Kim MacQuarrie’s Peru & South America Blog

A Visit to La Catedral, Pablo Escobar’s Prison, Part II

posted on November 22nd, 2015 in Andes Mountains, Colombia, Pablo Escobar

death of Pablo Escobar by Botero

The Death of Pablo Escobar, by Fernando Botero

From my travel journal: Medellín, Antioquia:

Pablo [Ochoa] and I arrive on the dirt road finally at the cluster of buildings that used to house Pablo Escobar, his brother and other Medellin Cartel associates. But the road to the buildings is blocked by an empty kiosk and a gate with a chain lock. No one is manning the kiosk. So we drive further up the hill to a cluster of new buildings, that lie above the prison. The buildings are part of a Benedictine Monastery that was built about five years ago and we part before a small, A-frame chapel built of wood. From inside comes music in form of Gregorian chants. Far below us, in glimpses through the clouds, rise the pink skyscrapers of El Poblado, a wealthy suburb of Medellin.

Inside, the chapel is empty, the music turns out to be a recording and there are wooden pew benches. On a wall is a statue of Christ, surrounded by pictures of the stations of the cross. A 40ish man approaches us. He’s a bit lean and gaunt and tells us he a priest. He offers to give us a tour but not before another cab arrives and a shirtless man gets out, covered in tattoos, makes his way inside, and kneels at a pew. He looks like a gangster and has traveled all of the way up the mountainside to pray. (more…)


Kon Tiki 2 Rafts Set Sail from Peru for Easter Island

posted on November 1st, 2015 in Kon Tiki Raft Voyage

Kon Tiki 2 Raft Voyage

The Kon Tiki 2 prepares for its maiden voyage in the port of Callao (Lima), Peru

Kon-Tiki Expedition Raft Trip Revived with Trip to Easter Island

Oct 29, 2015

El Comercio

(Translated by Kim MacQuarrie)

(Note: I met Thor Heyerdahl in 1988 up in Tucume, in northern Peru, as he was excavating among the Moche pyramids. I spent about three days helping him to clear the site and he was a very gracious host. One of the chapters in my forthcoming book, Life and Death in the Andes, addresses Heyerdahl’s voyages and theories and also chronicles my search for the reed boat builder who built Heyerdahl’s rafts for his Ra Expeditions. I found him still alive and well, 82-years-old, and living in a village alongside Lake Titicaca. I also investigate whether Heyerdahl’s migration theories were ever substantiated. Much has been learned since his 1947 raft trip from Peru to the Marquesas Islands).

Enthusiasm reigns among the members of the Kon Tiki II, an expedition consisting of two rafts bound for Easter Island from [the port of] Callao early next month. The crew of 14 hails from Peru, Norway, New Zealand, England, Russia, Chile and three other nations and emulates the modes of navigation used by the ancient Peruvians.



Spanish Team Discovers Lost Ruins of Inca Guerrillas

posted on October 24th, 2015 in Andes Mountains, Incas, Recent Discoveries

Vilcabamba Ruins

Map of the Inca Empire and location of discovery

A team of Spanish explorers and scientists, using satellite imagery, discovered in mid-September a previously unknown Inca site some 150 miles north of Cusco. Using computer imaging software, the expedition reached a mountain top and discovered some 50 structures and an Incan cemetery complete with skeletal remains. In addition, near the summit, the team discovered structures that resemble those involved in human sacrifice, or capacocha, found elsewhere in the Andes. According to the team, it’s possible that the site was used by Incas after the initial conquest of the Inca Empire by Francisco Pizarro, during the period of nearly forty years when a rump empire of Inca guerrillas existed in the Vilcabamba area. In 1572, the Spaniards invaded Vilcabamba, captured the final Inca emperor, and beheaded him in the main square in Cusco.