Maybe I could be one of those photographers who visit strange villages in strange countries and shoot photos of strange old doors? But what if these doors become the most important part of my trips? What if I grow mesmerized by weathered frames and rusty hardware? So mesmerized that I can’t even bother to open the doors and see what’s behind? Stopped before my trip even begins!

Maybe I can be one of those photographers who shoot incredibly earnest pictures of cacti floating above adobe walls. But then I would need to move to Sante Fe, open a gallery, and start wearing bolo ties. Um, sorry. Aint gonna happen.

The face of a condor is visible in the rocks above these Ollantaytambo ruins. The condor was an important symbol for the Incas, representing the third and highest plane of existence. Unfortunately, we did not see a condor during our travels. We stuck mainly to tourist areas. Not that we would have had much luck. The Andean condor is a threatened species and according to our guide at Machu Picchu, they recently fled the area. He hadn’t seen one for ten years.

This is my one shot of the ruins of Machu Picchu. I took it from my phone, after reaching the Sun Gate in a nearby notch in the mountains. We had already been at the ruins for seven hours, hiking up to the saddle, up to Wayna Picchu, and then cruising around the ruins. I was delerious, chewing coca leaves, cold-sweating, seeing imaginary condors, and giving up hope of stopping Leaf from scaling the crumbling walls that led to treacherous drops. My son really dug these ruins.  Here is a small blurb on why.

Leaf was great on the hikes and snorkelling. It was also fascinating to watch him in Peru as he sorted out colonialism and conquistadors. We did Machu Picchu before hitting Cuzco, which bolstered Leaf’s opinions of the Incas. He loved the astrological elements (perhaps using the Hobbit as his touchstone, for he was familiar with the concepts of light hitting certain spots during certain calendar days), and geez, those damn Incans were masters at this, setting up sun gates on mountains miles away, and having the sunbeams reflect through windows in a small temples, deep in the ruins. And of course there was also the masonry, workmanship as great as the dwarves of middle earth. So this was followed by a visit to the horrible gaudy cathedral in Cuzco and then the city’s not-so-shabby Inca museum, which together told the tale of Inca majesty, followed by invasion, theft, sickness, destruction, and totalitarian ruin. I could see the wheels turn in his Leaf’s head as he watched the Peruvians in the square. “Are these people Incas?” “So now all these Incas speak Spanish?” “The Spanish wouldn’t let them make art anymore?” and in the cathedral, “So this is what happened to the Inca gold?” Etc. Etc.