There to Here - A Love Affair with South America

There to Here - A Love Affair with South America

Picking up from where we left off ... (add link from last blog of the series) we did indeed take a left out of the Panama Canal, sailed about 700nm south, crossed the Equator and arrived in La Libertad, Ecuador. If you followed our later travels, in fact, you’ll find that we did this twice … but for now, let’s talk about getting to Ecuador the first time. Our limited visits to Venezuela and Colombia while in the Caribbean whet our appetites for more exploration of “the other America”. For sure, we had never given travel in South America much thought until I read the sailing magazine article about Ecuador. From the moment we arrived, we were hooked. What a splendid continent, rich in diverse indigenous cultures and Spanish heritage.

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Stone Walls

heritage wall

“Something there is that doesn't love a wall...” from Mending Wall by Robert Frost

As we drive along the serpentine country roads of little towns in southeastern Massachusetts, I can't help noticing the plethora of stone walls that abound in the area. It only makes sense that the abundance of glacially strewn boulders and rocks should be moved out of the way and made into something useful, but there are just so many of them. What labor and sweat must have been involved in digging these up, hauling them and piling them into stone walls and fences.


crumbling stone wall


Many older houses have fine stone retaining walls which are works of art and serve a good purpose. Most use mortar to hold them together. Heritage walls surround old cemeteries and burial grounds. But some dry stone walls which marked land boundaries in days past, continue for miles and miles along back roads or through now-dense forest, their reason for being long lost. I guess they provide good homes and hides for local critters.


flowers creeping through the chinks


The poison ivy seems to thrive over, under, around and through them. Moss grows thick as green velvet in their chinks and crevices and lichen covers their worn and weathered surfaces. I'm always amazed at tiny flowers that manage to thrive and poke out from the tiny cracks in the stonework. In some areas, the walls are dilapidated and the stones are scattered. Historically, mending walls was a springtime chore to repair any winter damage and insure land and animal boundaries remained sturdy and intact. These abandoned walls need mending, but who would bother to do such a thing nowadays in the middle of the woods?


machu picchu


My grandfather was a stoneworker … a mason ... as was my cousin. They had a feel for stone … how stones could be fit together and interlocked to withstand weather and time. He could eye a pile of stones and pick just the right one to be laid next. The ultimate masons were, without a doubt, the Incas. When we visited Machu Picchu, we marveled at the intricate stone work, fine craftsmanship of their walls and the immensity of the stone projects they completed without the aid of modern equipment or for that matter, the wheel!


stone cottage


We've talked of having a stone cottage one day with old rock walls on the property … near a pond maybe. So we can skim stones while telling the grandkids tall tales about our sailing adventures.

Machu Picchu - Lost City of the Incas

mach pich climbing huayna picchu

Climbing Huayna Picchu

No, we're not in Peru! Since we're not traveling at the moment, however, we thought we'd entertain you once a week with some of the best places we've visited over the past 13 years. Sometime we'll highlight a whole country; sometime just a region, but it'll always be an adventure. Come on along...we love the company.

We left Cups berthed in Ecuador and trekked and bussed around Peru for six weeks with just daypacks on our backs. It's an awesome country with some distinctly different offerings. The highlight is, of course, the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu. It's hard to capture the essence of Machu Picchu in words or even photos. It's spiritual, uplifting, amazing, historic, breathtaking … lots of adjectives and none do it justice. It's on the list of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and justly so. It's that magnificent.

Here's just a sample of what we saw. Visit the website for more photos and a blow by blow description of our trip.


machu picchu - view from the guard house

View from the Guard House


View after view after view

View after view after view


Llama grazing

Llamma grazing

The city of Cuzco was considered the capital of the Inca Empire. We began our exploration there, but were put off a bit by the commercialization of the place. Everybody wanted a piece of the tourist trade.


mach pich cusco cathedral night view

Cusco Cathedral at Night


mach pich view from the train heading to aguas calientas

View from the train heading into Aguas Calientes


Selling lillies on the train route

Selling lillies on the train route

We were disappointed to learn that the wait for hiking the Inca Trail was nearly a month, but in actuality, taking the train to Aguas Calientes and then a bus to Machu Picchu worked out just fine and was much easier on the legs.


mach pich  early morning fog lifts

The early morning fog lifts


Trail up Huayna Picchu

Trail up Huayna Picchu


machu picchu - marcie and david atop Huayna Picchu

Marcie and David atop Huayna Picchu

We arrived at the site early in the morning and climbed nearby Huayna Picchu for spectacular views of Machu Picchu far below us as the morning fog lifted.


mach pich david Temple of the Moon

David at the Temple of the Moon

By the way, a good read if you're into the history of the Incas is John Hemming's The Conquest of the Incas.

Lonely Planet Peru was our guide of choice.

So, what do you think? Ready to pack your bags and head to Peru?

Days and Ways to Celebrate
A daily list of mostly obscure holidays and fun ways to celebrate them.
Dr. Seuss' Birthday
Theodore Geisel, Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904. I prefer to think of him as a philosopher as well as the author and illustrator of 44 children's books. His honors included two Academy Awards, two Emmy awards, a Peabody award and the Pulitzer Prize. He had something to say. Read a little Dr. Seuss today and listen to what you read.