South America: A Long Day, A Hard Life

Written by Harold McNeill on March 14th, 2019. Posted in Travelogue, Adventure



A long day, a hard life.

A South American Adventure The introductory Post
Peru, A Different Perspective: Includes Slideshow
Peru and the Inca: Back to the Future Inca Agricultural Research

This post seeks to compare everyday life in rural and small-town Peru to our lives in Canada. While I think people in Peru are generally happy with their lives (in terms of family, friends, and neighbours), life does look to be far more difficult than in Canada. It makes me wonder why, in Canada, we seem to complain about the least little thing when our standard of living and level of privilege appears to be considerably higher than in Peru.

1. To what extent does luck play a role in our lives?

A man about my age (late 70s), pushed what looked to be a backbreaking load along a street in Aguas Calientes (I), the last small town before Machu Picchu. He stopped and leaned over breathing hard. After resting a few moments, he straightened, stretched, and with gritty determination grabbed the handles of his wheelbarrow and continued.

As we passed, our eyes met, he nodded and we smiled. While he was obviously weary, the smile and sparkling eyes suggested a happy man. As he continued along his uphill path, I continued down taking more photos of life in small-town Peru.  A few minutes later, I met another man pushing a similar barrow full of goods (photo in the footer), and he too wore a happy smile accented with sparkling eyes. We also exchanged smiles and passing nods. It looked to be a tough life for the two men their later years.

Later that day, while passing through another small town, a group of townspeople (photo taken from our bus as we drove through) was cleaning (or rebuilding) a drainage ditch. We are told by our guide that everyone in small towns sprinkled across rural Peru, have a standing obligation to help build, then keep public works systems clean and functioning.  It looked to be a tough way to spend the weekend, but there is also the aspect of a community working together to make life better for everyone.

This photo shows only one part of a large group of people spread over two or three blocks on the edge of their village. They were working to build or repair a drainage system, an essential part of these high mountain communities (we were outside Cuzco at about 12,500 feet at the time). 

The photo below, along with a slideshow) provides a glimpse of a group of women, ancestors of the Inca, who, with the help of a National Geographic grant, started a weaving business a few years back. They now have a thriving operation that caters to an increasing number of tourists passing through their village of Chinchero, a community of about 20,000 Quechua (catch ur ah) speakers, located on a 12,500 foot plateau a few miles northeast of Cuzco.

While they work exceptionally hard (by our standards at least), their efforts provide only a modest living for their families. A full outline of their business venture is described in a National Geographic article of some years back. Such is the working life for many ordinary men and women in Peru and other South American countries.

These women may work several weeks creating one table cloth or a day creating three or four little belts that are sold for $2.00 each.. They may sell one or two belts per day and a table runner every week or so. It may be weeks before they sell one of their intricately woven table cloths. Every part of the weaving process uses natural products of Peru including the dyes which are handmade on site. (Chinchero Cultural Centre)

WEAVERS SLIDESHOW

 

Think about this. If we were dealt different cards in life, we could be any one of these men or women, and they could be us.  Whether we carry a heavy load in the third world, or we lay back watching a big screen TV in Canada (a smartphone tucked by our side) a good part of the reason we are where we are, is based on the luck of our birth.

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Peru and the Inca: Back to the Future

Written by Harold McNeill on March 7th, 2019. Posted in Travelogue



Moray Archeological Site: These concentric rings, each raised by a height of four feet, reach a depth of 100 feet. The rings and partial rings create twenty-five distinct climatic conditions. This arrangement allowed the Inca, using scientific methods, to develop seed crops best suited to many different climatic conditions across the nation. (1)(2)

South America Post Links (these South America posts are not written in the order of travel)

A South American Adventure The introductory Post
Peru, A Different Perspective: Includes Slideshow
Peru and the Inca: Back to the Future Inca Agricultural Research

Back to the Future:  How the Inca Nation Lead the Way

There are many things to be learned by visiting civilizations past and it’s doubly so with the Inca Nation.  Although we only had seven days in Peru, it did not take long to realize just how influential the Inca people were, both in history and in the Peru of today.

In history, the Inca left behind cultural, religious and scientific legacies that continue to astound scientists, historians, and visitors to this very day. In the present day, and since the near-destruction of the nation in the 16th Century, ancestors of the Inca continue to rebuild the historical sights, traditions and religious practices which served their ancestors so well. It is a history about which our world can learn much.

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Peru, A Different Perspective

Written by Harold McNeill on March 1st, 2019. Posted in Travelogue


(Click to open to full size)
(A 12-minute slideshow can be linked in the footer)

This photo, taken while en route to Cusco, along with several others in the slideshow linked below, was taken through the windows of buses, trains, and aircraft as we traveled around Peru.  As you can see in the above photo, the rivers, roads, and towns very clearly come into view (click photo to open to full size)

Surprisingly, with a little touchup work to remove some of the reflections, the photos provide some insight into the travel challenges faced by Peruvians as they go about their daily lives. 

South America Post Links

A South American Adventure Introductory Post
Peru and the Inca: Back to the Future Inca Agricultural Research
South America: A Long Day, a Hard Iife  Comparisons to Canada

Peru, a view through the glass of planes, trains, and buses.

As we flew to Cusco, the religious centre of the Inka (original spelling) culture and the gateway to Machu Picchu, breaks in the clouds presented our first opportunity to view Peru from a 32,000-foot perspective.  The enhanced introductory photos that serve as the lead in this slideshow, reveal the rugged terrain where people most certainly live and work at the top of the world.  That world ranges from sea level to 16,700 feet.  Eight of the ten highest mines in the world are located in Peru, with the town of La Rinconada, 30,000 residents, sitting at the 16,700-foot level, the highest town in the world.

The majority of staple crops in Peru are cultivated from 1,000 meters (3200 feet) to 3,900 meters (almost 13,000 feet) with several hundred varieties of potatoes being developed and are shipped around the world. Quinoa, another staple of Peru, is grown from about 2,300 metres (7500 feet) to 3,900 metres (13,000 feet).

Maize, another principle crop, is commonly grown to the 3,500 meters (11,500 feet) in favourable conditions.  It was the ingenuity of the ancestors of the Peruvian people (the Inca’s and others) in developing crop strains that grew well under adverse conditions, that allowed them to feed the people with less than 2% of land in the country suitable for agricultural use.

The highest altitude in the Andes at which people have resided permanently is 17,100 feet (shepherds in southern Peru) and, as temporary workers, 18,500 to 19,000 feet (Carrasco Mine, in the Atacama Desert, Chile).”  (The Mountain People).

In several of the lead photos, you can discern the switchback network leading from one community to the next and when traveling by bus, we seldom covered more than a few kilometers with entering a network of switchbacks.  In one photo, I happened to capture an open pit mine and in another a dust cloud that appears to be from another mine.

Later, when travelling by bus, a perplexing question arose – why were so many towns completely devoid of people.  I’m not just talking about only a few people on the streets, often there was not a single a sole to be seen.  Perhaps everyone left for work before we arrived (late morning) and never came home until late in the afternoon (after we left)?

The daily life of the residents of Peru’s cities varies with social class. Relatively few of the poorer residents have good jobs within the formal Peruvian economy; often they must work two or three jobs, and they have less leisure time than other Peruvians. Such people make up the majority of the population in squatter settlements that surround the major urban areas.”  (Daily Life and Social Customs)

On landing in Cusco, we had our first taste of life at 11,500 feet, and after walking a short distance from the aircraft to the departure lounge, we begin to feel the effects. It would be good to have the next two days to acclimatize.

Video:  A View Through The Glass

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A South American Adventure

Written by Harold McNeill on November 9th, 2017. Posted in Travelogue, Adventure


South America

South America: From the Pampas of Argentina to the Peruvian Andes and
Machu Picchu: A tour of south central, South America
For a representative series of photos,  Link Here)
(Note: The Falklands Islands is included on the tour, but was not included in the above map – reference the photo series for a second map)   

Update:   February 25, 2019.  We are now back in Canada and the process of writing several short posts about our experience is underway.  The post will not be written in chronological order.  A list of links will be added here:

Peru, A Different Perspective: Includes 12-minute slideshow of photos taken through the windows of planes, trains, and automobiles.
Peru and the Inca: Back to the Future: Compares the science of the Inca to that taking place in the University of Victoria today.
South America: A Long Day, a Hard Life:  Comparisons between South America and Canada

Original 

Looking for something exciting to kick off the New Year in 2019? Yes? Well, we invite you to join Garth and Esther Dunn, Lynn and Harold McNeill and a host of like-minded adventurers on a 3-4 week air, sea, coach, and rail tour of south-central South America and the Falklands. Highlight – Machu Picchu!

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An African Adventure

Written by Harold McNeill on July 10th, 2017. Posted in Travelogue, Adventure


Nat-Geo-Journeys-Header-Botswana-Makora-640x224

An African Adventure/G Tours

NOTE:  Six albums of the tour photos of this adventure is now posted
on the McNeill Life Stories FB Page. One is yet to be posted.  A full post story will be added to this blog in January 2018.

Link Here to Photo Albums from Cape Town to Kruger, Karongwe
and Victoria Falls. One album yet to be posted.
Link: An African Adventure

Victoria, B.C.

One afternoon in late June, my cell phone rang.

“Hello.”

Hi, Harold, Garth here.” (Nonchalantly): “Hey buddy, you interested in an African adventure?”

(…thinking…sure Garth, what’s the catch? I thought we were all going Russia, right? St. Petersburg, remember?)

Garth (excited): “Guess what? I just won an all-expense paid trip for two compliments of the BC Lottery Corporation.

(…Wow…are you asking me if I want to go with you? Awesome, but what about Esther and Lynn? Don’t you think they might be a little upset? No kidding, you won again, you lucky bugger.)

Garth just wins these sorts of things. Not that long ago we were at a Rotary fundraiser in Sidney when Garth won an all-expense paid trip for two to Ireland. Am I surprised? Not one bit. Jealous? Perhaps a little, but hey, it’s inspiring, and it keeps these old bones moving.

Besides, Lynn and I were also winners that night in Sidney, as just when they were drawing Garth’s ticket for the Ireland trip, I received a cell call from the Victoria Humane Society telling me Lynn and I were approved to take that little Shih Tzu puppy we had our hearts set on.  It was Garth who tipped us off about that puppy.

He interrupted my thoughts: “Think you and Lynn can join us?

(…awe, not just me then… silly question. After so many shared adventures and so much fun traveling with the two of you, we couldn’t let you head out to deep dark Africa without us.  Remember we did the Middle East in the middle of a war.  So here we go again as this is obviously a Dunn Deal.

Harold: “For sure Garth, let’s look at the numbers. Have you told Esther?”

Garth:  “Not yet.

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters, Sidney

Written by Harold McNeill on January 8th, 2018. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Travelogue


P1020351

 Annual Awards Night Photos
Expedia CruiseshipCenters, Sidney
Saturday, January 6, 2018

A fun time for everyone at the McTavish Academy when Elaine Kirwin, owner/manager of the Sidney based agency, hosted her Annual Expedia CruiseshipCenters Awards Event. With Bronze, Gold, Silver, Platinum, Ruby and Diamond awards being handed out, there was plenty of buzz about the successes of 2017 and what’s in store for 2018. With two men now counted among the crew of twenty-five, it seems the reverse glass ceiling was finally breached.

Elaine (photo right) has much to be proud of, as over the last two decades she has built a skilledP1020347 team of Travel Professionals, and this has led to the agency receiving several Provincial and National Awards for Service Excellence and Achievement.

The awards include two National Awards, as well as being #1 in Western Canada for Uniworld Boutique River Cruises; and in the Top 3 in Western Canada, for the past five years, with Premier Ocean Cruises – Holland America and Celebrity;  and Scenic River Cruises. For a small agency, these are noteworthy achievements.

P1020364As part of the festivities, John Lovel (left), a representative with Emerald Cruise Lines, and Elaine handed out several gifts during the fun and games held after dinner. The competition for prizes was stiff with ties broken during the no holds barred, “rock, paper, scissors” playoffs.

Many thanks to Elaine, her daughter Katie and the catering team from the Airport Spitfire Grill for tasty appetizers, meal, fine wines, and cold beer.

A photo album of the evening’s events is linked here: Awards Night

Cheers,

Harold

Notes:   I didn’t manage to get a photo of everyone with their award. If you have a photo(s) you like me to add, please send by email to: lowerislandsoccer@shaw.ca or pass along to Lynn.  H.

You may link into other travel background stories posted by Harold and Lynn on our McNeill Life Stories Facebook Page.   The photo albums will usually provide a link to the background story.   H.

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Climate Change: Ground Zero

Written by Harold McNeill on January 19th, 2018. Posted in Travelogue, Adventure


Cape Drougt 1
Climate Change, Ground Zero: April 21, 2018
The day the taps will be turned off in Cape Town, South Africa.
(Photo album of Cape Town)
(Jan 28, 131)

As we arrive in Cape Town, South Africa, a Metropolitan area of 3.7 million, a large sign at our airport advised the city was experiencing a severe drought and while the sign urged us to Cape Town Signconserve, the welcoming nature of the sign did not impart the notion of just how critical the situation had become.

Photo: This was the sign. Perhaps a photo of the Cape Reservoir (above), along with a hard message might have had more impact of just how critical things are now, not years from now.

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The Rice Paddy

Written by Harold McNeill on November 24th, 2016. Posted in Travelogue


Boy in School3

Student at a Cambodian Country School (photo by Esther Dunn)

We had the good fortune to visit an elementary school in a remote area along one of the tributaries of the Mekong River, a place where welcoming and exuberant children could barely wait to demonstrate their English language skills. “What’s your name.” and “How old are you?” were the favourites, but that was just the opening of two hours of interaction with the students.

NOTE:  Three Videos of our time in Viet Nam and Cambodia are linked at the end of the story.   For those seeking more background of our travels with Uniworld, link here.  Regards  Harold and Lynn

Lynn and I spent part of our time with a ten-year-old boy (photo above) who appeared to be the oldest in the class. Although a bit shy, he focused intensely on getting the wording of his questions correct, then intently listened as we answered. Had he been born forty years earlier, he could well have been the boy featured in part of the story below.

Part I: Introduction to SE Asia and a Short Story from Cambodia

To gain an understanding of the progress the people of Indochina have made over the past 25 years, take a few minutes first to watch the three slideshows linked in the footer. While incredible natural and manmade beauty greet you at every turn; the happy, healthy and carefree people you see at school, work and play today, contrasts sharply with immense challenges the people faced from 1940 – 1990. Perhaps you are aware of these challenges and the progress made, but we weren’t and the more we learned, the more amazing it all became.

This series begins with a short, personal story which took place in Cambodia in the late 1980’s, a story of one boy’s quest to survive. His story was similar to that experienced by thousands of men, women and children whose lives were taken or shattered by war, genocide, starvation and disease. This story was related to us over several parts by our Cambodian guide and takes place during the height of Pol Pot’s campaign of genocide.

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold

  • Terrance

    January 5, 2019 |

    A VERY COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS. ALL POLITICIANS SHOULD READ THIS.

  • Harold McNeill

    December 23, 2018 |

    Thanks Sis. I will be uploading as Hi-Def so the photos can be viewed full screen. Brother