The great city of Cusco and my first day back home.

It was November 5th of 2003 when I left Peru. That is 3796 days since I left for the last time my country. One of the best places in the world, and hands down, one of the best cuisines men will know. By far. I can’t describe the emotion in counting the days for this trip. It was around 7 months in advance when my beautiful girl and I bought the tickets and planned this fantastic trip. We were counting every day, and I was getting extremely anxious about seeing my family, my friends, my old neighborhood, and the places I used to hang out. So much history and feelings were starting to get moved from the bottom of my heart. As the waiting months transformed into days we were psyched. It was going to be our first official trip/adventure together. Some say a trip like this one can test one couple’s endurance. And it was one of the best days in our lives together. We can say we passed with an A+

We left JFK on March 28. We made a connection in Atlanta and we set off to our first adventure overseas. I had a big knot in my throat. But not because I am a little nervous about flying, but because it was a lot to handle for me. After all, coming back to the land that watched me grow, was a big deal. I remember sitting in the plane, on our flight to Lima, and my eyes were starting to water. I was filled up with so much joy and excitement I couldn’t control myself. I was finally coming back to my country. Well... after watching the horizon and a couple of movies for six hours and change.

We finally landed in Lima around 11pm on March 29. But our destiny was Cusco, so we decided to wait there for our next flight. I was so impressed by the changes I saw. After all, ten years mixed up with good economical regulations the government did, payed off.

We took the flight to Cusco after waiting for around eight hours in the airport. We set our course to the glorious land of the Incas, the most important capital in South America at it’s peak.

So, without further adieu my friends, let me introduce you to the City of Cusco. All pictures, by the way, were taken with a Canon 5D Mk II, a 100mm, 20mm and 85mm lenses. Enjoy!

The colossal Sacsayhuaman, and my third day back home

Day three. We were not even a little exhausted. Our plan was to get as much juice as we could from this glorious fruit called Cusco. And we did!

Sacsayhuaman, an Incan ruin was only a couple of blocks behind our hotel. So I geared up with my Canon equipment, some water, a big suck of air in our lungs and set up for our brand new day. The site was impressive, but not as we thought it would be. We hired a guide who explained to us (more to Amy actually) the history behind this colossal site. We stood next to the enormous boulders, slide on some others and went through tunnels. We had a blast! Gorgeous day, gorgeous place, gorgeous everything!

After Sacsayhuaman, we drove to Quenko (yet another impressive marvelous arquitectonic rock based site). Some minutes to marvel ourselves with it and we set the drive to the White Christ (Cristo Blanco). Was here where the whole city of Cuzco was on the palm of our hands. You could hold such a beauty between our fingers and snap the most incredible shots. After some time there, we set our course to the main plaza to shoot some people (my favorite subject) and it could not be more perfect. We hit some local museums and restaurants as we said goodbye to this wonderful city. Yet another one to visit the next day: Aguas Calientes and the outstanding world marvel of Machu Picchu.

The majestic Machu Picchu, and my fourth day back home

Five in the morning. It was one of the few times I've been glad to hear my alarm sound so early. We were going to Machu Picchu! For me, even though I had been there before (20 years ago) it was still exciting. I guess when you are 18 years old you don't fully appreciate the presence of an ancient Incan site. 

We were part of a small guided group, but even though I was not initially into the idea of a guided tour, I ended up grateful for it. I couldn't remember everything the books said about this mesmerizing place. When I saw Machu Picchu for the second time in my life, tears ran down my face. The power and energy of this place is overwhelming. Particularly, if you are Peruvian. Coursing through my veins was so much pride of being from this country. Peru. It gave me goosebumps. Literally.
I snapped so many pictures. I think I clicked my Canon for every stone that was there. What professional photographer wouldn't? Right?
After exploring the site thoroughly, we saw signs for an Incan bridge. We thought it was just going to be a leisurely walk, but even the simplest walk can be harrowing in the Andes. It was super steep and scary. The path was extremely narrow at moments and the abyss next to us was not for the faint of heart. Seriously. No, really.
Anyway. We saw the Incan bridge, which was constructed in a way to protect the ancient city. We had so much fun, and yet there was so much history in the palms of our hands. It really is a place no one should miss. If you ever have a chance to go to Machu Picchu, do not think it twice. Just go. Trust me. 

After such a fantastic time, my girlfriend and I stayed in Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. What can I say about this place? Absolutely magnificent! Not only the rooms were stunning, but the staff and landscape were outstanding. Six stars out of five. Hands down!
Not only were the surroundings breathtaking, but the food was also scrumptious! They have a fantastic restaurant where you can be delighted with delicious Peruvian-fusion cuisine, leaded by the Peruvian chef Gustavo Borja. This guy is insanely good!
The next morning, before setting our course to Ollantaytambo, I had a photo shoot. Yup. I shot the premises of the hotel, rooms, etc. And it was a lot of fun! This guys at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, not only they have one of the best hotels I've seen, but the care so much about the environment like no one out there. They have this beautiful orchid walk, were you could see more than 350 classes of orchids. Yup, I did not write that number wrong. And they also provide a rescue center for the only native bear in Peru – the Spectacle Bear.

This was, on a personal note, one of the best days I've ever had since I came to Peru. I feel so blessed by being Peruvian and by the chance to share this moment with the person I love. Definitely, this Wonder of the World is worth every penny it takes to see it.

 

The stunning Incan city of Ollantaytambo, and my fifth day back home.

Our last day in Cuzco. Our last day in the capital of the Incan empire with its temperamental weather and high altitude. What an amazing day & night at Ollantaytambo. The ruins are so impressive and so energetic. Although, there were quite a few people having problems breathing at that height, my girlfriend and I were cruising up and down exploring every corner we could. Of course, I was snapping pictures like crazy! This place was for me even more amazing to walk/climb/hike than it was the first time – 20 years ago. The next day, we went to Patacancha. It was quite a ride to get up there, but it was so worth it. We visited a textile community named Awamaki, where not only they hand make beautiful textiles, but you can learn from them how to do it as well. The people living there are so greatful with visitors and also enjoyed me been there to take some images. Enjoy the pictures!

An evening with the Walters

Weddings are few and far between in the winter months. So with a little extra time on my hands, I traveled to Virginia for a family shoot with the Walters family. Mom, Randi, celebrated a birthday the very next day and this was what she asked for as a birthday present. She wanted to document this special moment in time before her two girls are off to college. So we spent a couple of hours making the most of the winter light. It was a chlly afternoon, but we all had so much fun that we (almost!) forgot about the cold. I even made sure the family dogs got in on the shoot. (And as an added plus, Randi now has plenty of photos to choose from for gifts and Christmas cards!)