Cusco, Peru Sunday 27APR03 7:00pm
Today we visited the Sacred Valley between Cusco and Machu Picchu.
Woke up early to get prepared for the day, as our tour would be all day long. Since we had to filter a lot of water to last the whole day, we were a little late in getting downstairs to the lobby to meet our guide. We were supposed to be in the lobby at 8:15am, but didn't get there until around 8:25. No one was waiting for us and I was a little worried that we missed the tour. Neither of the people who run the front desk speak any English, and as we speak no Spanish, trying to communication to them that we needed to get ahold of our tour guides proved a little difficult. They tried a few of the numbers on the itinerary provided but were not able to get a hold of anyone. Finally the gentleman behind the desk asked us to follow him and he would take us to our bus. It seems there is a general meeting place in the Plaza de Armas where most of the tours leave. Only steps outside of our hotel, we met up with our tour guide. WHEW! I was a little worried we had missed the whole tour!
Once we were on the bus and all the passengers were picked up, we were off...
The first stop was at the highest point on our tour...between Cusco and Pisac. We snapped a few pictures and hopped back on the bus. Everywhere we stopped, there were locals selling weavings, dolls, musical instruments, local wares. It is nice to see them and we appreciate the work, but they are incessent! Telling them "No, gracias" never seems to be enough.
Our next stop was the villiage of Pisac. Here we hit the local market that is held on Sundays. There were SO many people and more vendors than we had a chance to see. We bought a couple of weavings and a carving for great deals! Back onto the bus, onto the next stop...
Next we stopped at Calca for lunch. You can see one of the photos of us after a wonderful full service buffet.
All along the way we followed the Urubamba river. Many people raft on this river and it is a main source of water, catfish for the locals and water for the crops. The main crops are corn (maize) and potatos. They have over 300 varieties of potatos and several varieties of corn (every color of the rainbow). From what our tour guide told us, the larger potatoes and corn grow near the tops of the mountains and the smaller varieties grow nearer the river. Beautiful!
Next onto Ollantaytambo...this was a former temple to the native gods. The Inca stonework was amazing. The masterful way they carved the stones and placed them without mortar is amazing. Just to touch them makes one wonder. The trapezoidal windows and doorways were a way to prevent the structures from falling during earthquakes. Apparently Peru has a lot of earthquakes! You can see another picture of Jim and I on the ruins.
The next stop we made was to see how the locals make corn beer and to see the cuy! Do you remember what cuy is?? It's guinea pigs!! You can see another picture of how the cuy are raised...watch out for a stampede!!
Our last stop was at Chinchero, another place where the Inca and local people used terraces to farm and as a gathering place for large meetings. The Spanish destroyed much of the Inca stonework, and built Catholic churhes over the same locations. In some places you can see the Inca stonework at the bottom and the Spanish churches above.
It was a great day! The weather has been fantastic! We both got a little sun today. Tomorrow we begin our four day hike to Machu Picchu and will not have access to update again until Thursday night or Friday.
We hope this finds all of you in good health!!
Jim and Amanda:)