Thursday, May 28, 2015

Street Scene & Local Market in Cusco
We ended our tour today with a drive thru Cusco and a visit to a local market where the food was fresh and the colors vibrant!
Cusco Street Scene Sketch
As we drove to the local market, we saw some very cool street scenes.  This was one of my favorites!
Local Market Offerings Sketch
I have always wanted to photograph an old fashioned traditional local market, and today I got my wish!  I converted this to a sketch and just loved the way it came out – bright colors, veggies, fruit and the scale!
Veggies Galore
Here’s a close up of the luscious offerings – yum!
Local Market – Stylized
Everywhere I turned, my eyes were feasting on the fabulous colors and photo ops.  Here’s a photo of another aisle which I converted to a sketch.
Yum – Oil Paint Sketch
One last view – don’t you just want to reach out & pick up a piece of fruit or a veggie?

The Ruins at Sacsahuaman
This was our third and final stop at ruins for today.  If you are wondering how to pronounce the name of these ruins, the closest that I can come is Sax-say-wo-MON.  Sort of saying “sexy woman” said with attitude.
Walking Along Sacsahuaman
There’s a lovely sort of walking path here that allows you two different types of views.  This view is of the building structures at the ruins.  Evidence has been found by archeologists that they Inca’s had plans as to how they wanted to shape the rocks so that they fit together.
Looks Like Texas
This is amazing, especially when you consider that there is NO mortar between the rocks.  I had to chuckle at this part of one wall – I thought the rock in the center of the image looked a bit like Texas, which, of course, wasn’t around in the 1500’s when the Inca’s were!
 Former Potato Field
Across from the building structures was an open area that it is thought might have been used to grow and dry potatoes.  Llama bones have also been found in this area.  Per Inca beliefs, llamas were buried there to entice the condors to come down and carry the wishes of the people to the gods above.
Perspective of Size
I’m including this image so that you can get a better perspective of how large many of the stones in the buildings are.  I find it amazing that the Inca’s were not only able to build with stones of this size, but also how they managed to move the stones to this site!  Per Harry, our guide, wheels were not used by the Inca’s.  Apparently, the terrain in this area was too uneven to even try to use anything with a wheel.  I know it may not look like it from these images, but remember, we are in the Andes and its mountain terrain.
Different Build Times
One might think that the smaller stones were the ones that the Inca’s used in their building.  But, no!  The larger stones are the ones the Inca’s put in; the smaller rocks are from recent times, when archeologists restored what had been knocked down.
Example of Terracing
This is a pretty good first example of terracing.  Different crops were planted and grown on the terraces.  We would be seeing much more of this in the days to come!

Sights on the Way to Sacsahuaman
As we made our way to the third set of ruins, we saw some great local sights.  Take a look ……
Traditional Shepherd and Alpaca
We did see some people dressed in traditional Andean garb for the local shepherds.  This woman had her little guy (I think it was a boy) with her, carrying him in a sort of sling type backpack.  Love the bright colors…..and the alpaca is cute, too!
On the Roof
Many of the roofs of the homes and commercial buildings in the small towns have this type of décor on their roofs.  Generally, it’s 2 bulls and a cross (Peru is very much a Catholic country).  This décor symbolized union and prosperity and it is believed that having this décor on top of one’s home/shop will bring this to the person in the building.
Roof Décor
Here’s another variation of the same type of décor.
Peruvian Shepherd
And, finally, here’s another image of a typical Peruvian shepherd with her alpacas.  This time, I converted the image to an oil painting.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Blooming Beauties at Puka Pukara
Flowers were popping up all over the ruins.  Take a look at a few of them…
Spot of Color
I think these flowers are in the daisy family.  I really liked the contrast between the roughness of the stones of the ruins and the gentleness of the flowers.
Delicate Violets
Here are some delicate looking violets growing wild along the base of the ruin walls.  Again, such delicate beauty among such rough ruins.
Here’s another daisy image, from a ground level perspective!
Landscape Around Puka Pukara Ruins
The landscape around the Puka Pukara ruins was quite lush, as I mentioned in a previous posting.  I thought I’d share a few images so you can see better for yourself!
The countryside around the ruins is currently being farmed.  Altho you can’t see it in this image, often they use terracing.  There is natural terracing, altho the farmers have tended to enhance the natural terracing to make it better for their crops.
Andes Landscape
In this image, you can see a bit of the natural terracing in the lower right corner.  This image also gives you an idea of how pretty the landscape is here in the Andes Mountains.  I found it very interesting that the Andes are still growing at the rate of about 8/10 of an inch per year, except when there’s activity along the San Andreas Fault (in California).  When that activity occurs, then the Andes “growth spurt” can be several inches.
Alpaca Grazing
As we were leaving this ruin, I noticed this alpaca grazing in a meadow.  It looked so peaceful and calm – perfect ending for this post!  Stay tuned for some blooming beauties in the next post1

The Ruins at Puka Pukara (near Cusco)
The day after we arrived at Cusco, Peru, we went on a tour of the area surrounding the city to check out some ruins that are relatively close to the city.  Interestingly, in the times of the Inca’s, they would built one of these areas every 20 miles or so to allow their armies or supply lines to have a safe place to rest at the end of each day.  Today, they are only about 20 minutes or so from the city!
Puka Pukara Ruins
This was our first view of the ruins and I was struck by how beautiful the rocks of the remaining ruins looked against the lush green of the surrounding landscape.
Puka Pukara Ruin Wall
One of the most amazing thing about the ruins was that when the Incas built them, they did not use any metal tools, so the rocks were formed by pounding on them with other rocks.  When you look at how close the rocks fit into each other, it’s almost unbelievable.
Thru the Window
I love the look of this image – the detail of the rocks, how the window frames a scene within the photo, hills (mountains?) in the background, just everything1
A Walk Thru the Ruins
In this image, I wanted to capture how well planned the “rooms” in this structure were.  Quite amazing, considering that this was built prior to 1536AD, when the Incas ceased to exist (they were conquered by the Spanish).
Outline of Foundations
Here’s another look at the foundations of the various rooms within the ruins.  You can still get an idea of how well-planned out things were.
Looking Down on the Ruins
I thought this was another good view of the overall layout of the ruins.  The organization of it is really cool, I think.  More to come!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cusco, Peru – On Top of the World (or so it felt!)
Cusco, Peru, is considered the Center of the World, from an archeological perspective, chiefly because it was the heart of the Inca civilization, and there are several different ruins around the area, including our destination, Machu Picchu.  I’ve chosen to process my images from this ancient and interesting city as photo sketches just to focus on the character of the city.
Downtown Cusco Sketch
Here’s a sketch of the city streets just outside the hotel we stayed at.  If the street looks narrow, it’s because they are VERY narrow!  As I said above, this is a very old city, and was actually in the heart of the Inca Empire.  Interestingly, there really isn’t any Inca type ruins in the city itself.  When the Incas were conquered by the Spanish, the Spanish tore down the Inca buildings and built their own buildings on top of those ruins.  This was common practice, so it wasn’t as if the Spanish did something unusual for the day.
Inner Courtyard Sketch
This sketch is of one of the courtyards in our hotel.  Our hotel was a very, very old building, and there were a number of courtyards in the hotel, so guests could enjoy the outside without sitting in the midst of the city.
Church at Plaza de Armas – Color Pencil Sketch
When we returned to Cusco after our visit to Machu Picchu, Jeff & I took a walk to the town center, the Plaza de Armas.  Cusco is very high up in the Andes – elevation of 11,200 feet! – so Jeff & I took it easy as we walked to the plaza.  This church was one of 2 that dominated the square.
Arches at the Plaza de Armas – Impasto Sketch
As Jeff & I sat in the plaza, we enjoyed all the different architecture that was around us.  One of the details that I really liked were the archways that served to identify the entry into various businesses.
Relaxing on the Plaza – Stylized Sketch
There were lots of folks, just like us, relaxing on the Plaza!  We enjoyed watching the people at least as much as checking out the architecture!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cruising the Mangrove Cove in Elizabeth Bay on Isabela Island – Galapagos Islands
This was the second part of our morning’s panga ride. 
Cloud Reflection
As we cruised up to the mangrove cove in our pangas, I noticed this great reflection of the clouds in the water.
Swimming Among the Mangroves
Once again, here are the ever so cool sea turtles, swimming along in the clear water!  What a life!
Sea Lion in a Tree
Here’s something you don’t see every day – a sea lion just camped out in the mangrove trees!
A Big Guy
This guy is one that Jeff captured with his camera, coasting along close to the bottom of the sea – it was fairly shallow at this point.
Close Reflection
I really liked this image of a leaf floating on the water with the mangrove leaves reflecting in the water around and below it.  Now, some of the leaves actually grew below the surface, so this is really kind of an optical illusion – is it a reflection or leaves growing below the surface?  I honestly don’t recall!
Golden Cowrays
Aren’t these just so cool?  I thought these were manta rays, but they are something called Golden Cowrays (I have no idea where the name came from!).  I thought they looked so cool just gliding along below the surface.  I lost count of how many of them there were!
Pelicans at Sea
I loved the image of these pelicans just sort of hanging out on the water a short distance from our panga.
Sea Lion Waving
And, finally, here’s a little sea lion waving goodbye to us!
Last Big Outing – Elizabeth Bay – Isabela Island – Galapagos Islands
Altho we have a bit more to see, this was our last big outing – a panga ride in Elizabeth Bay.  Let’s get started….
Water Lines
Before we got on the panga, I enjoyed some wildlife along the Beagle, our boat.  This pelican just peacefully floated alongside us.  Not only did I like his reflection in the relatively calm waters, I love the look of the lines of the water – just flowing along.
Reflective Dancing
I call these birds Jesus Birds because they seem to walk on water – however, I’ve come to find out their formal name is Elliot’s Storm Petrol.  This is one of the clearest images I was lucky enough to take of this little guy – he’s balancing on one foot at this moment, and the reflection is lovely.
Leaving the Beagle
Here’s a view of our friends leaving the Beagle for our outing.  Love the look of the Beagle and the scenery!

Great Blue Heron
Here’s one of our last views of this wonderful bird as he’s sitting on the rocky shore enjoying the morning!
Blue-Footed Boobie
One of the animals I most looked forward to seeing was the blue-footed boobie – not quite sure why, but I sure am glad I got to see a number of these guys!
Pelican Point
I love this image of this pelican – it’s sort of a quiet, reflective image.
Drama at Sea
We had some drama on our last big outing, too.  I purposefully processed these in black & white as a sort of journalistic perspective.  We came across a frigatebird that apparently got too wet, and was waterlogged in the sea.  Another frigatebird hovered nearby, but I’m not certain it meant to help.
Here’s another image of the frigatebird in trouble.  The wing of the other frigatebird is in the upper right corner of the image.
Rescue at Sea
Here’s the image of our guide, Fabrizio, rescuing the poor bird.  He used a towel to grab it, so he didn’t inadvertently injure it.  It was very, very scared.  He ended up placing it on the rocky shore just behind the panga.
I really liked this image of a pelican and our boat.  I thought it looked especially reflective when I processed it in black & white.
Flying Away
I love this image of a pelican flying away from us.  The perfect position of his wings is just too cool.
Escaping the Surf
Here’s another cool pelican shot.  This guy was just sitting on the rocks, hanging out, when the surf started coming in.  Once it started rushing over the rock on which he was sitting, he decided it was time to go, and I was lucky enough to capture the moment he took wing!
More to come when we cruise thru the mangrove cove growing out of lava rocks in the water, but for now….