Thursday, November 23, 2017

What a Great Day! The Sacred Valley, Peru, November 22, 2017

I had just a great day, although it was a whirlwind trip.  I visited 3 of the 5 villages in 2014 but remember loving them so thought I'd go back.  

Our first stop was at Chinchero.  Waka Tetekaka is a sacred rock used by the Incas.  It's hard to see but there are stairs carved into the side-

There are 2 kinds of terraces: those that are poorly defined and ornamental ones like these that were used by nobility-

Iglesia Colonial de Chinchero is a colonial church built on Inca foundations-

Pictures are not allowed inside but I was able to sneak one before I got caught.  It's very well decorated and even has frescoes-

Our next stop was at a textile demonstration.  I could hardly understand a word this young girl said!  

Red dye for the alpaca/llama wool is made from parasites called cuchinilla-

that are the white spots found on all kinds of plants.  She picked a parasite off this cactus leaf and squished it on her hand and made that big red spot-

The root from the Saqta tree is used like soap to clean the oil from the wool-

Our next stop was Moray where there is a very deep amphitheatre that was used by the Incas as an experimental farm.  Each level had its own microclimate depending on its depth.  Coca was grown on the very bottom level and maize and quinoa were grown on other levels.  Over 3000 varieties of potatoes and 1000 varieties of corn were grown here-

The terraces were irrigated and the water flow lines are evident-

The average height of Inca men was 1.6 meters and women were 1.5 meters.  Floating stairs were on each level-

Peruvian farming practices-

From Moray we went to Salinas.  The Andes are huge-

A typical Peruvian village street-

There are over 4000 salt pans that have been used for salt extraction since Inca times.  30% of the pan is water and 70% is salt.  Individual families own and work the pans-

This hot spring dispenses the salt laden water into the pans-

The salt is mostly sold for cattle licks but it does have medicinal properties.  Salt is only collected during the dry season because when it rains, the pools turn brown and the salt is not good-

As the water evaporates, the salt forms 'flowers' on the surface-

The view from the top of the valley-

All kinds of salt are available.  My favorite is garlic but I only bought a small bag because it's too heavy to carry-

The crazy day continued on to Ollantaytambo which is a great example of Inca city planning with narrow cobblestone streets.  The village has been inhabited since the 13th century.  The ruins include a fortress and a temple.  There are huge steep steps up to the top-

and there's a great view from the top.  Behind my right shoulder-

there's a carved face-

and storerooms for food.  The cold wind helped to dehydrate potatoes and they could last for up to 20 years- 

Inca villages were always high up on the mountains for security-

Trapezoid doors help stabilize buildings during earthquakes-

The Sun Temple is on the top but was never completed-

There is a black mountain in the middle of this picture.  It's 6 km away and it's where the rock came from to build this fortress.  It's hard to imagine how and why they could/would drag these huge stones-

It's a steep climb-

More terraces-

Every market stall sells the same stuff.  Most is machine made in modern factories but they try to sell it as handmade.  It's also mostly acrylic that they try to pawn off as alpaca-

Leaving Ollantaytambo, I had the same warm fuzzy feeling I have when I'm in Guatemala.  I wish we had more time because I would like to spend a couple of days here.

The Sky Lodge is at the very top of the mountain on the way to Ollantaytambo.  There are 4 buildings that look like mobile homes.  Three are hotel rooms and the fourth is the kitchen/dining room.  It's very expensive to stay here-

I haven't tried cuy yet this trip but this woman was out on the sidewalk advertising her Guinea pig-

How's this for advertising?  A store that sells western wear: horse et al-

Such an easy way to carry kids-

Political signs are painted on buildings everywhere and only disappear when the next election's candidates names are painted over them.  They look really ugly and dirty-

When a red flag is on a pole outside a home, chi chi, a form of alcohol made from corn is available.  It only takes 2-3 days for the drink to turn to alcohol-

Our last stop was Pisac with fabulous views of the Urubamba Valley-

from its Inca citadel.  The terracing is different than at Moray because they used diagonal flights of stairs in the terrace walls to prevent erosion because they require less maintenance-

More food storage buildings-

The largest cemetary in South America is here.  Tombs were burrowed into the walls of the mountain and the dead were mummified and buried.  They have since been plundered by huaqueros, or grave robbers-

Again, the village/fort was on top of the hill-

On our way down from the citadel, we passed a truck hauling eucalyptus.  It's fast growing so convenient for wood for building and burning-

Our last stop was at a silver shop in Pisac.  Most silver is 926 which means it's not pure.  1000 is pure.  This shop makes jewelry with a higher silver content than most, or so they say-  

Quartz, amethyst, conch, lapis, turquoise and other semi precious stones are used in their jewelry-

We got back to la Plaza des Armas about 6:30 and I went straight to the shoe store to pick up my boots.  A young girl was manning the store and she looked kind of scared when she recognized me.  She told me to wait a moment and she disappeared.  She went to get her mother and soon I knew why she looked the way she did.  The boots I tried on and ordered were the color of sweet potato but they made mine out of suede the color of pumpkin!  I was disappointed but more angry at the woman for telling me that that was the color I had ordered.  I pointed out to her that there wasn't a pair in the store that color and that she was lying.  Luckily the boots fit and I will get used to the color but I was very angry that she kept lying.  Finally, I paid what I owed and told her she should be ashamed of herself that she was teaching her daughter to lie.  

Looking forward to a good sleep and an easier day tomorrow, although it will be our last day here.  The week has flown by and I've loved Cusco!

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