What’s a “Coca Leaf”?

Ivo and I stood in front of the Temple of the Sun. It was mid-afternoon at the top of Machu Picchu, and our wise-cracking guide had given us some space to wander freely. We’d sauntered down a quiet Incan path that had led us to a haunting glimpse straight into the dim temple, which had a gaping, jagged slash through its stone belly. Due…

Facing “Capacocha” (Child Sacrifice)

In a dim cave just outside of modern Cuzco, our guide pointed out three tiny holes at the bottom of a steep, roped-off pit. Here, he told us, several babies had been buried alive as a sacrifice to the gods. Archeologists had removed the tiny bones and were examining them now at a separate location. All that remained were…

Cuzco and Machu Picchu

As a kid, I was obsessed with the Giza pyramids in Egypt. Courtesy of my mother, before I could even read I already had books in my hands about the pyramids, the ancient Egyptians who built them, their gods, their hair and makeup, their incensed rituals… This site was, to me, the epitome of foreign travel. As an…

Caral: The New World’s Egypt

Early one lovely Peruvian morning, Ivo and I swiped a bag of sweet rolls from a highway bakery and hit the Pan-American highway. The dusty yellow shops along the side of the road became fewer and fewer and finally disappeared. Our radio began to fuzz out as we curved farther into the mountains. Eventually, the…

Temples of Trujillo

Trujillo, in addition to being about eight hours from Lima by bus,  is also located smack in the middle of multiple historical complexes built by the Moche people. Mostly, when talking about Peru, you hear about the ancient Incans, a people from a time so mysterious and long past (some five to six centuries, give…

Plazas and Pisco

To give me a whirlwind introduction to Lima, during my first week in the city Ivo took me around to two of the city’s main plazas via taxi. He tells these are places that you have to see twice: once during the day, and once during the night. We opted for a night-time visit. The…