Anthony on the Gringo Trail 2005 travel blog

Sacsayhuaman

Sacsayhuaman

Sacsayhuaman

Sacsayhuaman overlooking Cusco

Sacsayhuaman and mountains around Cusco

Sacsayhuaman

Inca terracing at Pisac

Pisac

Pisac

Terraces of Ollantaytambo

Erica at Ollantaytambo

Occasional transport

More Sacsayhuaman


I had real trouble sleeping last night, every time I dropped off, so did my breathing, and I woke up really short of breath, and this went on about every thirty seconds for about four hours! I was shattered. Anyway, today the luggage finally turned up late this afternoon. We have also bought flights to the Amazon jungle, and some nights in a lodge there, and train tickets to Lake Titicaca on Wednesday. All in all a day of planning and some cafes, generally taking it easy. Late in the afternoon we went up to Sacsayhuaman, a ruined Inca fortress that looks down on Lima. This was really quite impressive, even what was left, and more of the Inca stonework, including one stone weighing 300 tons. Educational interlude: The Incas were just another Andean city state (like the Romans or the Spartans in Europe) until in the 1300s they took over everyone else. And then about 150 years later the Spanish came along and basically destroyed and plundered their civilisation and empire. So they were not around for that long, all the more impressive the impact they have had. Anyway, at least the coca tea seems to be working,and Erica is a bit better, though still jet lagged.

Sep 28: Today we spent a fabulous day exploring parts of the Sacred Valley, between Cusco and Machu Picchu. As we did not have much time, we did this on a tour, which was nearly as much fun as the places we went to see. Our guide was very perky and enthusiastic, a little too much for my taste, but she did know her stuff though. One interesting thing I learnt from her which I really liked was that in Inca mythology, water is masculine, to compliment the feminine earth. I have to say I always learn a lot more when I listen to guides, usually belonging to tour groups. Anyway, being a tour, first we had to go to two markets, which was not as bad as it might sound.

I had been ambivalent about the Sacred Valley - other then Machu Picchu of course - as none of the pictures I had seen looked that good, but the places we saw were amazing. First (after the markets) we went to Pisac, famous for some fine and dramatic terraces climbing up the mountainsides and hanging on the tops of cliffs. And some neat ruined temples too. It was impressive and awesome stuff. And one thing we both noticed was that we appeared well adjusted to the altitude, as we had to climb half a mountain to see all the stuff. Good preparation for the Inca Trail. And then after lunch we went to a place called Ollantaytambo, which unfortunately was on what by then was the shady side of a valley, hence a pic from the second time we went there. This was similarly impressive though. And then we did this incredible drive, up and up and up, increasingly surrounded by glacial mountain ranges, to a place called Chinchero, at about 4200 metres. It was dark when we got there, but not too much to buy some more stuff in their market, or to see the incredible church, which is painted floor to ceiling inside and is amazing to see, so much so that we are talking of going back there again. Than back to Cusco, food and an early night again, though with better sleep this time.



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