I just returned from a wonderful 10-day vacation trip to Peru with 13 other people (including my husband) plus a fabulous guide and I don’t know where to start to describe my impressions. It’s going to take a week to go through the 2400 pictures I took and complete the trip digest I write to distribute to the rest of the group. Maybe when that’s done I’ll be more organized in my thinking.
Right now it’s a jumble: awe at Machu Picchu and what the Incas accomplished; real appreciation for the current Andean culture; the conviction that I will never travel with any group other than Overseas Adventure Travel ever again (the trip was that good and our tour guide, Raul, was the best ever); mouth-watering memories of Peruvian food (ceviche, empanadas, chicharones, the different dishes made from some of the 2000 varieties of potato we sampled and, yes, guinea pig – a national delicacy). Lima is a modern, cosmopolitan city but with open Incan ruins, and with a major self-governing “slum” complete with soup kitchens and its own impressive city hall. The Andean mountains provide spectacular scenery along with the need to take everything slow because of the altitude. And I’ve finally discovered the right kind of luggage and way to pack so packing, unpacking and repacking are a piece of cake. Haleluia! From the sublime to the ridiculous.
As an artist, one of the things I noticed is what I’ll call Andean art. You see it in every market, in galleries, offered on the street by boys who each say his name is Pablo Picasso. Almost none of it is abstract. Most of it is a very stylized, representational depiction of Andean people in traditional garb and in traditional village settings, often with typical Inca large stone walls. In the Inka Museum in Cusco there was an art exhibition in a side gallery with about 70 paintings, mostly oils, one abstract. As I walked along the exhibit looking at the paintings I kept thinking that many of them were by the same artist. When I checked, however, they were each done by a different artist, but all in that Andean style (except for the abstract). It made me wonder if people would have thought Picasso and Braque were the same artist way back when.
I’m going back to my 2400 photos now, pulling out the ones that will be the basis of paintings to come. I did a couple of small abstract watercolor sketches yesterday based on one of the “cheap and cheerful markets” we visited (so named by Raul) just to get back into the swing of things. Not ready for prime time yet, but good practice since I didn’t have any time to paint while in Peru.