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Now it’s YOUR turn! Please Comment and share photos

19 Feb

On top the world -- at least the lost Incan version of the world at Machu Picchu: the Equipo Peru and ArtAndes gangs at the Sun Gate. Photo by Jeff Nistler. Click on photo to enlarge.

Please use the Comments link below as a forum for keeping in touch with everyone on the 2012 ArtAndes tour — across the U.S. and Peru! Your Comments will show up to the right as well as in the links below, and we can all respond to them here, too. Feel free to leave Comments in Spanish, and we will translate them into English — or vice versa, if you want.

Also, please share some of your photos by uploading them onto our Flickr page, and they’ll appear on the bottom- right side of this page, too, at least initially. We will send you our Flickr login and password via email.

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From prisoner to weaver to renowned artist: Máximo Laura

21 Jan

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Like every day in Peru, our last day exceeded expectations. We flew from Cuzco back to Lima and bused directly from the airport to the home of Peru’s most acclaimed textile artist,  Máximo Laura. A longtime friend and associate of ArtAndes owner Melanie Ebertz, Laura gave us a tour of his workshop, where he employs about 15 weavers, and his personal collection of richly colored and textured wall hangings.

Laura grew up in the same mountainous Ayachuco area as Wilbur Quispe, and he likewise suffered persecution during Peru’s civil war with the Shining Path in the 1980s and ’90s. The government imprisoned him as a suspected Marxist, but when the war wound down, he took up weaving (as had four generations of his family before him) and raised it to an artform.

Moving beyond the natural dyes and fibers of his ancestors, Laura used modern synthetic threads and bright colors to give new life to his people’s legends and dreams. Over the past 15 years, museums around the world have exhibited and honored his textile art, including the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington. Still, he was as friendly and humble with us as every other Peruvian, patiently explaining his work, selling some of the smaller pieces to us at great discount, signing autographs and posing for pictures. After weeks in the soaring Andes Mountains, we ended our trip back at sea level — yet at the pinnacle of Peru’s weaving culture.

Slide show produced by Mike Dorsher. Photos by Mike Dorsher, Sharon Kessler, Brita Dallmann and Jeff Nistler.

Raqchi ruins reveal Inca temple

15 Jan

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Prominent on the road between Puno and Cusco are the world’s largest Inca temple ruins, at Raqchi. Central to the ruins is the Temple of Wiracocha, which is 300 feet long — the length of a U.S. football field — by about 80 feet wide and 60 feet high, with Inca stonework covering the first 13 feet high and adobe the rest. The Incas built the temple and surrounding quarters and granaries in the 15th century, only to have the Spanish conquistadors knock much of it down around 1540 and later build their own church in its shadow. Located on the ancient Inca Road in a beautiful valley still some 11,500 feet above sea level, Raqchi remains home to artisenias, farmers and small ranchers.

Slide show produced by Mike Dorsher. Photos by Sharon Kessler, Mike Dorsher, Lacey Weninger, Phyllis Highman and Megan Roltgen.

Peru’s Uros keep their culture afloat

14 Jan
Uros Island welcome

Click on the photo to launch a Soundslide presentation by Mike Dorsher on the culture of Peru's indigenous Uros, who live on floating reed islands in Lake Titicaca.

Here’s a beer to give you the hops

12 Jan

ArtAndes’ Peruvian guide, José, took us on a tour Thursday of the market in Chivay, a 12,000-foot-high town of 10,000 people that serves as the capital of the Colca Canyon. First stop on the tour was a beverage cart, where Jose explained the process of concocting and imbibing an Amazonian limon bitter beer.

How about leaving a Comment describing the most unique beer you’ve tasted while overseas:

Three views of the condor

11 Jan

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Ever see the old Robert Redford movie, “Three Days of the Condor“? Well, the actual condors we saw Wednesday over the Colca Canyon were far more majestic and moving than the movie.

Even though they weigh up to 28 pounds, adult condors can have wingspans up to 11 feet, and they rarely have to flap them. They’re “gliders,” especially here at Peru’s Cruz del Condor in the Colca Canyon, which is the deepest canyon in the world at 13,000 feet — more than twice that of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

The 35,000 residents of  Colca Canyon worship the condor. They parade one through the streets every July 28, Peru Independence Day. They catch it without harming it by killing a horse, dumping it in an open hole and waiting for a condor to swoop down on the carnage.

Photos by Sharon Kessler and Mike Dorsher.

A Canadian highpoint — in Peru

9 Jan

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It’s common to see stone cairns throughout Peru’s soaring Andes Mountains. Following ancient traditions, modern-day visitors stack the stones in all manner of shapes and heights — as a sign of friendship, a showing of respect for the Apu mountain gods, as a marker to point the way or just as a way to mark their temporal presence.

But what you see here is a special kind of stone cairn — a couple of Inuksuks like those first erected by the Inuits and other indigenous people in northern Canada. Mike constructed them in the Andes on Thursday while Equipo Peru and the ArtAndes tour were traversing the nearly 16,000-foot-high pass between the Colca Canyon and Puno, the gateway to Lake Titicaca. Mike built the traditional seven-stone Inuksuks in commemoration of his 2008-09 Fulbright Fellowship in Canada.