We rode on a luxury overnight bus from Cusco to Arequipa, Peru’s aptly-named White City. We stumbled into a beautiful colonial hotel made of huge stones and high ceilings, right off the main square. What luxury. The city was beautiful. We took it in and then, again, stumbled into a great opportunity that took us out to the Colca Canyon, and then back to Arequipa. More on that in the next posts. For now, here’s that pretty city! This is one place we didn’t spend enough time in and I’d love to go back someday.
I know my posting frequency is low, so it may seem that we based out of Písac for months. At times, it really felt like it. We loved out hostel, and we loved going to eat at Ulrike’s, and had our favorites daily stops in the local market. One of my strong desires for this trip was to take a weaving lesson. One vendor in particular had beautiful wares, and we spent some time chatting with her to learn about the craft—her husband designed most of the patterns, and the work was done by nieces and nephews, from wool that came from her family’s alpaca herds. The wool was all hand dyed with natural materials. I mentioned that I would like to learn to do this, and she invited us to come and stay at her family’s house, in the tiny weaving village of Chahuatire, located high in the mountains above the town, where her husband could teach me to weave.
My partner, being the fluent Spanish speaker, chatted with her about the details of when and how to get to her home, and we made a plan. We headed up a few days later, bearing gifts of fresh fruit from the market. We took a colectívo up endlessly windy mountain roads and got off at their house, where their teenage daughter took us for a walk up to see some casual cave paintings, since her parents had gone to the city for the day. When we returned we were fed an amazing lunch and had a rest out in the yard, where they taught us the traditional Quechua way to offer coca leaves to each other. It was pretty cold by now at this high altitude and I had left my camera up in our room. So I don’t have many pictures to share, but I feel like the story is still worth telling.
Then they started dying wool. Boiling huge pots of water over a fire in the back yard, they first added some ground up freeze-dried worms--that makes red. They dunked the white wool in the pot, swirled it around, and hung it up to dry. Then they added some plants to the water, making a rich burnt sienna, dyed the wool, and hung it, steaming, from the clothesline. Then they added some minerals, which can only be gathered during a hoarfrost, and made yellow. The process continued until there were several skeins of wool handing from the line, in rich colors from red to yellow, a couple shades of green, blue and purple. They never changed the water—they just kept adding more ingredients to change the colors.
While this dying was happening we each got to take a turn at the looms, stumbling through the steps that this family does with such deftness. We both gained immense respect for the effort that goes into these beautiful textiles.
We ate dinner with the family that night, watched some Spanish-dubbed movies (Finding Nemo! Mad Max!) on their tiny TV, and then climbed the stairs to crawl under the pile of blankets on our bed—huddling close to get warm as the temperature had dropped close to freezing.
The family was up early the next morning to head down for the big Sunday market. We left after they did, taking another colectívo back down to Písac. We wandered, for the millionth time, through our “home” market. We went back and forth, stopping each time at our friends’ stall, and ended up making all of our purchases with them. They live in a home with a dirt floor and no running water inside. Their girls are dreaming of going to college. They create beautiful things with their own hands, and carry them to town each week to peddle in the market. They were so generous—they offered us hospitality, giving us the best room, the best food, the biggest servings, and refusing every offer of compensation. We all shed tears when we finally said goodbye at the market.
We headed back to our hostel to plan our next move, preparing to leave from Cusco to head south to Arequipa. Leaving Písac was bittersweet; it had become home in a short time. We left so much richer than we’d arrived.
Machu Picchu will blow your mind, and the Písac ruins will, too, as will, it turns out, the ruins at Sacsayhuamán (pronounced kind of like “Saxy Woman.” These ruins are situated where Cusco is now, and were the Incan capitol. The ancient city was laid out in the shape of a giant puma. It was sacked by the Spaniards, recaptured by the Inca, and sacked again. And by sacked, I mean sacked to the best of their colonial ability. Though the Spaniards had horses, they still couldn’t topple the massive stones of the Incan fortress. The city of Cusco was built on top of the ruins, which makes for a really fascinating display of historical architecture as you walk through the modern city streets—Colonial building coming right up out of the Incan stonework. The head of the puma is all that’s left of the original fortress, where the Trono del Inca (Inca’s Throne) and the Sun Temple were located. As you flip through the photos you’ll see the zigzag walls—these were the puma’s teeth. Yet another instance of minds being blown. Also mind-blowing is the size of the stones—some weigh as much as twenty tons, came from twenty miles away, and were moved without wheels or draft animals, and were cut, shaped and assembled without metal tools or a written language. Unbelievable! Yoga pic—photo by the boyfriend—for scale.
We took a colectívo from Písac to Sacsayhuamán and walked around the ruins before a downpour started, motivating us to walk down into the city, where we found a coffee shop and some art museums to warm up in. We wandered through the remarkable city streets to find a dinner spot before catching a ride back “home” to Písac, to helplessly contemplate the wonder of human ingenuity.
The ruins at Písac are a huge, sprawling wonder. The trailhead was just about a block away from our hostel (have I mentioned yet that it was the best place to stay, ever?). We hiked up, past acres and acres of incredible terraced hillsides, getting an incredible look at the engineering that went into the design of this agricultural feature. There was a small group of crumbling buildings from which we had a sweeping view of the valley, and then we followed a trail up to what had been a temple of sorts—all huge rocks and straight lines, still-functioning water courses, and incredible views down the valley of the town and the Urubamba River. We had brought along our LifeStraw filter bottle and filled up in the ancient Incan fountains—the water was cold and sweet, if not downright sacred. From here we continued to climb, reaching some type of lookout area (elevation 3,525m / 11,500ft!!) and then started down the other side of the hill. We could view some burial chambers carved into the hillside across from us (now off-limits, thanks to looters), and another group of buildings, with more views. We spent about 4 or 5 hours trekking through the ruins, and by the time we got to the end, the wind was blowing and the sun was starting to go down which, at that elevation, precipitates a drastic temperature drop. We shared a taxi back down to the town and set out to find dinner.
From Machu Picchu we traveled by colectívo to the village of Písac, where we ended up staying for a little over a week. We arrived to Písac on a Friday and settled quickly into our homey hostel (Hospidaje Inti) and an easy routine of waking for coffee in the hostel courtyard, wandering and shopping in the market and hiking in the ruins around town. More on that later. After the first whirlwind week of travel, it was so very nice to settle in and slow down a bit.
We had some some research on a Waldorf-style bilingual Spanish/Quechua school with permaculture emphasis near there called Wiñaypac; we had tried to arrange a visit but were unable to connect with anyone from the school. We incidentally connected with one of the administrators when we arrived in Písac and were able to arrange a visit to the school for Monday. We took a moto-taxi (similar to a rickshaw, sort of like an ATV with an enclosure on the back for passengers), which buzzed us up a windy road into the brown hills above the town, dropping us at the bottom of a trail up to the school which was a collection of gardens and soft adobe buildings nestled under the imposing mountains.
We walked up and spent a couple delightful hours touring the school, seeing the innovative teaching tools and tons of happy children. I was struck then, and again now as I edit these images, of the beauty of the place—in particular the bright colors and soft angles. The head of school invited us back so that R could guest-teach an English lesson; their English teacher was out on leave. We gladly agreed.
Two days later we took the same trip and had an amazing two hour lesson with 4th and 5th graders who are so eager to learn inglés!! I had a great time assisting and of course photographing. I have a million amazing photos of the students, but I’m hesitant to share those yet. We’ll be planning a photo presentation, hopefully in the spring, and perhaps publishing a photobook to raise funds for the school—stay tuned.
For now, please enjoy the photos I took of the space. Wonderfully warm, soft and colorful—the most inviting place to learn.
Machu Picchu was truly incredible. Getting there was tough, and jostling at the gates with a million other tourists was truly irritating, especially at 0600 am. All the irritation was well worth it, though.
The day was incredible, with dramatic mists rolling rapidly through all morning, bright clear skies for our hike up Montaña Picchu at midday, and then low golden light topped with dramatically dark clouds in the late afternoon. We left the park around 5 or 6 pm. It was a full day. Machu Picchu is small, but the guards keep the crowds moving through. We ended up going through the whole park about three times, I think.
I had a hard time selecting photos to share. I have about five times this many. Lots of duplicates, but so different depending on the location of the sun.
Alright, so I'm sensing a pattern here. One day's worth of photos edited per week. So at this rate I'll be done with my Peru photos by.... next March? Hm.
Our second day in Ollanta started with an impromptu puppet show in the neighbor's yard. "Corn Guy" explained where he came from, describing the colors of Mexico--a foreign land to his rapt audience. Puppets always foster such quick human connections.
Then we went up the other side of the valley, checking out the ancient granaries we'd seen from the ruins the previous day, getting incredible views up the valley around the corner, and of course down on to the orange rooftops of the busy town.
My next post will feature Machu Picchu--and it's truly a daunting prospect to attempt to convey on electronic screens the mystical drama of that sacred place. Next week, perhaps!
Blogging is hard. Who has time to sit in front of a computer and write about themselves? Especially in the precious and limited PNW summers, when we feel guilty doing ANYTHING inside as long as the sun is shining.
I have no problem taking millions of photos during this time of year, but can't be bothered to sit inside in my office to process them. Well, here I sit, on the traditional last weekend of summer, finally getting to my backlog of images. It's a grey chilly morning. The seasons are indeed beginning to change. Today I have a little time.
Besides it being such a gorgeous outdoorsy summer, the other reason I haven't worked much on my photography business lately is the three weeks we spent in Peru! I shot about three thousand images on the trip, and am feeling understandably daunted at the idea of going through them and beginning to process them.
Here are a few of my favorites from our first day in Ollantaytambo, Peru, a small town in the Sacred Valley not far from Machu Picchu. Every place we visited in Peru is incredible. Ollanta is special in part because it's been continuously inhabited since Incan times. The modern bits of town are built right on top of those Incan streets, irrigation channels, and building foundations. The town sits in a fertile valley under the ruins of an Incan (and pre-Incan) fortress.
Stay tuned as I continue to process through the rest of the trip. I'm hoping to find a venue to display some of these images. I came back from this trip full of some much needed inspiration, and I'm excited to share it.
I grew up here in the mild rainshadow of the Olympic Peninsula where snow is an infrequent occasion through the course of the year. This year it's snowed four times, including CHRISTMAS! I really have enjoyed getting caught up in the magic of snow days.
A couple weekends ago when we had our most recent light snow I got up early to take a walk down to the beach near my neighborhood. The light dusting over the wet black pavement created some nice visual contrasts.
My sweetie and I eschewed the parties and headed straight off the grid to celebrate the New Year. We stayed at the Quileute Oceanside Resort in LaPush, WA, one of my favorite places to stay. We rang out 2017 with a beach hike on a glorious sunny day, walking beside the water and up and over headlands. We spent the first morning of 2018 drinking coffee on some frozen driftwood, bundled up to watch the sun, which was rising behind us, hit the tops of the waves in front of us. I always fall in love with the Pacific Ocean, every time.
I hope you like waves--check out a tiny sampling of my photos from the trip, below. And what kind of trip to an epic location is complete without a ridiculous self-timer jumping selfie? Exactly my thoughts, too.
I spent the month of October studying yoga in India. Of course I always had my camera close at hand and was able to take some photos of the gorgeous people of Mysore. A small selection of these has just been uploaded to the Candids folder on my Portfolio. Check them out!
I also had the opportunity to take some amazing photos of the street scenes. Check them out below.
I fell in love with Mysore and I can't wait to go back. The colors, textures, dirt, beauty, and the people, the people, the people. Amazing. I've spent the last month slowly getting back into the swing of things at work, and just started picking up my camera again. Did a fun little family photo session over the Thanksgiving holiday, and have another senior portrait session to do tomorrow. It feels good to be getting busy again!
That backlog of photos is going to get processed THIS WEEKEND, by golly!
Here are a few snaps of my family on a recent climbing trip in the North Cascades. I am blessed to be surrounded by these beautiful people, and look where we live!! Aren't I lucky?
I've been busy with portrait sessions, which has been great, but I'm getting woefully behind on my backpacking photos! Here are a few from a trip I took last month. We spent six days in the backcountry, going in the Hoh Trailhead in the Olympic National Park, up to the Seven Lakes Basin (which actually contains a few more than seven) and out the Sol Duc. It was lovely!!!
I had a second engagement working for Kate Dean's county commissioner campaign--this time at a voting party which involved a ballot-mailing parade from the Finnriver Cider Garden to the Chimacum Post Office, led by the Unexpected Brass Band. How fun is that!? Here are a few of my favorites images from the event.
I've had the opportunity to spend some time lately around Finnriver Farm, and continually kick myself for not having my camera handy! Well I was lucky enough to be out there on a recent summer evening, after all the work was done, and had a lovely quiet walk around the farm, camera in hand this time. The low sun gives a soft, buzzy, warm feel to the whole place, and you can kind of feel all the growth happening around you.
Some friends and I went car camping at Crescent Beach, a little gem on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a few weeks ago. Beach walking, kite flying, and tidepool exploration are all excellent photo-ops. Here are a few of my favorites.
While my stated purpose for this website is to display my portrait work and expand my portrait portfolio, my camera does love other things, too. My friends at Egg & I Fuchsias (and Egg & I Pork) hired me to come out to their farm and capture some of the lush spring growth--in the fields, in the barns, and in the greenhouse.
It's a beautiful opportunity to visit the place where your friends and neighbors lovingly and carefully grow your food. I had a wonderful time taking these pictures; I hope you enjoy them!
Welcome to my new website! I'm still pulling material from different hard drives and computers, so please stay tuned while I build up a fair representation of my work.
Those of you who know me know that I just finished grad school--now that that's done, I'm so pleased to have the time to pursue my other interests, photography being chief among them.