It's a 14-hour flight from Sydney just to get to Lima, but once there I found the locals to be warm and accommodating. Then it came time to visit the Peruvian countryside where its numerous stone "factories" reside.
During the first stops I witnessed the cutting and polishing of Manganocalcite, Andean opal, and Angelite among others. (photos 1&2) Some of the rural people were somewhat reticent to meet a large white Aussie like myself, but they didn't mind a photo. (photo 8)
When one gets away into the high country of Peru the roads suddenly diminish in quality. They seem to be the dominion of the Big Smoke and important mines. (photos 5 & 6) I found the high elevation made the carburetor act up, so that starting the car every morning became an exciting part of the day.
When I finally reached Morococha (photo 10) which lies 18,000 feet above sea level, I found the scenery to be spectacular but the weather inhospitable. Even in their summer (mid-February) it was cold and bleak. But I got to see where rhodochrosite comes from and to pick out lots of exquisite specimens.
From there it was on to the famous sulphide mines of Huanzala (photo 7). Here I picked up gorgeous Pyrites, Sphalerites, Quartz, etc. The pyrite is shipped to smelters where pollution drifts through the air reminding me of the cities. (photo 9)
But the accommodation was extremely relaxed and informal. It was always in a cosy spot, set apart from the local hustle and bustle. (photo 3)
As the Peruvian trip drew to a close, I had to visit the fabled Inca site Machu Picchu (photo 11) as well as the ruins of Sasshyhuaman just outside of Cuzco. (photo 12) I was amazed at their engineering skills and wondered how such an old culture could have survived and prospered under such inhospitable conditions. Their ingenuity was obviously a response to their situation.
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