A first view of Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail’s Sun Gate (part 2)

Panoramic view of Machu Picchu, Peru, from the Inca Trail, descending into the valley from the Sun Gate

Panoramic view of Machu Picchu, Peru, from the Inca Trail, descending into the valley from the Sun Gate

Abandoned by the Incas shortly before the Spanish conquest of the Inca capital city of Qosqo (Cuzco) in 1533, Machu Picchu is one of the few Incan masterworks that did not suffer excessive alterations in the intervening centuries before its “scientific” discovery by Yale University professor Hiram Bingham in 1911.

 

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Ruins of an Inca Temple for pilgrim's offerings, along the Inca Trail as it descends into Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate, Peru

Ruins of an Inca Temple for pilgrim’s offerings, along the Inca Trail as it descends into Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate, Peru

This hillside Inca Temple is now believed to have been a way station for pilgrims on the way to Machu Picchu, after their descent from the Sun Gate (see our previous blog post).

The three tiered holy stone at the pilgrim's temple along the Inca Trail as it descends into Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate, Peru

The three tiered holy stone at the pilgrim’s temple along the Inca Trail as it descends into Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate, Peru

Three was a very important number in the Incan culture and in their vision of the cosmos.  “Their concept of time was not linear, but rather circular and/or cyclical.  Therefore, what was behind served to name the future and vice versa.  As much for time, as for space, there were:  1. Kay — the present and here, 2. Qhepa — the future and behind, and 3. Naupa — the past and up ahead.  In turn, they divided the universe into three interrelated environments:  1. Hanaq Pacha — the Upper World or place where the Gods have their abode in, 2. Kay Pacha — The World of Here and of the present, where human beings live and which, in turn, could also be the point of union or t’inkuy, between the other two levels., and 3. Ukhu Pacha, the Inner and/or Subterranean World, where the ancestors and the force of fertility dwell.” — Presenting Peru & Machupicchu by Peruvian guide Saydi Maria Negron Romero.

The Inca Trail offers a magnificent view of Machu Picchu, with Huayna Picchu mountain behind it (notice the hiking steps carved near the top) as you hike down from the Sun Gate, Peru

The Inca Trail offers a magnificent view of Machu Picchu, with Huayna Picchu mountain behind it (notice the hiking steps carved near the top) as you hike down from the Sun Gate, Peru

The Peruvians, aware that Machu Picchu is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, in order to help preserve it, now limits the number of daily foreign visitors to 2,500.  Access to climbing Huayna Picchu, with its spectacular views of Machu Picchu, is even more restricted — a group of 200 (maximum) departing daily at 7 a.m and another 200 at 10 a.m.

A close up view of the hiking steps carved near the top of Huayna Picchu mountain, adjacent to Machu Picchu, Peru

A close up view of the hiking steps carved near the top of Huayna Picchu mountain, adjacent to Machu Picchu, Peru

 

From the Inca Trail, a close-up view of Machu Picchu, Peru

From the Inca Trail, a close-up view of Machu Picchu, Peru

The last section of the Inca Trail entering Machu Picchu is well paved with stones, on a terrace next to a stone retaining wall, affording excellent views of the site.

The last section of the Inca Trail, arriving at Machu Picchu, Peru, after descending from the Sun Gate (near the crest of the hill, barely visible in the clouds, upper left)

The last section of the Inca Trail, arriving at Machu Picchu, Peru, after descending from the Sun Gate (near the crest of the hill, barely visible in the clouds, upper left)

 

The Upper and Lower Urban Sectors of Machu Picchu, Peru; note that the layout of Machu Picchu is similar to the layout of the Inca capital city, Qosqo (Cuzco)

The Upper and Lower Urban Sectors of Machu Picchu, Peru; note that the layout of Machu Picchu is similar to the layout of the Inca capital city, Qosqo (Cuzco)

According to Saydi Maria Negron Romero, “Machupicchu was erected in relation to the Sun and its trajectory through the firmament.  Each space built is oriented in order to receive the greatest amount of solar light and heat, during more hours per day, and every day of the year.  The city’s distribution goes from East to West and from North to South, as it connects with a sacred landscape, in which snow-capped mountains can be seen in the distance, as well as other nearby ones that coincide with the four cardinal directions.”

Temple of the Sun in the Upper Urban Sector of Machu Picchu, Peru

Temple of the Sun in the Upper Urban Sector of Machu Picchu, Peru

The Temple of the Sun had no roof as it was also an astronomical observatory and was used to predict the passing of the Sun through the zenith.

Closeup of terraced buildings in the Upper Urban Sector of Machu Picchu, Peru

Closeup of terraced buildings in the Upper Urban Sector of Machu Picchu, Peru

 

Closeup of terraced buildings in the Lower Urban Sector of Machu Picchu, Peru

Closeup of terraced buildings in the Lower Urban Sector of Machu Picchu, Peru

 

A first view of Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail’s Sun Gate

View of the Urubamba River as it flows around Aguas Calientes below Machu Picchu, Peru

View of the Urubamba River as it flows around Aguas Calientes below Machu Picchu, Peru

It was with great excitement and anticipation that many months ago we planned our trip, joined by several friends and other residents of the ship, to Machu Picchu from Cuzco.  While many of us think of Machu Picchu as the “City in the Clouds” in the Peruvian Andes Mountains above the Amazonian jungle and forests or as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, the complex whose ruins we can visit today was home to nearly 1,000 Incas who looked after the site which may have been both a royal residence (palace) and an important Incan Temple, frequently visited by Incan “pilgrims”. 

For the Incan pilgrims, the journey from the Incan capital city, Qosqo (Cuzco), to Machu Picchu via the so called “Inca Trail” may have taken three or four days over several mountains and quite a lot of vertical ascents and descents, notwithstanding the fact that Machu Picchu (elevation 7,972 feet or 2,430 meters) is 3,180 feet or 969 meters lower than Qosqo (Cuzco) at an elevation of 11,152 feet or 3,399 meters.  [Note that the Incas constructed hundreds of miles of “Inca Trails” leading out of the capital city of Qosqo (Cuzco), as well as trails connecting various Incan Temples and royal residences in that area.  In the 21st century, “Inca Trail” usually refers to the hikers trail from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, entering the sanctuary via the Sun Gate.]

The final steps of the Inca Trail leading to the Sun Gate, the viewpoint above and entry into, Machu Picchu, Peru

The final steps of the Inca Trail leading to the Sun Gate, the viewpoint above and entry into, Machu Picchu, Peru

The so-called “Sun Gate” (The Incas called it “Inti Punku”) is the Inca Trail entry into the valley and plateau of Machu Picchu, which sits about 1,000 feet (305 meters) below the portal (see the photograph above, and two photographs, below). 

Inti Punku or Intipunku (Quechua: inti sun, punku door, “sun door”) is an archaeological site in the Cusco Region of Peru that was once a fortress of the sacred city, Machu Picchu… It is one of the most important archeological constructions. Inti Punku was once the main entrance to Machu Picchu. This site was the main entry point from the South, and the gate would have been protected by its military. Inti Punku is dedicated to the cult of the Inti, the Sun god. The sun would come out from this site… [Incan pilgrims 500 years ago and] tourists are able to see the sun rise over the whole mountains by Machu Picchu.” — Wikipedia

The Inca Trail's Sun Gate's entrance to the last portion of the trail down into, and the first glimpse of, Machu Picchu, Peru

The Inca Trail’s Sun Gate’s entrance to the last portion of the trail down into, and the first glimpse of, Machu Picchu, Peru

According to the local guide, Saydi Maria Negron Romero, “Machupicchu is a complex Quechua [the language of the local native inhabitants] word which means ‘Old’, ‘Ancient’ or ‘Elder Mountain’, and thus is called the mountain on which stands the archaeological complex of the same name.”

"Where in the World is Riccardo?" -- Machu Picchu, Peru

“Where in the World is Riccardo?” — Machu Picchu, Peru

 

 

The incredibly stunning panoramic view from the Inca Trail Sun Gate looking down at Machu Picchu, Peru, built into the man-made plateau of the mountains

The incredibly stunning panoramic view from the Inca Trail Sun Gate looking down at Machu Picchu, Peru, built into the man-made plateau of the mountains

 

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The main urban sectors (central plateau, near left) and terraced agricultural sectors of Machu Picchu, Peru

The main urban sectors (central plateau, near left) and terraced agricultural sectors of Machu Picchu, Peru

“Machu Picchu revealed itself in front of me, like the reason’s existence, above delirium and its inhabitants’ absence and that of its creators.  The mystery of its origin and silent tenaciousness, unwound for me the lesson of order the human being can establish through the centuries, with his or her joint will power…” — Pablo Neruda

The upper agricultural sector and the main urban sectors (central plateau) of Machu Picchu, Peru

The upper agricultural sector and the main urban sectors (central plateau) of Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu was constructed from a period estimated to be between the 1450s to 1470s until, unfinished, it was abandoned by the Incans shortly before the Spanish Conquest of Cuzco in 1533 by Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro.  It is regarded as a masterpiece of Incan architecture and construction, with the quality of the stonework indicating that it was a royal residence and significant temple. The choice of location, overall architectural planning and initial construction of the sanctuary are credited to Pachacuti, the Inca “Emperor” (or “King”) who was responsible for the great geographic expansion of the Inca Empire in the mid-1400s. [Note that the name “Inca” was used by the Native Americans, before the Spanish Conquest, as their name for their leader; it was the Spanish who misunderstood this and named all the people in that society “Incas” – that general usage continues today.]

The main urban sectors (central plateau) of Machu Picchu, Peru

The main urban sectors (central plateau) of Machu Picchu, Peru

Because of its location so high above Aguas Calientes and the winding Urubamba River, the site was never discovered by the conquering Spaniards.  Very quickly, the forest and jungle grew back over Machu Picchu and hid it for centuries, until local farmers discovered the site in the late 1800s and cleared some land to reinstate farming on the plateau.  Credit for the so called “scientific” discovery of the site in 1911, and subsequent publicity about the amazing ruins, goes to the Yale University professor Hiram Bingham, who was told about the site by the local farmer, Melchor Artega, who leased the site to other farmers – who, in turn, lead Bingham up the mountain to the plateau and sanctuary.

The typical, early morning panorama of Machu Picchu, Peru, the city hidden in the clouds of the Andes Mountains

The typical, early morning panorama of Machu Picchu, Peru, the city hidden in the clouds of the Andes Mountains

 

Eat local — Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel) -- a beautifully restored 16th century convent, Cuzco, Peru

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel) — a beautifully restored 16th century convent, Cuzco, Peru

Palacio Nazarenas sits at the heart of Cuzco, at the point where two ceremonial Inca thoroughfares once met, 3 blocks uphill from the Plaza de Armas, Cuzco’s main square.  Today this strategic location is one of the city’s most delightful, peaceful squares.  According to the 16th century historian, El Inca, Garcilasco de la Vega, the family home of the last great emperor, Huayna Capac, once stood somewhere in this area which was known as Amaru Qata (Serpent Slope). 

It is thought that Palacio Nazarenas  may stand on this imperial site.  And certainly the Spanish colonial building in which we stayed (now the hotel) does feature elements that reflect its ancient name.  The massive coat-of-arms carved above the main entrance (see the photograph, above) sports a pair of mythical beasts with serpent tails, while numerous stones about the walls feature small snakes in high relief (see the last photograph in this post).  Many of these stones were taken from former Inca buildings and reused to create this early colonial residence.  For centuries, up until today, Cuzco townspeople have referred to the building as La Casa de las Sierpes (House of Snakes).

Interior couryard at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Interior courtyard at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

In 1757 Palacio Nazarenas became a beaterio, a type of “second rung” convent for daughters of the native Spanish-descended aristocracy.

The chapel, dating back to when this was a convent, at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

The chapel, dating back to when this was a convent, at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

The 45 barefoot Nazarenes who came to reside here welcomed the public to masses while they remained sequestered behind screened-off enclosures.

A surviving original 16th century convent courtyard fresco, at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

A surviving original 18th century convent courtyard fresco, at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Many frescoes dating from the early convent period remain sheltered under the courtyard patio’s arcades.

A refreshment stand by the swimming pool, near the restaurant, at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

A refreshment stand by the swimming pool, near the restaurant, at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

In 1961 the Nazarenes joined the Carmelite nuns, dissolving their order into the larger organization; in 1977 they moved to a smaller quarters and historic building was rented to a Peruvian government agency.  In 1998 a lease was signed with Peru Hotels who transferred the lease in 1999 to Orient-Express Hotels, Ltd. (later renamed Belmond).

Local spirits (and more) at the bar at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Local spirits (and more) at the bar at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

The design and planning phase of converting the convent into a luxury hotel lasted until 2009, followed by restoration and construction.  The first guests were welcomed to Palacio Nazarenas in June 2012.

Dried local corn at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Dried local corn at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

After our arrival, we had a late luncheon at the Senzo Restaurant at the hotel.  Impeccably fresh ingredients, simply prepared and delicious!

Salmon trout ceviche with fried corn kernels (a national favorite), local giant white corn kernels, squash, and greens (starter) at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Salmon trout ceviche with fried corn kernels (a national favorite), local giant white corn kernels, squash, and greens (starter) at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

 

Salad of fresh local greens and avocado (starter) at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Salad of fresh local greens and avocado (starter) at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

 

Fresh salmon with rice and greens (entree) at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Fresh salmon with rice and greens (entree) at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Note the serpents carved into the 15th century Inca stone blocks that form the foundation wall of the former convent, now the Palacio Nazarenas Hotel (photograph, below).

Original 14th century Inca stone block foundation (with carved serpents), upon which the 15th century convent was built that was restored and converted to become Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Original 15th century Inca stone block foundation (with carved serpents), upon which the 16th century Spanish palace, later a convent, was built that was restored and converted to become Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), opening in 2012, Cuzco, Peru

 

Cuzco — the Inca capital city of Qosqo (“Navel”, or “Center” in English), Peru

Welcome to the Andes region of Peru -- postcard in Cuzco (in English, Cusco), Peru

Welcome to the Andes region of Peru — postcard in Cuzco (in English, Cusco), Peru

For many of us from homes outside of South America, Cuzco, Peru is almost synonymous with the Andes Mountains and is known as the “gateway” to Machu Picchu (where one boards the train for the ride to Machu Picchu).  For contemporary tourists, that is certainly true, but the significance of the city is much deeper.

 

Plaza de Armas, Cuzco's main square, in the heart of the city -- formerly the Center of the Inca's Andean World, Peru

Plaza de Armas, Cuzco’s main square, in the heart of the city — formerly the Center of the Inca’s Andean World, Peru

Cuzco (“Cusco” in English) is Peru’s historical “Capital City” and was given recognition by UNESCO as “Humanity’s Cultural Patrimony” in 1983.  While the city was already in existence before the Inca Empire (1400s to the mid-1500s when the Spanish conquerors defeated the Incas), for the Incas it was not only the capital of the Empire, but also the Andean world’s most important sacred city.  The Inca (“King”, in English) Pachakuteq, gave the city the shape of a puma (mountain lion or cougar) and was responsible for the construction of numerous temples and public buildings, in addition to the city wall.

Templo de la Compañía de Jesús (Church of the Society of Jesus), a historic Jesuit church in Cuzco, Peru

Templo de la Compañía de Jesús (Church of the Society of Jesus), a historic Jesuit church in Cuzco, Peru

After the Spanish conquered the Incas, they destroyed many of the Inca buildings and temples, using their foundations as the foundation of new Spanish churches and public buildings and “recycled” many of the cut granite stones and smaller natural stones for use as building materials.

A side entrance to Templo de la Compañía de Jesús (Church of the Society of Jesus), a historic Jesuit church in Cuzco, Peru

A side entrance to Templo de la Compañía de Jesús (Church of the Society of Jesus), a historic Jesuit church in Cuzco, Peru

 

A local Cuzco woman at the Templo de la Compañía de Jesús (Church of the Society of Jesus), Cuzco, Peru

A local Cuzco woman at the Templo de la Compañía de Jesús (Church of the Society of Jesus), Cuzco, Peru

 

Belfries of the chapel of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin, also known as Cusco Cathedral, Cuzco, Peru

Belfries of the chapel of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin, also known as Cusco Cathedral, Cuzco, Peru

 

The Cathedral was constructed from March 11, 1560 and took 94 years to complete (concluding in July 1654),  Many of the stones used in its construction came from the Incan temple above Cuzco, Sacsaywama, and the Incan palace, Kiswaekancha, upon whose foundations the Cathedral was built.

Local woman selling fruit on a street corner in Cuzco, Peru

Local woman selling fruit on a street corner in Cuzco, Peru

 

 

The Church and Convent of Santo Domingo which was built on top of the Inca Quorikancha temple, housing a portion of the Inca Temple of the Sun, Cuzco, Peru

The Church and Convent of Santo Domingo which was built on top of the Inca Quorikancha temple, housing a portion of the Inca Temple of the Sun, Cuzco, Peru

The Spanish did save a small section of the Quorikancha, or “Temple of the Sun”, when they built the Church and Convent of Santo Domingo on top of the Incan temple’s foundations.  That church is the oldest in South America.  The Quorikancha was the most important temple in the Inca Empire, dedicated primarily to Inti, the Sun God.  It was one of the most revered temples of the capital city of Cuzco.

A surviving wall of Qorikancha (the Inca Temple of the Sun in Cuzco, the most important, wealthy and sacred Inca Temple), now within the Church and Convent of Santo Domingo, Cuzco, Peru

A surviving wall of Qorikancha (the Inca Temple of the Sun in Cuzco, the most important, wealthy and sacred Inca Temple), now within the Church and Convent of Santo Domingo, Cuzco, Peru

While it is hard to tell from the photograph above, the Incan stone walls were built by fitting the stones tightly together (all carved by hand, many with mortise and tenon joints).  Archaeologists have come up with very plausible explanations of how the Incas quarried, moved, carved and erected the stones to create their stunning temples and royal buildings.  It should be noted that the more common buildings were constructed out of natural (undressed), smaller stones (not always granite), giving the religious and royal buildings the elevated status they warranted.

A gold relief sculpture in the Inca Temple of the Sun (Qorikancha), illustrating the cults of the Temple of Qorikancha, Cuzco, Peru

A gold relief sculpture in the Inca Temple of the Sun (Qorikancha), illustrating the cults of the Temple of Qorikancha, Cuzco, Peru

 

A portion of a foundation wall from the mid-1400s, illustrating the exquisite stone masonry, craftsmanship and architecture of the Incas, Cuzco, Peru

A portion of a foundation wall from the mid-1400s, illustrating the exquisite stone masonry, craftsmanship and architecture of the Incas, Cuzco, Peru

 

Eat local — El Mochica Restaurant, Trujillo, Peru

El Mochica Restaurant, Trujillo, Peru

El Mochica Restaurant, Trujillo, Peru

Our lecturer on board the ship highly recommended El Mochica Restaurant, a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas (the main city square) in the center of Trujillo, for their excellent seafood.

Local dancers performing for diners at luncheon at El Mochica Restaurant, Trujillo, Peru

Local dancers performing for diners at luncheon at El Mochica Restaurant, Trujillo, Peru

We were very surprised upon entering around 2:00 p.m. to find the restaurant nearly full (the Peruvian lunch hour is much later than in the U.S.) with a DJ playing local dance music for the entertainers to perform for more than an hour while we dined at a nearby table.

Camarones (prawns), Peruvian potatoes and avocado salad (starter) at El Mochica Restaurant, Trujillo, Peru

Camarones (prawns), Peruvian potatoes and avocado salad (starter) at El Mochica Restaurant, Trujillo, Peru

The prawn salad was as good as it looks!  We loved the addition of the Peruvian potatoes and the avocado.

Arroz con mariscos (rice with local seafood) (entree) at El Mochica Restaurant, Trujillo, Peru

Arroz con mariscos (rice with local seafood) (entree) at El Mochica Restaurant, Trujillo, Peru

The rice had crab, along with clams, mussels, shrimp, and the ubiquitous octopus.

Pollo assado (broiled chicken) (entree) at El Mochica Restaurant, Trujillo, Peru

Pollo assado (broiled chicken) (entree) at El Mochica Restaurant, Trujillo, Peru

Yes, a simple dish and about as boring as it looks.  Very good French fries and the salad was a good addition (we found that not many restaurants in South America plate entrees with vegetables, which we really miss in our travels).

Guisado de los mariscos y yuca (seafood stew with yucca) (entree) at El Mochica Restaurant, Trujillo, Peru

Guisado de los mariscos y yuca (seafood stew with yucca) (entree) at El Mochica Restaurant, Trujillo, Peru

This was another good seafood dish featuring local ingredients.

Trujillo, Peru

The port city of Salaverry (near Trujillo, inland), Peru.  Note -- the desert along the Pacific Ocean is a geologic feature, all along the northern and central coasts of Peru

The port city of Salaverry (near Trujillo, inland), Peru. Note — the desert along the Pacific Ocean is a geologic feature, all along the northern and central coasts of Peru

The port city of Salaverry, Peru, located about 8 miles (14 km) west of Trujillo, was named after the Peruvian soldier and politician, Felipe Santiago Salaverry.  The port was rebuilt in the 1960s by an English company and is able to accommodate large ships, including tourist ships, such as those of the Carnival Company.  According to our local lecturer aboard our ship, surfing was invented in northern Peru, near Salaverry, about 1,000 to 2,000 years ago.  The striking geological feature of the city is that it is built adjacent to the Pacific Ocean coast on the edge of the vast desert that runs along the ocean all across northern and central Peru.  Most of us think of Cuzco and Machu Picchu and the Andes mountains when we think about the geology of Peru; when the lecturer talked about the desert, it was a big surprise.  Seeing the desert in person, it was even more striking than the photos (see the last photo in this blog post…).

Catedral de Santa María, (Cathedral of Santa Maria), constructed 1647-1666, Trujillo, Peru

Catedral de Santa María, (Cathedral of Santa Maria), constructed 1647-1666, Trujillo, Peru

The dominant structure in downtown Trujillo, across from the Plaza de Armas (the main city square) in the center of the city, is Catedral de Santa María, (Cathedral of Santa Maria), constructed 1647-1666.

Closeup of the entry facade of Catedral de Santa María, (Cathedral of Santa Maria), constructed 1647-1666, Trujillo, Peru

Closeup of the entry facade of Catedral de Santa María, (Cathedral of Santa Maria), constructed 1647-1666, Trujillo, Peru

Pope Paul VI elevated the cathedral to the rank of Minor Basilica in 1967.  Inside there are numerous ornate altarpieces (in Baroque and rococo styles), valuable canvasses from the Cuzco school (Cuzco was the former capital of the Inca empire), and a museum containing religious art.

This vendor's street cart features two traditional Peruvian snacks -- white beans and fried corn kernels, Trujillo, Peru

This vendor’s street cart features two traditional Peruvian snacks — white beans and fried corn kernels, Trujillo, Peru

The local drink, famous worldwide, is the pisco sour — made with pisco, lime juice, simple (sugar) syrup, and a splash of Angostorra bitters.  Pisco is distilled grape juice; both Peru and Chile claim to have been the first to create pisco.  Being in Peru, first, the locals were quite persuasive that the pisco sour is Peruvian!

A view of the Catedral de Santa María, (Cathedral of Santa Maria) from the Plaza de Armas (the main city square) in the center of Trujillo, Peru

A view of the Catedral de Santa María, (Cathedral of Santa Maria) from the Plaza de Armas (the main city square) in the center of Trujillo, Peru

 

Another street cart, this one with local fruits and vegetables, near Plaza de Armas, Trujillo, Peru

Another street cart, this one with local fruits and vegetables, near Plaza de Armas, Trujillo, Peru

 

Monumento a la Libertad (Freedom Monument), in the center of Plaza de Armas, Trujillo, Peru

Monumento a la Libertad (Freedom Monument), in the center of Plaza de Armas, Trujillo, Peru

 

Casa de Bracamonte, across from Plaza de Armas, Trujillo, Peru

Casa de Bracamonte, across from Plaza de Armas, Trujillo, Peru

 

A street vendor selling the local fried, sweet pastries , Trujillo, Peru

A street vendor selling the local fried, sweet pastries, Trujillo, Peru

Casa de Urquiaga, a 16th century mansion rebuilt after the 1619 eqrthquake, across from Plaza de Armas, Trujillo, Peru

Casa de Urquiaga, a 16th century mansion rebuilt after the 1619 earthquake, across from Plaza de Armas, Trujillo, Peru

This magnificent 16th century mansion (which was carefully rebuilt after being destroyed in a 1619 earthquake) showcases rooms with period furnishings, gorgeous chandeliers, pre-Colombian ceramics, and three lovely courtyards.  Of major significance, this home houses the writing desk from where Simon Bolivar worked to orchestrate plans for Peru’s independence from the Spanish empire in 1824.

La Compania, Trujillo, Peru

La Compania, Trujillo, Peru

 

The vastness of the ocean-front desert, Salaverry (port), Peru

The vastness of the ocean-front desert, Salaverry (port), Peru

Within Peru, the Sechura Desert (also Nazca Desert) is described as the strip along the northern Pacific coast of Peru; it extends from the coast 12 to 60 miles (20–100 km) inland to the secondary ridges of the Andes Mountains.

 

Eat local — El Caracol Azul restaurant, Guayaquil, Ecuador

The interior of El Caracol Azul restaurant, one of the country's top seafood restaurants, now 40 years old, Guayaquil, Ecuador

The interior of El Caracol Azul restaurant, one of the country’s top seafood restaurants, now 40 years old, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Considered one of the country’s top seafood restaurants, El Caracol Azul in downtown Guayaquil, Ecuador, has been serving local residents and visitors for the past 40 years.  Local art lines the interior of this renowned institution for culinary excellence, which focuses on haute French cuisine, not forgetting seafood is king here.  With some friends, we had a wonderful luncheon here after many hours of walking the Malecon 2000 and visiting many local markets and shops.  The grilled octopus, while very simple, was outstanding — some of the best in the world!  And their local version of Paella (which originated in Valencia, Spain) was excellent and very tasty with the local ingredients.

Camarones (prawns) and avacado salad starter at El Caracol Azul restaurant, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Camarones (prawns) and avocado salad starter at El Caracol Azul restaurant, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Crab and avacado salad starter at El Caracol Azul restaurant, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Crab and avacado salad starter at El Caracol Azul restaurant, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Grilled local octopus entree at El Caracol Azul restaurant, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Grilled local octopus entree at El Caracol Azul restaurant, Guayaquil, Ecuador

The local recipe for paella, an entree at El Caracol Azul restaurant, Guayaquil, Ecuador

The local recipe for paella, an entree at El Caracol Azul restaurant, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Grilled camarones (prawns) entree at El Caracol Azul restaurant, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Grilled camarones (prawns) entree at El Caracol Azul restaurant, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Homemade flan desert at El Caracol Azul restaurant, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Homemade flan desert at El Caracol Azul restaurant, Guayaquil, Ecuador