Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Peru wrap-up & my next port of call

Perhaps more than anywhere else I have learned about so far in my armchair travels, I feel like Peru is the place I most need to actually visit to really get a sense of its true nature. Although I found photographs of Machu Picchu to be stunning, they have to pale in comparison to the experience of standing on that mountaintop, leaning against perfectly joined rockwork that has stood for centuries, gazing down at the terraces, and reveling in the mystery of what happened to the people that so suddenly fled their magnificent mountain abode. I really enjoyed learning about the floating islands in Lake Titicaca, however, without stepping foot on one, I have no idea what it feels like to "bounce" as one walks on the islands, being reminded at every step of their man-made construction.  In several travelers accounts (and through Anthony Bourdain's Peruvian episode on No Reservations) I heard about the physical experience with altitude sickness, and although I don't particularly look forward to feeling sick, it does seem like my "armchair travels" are quite sanitized and lacking a visceral connection this month. And, of course, I especially feel a need to actually go to Peru since I want to try lots more of their food! I've read that there is a lot of Asian influence (particularly in "Chifa" specialties) due to immigration, and I'm anxious to try that hybrid of flavors!

However...we are well into July, and it is high time for me to start the next leg of my armchair travels! We are headed to India next....mmmmmmm - yes, of course, I am initially inspired to learn about India because it is home to my favorite food, but I know there is much much more to explore! I already know of a few musicians and artists to look into, I plan on learning about Gandhi and Mother Teresa, I'll profile the author Jhumpa Lahiri, and of course, I have to check out a Bollywood film! Here's some pix to get you excited!!!!

Golden Temple, primary sacred shrine of Sikhs

Mughul era Indian miniature painting

Hindi adherents carrying a statue of the elephant god, Ganesh, in Mumbai on the final day of "Ganesh Chaturthi"

Taj Majal

Busy street life passing by a cow in the Sardar Bazaar in Jodhpur