Category Archives: Peru

A Color version of the Peru story I wrote for Delta Sky magazine

ArticleDeltaSkyMagPeruColor_April2013 (2)

photo(29)I’ve had such a nice response to my Peru story in the April issue of Delta Sky magazine, with friends, family and neighbors coming across it during flights. Even heard from a long lost high school friend. The latest act of kindness came today from another reader who liked it so much she gave her copy to friend – then realized that she hadn’t read the last page. So she found the black and white version I posted on my blog. She also made a color PDF of the story and sent to me. How thoughtful! So here it is. (see above.)



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Here’s a copy of my Peru story in April issue of Delta Sky magazine

photo(29)I am hoping this will work  and you can click here and see the travel story I did about our recent trip to Peru for Delta Sky Magazine! Unfortunately there isn’t an online version and this copy is black and white, not in full color.  You can find the story if you have an iPad, using the Fly Delta iPad app.



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How to find my Peru story in April 2013 “Delta Sky” magazine!

Delta Sky MagazineThe most obvious way to find the travel story I wrote about our recent trip to Peru is to fly Delta Airlines and read the airline’s in-flight magazine Delta Sky. It’s a great spread with wonderful photos of the places we visited.

But if you’re not flying Delta this month (unlike my lucky cousin Scott), the other option is to access it via  iPad – if you have one. To do this: go the App store and get the free Fly Delta iPad app. After it loads,  the April 2013 issue of the magazine cover (see photo above of CeeLo Green) may pop up on the screen. If  it doesn’t, tap on “Entertainment” and that should bring up the April 2013 issue. The Peru story is on page 72. See also page 6 (There’s a author’s blurb about moi and, yes, a head shot under “Contributors”). The Fly Delta iPhone app does not appear to work for this. The magazine (or this story in it)  is no longer available online.

There’s some other good stuff in the magazine including  features on Toronto and Anthony Bourdain.



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Travel guidebooks with attitude. But is it the right attitude?

Colombia travel guideOkay, I’m reviving this post – which I didn’t get far in writing almost a year ago (I made it only to the title – oops). But the point I was thinking of making was about guidebooks – and I’ve written one (about Iowa) and contributed to several others, including the New York Times 36 Hours America guide. In my lost youth, I prided myself in NOT using a guidebook (or carrying a camera …how stupid was that). I was a traveler, not a tourist – god forbid. I didn’t want someone else telling me where to go, what to see, where to eat, where to stay – I wanted to just drift into situations where these choices would be self-evident or evolve. And often they did – sometimes better than others (there was that time in Turkey when I ended up sleeping in a tent in a field outside Kushadashi with five male carpet salesmen and an Australian girl – not good.) The idea was to have adventures and be adventuresome, to figure it out on my own.

Discover Peru (Full Color Country Travel Guide)

Well thirty years later, my thinking has – surprise, surprise – changed. If anything I’ve become too dependent on guidebooks when planning my trips and when I’m on those trips. Seems I can hardly wander around a neighborhood in Hawaii or Peru or Milwaukee without clutching a guidebooks and referring to it frequently. Although I risk over dependence on guidebooks (and more often travel stories I rip out of the newspaper – or find online), they’ve also steered me to some pretty great places (as was the case with the Lonely Planet Discover Peru guide). That said, I found the Rough Guide to Hawaii a useful source for the standard stuff – and beyond, for dense knowledgeable detail on various places, last January when we went to the Big Island and Oahu. But I was increasingly put off by the guide’s surprisingly kill-joy tone. Here we were traveling in one of the most astonishingly beautiful places in the world and the guidebook was moaning or issuing warnings about one thing or another.  It was subtle but it was there and had a cumulative effect. I wish I could offer an example to illustrate what I’m talking about but I haven’t looked at the guide in a long time and can’t remember exact passages any more. Yes, I look to guidebooks for warnings and things to avoid and safety considerations. But I do remember that I felt like telling the writer – “Enough already. Lighten up babe!”

Lonely Planet Peru

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Learning about the artwork of Shipibo women in the Peruvian Amazon

So as I look at the crafts we bought in Peru this month, I’m increasingly interested in learning more about the people – often the women – who made them. Who are they? Where do they live? How long have they produced this work? What inspired the work and what cultural traditions keep it going?  How is it helping them, their families and communities financially?

I was also reminded of Hillary Clinton’s comments during a trip to Peru  in October about the importance of female entrepreneurs to fueling economic growth in Peru, especially their entrepreneurial efforts based on their tradition of producing gorgeous textiles. She mentioned a Peruvian woman from the Andean highlands who has built an business that manufactures beautiful embroidered cloth for international textile markets. The woman got help from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and  trained more than 800 women in a dozen different communities to create the textiles.

“This shows you how quickly in today’s interconnected global economy one woman with a needle and determination can give hundreds of women quality jobs stitching, literally stitching new hope into their families’ futures and new economic growth for their country,” she said.

A nonprofit textile workshop we went to in Cusco – Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cuzco on Avenue El Sol – addressed some of  this by having an interesting museum in the back of its showroom.

Take for example a cotton cloth that I bought in Cusco at a store specializing in crafts from Peru’s Amazon. (See photo(15)


From what I can gather from online research, the cloth – and it intricate geometric design pattern – is the product of women from the Shipibo or Shipibo-Conibo tribe  in Peru’s northern Amazon. They not only use this design to adorn cloth and more famously pottery but themselves – (I’m not sure if the face markings are temporary or permanent. When we visited a community in the jungle in Panama a few years ago, they offered us temporary tattoos – hand-painted henna-like designs.)

Here’s more from Wikipedia on Shipibo-Conibo tribe:

The Shipibo-Conibo are an indigenous people along the Ucayali River in the Amazon rainforest in Perú. Formerly two groups, the Shipibo (apemen) and the Conibo (fishmen), they eventually became one distinct tribe through intermarriage and communal ritual and are currently known as the Shipibo-Conibo people. [1] [2]

The Shipibo-Conibo live in the 21st century while keeping one foot in the past spanning millennia in the Amazonian rainforest. Many of their traditions are still practiced, such as ayahuasca shamanism. Shamanistic songs have inspired artistic tradition and decorative designs found in their clothing, pottery, tools and textiles. Some of the urbanized people live around Pucallpa in the Yarina Cocha, an extensive indigenous zone. Most others live in scattered villages over a large area of jungle forest extending from Brazil to Equador.

Shipibo-Conibo women make beadwork and textiles, but are probably best known for their pottery, decorated with maze-like red and black geometric patterns. While these ceramics were traditionally made for use in the home, an expanding tourist market has provided many households with extra income through the sale of pots and other craft items.

The Shipibo of the villiage of Pao-Yan used to have a diet of fish, yucca and fruits. Now, however, the situation has deteriorated because of global weather changes and now there is mostly just yucca and fish. Since there has been drought followed by flooding, most of the mature fruit trees have died, and some of the banana trees and plantains are struggling. Global increases in energy and food prices have increased due to deforestation and erosion along the Ucayali River. The basic needs of the people are more important now than ever, which affects their long term planning abilities. There is now a sense that hunger may not be that far off for those in the farther reaches of the Shipibo nation. [2] [3]

Contact with western sources – including the governments of Peru and Brazil – has been sporadic over the past three centuries. The Shipibo are noted for a rich and complex cosmology, which is tied directly to the art and artifacts they produce. They have been a constant target of Christian missionaries since initial contact in the late 17th Century.[4] [5]


Distribution of the Shipibo-Conibo (marked with an arrow) amongst other Pano-speaking ethnicities

With an estimated population of over 20,000, the Shipibo-Conibo represent approximately 8% of the indigenous registered population. Census data is unreliable due to the transitory nature of the group. Large amounts of the population have relocated to urban areas – in particular the eastern Peruvian cities of Pucallpa and Yarinacocha – to gain access to better educational and health services, as well as to look for alternative sources of monetary income.

The population numbers for this group have fluctuated in the last decades between approximately 11,000 (Wise and Ribeiro, 1978) to as many as 25,000 individuals (Hern 1994).

Like all other indigenous populations in the Amazon basin, the Shipibo-Conibo are threatened by severe pressure from outside influences such as oil speculation, logging, narco-trafficking, conservation, and missionaries. [6]

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Wish I’d bought more gifts in Peru!

A cotton textile from the Amazon (bought in Cusco)

Less than two weeks since we got home from Peru with what felt like a lot of Peruvian gifts (I toted them home in a bag I bought at a market in Cusco after I’d filled up my suitcase), and I’m already wishing I’d bought more – especially with Christmas coming up and especially given the enthusiastic response I’ve gotten from people I’ve already gifted with these goodies (scarfs, t-shirts with the cool Peru graffic, mittens, textiles, decorated gourds, etc.) Chullo (Peru)
It also doesn’t help – okay I’ll admit it – that I’ve found it hard to part with several items that could be gifts for others. Which is unusual for me.

Marca Peru / Peru Brand Tshirts

I should have bought more: wool Peruvian hats (the ones with ear flaps) and scarves (like the one with black and grey one with the white llamas); Amazonian cotton design textiles (I’m trying to learn more about this work – one explanation I found online: “Complex linear fractal patterns are distinctive to the Shipibo women who design and make these colorful handpainted cloths. Cotton fabric forms the base cloth that is then painted with the earthen clay slip from the Amazon region in Peru.”) | C

Gourd bird houses from Peru; owl and flower designs. Natural.

We did discover – as forewarned – that some of the cheap Peru shirts we bought do indeed bleed when first washed. (My husband’s blue Peru shirt turned several rags it was washed with a paler shade of blue). Must warn my giftees about that.

Wool textile from the Andes (I think) and little bird figures made from hollowed out gourds.

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Our best of peru

Most dazzling monastery – Santa Catalina, Arequipa

Oh to be a well-heeled nun at the dazzling Santa Catalina monastery in Arequipa

Best old world/Inca village with most intense cobblestoned lanes – Ollantaytambo

walking to apu lodge at night in Ollantaytambo

Most bizarre landscape – the salt pans of Salinas and terraced circles of Moray

The salt pans in Salinas, Sacred Valley

Best religious site with skulls and boxes of (human) bones – San Francisco Monasterio in Lima


Most ornate church- that’s a tough one, in Cusco – the Cathedral and the Iglesia de Compania de Jesus and the church in San Blas. or the Iglesia de la Compagnia in Arequipa.

The Cathedral in Arequipa

Best market – also a hard call. Pisac and Cusco are strong contenders

sunday market in Pisac

Best folk art – Artesanias Las Pallas in Lima’s Barranco neighborhood

Best contemporary crafts gallery – Dedalo in Lima’s Barranco neighborhood

Best quality Andean Textiles – Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cuzco, on Av. El Sol or Shop of the Weavers of the Southern Andes on Tullumayo in Cusco.

Best hidden museum – Museo de Arte Popular, Cusco

Most spectacular site/ruins – Machu Picchu, hands down

Grandest plaza – toss up between Cusco and Arequipa

The main plaza in Cusco

Best service at a hotel – Apu Lodge

Best art at a hotel – Second Home Peru, in Lima

In Victor Delfin’s studio at Second Home peru, in lima

Most ancient-feeling hotel – La Casa de Melgar, Arequipa

Best hotel to bring earplugs – Ninos hotel in Cusco, lovely courtyard but carries sound especially people wandering through at 5:30 a.m.

the courtyard at Ninos Hotel, Cusco

Best sight for sore eyes – our son.

Lunch at Tres Keros in Urubamba/Sacred Valley


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