I treated myself to a long hot shower this morning. After breakfast, we boarded a bus and visited the Maras Salt mines where families own and care for a pentagon-shaped pool with water that flows from a salt spring. They changed the rules so we didn't get up close and personal to see a demonstration of mining the salt - Percy explained it and again I couldn't understand him.
The next stop was in Chincheros where we went into a big shop and learned the process of weaving, from cleaning wool to dying it to spinning it to preparing skeins, to actually weaving designs that are ingrained in their heads. If a woman doesn't learn or cannot grasp how to weave, she is sent to the fields to farm. We were also told about the traditional dress of the weavers, complete with multiple uses of their hats. Then, we were told we had about 20 minutes to look at their products and possibly make a purchase. It took at least 40 minutes and most of us bought something there. I thought we would go to a market, but this family has control of the town's economy!
We had lunch at this family's house (they had a long table already set for us - they do it all the time). It was a 3 course meal and all of it was good food. Afterwards, a shaman came and went through a ceremony with coca leaves and other natural items that was meant to bless us and wish us good health and safe journeys. All of the items were put into a paper that was folded then burned instead of buried so that the wishes came to us faster.
We saw a spectacular rainbow when leaving that town that started and ended over fields, not water. At one point, there was even a double rainbow. People remarked that it was a result of sitting through that ceremony that took over an hour!
Cusco is a big city that seems scary and impoverished. Finally, we rounded a corner and things looked better. The hotel is called Hotel Costa Del Sol Ramada.