Peru, Oct. 20 2015

A leisurely stroll to the market near the main square where our hotel is located. We started off “early” at 8:00 am – already the streets were full of people.
The main gate to “old” Ayacucho. Built originally during the Spanish occupation it has had only symbolic function – used today for parades at festivals.
We arrived at a different entrance but from the outside you can already sense the bussle inside.

Many stalls side by side, very narrow aisles, goods sort of organized by categories – food court, women’s traditional clothing, notions, shoes, fresh cheese… You get the idea.
IMG_6282 IMG_6286
Some lovely hand work to be had for a reasonable price. What I wanted were a couple of colourful woven cloths that I can use to make something – I ended up buying three – one for a sewing friend.

Then back to the town square which serves as the hub for a university campus. One of the entrances housed a shop which showcases alpaca hand embroidery done by women artisans from around the region. We saw lots of beautiful embroidery.
The streets were filled with young people heading to and from classes, hanging out, just doing what students do.

It’s a lovely day, sunny with a few clouds and a bit if breeze. Hot in the direct sun, comfortable in the shade.

This afternoon a visit to a museum commemorating the reign of terror instigated by the Shining Path, telling the story of the mothers of the disappeared and the atrocities of both the guerillas and the government forces.
While inside the museum a thunderstorm produced a torrential downpour flooding the hilly streets and causing havoc for traffic. We did finally make it back to our hotel.
More exploring of Ayacucho tomorrow.

Peru, Oct. 19 2015

Today was our day-long trip across the coastal plane and into the Andes to Ayacucho (altitude 2700 m). I took a gazillion pictures of the changing character of the mountains as we climbed from the coastal desert to altitudes where it rains (we even had a few drops along the way).

We saw saguaro cactus, ecalyptus, grasses of all sorts, flowering prickly pear, and lots of vegetation I’ve never seen before. The changes in geological formation were also striking the farther and higher into the mountains we went. Now I need to spend time learning about the geological history of the Andes.
Llamas – we saw many herd of llamas. We also encountered some alpacas – like llamas just smaller.
The most unexpected sight was the Monday washing displayed on the mountainside being done by hand at a spring outlet near the roadside.
IMG_6197 IMG_6199
Our highest altitude – just over 4000 m.IMG_6195
And did I ever feel it – head-achy, slight nausea, quite different from being seasick. The traditional Peruvian remedy for altitude sickness – chewing coca leaves. Our guides had brought plenty along for us and it definitely helped; hard candy made from coca was also useful (I’d bought some in the market the other day). A third remedy – an essential oil of some Andean plant, the name of which I can’t remember, worked as well to clear the headache and nausea.

We arrived in Ayacucho about 3:45 pm, all of us tired from the long drive and glad to be at our hotel. Tomorrow we explore Ayacucho on foot with Maximo Lauro – a tapestry maker of major international reputation.

In any case, that’s it for tonight. The Canadian federal elections results have started coming in – so far a Liberal sweep of Atlantic Canada. May that momentum continue and sweep the Harper Conservatives from government. I have to watch for a while.

More on Peru tomorrow.