For the first two weeks of October, my husband and I had a blast visiting Andes and remains of the ancient Inca civilization in and around Cusco, Peru: Stunning landscapes, magical lush valleys and foggy mountains, mind blowing stone work and engineering, delicious fresh food, colourful handicrafts, soothing music and of course a lot of history! A history almost too painful to hear of Spanish colonization demolishing the Inca Empire, looting their treasures, enslaving them and brutally suppressing resistance movements up to the 18th century!
Cusco, once Incas’ capital, has half a million population today and according to one of our tour guides 80% of the city’s economy depends on tourism. This includes not only food, lodging, entertainment, heritage businesses small and large, but also native women who make a living by knitting sweaters and hats out of Alpaca wool, and by dressing up in colorful clothes along with their Alpacas and baby goats to take pictures with tourists. Apart from a small section of Cusco called “historic center” which is packed with hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, live music in addition to “historic sites” and of course tourists, the rest of living spaces in Cusco is quite unornamented – bare buildings, houses made of mud and chopped straw, hungry but free dogs living in harmony with simple friendly people all over the city.
We were in Cusco just before the beginning of the wet season which starts early November and goes on till the end of March. For the whole 15 days of our stay, we were blessed with the most gorgeous blue skies and pleasant weather, ranging from 2 or 3 C at night and early morning to 23 around noon. So, best of both worlds as long as you dress in layers. Cusco is about 3,400 meters elevated from the sea level, which means fatigue and shortness of breath for the travellers, if not altitude sickness in the first few days. Nothing one could not handle though; just take the locals’ advice and drink lots of coca leave tea and you should be fine!!
In the two video clips bellow (5 minutes each), I have compiled a small portion of this amazing trip to share with you. As you might guess from the videos, we stayed in Cusco but took one or two-day tours to visit various sites, some of which are: Salt Mines of Maras, the Inca circular terraces of Moray, Pikillaqta, Pisac, Tipon, Ollantayambo fortresses and village, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu (which was absolutely the highlight of our rip) several museums (which I have captioned in the video) and a wildlife sanctuary. Hope you enjoy watching my videos and decide to visit if you have not already.
Love to Peru, to JJ, Karina, and all the good people we met over there.
That time of the year again, around spring and Persian New year, Norooz – the perfect time to find the motivation to write, to post, and to cherish and share the wonderful moments where people, plants and beautiful customs come to a renewed life one more time. Below is a selection of pictures taken by my sister, in several Iranian cities, including Shiraz, Yazd, Booshehr, Dargahan and Tehran, during the months of March to April 2016.
Please check out my 8-minute video clip ,with sound and music, of this amazing city on Youtube, made originally for Radio Koocheh, Afsaneh_Khaneh
About three decades ago, I spent ten days in a small town in the Fars province, called Laar. I was visiting my eldest sister, who was living there temporarily to teach English to high school students. The tall, talkative old landlady who had rented one room in her big house to my sister was called Madar-e Fazlollah.
She made me an unforgettably unique and delicious breakfast from an egg and some bread she baked on a small taveh–a flat, sometimes slightly curved, round iron griddle. By the time my sister left for work each morning, Madar-e Fazlollah had already made her quick and sloppy run of daily sweeping around the house. She then settled on a short stool in front of a stand-alone oil burner, topped by her taveh, in the middle of her large, walled yard under a four-story-tall palm tree. Read the rest of this entry »