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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Travel - Pisco (San Martin), Peru, March 24, 2014

Pisco and the surrounding area are significant in Peruvian history as the birthplace of Peru's struggle for independence. Pisco is also a gateway to the ruins of Machu Picchu, and one can also enjoy the mysterious lines or shapes referred to as the Nazca Lines. These are very large figures formed on the earth that you can only see from the air. The area is normally visited because of the concentration of marine animals and birds at the Paracas National Reservation, or the Peruvian Galapagos. 

The city was very near the epicenter of the devastating 8.0-magnitude earthquake which struck south central Peru on Wednesday August 15, 2007. Eighty percent of the city was destroyed, including the central San Clemente Cathedral of Pisco. As many as 100 deaths were reported within the cathedral. The church in Plaza de Armas was also destroyed during the earthquake while a service was in session killing nearly 150 people. Today, the city is still recovering from the damage done during the earthquake. 

This is an interesting stop for many reasons. First off, we discovered why the trip to Santiago was so hard on us. John has come down with a bad cold and has decided to stay on board today. This means that I’m on my own. I have a tour scheduled, so I’m up, dressed, fed and ready to go see the Inca ruins early this morning. I meet the tour in the Princess theater like usual, without my buddy (sad face)! We climb on the bus and drive through San Martin and out into the country side. 

It was obvious from the very beginning that this port town has seen tragedy. There are piles of rubble and rock everywhere. 

There are small streets lined with one story block houses with small pencil thick rebar extending from the roof corners. The boxes are all painted in different colors, or just left a plain primer white. Everything looks like it has been built within the last five years. As we drive out of town there are acres of rock clumps where small houses used to stand. 


I am amazed, based on the damage that was done to this town, that it has as many people left; so many died during the earthquake of 2007. Why would someone choose to stay? By the devastation, it would appear that many people lost multiple loved ones. 

Looking at their rebuilding techniques, I’m not sure they have learned their lesson. It looks like many are planning on building a second story right on top of those little boxes that only have a wall with rebar strong enough to hold the single story. I’m afraid they are building for another tragic event. I've seen this similar practice in earthquake prone zones as we have traveled all over South American. 

Local Taxi....I don't think I'd fit!

The bus continues along a very arid valley and dry river bed, and we start to climb in elevation heading for the hills. Our destination is Tambo Colorado, which is an Incan fortress of adobe and stone built in 1440 as a site for sun worshipping, studying astronomy and agriculture. The complex includes a temple, food silo, a high priest’s chambers, a sacrificial alter and soldier barracks. It is amazing that the Incas painted these 

structures red and mustard yellow and some of that color is still visible today. It is a warm day with blue skies, and if you closed your eyes you can envision an Inca Priest standing at the altar. The view is amazing. It overlooks the fertile river valley. Obviously there is water somewhere. Again, pictures say it all. 

Priest Alter

I am now beginning to understand the annihilation of the Incas and the Aztecs by the diseases that the Spaniards and other Europeans brought to the New World. They lived a wholesome life with little interaction with any other tribes. Then came the outsiders with all their foreign bugs. 

Currently, I am watching a semi-closed system systematically infecting its inhabitants with various strains of flu, cold bugs and bacteria moving rampantly through the ship population. First there was a bout of Norovirus. We killed that forth with as the Captain would say. (He is from the UK.) 

We brought on some new people in Rio and in Santiago. OH…new bugs arrived and old bugs now run rampant. When we sit in various peaceful places on the ship, there is constant coughing. It is almost unbearable. Eventually, John and I both caved in and visited the ship’s doctor. No one on board wants to do this. It is very expensive, which is why the bugs run rampant. 

The doctor’s office is a scary place. The worst of the worst come here. You have to hold your breath for fear of catching something else besides what you already arrived with. I think my blood pressure went up 50 points just sitting next to the lady with the cough from hell. Well, as it turned out, both John and I have strep throat and John has a cough I've never heard from him before. Yesterday, the passengers on the ship got a coughing etiquette lecture from the captain over the PA system. 

Hopefully, all the passengers will survive until Los Angeles. Thank God, we have a doctor on board with antibiotics. The Incas and Aztecs were quite advanced for their time. You can see it in their architecture, art, chemistry and agriculture. Unfortunately they lived before the invention of penicillin and that was their demise. What will be ours? Maybe over use of penicillin. It is getting a work out on this ship. 

One more highlight!!! >>>> We also stopped at a cotton ranch and weaving shop. We got to see weavers at work and had a chance to purchase their wares… (Of course). The weaving was the most interesting to me. I loved taking pictures of the weavers at work. Such beautiful products were for sale, I could have taken one of each. I guess my pictures will have to do. The fields of cotton went for miles in the valley, and the fiber is milled on the ranch. This was a very special treat. I did get to purchase some wool and a ball of cotton yarn there. YEA!!!! 

 Yes, we are sick, but still having an interesting time!! Stay tuned. Hope the internet will connect. That is my primary frustration. Bye for now!

Happy Carol!

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