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
The Falkland Islands: Our Perceptions of the Islands.

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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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email: Harold@mcneillifestories.com)

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.