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On Koricancha (Cusco, Peru)

Incan Temple of the Sun

Koricancha, or the Incan Temple of the Sun in Cusco, Peru, or at least what was left of it after the Spanish built the Dominican convent of Santo Domingo on top of it, is a must stop if you have gone to the trouble of going all the way Cusco and Machu Picchu. Cusco was an original Inca city and a major axis within their empire during both the 14th and 15th centuries. Koricancha, or "Courtyard of Gold" was a major shrine within the Incan empire, and its walls were lined with gold, gold that was eventually looted by the Conquistadores, but not enough gold to save the last Incan emperor, … [Read more...]

On Machu Picchu II

Machu Picchu

So yesterday I got my first taste of Machu Picchu in person, and today I had the opportunity to re-traverse with a little more tranquility of spirit the thirteen switchbacks between Aguas Calientes and the high plateau where Machu Picchu is located. Millennium Tours of Texas has done a bang-up job of putting this trip together, coordinating with local guides, hotels, and transportation. Today the climb was less demanding physically, but we started out this morning, for the first twenty minutes or so, in the fog and the mist and the rain, which completely changes the whole feeling of Machu … [Read more...]

Istanbul (Not Constantinople)


Thanks to Millennium Tours of Austin, I had the opportunity to visit one of the most exotic places on earth. A city where 10,000 year old mosques dot the skyline, street vendors offer warm doner kebabs off their grills and the locals are happy to share the rich history of the place with visitors, Istanbul is a destination that most people only dream about. At the start of my semester-long study abroad trip in The Netherlands, the group I traveled with scheduled a week-long tour of the Turkish city through Millennium Tours of Austin. Every step along the way – from my connecting flight to meet … [Read more...]

On weaving in Peru

Under the Southern Cross

While in Peru, I got a chance to see what hand spinning and weaving is really all about. Spinning and weaving are ancient arts which have been practiced for multiple millennia by multiple civilizations who were faced with the limitations of making their clothing out of animal skins. Though leathers and hides were our first natural "clothing" (ignoring the metaphorical fig leaf, that is), those materials are cumbersome and difficult to manage and bettered suited to more rugged applications such as footwear, belts, and hats. Weaving, whether it be cotton, wool, or silk, allows greater … [Read more...]

Under the Southern Cross

Under the Southern Cross

 Today I spent my time at about 13,700 feet. I spent my time with colleagues and a group of local native people, "Cuyuni"--Inca is probably not the right word, but they certainly were descendants of the Incas who lived here when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. I watched a local shaman make an offering to his gods--the sky, the mountain, the earth--and I listened to his earnest pleas for peace, safety, and tranquility. Though his words were mostly Quechua, I could pick out a few others which made me feel included and a part of his prayers. I listened to the drummers and flautists who … [Read more...]

On Peru

Getting from my hotel in Miraflores (Lima) to my hotel in Urubamba was quite a journey, involving a tour bus, an airplane, another tour bus, a home cooked meal, a weaving demonstration, a dirt road, and an indeterminate number of switchbacks and potholes which finally deposited me here, a couple of hours from Machu Picchu. I can't say I know everything about Peru yet, but I'm learning. This probably one of the most polite countries I have ever been in, and although many of the people involved in tourism speak some English, they are tickled pink when I haul out my quaint, textbook, Castilian … [Read more...]

On Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru

I am so glad I've finally come to Lima. I arrived this morning on the red-eye from Miami, and took off to see a pre-Inca ruin called Huaca Pucllana in the middle of the Miraflores township of Lima, which rises almost two hundred feet above the surrounding buildings. A huge mound of hand-made adobe bricks, the bricks are stacked vertically with space between them to fight the earthquake problem so common in this coastal city. This "pyramid" was totally unknown thirty years ago and three pre-Incan peoples occupied this sacred space. The people of Lima had collectively forgotten what it was and … [Read more...]

On flying (to Peru)


There are two eternal truths about flying: one, people will fight to get on a plane; two, the same people will fight to get off of the plane once it has arrived at its destination. Lining up to get on a plane is chaotic at best, and a mad free-for-all at worst. Don't get me wrong, I love airplanes and the long-distance travel service that they provide. Service, however, with all airlines has declined over the years, and what was once a fairly glamorous event, is now akin to getting on a bus--lots of jostling for space, too many large carry-ons (no one wants to check a bag anymore and what now … [Read more...]

On packing for Peru

For the next several days, as a guest blogger, will recount my journey to Peru with Millennium Tours of Texas--Paul Larson Packing is not one of my strong suits. I always forget my toothbrush, some mystery liquid always leaks in my suitcase, and I always have this nagging suspicion that I am forgetting something. Even now I’m wondering what I will forget. I get distracted on the eve of new journey—I’ve never been south, never seen the Southern Cross myself, so I am relying a hundred per cent on my travel agency. yes, one folds the socks and shirts, packs underwear, gets the suitcase ready, … [Read more...]

What (Not) to Pack

Trudging the entire length of the seven-minute walk from the Underground station up the hill to our hostel in the suburban streets of London, all I can think of is how much I regret what I packed. The 30-liter backpack I bought for my Baylor University study abroad trip arranged through Millennium Tours of Austin barely zips, though it holds only half of what I think I need. The straps dig into a pressure point on my shoulders and shoot sharp pains to the right side of my brain. The streets are wet and splattered with stale chewing gum, but that does not stop me from dragging my purse (which … [Read more...]


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