Here’s my trip to Peru report!! Every time I travel to Korea, I report back to you. This time I travelled to Peru and I already wrote about Best Peruvian Food in Lima. Now, I’m sharing other things besides food – what I saw, learned and experienced during my Peru trip!
Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel situated on a mountain ridge 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level (wikipedia). My guide Nilo explained that Machu Picchu was basically an agricultural research and teaching academy for the Incas. What type of potatoes or corn grow best at what altitude and when is the best time to plant, etc.. Incas were experts at farming on terraces at high altitudes and this picture shows all the terraces around the Machu Picchu citadel. You may think it strange but I think I was more impressed by these terraces more than the buildings itself.
OK, but wait.. let’s back up a little bit..
So, on our way to Machu Picchu, we stopped by Awana Kancha weaving center. At this center, you can see various types of Alpacas, Llamas and Vicuñas – happily grazing in their pens. After you pass these cute and fluffy guys, you can observe how the villagers weave various textiles made from the coat of these animals. Peruvians shave off Alpaca hair and then spin them into yarn which is then dyed and weaved into beautiful designs.
Cute, aren’t they?? Their hair is sooooo soft. Once the hair is cut and washed, Peruvian women hold the Alpaca hair in one hand and spin the spindle to make these into ultra soft yarn. And then the yarns are dyed into all the vibrant colors that you see below.
Did you know that all these colors (except Indigo blue and the bright green) are from natural dyes from local herbs, flowers or insects in Peru?
WAIT… Did I say yarns are dyed from ‘INSECTS’??
YESSS, the most amazing one of all – Cochineal – little insects that grow on Cactus in Peru!!!! My guide Nilo saw how intrigued and fascinated I was with these insects that he made a special stop (just for me!) to show these creatures in their natural habitat. There was this cactus on the side of the road in Sacred Valley, Peru and there they were!!! BTW the white powdery substance is to protect the eggs and young insects from getting scorched and dried in the sun.
These neat little insects called Cochineal give you the most glorious dark red color called Carmine as you see above. Nilo sacrificed one bug to show me the color in the picture above. Carmine Dye is used as natural coloring for food, cosmetics like lipstick and of course, to dye fabrics. Peru is the largest exporter of Carmine in the world.
And another fantastic property of Cochineal color is that you can get variations of red and purple by altering its PH. So mixing it with an acid like lemon/lime produces this vibrant orangish red (the bottom color)! Magic!! Wow —
These pretty color yarns are then weaved into clothing, tableware, bags, hats and each design symbolizes something. The red designs are clouds, the green diamond shaped designs are terraces.
We stayed at the Sumaq hotel in Machu Picchu during Christmas time from 23rd to 25th. I loved the gold Inca sculptures and the bright red and orange colors in the lobby.
Next day, on Christmas eve of 24th (a very rainy and cloudy day), we visited Machu Picchu itself. And then for 25th Christmas day, our guide told us that he had already purchased tickets for us to climb Wayna Picchu. Huh? Wayna Picchu?? FYI, it’s the small but still very high mountain on the left in the pic below. We debated whether we should go or not since the mountain looked pretty impossible from below.
Because I was just recovering from my wonderful food poisoning from just couple days before so I wasn’t sure if I was up to it..
But our guide just casually mentions – “Oh, I had a couple who were in their 70’s and they made it up and back in 2.5 hrs…But it’s totally up to you..” with a big smile. Well..Hey, we are already here, right? And we learned that you have to buy these tickets weeks in advance because they limit the number of visitors to just 200 each day.
Sooo.. IT WAS A GO!!!..AND… oh boy, oh boy… 😵
It took us 2.5 hrs (or maybe even 3? sigh..) in total, to climb up Wayna Picchu and come back down. There were countless numbers of very narrow and steep steps that just seems like someone made those just to torment people. And often times, because the stairs are so steep, you are just holding on for your dear life of the metal cable that’s on the side next to you because you are basically crawling up to the top, not walking – like a proper human should be doing…
But once you got up there, the view was pretty spectacular!! FYI, I could barely walk to the bathroom the next day.. I am soooo out of shape but that’s OK. I am so glad we did it.
Anyway, here’s a picture to prove that we actually made it up there. That’s my husband. And I took the picture. The area you see in the center is Machu Picchu – see how far away it is!!
It was around noon when we came down from Wayna Picchu and then we checked out of our beautiful Sumaq hotel and boarded the train back to Cusco. More coming in my next post about Cusco and more! But before I go –
Enjoy a cup of coffee with this spectacular view from Machu Picchu! It’s on me!!!😝
Have a wonderful week!