The Sacred Valley Tour
One quick note before I get started... it´s a little different typing a) on a Spanish keyboard where all your punctuation is in different places and b) where all the instructions are in Spanish which as you all know, I am still absolutely rubbish at .. but hey, I am rambling again and there is so much to fill you in on!
Oct 27th was my Sacred Valley tour. The Valle Sagrado, or Sacred Valley of he Rio Urubamba, is about 15 km north of Cuzco (as the condor flies apparantly!). The big places to see are Pisac and Ollantaytambo - both amazing Inca ruins. So I was off - from 8:30am till 7pm - definitely a jam packed day of Inca ruins, colourful markets with traditional crafts and great chat and travel tips from new found ¨trip¨friends I met on the bus!!
First stop - Qorao, not even a wee town really, just a market place where i befriended (through smiles and hand signals mainly!) the lovely lady you see in the pic. I got a fab, honest to goodness, alpaca wool hat to keep me warm, and the wee lady was delighted when she saw her pic - so happiness all round.
Second stop was in the Golden Eagle valley - just gorgeous with huge mountains all around us. Sandi - I have your pickle t-shirt shot here- will send you via email soon!
Third stop - a big one- was Pisac and then Pisac ruins. The town is very traditional with lots of arts and crafts for us gringos... yes, they do call us that and its not a bad word. It comes from when the Americans first came to South America and the indiginious people wanted them to leave so said "Green - go" which then became¨"Gringo"!!!. Pisac ruins lie high above the village itself (at 3800 metres) , with plunging gorges either side. We hiked up very steep and skinny steps t get to the terraces at the top, where the sites ceremonial center is - with an Intihuatana (or hitching post of the sun for those of you who dont speak Quechea, the local Andean language - teehee!). There are over 450,000 Inca burial tombs built into the rocks surrounding Pisac and its ruins, although almost all of them have been plundered over the years...
Went to a wee place called Colca for lunch - hmmn you could pick out your favourite guinea pig for lunch if you so desired- yes, this is a delicacy in many of the South American countries but i havent tried it yet (and dont know if i will to be honest!).
From Colca we went to Ollantaytambo. This town, dominated by a massive Inca fortress above it, is supposed to be the best surviving example of Inca city planning - lots of narrow cobblestone streets that have been and still are inhabited since the 13rh century! (Ok are some of you saying I need to stop reading so much of my Lonely Planet book and just give you some fun tid bits...! sorry if this is boring...) OK - just one last interesting fact - the rock used to build much of the ceremonial temples here is a red granite that had to be transported from a quarry over 6km away and let me tell, you there were tons of giant pieces of red granite that had been brought over- scientists said it would have required about 20-30,000 men to actually push the rock from there to the ceremonial sites.. phew no thanks - little too much like hard work here!!!
Last stop on the tour - before heading back to Cuzco for my pre-Inca trek meeting (yes its all go on this so-called "relaxing" do nothing holiday of mine) was Chinchero.. seen as a very spiritual place by the Andean people because the current - and very old- church is built on original Inca ruins from 1607. The church was lovely, decorated on the walls and ceilings with hand made dyes. ...
So - this was a brilliant day and i saw so much - thank goodness i write things down cos there is no way i would remember all of this (as most of you know, my memory is a complete sieve!).
Will talk again soon and let you know about Macchu Pichu! Stefanie