Another pastel from one of our Peruvian train trips. Unlike the UK where rail tracks are fenced off, people sit, play and trade by the railway. After the train passes over some bridges you see heads popping up as they get back to the business of jumping into the river below.

In Juliaca in Peru there was a market which spread onto the railtracks. As the train came along, stalls were moved and stock was piled between the track for the train to pass over. Once the train was gone the stalls were restored for trading to continue.

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This was from a photo snatched as we drove through the central square at Ollantaytambo in the Incan Sacred Valley in Peru. There  are Incan remains of a fortress amongst other things at one end of the village but the modern village also has facets of Incan architecture, even a pavement which incorporates a watercourse. The place looked fascinating and I wanted to wander through the streets, but we had spent too much time at the fortress and didn’t have time. I simplified the background and rearranged the dog, but the rest was as the camera caught them.

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South to Puno on Lake Titicaca near the Bolivian border. The Uros  developed a system of floating islands to avoid hostile tribes. You can visit them and they are  supported by the Peruvian government as a tourist attraction. The modern Uros have solar panels on their reed huts, floating schools and community centres . Though the school didn’t look like it had been  made of reeds. These huts I have painted were a mock up in the hotel grounds, but I liked the juxtaposition of them against modern Puno in the background.


After visiting the Uros we went further out into the lake and landed on the Island of Taquile. Here the indigenous people follow the old Inca Creed and run their own tourist regime. I managed this just before lunch. I liked the red corrugated roofs against the blue of the lakes with some of the snow capped Bolivian mountains in the background.

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Cusco in Peru was once the centre of the Inca empire until 200 or so Spanish arrived and stripped them of all their gold in return for a strong dose of Christianity. In the process they took apart the Inca palaces in Cusco and built their own architecture on top of the Incan buildings. When the earthquakes eventually arrived the Spanish buildings fell down but the Incan buildings (or what remained of them prevailed)

Despite all this the centre of  Cusco is lovely with mixed  architecture, cobbled streets  and lovely squares. This is a corner of the main square with the Spanish arcades running around the outside. You can sit and watch the comings and goings in the main square from the bars and restaurants on the first floor of the buildings.


This is one of the smaller squares in the artist’s quarter. I sat on a bench and painted these guys who I thought were chewing the fat around a very dry fountain. As I worked I realised that each of them were selling something and had their goods laid out around the area. Someone even came around to sell me a painting.

Paintings rather than these rough sketches are on my website: grahammcquadefine



There are four and five day hikes to Machu  Picchu, but my arthritic hip could only take a day’s hike up a thousand metres from the sacred river, along a few miles of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. When I got to the Sun Gate after eight hours the sun was shining and I paused for half an hour to do a water colour sketch.

All along the route there are Inca remains and here is another one called Winay Wayna which seems to be more of a farming settlement with terraces for growing crops, clinging on to the almost vertical slope to the river below. Whilst lunch was being eaten I managed another sketch.


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The little boats dodge the floating tree-trucks as they seem to hurtle down the river carried by the current. It’s still the rainy season and the mud filled river is bloated.


Unfortunately the Macaw wasn’t wild. It was the pet of an old man who lived in a small farm up along the river. The old man said he was 94 but was it 49 and a hard life? He lived alone; his wife and son had died. The son was killed by a venomous snake which bit him whilst he was harvesting Brazil nuts.

I was told that the macaw’s beak could easily break a finger if you were incautious enough to let it get near to your hand.


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