Rainbow Mountain

While the Rainbow Mountain in Peru doesn’t compare to the Danxia Landform Geological Park in China they are still stunning. At 17,060 feet I think this was the highest place we went to…and we hiked almost an hour from the parking lot to get there! Slow but steady, no problems, thankfully.

Some people get up in the middle of the night and ride to the base of the mountain and hike up it. We chose to ride to the nearest parking area to the mountain which is about 3 hours from Cusco. As we rode to the park, we passed a roadside stand that the bus stopped at and a few people bought snacks.

The colors come from goethite or oxidized limonite (a brownish coloration), the bright yellow color may be due to iron sulphide, andĀ  chlorite or copper make the green color.

Some people had gathered rocks and made a couple of carens to celebrate their getting to the mountain or perhaps for more spiritual reasons.

It is windy and cold that high (and rain threatened not far away) but the indigenous man and woman we saw wore sandals with no socks. When I asked the man about it, he said he didn’t have the time or money to go to town to get better shoes and socks.

The woman who ran the rest room by the parking lot (complete with water!), told me she had on 6 or 7 layers of clothes, including 3 skirts, a slip, and leggings. The skirt was a heavier, coarser material than I had expected. I won’t say she was warm but she didn’t seem unduly uncomfortable.A few people chose to go to the nearby higher formation but Dan and I passed on that. Not a lot higher but maybe another 100 feet or so.


Trains in Peru

Peru rail from Cusco to Puno

There are two main train companies in Peru, Inca Rail and Peru Rail. Both are clean, comfortable and modern. Of course there are varying levels of service and amenities. The relatively short train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (about 1 1/2 hours) goes through some lush, beautiful areas, often along the river.

The longer train from Cusco to Puno (Lake Titicaca) goes through a long valley for 10-12 hours. It is scenic in a different way however to break up the monotony, they have some staff play music, do local dances, and have a fashion show (merchandise for sale, of course!). The food was excellent on this train and you have white table clothes, wine, etc.

While trains are more expensive than buses, they are faster and more comfortable and still relatively affordable. The train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes was under $200 each way for the two of us and from Cusco to Puno, $450 for the two of us, including meals and entertainment.

The trip to Aguas Calientes is much lusher and (IMHO) more beautiful but we enjoyed the trip to Puno as well.

Panama Hat Factory

As part of our city tour, we went to a Panama hat factory. This was much more interesting than I would have expected.

Leaves are harvested
Boiling leaves

Long leaves are picked and rolled a little to curl them. Then they are boiled and then dried and dyed. There are a lot of colors that they use.

Once the leaves are dried again, they are woven by hand into the shape for the hat. Cheap hats start at $35 at the factory, much more other places, although there are vendors on the street that offer them for less…and you can even watch them working on a hat.

More expensive hats use smaller “threads” of leaves to weave so that they are softer and have a more finished look.

Weaving finished, needs trimming, washing, drying, shaping, and hat band.
One machine for shaping; you can see shapes on the shelves.

Once the hat is woven and trimmed, it is washed in large vats and then dried. Then there are a number of steps to shape the brim and head part with steam.

Hat bands are added in this room.

The final step is to add the hat band.

This same process is used for bags and even clothing. Here is a wedding dressĀ  and flowers which were made in the same way.

Many famous people wear hats from this factory including Madonna, Morgan Freeman, Johnny Depp, and others. (Sorry the pictures aren’t very good.)


Clothes in store window

I have no idea what the current hair and clothes fashions are in the USA but I can tell you that the torn jeans and tops with lots of straps or off the shoulder tops are popular with women in Colombia. And the torn jeans are popular with the men as well.

I don’t have really good pictures because I didn’t want to be too obvious when I took them but I am sure that at least for the jeans, you know what I am talking about.

Lots of straps and bra back shows; this is common

And for the tops, the more straps, the better it seems. It doesn’t matter if the bra straps or backs show.

I think of the off the shoulder tops as very Latin anyway but sometimes I’m chilly and I can’t imagine how the women in the tops must feel.

If Dan hadn’t gotten his jeans so dirty, he could have sold his torn jeans! These are someone I took on the street.

As for as hair, most women have long hair. They leave it down or pull it into a pony tail or wrap it up in a bun. It must bug them some because I frequently see the women doing something with their hair: braiding it, unbraiding it, putting it in a pony tail or bun or taking it down. Little girls often have the nicest French braids.

Men are generally clean shaven and generally have short hair. A few have mustaches and even fewer have beards.

I call this a wide Mohawk. In smaller towns, the top of the hair would be relatively short but the sides/back would be as short as the sides are on these guys.

In smaller towns, the sides are so short that they are almost shaved. In Manizales, young men and teens often had what I would call a wide Mohawk.

One funny thing happened as I boarded a bus a while back. There are button on the back pockets of my pants and as I passed by this woman who had her hair down, her hair got tangled in my button. I’m sure it wasn’t comfortable for her but I couldn’t do anything because it was behind me. Someone helped untangle her hair from the button and eventually she pulled the hair into a pony tail if I remember correctly.

Men, especially teens and early twenties, tend to wear their hair very short, especially on the sides. In Manizales, we saw a lot of “wide Mohawk” cuts. The sides were cut very short but the center, front to back, of the hair was longer.