Peru: Sacred Valley including Pisac, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo
We had another restless night but it's the altitude that makes sleeping difficult sometimes. We had our breakfast (yes same as the previous days) and were ready for the driver at 7:50am. Today was a long day - 8:00am-7:00pm. We boarded the bus at 8:00am but did not actually get out of the city for another 90 minutes because we were picking up more passengers and there were huge amounts of construction on the roads.
Our first stop today was at the top of a mountain to take a picture of the Rio Urubamba (River) (also known as the Rio Vilcanota and also known as Rio Vilcamayu) also known as Sacred River. It's the same river but depending on which region it runs through, it changes names and depending on which language Quechua or Spanish, it has different names. This is the same river that passes through Aguas Calientes where the Rio Aguas Calientes connects and it's the same river that runs along the train tracks to Machu Picchu.
Soon after, we arrived at Pisac and saw a demonstration of jewellry making using silver and different stones and shells like abalone. The vendors are very clever. They walk you through a narrow passageway to get to the demonstration area and when you are done and ready to leave, the passageway is closed and you have no choice but to walk through the jewellry store and of course a market with many vendors selling the same things. I have to say again though, they are not aggressive at all. If you say no, they'll offer it at a lesser price but they won't be upset if you don't buy. I've travelled to other places including India where they're rude and angry and will run you down if you don't buy something.
The bus was waiting for us right beside a traditional bakery and of course we all bought pan (bread) and empanadas. Fabiola, I know your mom makes great empanadas but these ones here are some of the best I have tasted and I have tasted them in parts of Chile as well. They make them here with corn, quinoa and regular flour and the have sweet ones with fruits or savoury ones with chicken, meat, cheese or veggies. They are like a pizza pocket but way better (I've never actually eaten a pizza pocket so I am guessing here) or for some of you who like Middle Eastern, they are like donairs. The smell of fresh bread is not to be resisted and baking it in a traditional clay oven makes for a very delicious and unusual flavour so we all walked into the bus with something to eat.
We then went to the area that the guide wanted us to see. There were Inca Ruins at the top of the hill and similar terraces like we saw in other places that the Incas used to cultivate over 17 varieties of corn. Some of the terraces are still being cultivated the same way but most of them are now being preserved as historical sites. We also saw the top of the ruins that had similar gables as those in Machu Picchu. And there was the cemetery like none I have even seen. Not that I have a thing for cemeteries (considering that I go for a walk every day with my walking partner Barb) but these are highly unusual. They are holes in the mountain. They are no longer open to the public because of grave robbers.
|Peruvian woman and her baby|
After Ollantaytambo, we headed for Chinchero to see how traditional weaving is done (same as yesterday). We were served Munya tea which is a Peruvian wild mint tea good for altitude sickness.
Another interesting observation: Many houses seem to be unfinished but for those that are finished, there is a cross and two ceramic bulls at the top. Apparently, the cross symbolizes that the owner is Catholic and the two bulls are for good luck given by the God Father to the owner of the home. That way, the owner will always be prosperous. I wonder if the God Father (in the movie) has a falling out with his godson if he'll pull a God Father stunt a la Marlon Brando? Okay maybe that wasn't so funny.
Back to Llipimpac Guest house for a well deserved rest from the 12,000 foot elevation and very cold conditions at Chinchero. I'm going to sign off now and get ready for another eventful day tomorrow. We get picked up at 8:45am.