ARCHIVES: SOUTH AMERICA
THE PEARLS OF LAKE ATITLÁN
by Troy Herrick
Lake Atitlan, nestled within the fog-shrouded mountains of the Guatemalan highlands, is graced with twelve towns scattered around its periphery like the pearls of a necklace. Over 90% of the inhabitants in the area are indigenous people but you will not find any Mayan ruins here because these towns were all established during the Post-Classical Period.
THE VIBRANT ANDEAN CITY OF OTAVALO: A MUST-SEE DESTINATION
by Rick Neal
A gust of cool wind blowing through the open bus window jolts me awake to an astonishing vista. Ice-blue slopes of distant glacial peaks resemble an impressionist landscape, while nearby valleys are dappled with rectangular parcels of green and gold farmland.
THE NEW YORK AND PARIS OF THE MAYAN WORLD
Tikal and Copan, Central America - by Troy Herrick
Today new Mayan cities are still being freed from centuries of overgrowth and opened for the world to discover. You find that there are no standard designs for temples, pyramids or ball courts and that some sites are more “unique” than others. Visitors to Tikal and Copan will discover “the New York and Paris of the Mayan World” respectively.
DISCOVERING COLOMBIA’S LOST CITY
South America - by Luke Maguire Armstrong
Our group grabs the packs from the top of the Jeep’s rusty roof before we set off for Colombia’s Lost City. We watch the jeep disappear down the muddy road. It's the last sign of civilization we'll see for a week. Our guide, Tunyi, begins the six-day trek by telling us about eight tourists who were kidnapped on September 15th, 2003 by the National Liberation Army (ELN) on the same trail we are taking.
CUENCA, THE REAL EL DORADO
Ecuador, South America - by Bani Amor
To celebrate his victory, Túpac IncaYupanqui (whose name meant ‘noble Inca accountant’) began to build a beautiful city there that would rival Cuzco as the heart of the Incan empire, a city that two generations later would be subjugated by the Spanish in their quest for the mythical land of El Dorado, the city now known as the colonial gem of Ecuador.
CARAL, CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION IN THE AMERICAS
Peru, South America - by Troy Herrick
Caral, an abandoned city eroded by time and windswept sand, holds twenty-five structures including six pyramids that are as old as the Step Pyramid in Egypt. More remarkably, this early civilization developed in complete isolation without the use of pottery, metalwork or writing.
PABLO NERUDA'S ROMANTIC HIDEAWAY
Were he alive today, exiled Chilean rebel poet Pablo Neruda would have appreciated Uruguayan President Jose Mujica. This folksy leader, a rebel from the same era as Neruda, would have welcomed the poet with open arms, and Neruda would surely return the embrace.
LA ESMERALDA - A BEAUTIFUL LADY OF DUBIOUS REPUTE
She is affectionately known as “La Dama Blanca”, the White Lady, but a sinister past has marked her with a blemish she can’t seem to live down. Unfortunately La Esmeralda’s reputation was sullied during the infamous Augusto Pinochet regime from 1973 to 1980 when she was used as a floating jail and torture chamber for political prisoners.
THE SACRED VALLEY
From the historic Inca city of Cuzco, my wife, Alexa, and I took a collectivo taxi (a mini van filled with local Peruvians) over the mountains surrounding Cuzco down into the “Sacred Valley” to the village of Pisac. The town is situated in the bottom of the valley created by the Urubamba River. The Sacred Valley is lined with massive mountains on either side of the river, with flat farmland in the bottom of the valley.
THE CITY WITH A STORIED PAST
According to Andean Mythology, Inti the Sun God ordered Manco Qhapac to find “the navel of the earth” (qosco). At the navel, a golden rod could be plunged into the ground until it disappeared. Manco located such a spot – a perfectly flat valley surrounded on all sides by high mountains. He then established Cusco with himself as its first emperor.
HORSING AROUND IN ARGENTINA
‘Andrés, do horses like being ridden?’ I ask Andrés, our guide. We are riding in the Parque National Nahuel Huapi, in Argentine Patagonia, just above Villa la Angostura, and between Bariloche and San Martín de los Andes. ‘I think they’d rather be grazing in a field,” Andreas replies. “But once you decide to ride, you have to play by the rules. Talk to her! Kick her! Use the stick!’
AN ANCIENT CITY THAT TAKES YOUR BREATH AWAY
Isolated on the desolate Bolivian Altiplano, the ancient city of Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) is all that remains of the first great Andean civilization. An enigmatic people occupied this cold, harsh plateau for almost 2,800 years and then mysteriously disappeared around 1200 CE.
CITY OF THE INCAS
Machu Picchu, Peru
As I climb the twisted stone staircase up the mountain, it gives me the view of Machu Picchu that I had seen in countless postcards. This spot is the best-known archaeological site on the entire South American continent. The viewpoint gives me a clear picture of the ruins – allowing me to understand their layout.
Punta Ballena, Uruguay
Carlos Paez Vilaró, the artist, spent thirty years developing his unique home/hotel/museum/studio from a shack into Casapueblo, the massive, rambling, white-domed creation it is today. As in his paintings, there are no straight lines in this unique cliff-hugging structure.
MAS A TIERRA - ROBINSON CRUSOE ISLAND
The Chiliean Juan Ferandez Archipelago
In 1705 a Scottish sailor Alexander Selkrik was shipwrecked in the Pacific Ocean. The story of the hardships endured by this mariner inspired the writer Daniel Defoe to write the classic novel Robinson Crusoe, which we are all familiar. In 1966, the Chilean government named the location Robinson Crusoe Island.
WALKING THE BARRIOS OF SANTIAGO
Located in one of the most spectacular settings of any city in the world, Chile is unique. From the lush Plaza de Armas in Santiago Centro with it’s colonial architectural gems, to the high-tech Las Condes financial district with it’s modern skyscrapers, Santiago has much to offer the visitor.
Socializing Uruguayan Style
I’ve been invited to matear, Uruguayan style. Mate is a national social pastime here. The mate is a calabash
you fill it with a bitter dried leaf called yerba, add boiling water, and sip it through a bombilla – a silver straw. The set of mate, bombilla and yerba are also referred to as mate, and the verb, matear, means to sip it.
ARGENTINA’S ASCENT INTO THE CLOUDS
The eighteenth century Cabildo, built to house the town council, with its two story rows of arches, is characteristic of the hispanic architecture around the Plaza. At more than one thousand kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires, Salta is the best preserved colonial city in Argentina.
LA VIRGEN DE LA YEMANJA
Today, 2 February, is the feast of the Virgen de la Yemanya
the patron of fishermen. This evening, after dusk, people will flock to the Rio de la Plata, dressed in white, bringing gifts for her
sweets, clothes, and jewellery - gold chains, necklaces and watches. The gifts will be sent out to sea on paper and cardboard boats, to sink to the bottom, or be washed up on the shore.
NO ORDINARY CHRISTMAS
Bolivia, South America
Magically, as our bus enters the lakeshore city of Puno, the sounds of flutes, drums and bells float across the air. Craning our necks out of the window, we see elaborately costumed dancers twirling to the rhythm of the music. “Puno is the festival capital of Peru!” says our bus driver.
SURROUNDED BY CLOUDS
Machu Picchu, Peru
At the end of the 15th century, the secluded Inca citadel Machu Picchu was a vibrant city still being carved into the Andean peaks flanking the Urubamba River canyon. Machu Picchu fell into disuse, and, quickly enveloped by the robust undergrowth of the jungle, became motionless, frozen in time.
IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK
The Iglesia de San Francisco, or Church of Saint Francis, in the historic center of Quito, Ecuador, is one of the oldest churches in South America. Founded in 1535, this massive stone and whitewash construction has witnessed nearly 500 years of history. What might it tell us of all that it has seen?
OFF THE GRINGO TRAIL IN PERU
With the uncovering of over 1000 ceramic pots containing food for the afterlife, archaeologist Walter Alva knew his 1987 discovery near the village of Sipán, Peru was of major importance. I can only imagine his euphoria when under the pots he unearthed a sarcophagus of a king in royal splendour, and deeper digs revealed other kings and priests – the Lords of Sipán.
CHILLIN’ IN CHILE
Exploring the Atacama Desert on a Horse With No Name
I arrived in the Atacama Desert four days ago, and it rained. I’m not joking. It rained. San Pedro de Atacama is one of the driest places on earth. The average humidity is 35%, the skies are clear for 330 days a year, and there is very little rain, which generally falls over about three days in February.
SEÑORA DE CAO - QUEEN, GODDESS, WARRIOR
La Libertad, Peru
I had come to Peru to experience the northern coastal areas for the first time. My travels to the other regions over the years were, in the final analysis, great adventures, but the excitement of discovery was muted by the sense that everything of any consequence had been excavated and housed in museums. The northern coastal areas remained, by contrast, relatively untouched.