It's pronounced 'ya-mas' not 'la-mas'
12/23/2012 - 12/29/2012
Continuing my epic quest down to the magical lands of South America, I have entered the kingdom of the llamas, or as known as Peru. Many pilgrims who visit the llama kingdom will take anywhere from 2 - 15 days to hike to the lost city of the once proud sun worshipers, which was conquered by man-in-the cloud worshipers from another far away kingdom across a vast body of blue wet stuff. Apparently the man-in-the cloud worshipers disapproved of the sun worshipers' ways and methods of living and all the shiny yellow stuff that they had. But I digress...
(Click on the photos for bigger version and even more photos!)
So my first encounter of the llamas began in the typical food place in Peru. Ok, maybe this is not food from a typical food place, but to my defense, I was very hungry that night and apparently all the that advertised llamas were tourist places. Nevertheless, it was a good break from looking like a sore thumb while eating in the restaurant.
After a good meal and a good night's rest, I set out on my journey to see the lost city of the sun worshipers (note: to limit the amount of deterioration to mother earth, the original path - Inca trail - is limited to 500 people per day. But the alternative routes provide better scenery.) I was really glad that I stopped over at Quito (see last post) as my cardio was improved to the point that I could finish the 2 day hike at 4000m without any sort of technological assistance. Well, our group did have a few horses at our disposal...
During my pilgrimage, as I was carefully treading around not to step on any sacred plants or flowers, I over heard some noises behind me.
Red llama: So what do you think will become of us in the next year? (equivalent to about 3-5 human years)
Yellow llama: Hmm, not sure. We will probably be still be here eating the same grass, pooping at the same place, doing the same stuff.
Red llama: Yeah, that sounds really mundane.
Yellow llama: I agree, there must be more to life.
Red llama: Well, from what I heard, if we do our best to be the fattest llama, we will get promoted and get to see the city.
Yellow llama: Really?? Man, I always wanted to see the city, so much more potential and opportunities there!
At that point, I was going to turn around and tell them the truth about the city life, but they saw a pair of female llamas and ran after them.
On the third day, I reached the lost city, with much physical pain and lost pride. Apparently the llamas go there before I did, or I could be mistaken as I can't tell the difference among them, they all look alike. All the llamas at the lost city stood proudly as they munched on the plants knowing well how to pose for a photograph. Only if they figured out that they could charge the tourists 1 peso for doing so like how the local people realized...
Breathtaking is probably the best word for describing the view of the lost city, not only because of the physical beauty but also because of the high altitudes (2430m or 7972ft). For someone who has hard time adapting to the altitude like me, it literately takes your breath away. I have to say though, it is a good thing that man-in-the cloud worshipers didn't find this place as they raked through the land, or else we wouldn't have such breathtaking views today.
As I progressed through the llama kingdom, I found the cuter cousin of the llamas, the alpacas. Not only were they cuter, their fur is also much more valued than their uglier cousin, which makes sense. The alpacas who had the fortune of being shaved naked early after birth has twice the fineness of llama wool and also 5-10x the price. The caretaker in the photo above has realized she can charge 1 peso/person/photograph, only if the llamas at the lost city knew...
I wasn't able to find any llamas at lake Titicaca, probably because they were all hiding, couldn't swim to get to the islands, the nickname Rock Puma scared them away, or a combination of none of the above. I did however, saw a reincarnation of the ship Titanic. I guess whoever built the boat left out a few key features.
The land of the llamas was a great trip, filled with breathtaking views, breathtaking trips, and breathtaking towns. I didn't bother to stop at the new capital as meeting a llama there seemed out of place, plus they were probably more superficial and materialistic. Oh and just a note, if you leave the llama kingdom and enter in the neighboring realm of Boliva and you are from the empire of USA, please make sure you have all the necessary documents and crisp bills, or else your driver and everyone on it will get impatient and leave you behind... with all your luggage... in the dark... alone... with wild animals... ...