013 brings you more tales and adventure. Thinking of you always.

ksam said...

Ahh, finally some quiet here and a chance to hunker down and read for a bit. Cold enough here that I'd love one of those blankets. Thank for posting as much as you have, especially considering how difficult it must be to find a computer! Thinking of you so often and always saying one for your journey. Peace, Karin