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A Rainy Day in Puno

overcast 21 °C

Many waterways in the world are being slowly strangled by weeds fed by pollution from agriculture run-off, industrial waste and over-population. Lake Titicaca is nearly 13000 feet above sea level, (higher than many peaks in the Canadian Rockies), and should be above all that – but it’s not. This worker had his job cut out trying to gather up this lot…
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In world rankings Lake Titicaca, on the Peru/Bolivia border, is big - in the top twenty when it comes to area - and it’s deep, but rampant development in lakeside cities on both sides of the border are turning it into a cesspit. This swampland should be pristine lake…
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Overall it is difficult to describe Puno as a pretty city and the fact that it rained heavily during much of our two-day visit didn’t make it more attractive. However, the sun did eventually come out and gave us some nice views of the cathedral…
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What Puno lacked in charm was more than compensated by some wonders we saw on the 10 hour bus trip to our next stop, Cusco – the centre of the Inca empire. (Although the road through the city of Juliaca wasn’t exactly a picture)…
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We will learn much more about the Incas in the next week as we visit their heartland in the mountains surrounding Cusco, but we had a good introduction to their agricultural methods in Raqchi where huge amounts of corn and grains were stored in these massive stone roundhouses…
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This massive Inca construction is all that remains of the great temple of Raqchi which was destroyed by the conquistadors in th 1570s…
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The Incas were not a separate race of people, they were a class of rulers and noblemen who took control of the western half of South America in 1438 by superior organisational skills. Their ‘empire’ was very shortlived, lasting just one hundred years, until they were wiped out by the Spanish conquistadors. However, during that time the Incas built many great cities and amassed a great wealth of precious metals – subsequently appropriated by the Iberian invaders. The high status of Incas over their country cousins was denoted by their greatly extended skulls.
From birth until 10 years of age the heads of Inca boys were encased in tightly bound wooden blocks that caused the growing skull to become highly extended. The belief was that people with bigger heads had larger brains – a belief not exactly borne out by their religious rites which included sacrificing their brightest youngsters to improve the harvest.
This is the mummified remains of a big-head…
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Big heads need big hats and in Raqchi we discovered that local women wear hats that have a distinctly Chinese appearance…
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The differing hats of these three women in Raqchi denote their affiliation to three diverse ethnic groups. However, one thing that is consistent in this part of Peru is the belief that having two ceramic bulls on your roof will bring your household good fortune…
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Good luck with that!

Posted by Hawkson 14:51 Archived in Peru

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Odd custom that head-binding. Similar to the flattening of the head practiced by North American natives as a status symbol. Not done on lower classes. Wonder which had the happier childhood.

by R and B

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