Saturday, November 28, 2009

Peru: The Sacred Valley and Cuzco

Our last adventure in Peru was a tour of the Sacred Valley which is not too far from Cuzco. We set out with a small group of others in a van to drive to the Sacred Valley and tour various sites for the day. We stopped at a couple of scenic overlooks on the way:

Then we stopped for a brief time at the bustling market at Pisaq. We went on a Tuesday, but the market is much bigger on Sundays. I posted some more pictures of the Pisaq market in a previous post so I'll just add a few here:

The white flowers indicate that these girls are unmarried (of course)

empanadas fresh from the oven

Caleb enjoying an empanada and watching cuy (Guinea pigs)


From Pisaq we continued on to Ollantaytambo to climb the ruins.

Ancient pre-Inca storehouses high on the side of the mountain.


modern village mixed with ancient ruins in Ollantaytambo

Temple of the Moon at Ollantaytambo

huge pre-Incan stone walls at Ollantaytambo


family of ducks in the water channel that provided great entertainment

After Ollantaytambo we stopped for lunch in Urubamba. We decided to skip the buffet lunch on the advice of our tour director and opted for snacks in the plaza.

We were highly entertained by pictures made in the cobbles on the sidewalks along the plaza. We went from panel to panel trying to identify each thing. The one above is the sun, but there were many, many motifs.

tree in the center of the plaza in Urubamba

snacks we purchased at a small bodega--coke with real cane sugar instead of corn syrup (much tastier) and a bag with mixed potato chips, Cheetos, pretzels and spicy cheese crackers--quite a yummy combo.

From there we made our way to Chinchero to tour the old church with beautiful old frescos and spent a few minutes at the local market. Chinchero was really our favorite market because many of the craftspeople were selling there own items and demonstrating their skills in person.


The next day was our final day in Peru. We walked around Cuzco in the morning and found an interesting textile market and museum (below) and several small museums which were on our Boleto Turistico (tourist ticket) that we had already paid for.

Caleb purchased birdseed from a lady and fed the palomas

In the afternoon we collected our luggage and were transferred by our tour agency to the airport and helped through the somewhat complicated check through procedure. We flew to Lima and then on home.

We had a fantastic trip! Read back through our posts for all of our adventures over our two weeks in Peru.

Copyright 2009 text and photos. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Black Friday / Cyber Monday SALE!

Yes, it's true. I am having a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale with savings of 10-15% Starting Thanksgiving Day and running through Monday night. This INCLUDES items that are already on sale!

Receive 10% off of ANY purchase by using the Code: THANKS10 at checkout.

-- On my website type the code into the Promotional Code box at checkout and you'll automatically receive the discount. If you are using this opportunity to redeem a gift certificate, please contact me--my shopping cart will only take one code at a time, but I'll be happy to refund the difference. --

-- If you are shopping at my Etsy store, type the code in the "Message to Seller" box at checkout and I will refund the 10% to you via Paypal (Etsy does not accept discount codes). --

And how do you get 15% off?

Order $40 or more and use the code: THANKS15

-- follow the same directions as above --

And remember I always send a small FREE GIFT with any purchase over $50.

Any purchase over $100 always receives a free upgrade to Priority Shipping (choose the First Class Mail shipping and I will automatically upgrade you--this will not be reflected in the receipt at checkout).

You will find items in both my ON-LINE STORE and in my ETSY STORE. If you would like items from both stores, I can move items from one store to the other and reserve them for your convenience. Contact Me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Last Give-a-way of the year!

Some of you know that a few times a year I like to have a give-a-way to thank all my newsletter subscribers. My subscribers are ALWAYS my preferred customers! Once you subscribe you are automatically entered for all give-a-ways. You do not need to do anything else.

If you aren't already a subscriber, sign-up now to be entered in my last give-a-way of the year. I will be giving away another $20 gift certificate! And I might even find a nice prize for a second winner . . . ☺

To subscribe, visit the Newsletter page on my website. You may unsubscribe at any time using the automated opt-out system. I send out a newsletter about once every two months and I will not share your information with anyone.

NOTE: This is not a drawing from my blog followers or Facebook fans. This is for my newsletter subscribers ONLY.

Sign-up now and be among the first to find out about my secret Black Friday/Cyber Monday SALE!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009


This very special Swarovski crystal snowflake ornament is on SALE this week only. Made from a large Swarovski snowflake, and a hand-strung hanging loop of Swarovski crystal beads with a sterling silver bail. This will sparkle on your tree.

What a perfect gift for the person who has everything!

Was $18. This week only $14.

Find it at or in my Etsy Store along with other jewelry-quality ornaments that I have designed.

Thanks, Sue

Monday, November 9, 2009


This week simple button/semi-round, freshwater pearl bracelets are on SALE on my website. They are normally $23.50 to $29. This week they are only $19.50. If you need a different length, type of clasp, or color, I would be happy to make a custom order for you.

traditionally hand-knotted by me on a double strand of silk

price includes your choice of a magnetic, lobster claw or traditional filigree fish clasp

colors include natural white, pink, mauve, peach or dyed green or gold pearls upon request

If you prefer to purchase from my Etsy store on-line, I'd be happy to make a custom reserved listing for you--contact me.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Peru: Last Day at Aguas Calientes

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we should have spent only one night at Aguas Calientes and taken the late train back to Cuzco from Machu Picchu instead of staying the second night. We scheduled two nights because we wanted to spend every minute of the second day at Machu Picchu and not have to worry about catching the train. And that's what we did. However, trains only return to Cuzco in the afternoons so we were stuck in Aguas Calientes for another day. As I noted before, there is really nothing in Aguas Calientes that anyone needs to see. Tickets for Machu Picchu and the bus are expensive and we had explored the site fairly extensively already so we didn't return for the third day. Also, Dan woke up a little bit sick and wasn't up for too much adventure.

Caleb and a puma in the main plaza in Aguas Calientes

What we ended up doing was walking along the river walk down to the site museum that the guidebooks all recommend. It is near the bridge that crosses the river along the bus road and is within walking distance of town. Unfortunately, the museum was inexplicably closed during hours they were supposed to be open. Since service all over Aguas Calientes was just as poor, this didn't surprise us.

Urubamba river from Aguas Calientes

flowers along the river walk

While we were down near the bridge, we walked over to a small butterfly enclosure and the one lady working there gave us a nice tour. The whole thing only took 10 minutes, so it's not something that you should go out of your way to do, but it was fun for Caleb.

Caleb holding a caterpillar

lady at the butterfly enclosure showing us one of the butterflies

From there we crossed over to the other side of the bus road and followed the railroad tracks and some ambiguous signs through the jungle towards a botanical gardens and waterfalls (cataratas). The small University botanical garden was not too far up the track and it was a guided tour that lasted about 15 minutes and cost about $3 each, then you can stay and explore on your own. It was very nice. They had many varieties of orchids and other plants and Dan took a lot of photos. It would have been smart to have put some bug spray on as we were getting lots of bites here.

We did not continue on to the waterfall as Dan wasn't up to it. We walked back to town, got some snacks at a bodega, sat on benches along the river and ate lunch.

After lunch we walked around the small town a bit and did some shopping. The only thing we bought was a piece of Machu Picchu serpentine rock that was sphere shaped and polished that Dan was able to get a good price for. In general, Aguas Calientes is NOT a good place for shopping. The quality of the products is poor and I saw a lot of Chinese import stuff they were trying to pass off as Peruvian and it was all overpriced. Most of the weavings are made from poor quality acrylic yarn with synthetic dyes instead of the beautiful, hand-dyed sheep wool and alpaca weavings you can find elsewhere. There's a market full of stalls by the train station, but I don't recommend it for anything except killing time. I think it is the way it is because they tend to sell things to tourist who are doing a whirlwind South American tour and are only in Peru for a couple of days just to see Machu Picchu.

I'll be doing a post on shopping in Peru soon, so check back.

We caught our train after having to rush back to the hotel for our bags since they didn't deliver them to the train station as promised (we sort of expected that) and made an early evening journey back to Cuzco to our nice hotel there.

Our last excursion in Peru was a trip to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and I'll be writing about that soon too.

Copyright 2009 text and photos. All rights reserved.

Peru: Shopping

One of the side benefits of going to Peru is getting to go shopping. It's a lot of fun. When we were there the Nuevo Sol traded for about three soles per U.S. dollar.

We thought we'd done quite a bit of shopping, but when we added everything up for US Customs we realized we hadn't really spent much. Of course, sometimes it seems like work to shop when you have to haggle in the marketplaces.

I sure wish that I had purchased more of the fine, intricate weavings on the Island of Taquile or some of the other places we visited.

lovely vendor in Arequipa who we bought hats from

Where do you shop in Peru? EVERYWHERE. You don't even have to go shopping. Sometimes the shopping comes to you. Musicians in restaurants will want to sell you their CDs, ladies will try to sell you sweaters in the streets, artists will hound you to look at their portfolios in the plazas and at every pull off on the road there might be vendors with their wares spread out on a blanket.

vendors on the road from Arequipa to Chivay

Various items that old ladies managed to talk Dan into buying--he's such a pushover. Some of these will decorate our Christmas tree.

beautiful girl at a roadside scenic overlook near Chivay--I purchased an ocarina from her

Above: hand-guided machine embroidered items I bought beside the road from the lady who made them in Colca Canyon. They depict the huge humming birds and the condors we had just seen that morning.

Uros Islands

Uros Islands--the little one will be a Christmas decoration

Jewelry co-op near Sicuani

Raqchi Tambo




The following pictures are from Pisaq which is known for it's colorful market:


Ollantaytambo--these girls followed Dan all the way to the vehicle trying to get him to buy

I think that Chinchero was our favorite market. We were only there for a few minutes. We actually went to see the highly decorated church, but we were able to quickly purchase a couple of calabazas from this man below and a woven belt from the lady in the next photo as well as one other weaving. All were purchased directly from the craftsperson--the best way to buy in Peru!



We didn't do much shopping in Cuzco, but we did find this very interesting textile co-op that had a great small museum with it.



Copyright 2009 text and photos. All rights reserved.