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The joys of planning a trip

I'm happy to report that I just got clearance from my boss (and from work, too) to take my daughter Sophie to Peru, so she can be properly introduced to the land of her ancestors.

La Reyna Sophia in her native environment.

Creating a travel itinerary is half the fun: looking through travel books, poring over maps, hunting for obscure destinations. But it's even more fun when you know that you're going to have a guest in tow and you want to be sure to create memorable expriences for her.

So, on with the photo itinerary...

So far, I'm thinking that we'll first spend some time in Lima, where we'll no doubt be stuffed silly by my aunts, uncles and cousins with delectibles like Arroz Chaufa, Aji de Gallina, Papas a la Huancaina, sopas and ceviche. Of course food will be an issue with Miss Picky, but it's nothing a jar of peanut butter and locally baked bread won't cure. And since most Peruvians don't consider a meal proper unless it involves rice, or potatoes, or both (is that the sound of Dr. Atkins turning in his grave?), we should be in good shape.

The Lima of tourist brochures. Photo by Irish Guy.

Lima for real. Photo by Phil Douglis.

After time in Lima, we'll take the central railroad to Huancayo (world's highest standard gauge railroad: see previous post), and then bus it to Ayacucho, Andahuaylas, Abancay and Cusco, in time for the Inti Raymi festival and the general festive chaos that is Cusco in late June.

Market day in Huancayo. Photo by Irish Guy.

All those reports on that bus plunge site are made up...aren't they? Photo by C├ęcile Obertop

The beauty of the Ayacucho region. Photo by Irish Guy.

Merriment in Cusco. Photo by Don Ball.

I've never stayed in Cusco for the actual festival. My reluctance begins with the bitter fact that one has to trek up to Sacsayhuaman at 5 a.m. to get a decent viewing spot.

More importantly, there's no better time to be at Machu Picchu. On June 24, Winter Solstice, the sun will rise and shine through a niche in a far-off mountain (see below) and begins casting shadows in pre-determined spots on rocks, walls, etc.

Only drawback: June is dry season in the mountains, so the hills look rather scrubby. Compare these two pictures and you'll see what I mean.

Sacred Valley (near Cusco) in the dry season.

Sacred Valley in rainy season.

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