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Asha Ray – Latin America Diaries

First Stop, Peru.

Foreword: My friend Asha told me about an idea to present the travel photographs with writing about her 3 and a half month trip through Latin America. She visited 5 countries and documented it all with her film camera and notebooks. This series will document each country she visited with the photos she took and the things that stood out to her. – Milo

Words – Asha Ray

Photography – Asha Ray

Prior to my journey around several Latin American countries (Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Cuba) I had decided that I was going to document my travels in a way that left me with a solid product; I took advice from my father and invested in my now beloved Contax TVS II 35mm point-and-shoot.

I think it is important not to lose touch with the physicality of printed photos; the thought that goes into each shot is a contrast to the fast, ‘might as well’ iPhone snaps that end up in a bank of endless collections which sometimes are forgotten.

Throughout this series I captured what I like to call, “tones of Latin America”. In the colourful cities I came across during my travels, this little camera proved a great asset; colours are contrasted against each other and the film seemed almost to seek out the splashes of pigment within a frame and enhance them.

Through the observation of life half-way across the world, a snapshot of Hispanic culture is encapsulated, with a focus on radiant architecture, dramatic landscapes and the masses of interesting people I met.



Regal dogs on doorsteps Barranco, Lima


We arrived and stayed in Barranco district: it’s a hip, up-and-coming but cute and authentic part of Lima. I fell in love with it the most out of everywhere I visited during my time in Peru. There was a stark contrast to the very developed areas; full of high-rise offices and commercial buildings that form the center of town, Miraflores.

Here are some things I recommend doing in Peru:

Visit a botanical cactus garden cafe: there’s good coffee and benches that are shaded by luscious trees, Cafe Bisetti is lovely. Try Pisco sours. You can get them from almost anywhere. They’re cheap, sweet and sour. Visit Mario Testino’s old house and exhibition called MATE: I would definitely recommend, it puts the artist’s work in a perspective personal to him, being Peruvian. His collection ‘Alta Moda’ is a series of portraits depicting local Peruvians from the mountain regions of Cusco, wearing vibrant traditional festival attire.

One of the best bakeries down the road from MATE: La Panneteria hand-makes tasty savoury sandwiches as well as good coffee and sweet pastries. Burgers: South America has some of the best, definitely worth a try.

Pastel popping coloured walls: I had glimpses of this on other travels before I arrived but staying in Barranco sparked my love for beautifully coloured walls. This trip has taught me to seek out a city’s architecture. You will notice if you’re looking, it’s not hard because every corner you turn brings an antiquated, short-story building that could be ordinary, but is splashed with life; leaving vibrant hues that linger in your peripheral vision.


Pretty and abandoned on a street corner Barranco, Lima

Ceviche was recommended by a Colombian friend of mine. Soft white fish is cooked in fresh lime juice, the acid changes the structure of the proteins in fish and essentially cooks it, turning from translucent pink to opaque white. It is served with giant corn, sweet potato and red onions. Try Canta Rana in Barranco; very authentic Peruvian, simple but skilfully crafted by locals for locals.

Chloe in Bissetti Barranco, Lima





























The first building that sparked my interest in the coloured buildings scattered around Lima.  Barranco District, Lima.

Huacachina, Peru














Sand dunes. Huacachina, Peru.

We looked out of the bus windows onto endless sand dunes; glancing ahead intermittently only to realise you are driving along one precarious road edging on a pile of golden sand, the sea on the other side, is quite a different kind of commute.

Huacachina is an unusual mini oasis, amongst the sand dunes. It consists of a lagoon and small town at the bottom pit of two caving dunes. I found the switch from city to desert extremely paradoxical.

The fruits of Peru.

Lúcuma: resemblance to a honeyed sweet potato. Only found in Peru and occasionally Bolivia or Costa Rica. Peruvians seem to like using it in ice cream. Granadillas: giant passion fruit, much sweeter. Avocados to your hearts content, perfectly ripe and ready.


Refuelling: Dune Buggy. Huacachina, Peru.

Cusco, Peru

I found Cusco enchanting. In markets, absolutely everything is sold. From a man holding a bouquet of bottle sprayer tops as a bouquet of flowers, to the boy selling real alpaca jumpers and Peruvian striped trousers. We tried to seek out the gems. Chicken noodle soup from a family run market stall was served in an antique patterned bowl from their own home, with unsystematic spoons for each customer. It was real authentic cooking.

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Miscellaneous Markets: Chicken noodle soup sharersCusco, Peru

Some of the highlights were mountain biking down the hills of Cusco, and seeing baby llama ‘madres’ carry baby llamas in a sack on their front. We also had our favourite burger in South America from a restaurant called Fuego there. We actually went back twice in the 3 days we visited.The trek along the train tracks to reach Aquas Calientes, the nearest town to Machupicchu was also incredible; the journey displayed unreal scenery.

cnv00072Mountain highway, snow topped mountains. Santa Teresa, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

The journey to Santa Teresa, a tiny town half-way to Aguas Calientes with just one place serving food, one shop and one small bar, included some very nonchalant driving along the edge of cliffs of mountains, as rubble crumbled down the packed dirt wall an arms-length from your car window. We couldn’t see the road we were meant to be driving along but the lovely man driving felt at home, chatting away on the phone in Spanish… discussing football.

The trek along the train tracks amongst mountainous forest to reach Aguas Calientes, the nearest town to Machu Picchu, was green and sublime; the journey displayed unreal landscape.

Once atop the Incan citadel set high up in the Andes Mountains, being within an arms-length from free roaming llamas was probably the highlight along with the breathtaking views. The abundance of tourists past 10am taking selfies with the llamas was not. I admit we did partake once, but that’s not the point.

On the other hand, being within an arms-length from free roaming llamas was probably the highlight. The abundance of tourists past 10am taking selfies with them was not. I must admit we did partake, but that’s not the point.

cnv00071Health and safety priorities on the mountain: Jair takes a break. Aguas Calientes, Peru


The Peaks At 10am. Machu Piccu, Peru.


Llamas in the clouds. Machu Piccu, Peru.


Pathways. Machu Piccu.