Welcome To Richard's Blog Page!
Welcome to my blog page!
Thank you for joining my artistic journey.
I will be hosting workshops, providing tips, techniques and advice as we hone our skills in becoming better artists. As photographers and artists, we are always learning and growing. Being creative allows each of us to live in the moment, being fully present and conscious of the world around us. It's one of the best things we can do for the world.
Onward and upward ....
Great article written by the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel Newspaper
May 09, 2017
The Machu Picchu Adventure
April 18, 2017
My Adventure to Peru was just that ... quite the adventure and I'd probably have to say that I was a bit unprepared for all that was entailed in making this journey. Don't get me wrong, it will go down in my book as an epic journey, but it did have it's ups and downs.
Flying from Miami was an adventure in itself. For one reason or another I wound up being one of the last passengers to board the plane and I was lucky enough to nab a seat against the lavatory that didn't recline. Not a great start, but after several alcoholic beverages, it didn't seem to be an issue. After all, being close to the bathroom did have it's advantages ... especially when consuming a considerable amount of liquids. Six hours later and many discussions with my flight "neighbors," we found ourselves landing in Lima.
Lima is special ... it truly is. Upon my arrival, I was greeted by a happy faced driver holding a sign, and with carryon in hand we were off and running. Driving in Lima, is a heart pounding, white-knuckle experience. Growing up in New York, I learned, at a young age, that traffic signs weren't strictly adhered to, but in Lima, signs, traffic lights and lane lines are merely suggestions and typically not followed. Three lanes becomes Four ... childs play. In Lima ... three lanes become five or six. Changing lanes ... "do you mind if I "nudge" you into the next lane? And the conversations flow like we were sitting in the living room watching a football game. If you haven't had a chance to drive or be driven through the streets of Lima and you're an adventurous soul, put it on your bucket list.
Speaking of bucket lists, I've always read quite a bit about Machu Picchu, but never seriously considered making the journey. As my better half (she likes to be referred to that way) had a month long stint in Lima, she called with a great idea. "Hey, come on down to Lima and we'll head over to Machu Picchu for the day." Little did I know that there's no heading to Machu Picchu for the day. Kind of like heading to Galapagos for an afternoon shoot .. doesn't really happen that way. And so my adventure continued ...
Up at 3:00 am, our group met outside the lobby of the hotel. With a backpack filled with camera gear and a few articles of clothing, we headed to the airport. Traffic at this hour ... Lima is truly the city that never sleeps ... they drive ... and drive. I think it might just be a hobby for them. The art of driving through a city to return without damage .. challenging to say the least. An hour later we arrived at the airport and sat waiting for our flight to Cusco. An hour and a half later we touched down and were quickly shuffled out of the airport. Finally in Cusco ... Yes! No ... we hunted down a van to take us deep into, I'm not sure where, so that we could board Perurail to take us further into I'm not sure where. After a two and a half hour journey in the van we finally arrived at a tiny village to board the train. Time for lunch! Anybody interested in some delightful Guinea Pig? ... Oh, I'm sorry .. Cuy (COO-ee), as it is referred to in Peru. Okay, so that was a pass and I wasn't trusting the chicken, so a coke and a few crackers seemed to work for me. At this point, I was seriously questioning whether Machu Picchu truly existed and if it truly did, why the heck did anyone come all this way to build it? More on this later ...
Perurail .. a two and a half hour journey into the bowels of Peru. Did I just say that? Well, I was considering eating Cuy, so I guess I can get away with that. Half an hour into our train ride, the group started passing around Coca Candies. What?! Yes, Coca! Made from the coca leaf, it's supposed to prevent altitude sickness. It's readily available everywhere and we were all eating away with the hope that there were side benefits.
Arriving at the foot of Machu Picchu is victory in itself. I truly believe, getting off that train, that I should have had a ribbon placed around my neck. Finally, after planes, trains and automobiles .. and a van to boot, we were here! Now to find our hotel. Unfortunately, due to the large crowds, our first hotel became overbooked causing our reservation to be canceled. We were left with one other choice ... Gringo Bill's. Yes, you did read that correctly ... the name says it all and a bit more. Honestly, it wasn't a bad hotel if you didn't mind not having hot water, a functional tv and toilet and insects that could have been cast as "Mothra" doubles. The plan was to wake at 4:00 am and be on a bus at 5:30 to take us on the 30 minute ride up to the ruins. Unfortunately, at 2:00 am, Mothra made a wake up call and preparations were underway. After a cup of some thick and unidentifiable caffeine product we gathered our gear and headed over to the bus pickup. Have you ever been in a line with 500 people from around the world, hopped up on coffee, waiting to board a bus to see a sunrise on top of a mountain? Oh ... did I mention rain? I told you this was an adventure.
The best thing about not being fully conscious so early on the bus was our general lack of concern as we were on a narrow winding road with no guard rails heading straight up a mountain. Another bus coming down the mountain and meeting us at a "switch back," ... sure, let's back up to let you get by. There were those of us who accepted whatever our fate may have been. No doubt, late at night Mothra had made a special visit to their "hotel" cave as well.
The entrance to the ruins of Machu Picchu resembles the entrance to Jurassic Park with a bit of Disney thrown in. There's even a hotel up there for those that want to pay the price and have easy access to the ruins, although I doubt it's as quaint as our Gringo Bills. Once past the turnstiles, there's a small road that leads to an opening where you can finally lay your eyes upon the ruins from a distance. All the photos that you've seen could never do justice to what you are looking at. It's truly a glorious sight and all the effort that it took to make it there seems worthwhile. It's breathtaking ... truly. The rain had finally given way to a stunning sunrise. I could have stood there for an hour, gazing at the beauty that I've only seen in books and online, but there were hundreds of caffeine crazed visitors that wanted in and the entrance was narrow. If you've ever taken a tour of the Vatican, you'll know what I'm talking about.
We spent the day walking and climbing the stairs. Amazed at every turn at the manner in which an ancient civilization could have built a city 8,000 feet above the world. A city of stone brilliantly designed and executed almost 600 years ago. Truly an amazing feat for any civilization, more so, considering the primitive tools that were used for such a task. While I've put up several photographs of Machu Picchu, they simply don't do justice to this magnificent city. I would encourage those adventurous souls to do the flying, driving, and train riding to see the beauty of these ruins, first hand. I've recently read that hiring a guide is now necessary and probably a wise choice. There were many, and I mean many times that we were close to falling, tripping, slipping, going in the wrong direction. There is an understanding up at Machu Picchu ... it's okay to grab someone's arm or shoulder to steady yourself. With a lack of rails and signs, there has to be a reliance and trust upon one another. Plus, we all needed someone to get that perfect cell phone picture of us with the ruins in the background. The great Inca rulers did not consider the necessity of hand rails or low rise stone steps. Yes, there were several times that I considered the viability of my life insurance policy, but in the end it was worth the risk. And best of all, we all hand stamped our passports, "Machu Picchu" as we exited the site. But don't get me started about the bus ride down the mountain.