Machu Picchu and More travel blog

John with llamas at a roadside stop

Woman at a roadside stop

Alpaca wool post-cleaning


The red for dyes comes from the cochineal, a worm that is...

Weaving with a backstrap loom

Young weaver at Chinchero

Terraces at Maray

Climbing terraces

Salt mines

Salt mines

Salt mines

We got out of Cuzco around 9 this morning for a day trip through the Sacred Valley. We started with a tour to a weaving shop in Chinchero (of course!). John was in Heaven. Frankly, this place exceeded my expectations. They did a great job of showing each step in the weaving process in a way that entertained me (the non-weaver) but with enough detail about the processes to educate the experienced weaver (John). After serving us the requisite coca tea (where was the pisco sour??), they showed us how to clean raw wool with the aid of a pulverized root that was used as a detergent. Once cleaned, the wool was spun into yarn, then dyed using a variety of products native to the area. Four women were diligently working with the finished product, using backstrap looms to weave little fiber miracles.

After the weaving shop, we toured a centuries-old group of terraces used by the Incas for agriculture, probabaly as an ag research station. We ended our private tour with a stop at an ingenious salt mine on the side of a mountain. A spring emerges from the mountain, carrying salt from the large deposits deep inside, which is diverted by a series of canals to pools built on the side of the hill where the salt accumulates as the water evaporates. This is another system that has apparently been used for centuries. Cool.

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