Happy Halloween.

Academy of fine arts Santiago.

31st October 2010.

Good morning, (well it is morning), not too much enthusiasm today, my legs feel pretty good today. I went through some tourist brochures and found 2 tours which I would do, I decided to go to Vina del Mar, Valparaiso and Portillo. They also looked like they would be good for lots of photos, so I booked online and relaxed for the rest of the day. That should give me some variety, from the Pacific ocean to the highlands of the Andes mountains there must be something to see that will change my perspective. There really is nothing wrong with Santiago, it is just that I feel it is missing the X factor for me, I think it is the language in part, it is so fast, (I thought we spoke fast in sydney) and squeezed together that I have trouble understanding even the simplest of things it is also hard to describe the ambience, it feels dry and like the air if full of static.

A view of the mountains behind Santiago.

I overheard a tourist mention the Oktober fest, should I go? maybe there will be fun or lots of drunken Spanish speaking locals, (I would not have any hope then), I  decide it is too far to go especially if it gets too late, I don’t know how to use the buses, (I can’t even use the buses in Sydney) and there is no subway there or at least that is what I was told. Maybe next time if I feel brave, (or stupid, see which comes first).

The river runs beside Parque de las esculturas,Santiago.

I received an email from a friend in Concepcion but decided it was too far to go for 2 days, food for thought for the next time. I went to dinner at a restaurant I found the last time I was there, it was a nice open court yard between 2 buildings and the atmosphere is relaxed. Tonight they are having a Halloween theme night, my waitress was from the USA, she made me feel comfortable and helped by speaking English to me, my head was a little fried from the last few days and I was not thinking too fast when it came to Spanish.

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I’m back in Santiago.

A view of what behind the city of Santiago.

30th October 2010.

I settled into my hotel and spent most of my day working on photos and chatting to friends online. I stepped out for lunch, bought a few supplies and returned to my room.

I was not that happy that I could not change my flight and visit Arequipa in Peru, it would have been more exciting than being in Santiago again. I also know that I can not let that bring me down, (“practice what you preach!”), I decided to find something in Chile that was nice, something that I could appreciate.

I looked online and relaxed for the rest of the day recapping on the last few weeks. I was thinking about the journey so far, I have been to a few places that I have seen in the past,
lots of new places I have only ever seen pictures of and others I have never heard of, met some beautiful people that I would not have met and learnt from if I had not decided to
change my direction of life and of coarse my sponsored child. I has been quiet emotional so far, partly because it has been a release of pent up emotions about my life as it was, feeling

Mercado central, Santiago.

trapped and owned by my ex employer who had no respect for me as a person, yes it was up to me to say “NO”, I also have lessons to learn, sure it is good to earn a great wage and get ahead financially but then there is the sacrifice to yourself, how much time at work is too much to be healthy? If you feel you must to do it because you will loose your job, the house or your relationship fails is that healthy?

My challenge was more that I wanted the money to get on top and set myself up, I also have a bad loyalty thing in my mind that says help the company out, it took a long time to
realise that the company did not give a crap about me, the hours at work, the long distant driving, the non stop hours of work with no lunch break, my thought was to not have lunch
meant I had a chance of getting home 30 minutes earlier, this does not work because as far as the company cares it means you have 30 minutes more to work and then they
expected overtime everyday because the demand from the customer was there and the company was not set up for hs 24 hour demand on an 8 hour shift. it was normal at one

One of the many sculptures inthe parl along the river at Santiago.

stage to work 12 hour days everyday, this added up to as much as 15 hours a day away from home. I was unable to go on dates or make plans before 8:30 pm and even then I had to cancel many of those, I was unable to study anymore as
I could not make it to coarses. There were many things I did not agree with but that was my opinion. Don’t get me wrong as far as a company goes it was a great company, especially before a near bankruptcy then new owners and the changes that come along with that.

I spent several weeks of holidays rediscovering myself and I also trained to be a life coach, this helped me find a few things about myself that I had forgoten along the way, things that have been part of me all my life. My problem after all that I realised was that the direction of the company and my life plan were going in two different directions. This was a great discovery as it changed my way of thinking and made the job more bearable. So I did what many want to do but for their own reasons may never do, I planned my escape, I finally gave my job up in June this year and decided to follow the dream I had for so many years, a dream I was lead to believe was a childhood fantasy and can’t really happen.
WHY NOT?, their are other people that do it!!  Why should I be DIFFERENT?

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Goodbye Cusco.

A view of the mountan at Machu Picchu.

29th October 2010.

I say goodbye to my friend as the taxi honks his horn. As usual I say a mental goodbye knowing I will be back, hopefully once a year to visit friends, meet new ones, see more ruins, (I just love stairs, have I mentioned the stairs?) and most importantly to visit my sponsored child. The flight to Lima starts well with a smooth take off banking right and straightening and banking

Soft clouds at Machu Picchu.

again following the valley, rising up and out to clear skys, this was more obvious today with a lovely clear sky. Looking out of the window I see what looks like a movie scene, the mountains with snow capped peaks and clouds slowly drifting by the town below getting smaller as we head away, I drift off into my own little world, I am reassured that I am on the right path to follow the dream.

A view of a mountain at Machu Picchu.

After landing in Lima I have to find an ATM in a hurry the closest one was being filled up and I did not know where the nearest was, I had a connecting flight in an hour and there were about 100 people on the line to pay the departure tax. I made t without a hitch, I was waiting at the boarding gate 40 minutes later. I arrive in Santiago de Chile once again and settle in for the night.



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Last night in Cusco.

One of the churches dressed up for the night.

28th October 2010.

I wake and check emails, I have messages from a few friends encouraging me to follow my dream, it seems I have helped take a few people on holiday with me. That is nice to hear because one of my goals is to change the world one person at a time, it seems to be working. I worked on some more photos and decided to go for a trip to town. i now know why this little town has so many massage places, real massage places, I jst returned from 6 days of climbing ruins, my legs are still sore and that made the penny drop, (ding, I may be a little slow but I am worth waiting for). I bought a few souvenirs and decided to cook dinner for the house guests.

I miss cooking, I was going to cook a pasta with cream sauce, that should be easy enough. Go to the supermarket for ingredients, most of them are easy to find, now for the spices and the vegetarian ones I want. It is always fun shopping in a foreign country, looking for things that may have names that do not sound remotely close to english, it is a fun way to learn the language, especially if you picked something very wrongly, it is also a way to discover foods we do not have here in Australia, lucky the packaging has pictures, (I like pictures, easier when you can’t read). I also noticed a few time now that there are cats

One of the many arches that line the streets of the square.

freely wandering around the shops and supermarkets and even a few retaurants, I was told this is for pest control, it is apparently cheap than posions and you can talk to the cat later.

I arrive back at the house and someone snitched on me, I had no surprise value now, they know I am cooking, (no pressure only 5 women from 5 different countries, 2 of them are vegetarian and myself), simple, hmm,  different tastes, spice tolerances, new foods etc. I go to the kitchen this is also an adventure, discovering where the simple things are, carving knives, spoons, pots pans etc. The maid was near by ready to lend a hand if I looked like I had lost something. The natives were getting restless, the smell was getting to their noses pulling them closer to the kitchen until a head would pop in the door and ask how long, (get out of my kitchen), “5 minutes, I will call you soon”. I finally dish out dinner and like Ma and Pa Kettle I am nearly knocked down by the rush.  I hope it is as good as they think. The tasting started and the verdict was that it was great, I can relax a little now and eat some. I was aked what is in it, I told them, (no need to keep secrets). We chatted for a while and swapped adventure stories and then it was time for bed, 3 of us were leaving in the morning.

One of the fountains at Cusco.

The recipe for anyone that is curious, Pasta shells, the sauce: Cream, garlic, french onion, course black pepprer, basil,oregano, chichen for the meat eaters or soy meat cubes for the vegetarians. The quantities (are a secret) were made to taste and I rely on my nose, (not bad considering I can not smell off milk and more), it also depends on the quality of the ingredients.
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No stairs day.

A view of Machu Picchu from Waynapicchu.

27th October 2010. Today I declare No stairs day. I have had enough of them, my legs are sore I have no fat left on them and I no longer know if the new lumps are new muscles or torn old ones.  I sit at the PC sorting pics, finding a few to share from the many I have taken. I say hi to a few of the people sharing the house. I do have to walk downstairs, (a mans gotta eat, I could ask for room service but I do not like being laughed at), at least it was just about 20 stairs, this is nothing compared to the last six days. I am not complaining it was an amazing adventure with lots of good memories and new experiences, this was more enjoyable than any gym I can imagine. It was also a lesson, a reminder of what I was able to achieve when I put my mind to it, sure, it is easy to say “I know I can do it” from experience, but to actually doing it is a kind of validation.

One of the walls built on and around the existing rocks.

There were a few times in the last few days that I thought I bit off more than I could chew and questioned why I do not plan my holidays like normal people. I did originally go to Cusco to see my sponsored child, that was the goal, the rest was to be made up along the way, I had virtually no knowledge of Cusco, Machu Picchu or any of the places or things to do in the area, (I knew they were in Peru). I also remembered that it is fun to improvise, I have always loved to be spontaneous, it was beaten out of me when I listened to everyone else say I was silly, I was silly for listening to them and believing

These small birds were in one of the cracks in a stone wall.

them, something we seem to loose living a “normal” life, (or in my case, existance). A little variety is good, nice surprises add to the adventure, (also the laugh later moments also do), if  had planned this holiday complety I may not have met most of the people I have and not seen the places I have in the way that I have. I enjoy meeting people, “normal” (there is that word again) people and see the world through thier eyes, not through the eyes of a travel company that are generally speaking after the best returns for their investment not mine. It is my way to learn about

A cloudy day at Machu picchu.

their culture and beliefs, if I can not understand I hope to at least appreciate their beliefs. It is good to agree to disagree.

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The ruins, day 6.

Wayna picchu behind Machu picchu.

26 th October 2010.

Up early, shight and briny, (or is that bright and shiny?), either way I am up. I was a little sore, but that wasn’t that bad, I was concerned about the weather, it was raining lightly and I was planning to take some pics of Wayna picchu from the guard house with a strong morning sun.

I go through the gates ready to charge to the guard house but I stop to have a tourist moment, I pull out my passport and get it stamped, (well I am a tourist after all). I race to the top near the guard house for a good spot to take photos, I find place on a terrace where there is no one in view and a nice view of the mountain. Now to wait for the clouds to clear and let some sun through. The clouds part form time to time giving a teasing glimpse at my quarry. I snap a few pics as the clouds pass over and I watch the city change face as the clouds pass over, mother nature was being a little challenging today, did we scare her with the rush to see her shine or did she a have a sarcastic sense of humour? I think it was the latter she gives a little shower to show she wants to win and most of the other people run for towards the gates in defeat, I am more stubborn, (or is that stupid), actually I believe it is determined. I hide my back pack under one of the rocks that stick out of the walls and

Yellow butterfly.

hide my camera under my jacket and wait. I am patient, I have little to do for the day so why not wait, I have a sense of humour also and I have a chuckle at her start to take photos of the weeds and flowers growing from the cracks between the stones in the wall, occasionally snapping photos of the clouded city and the mountains. About 3 hours pass and I decide to capitulate, (actually I don’t know the meaning of the word, it just sounds good) I decide to that I had enough and for the gate and back to town.

We went back to Aguas calientes and had lunch in a restaurant with a nice view of the square, we chatted and watched people walk through. Enjoyed food and then we went for a walk to the bridge at the river where the road crosses to the Machu picchu reserve. Once you cross the river turn right and follow the small road and you get to the Machu picchu museum, it has lots of photos, videos and artifacts on display, it is a very informative self guided tour. After the museum we go next door to the botanic garden, there is a variety of plants and some shade to cool off in, the river runs to one side and if you are patient you will see the occasional butterfly and humming bird, if you quick enough, (the little buggers move faster than bees, photographic observation).

Humming bird.

We head back to town have and early dinner and head to the train station for the train to Cusco. The ride beside the river is nice, there are a few views of different ruins along the way, a few tunnels and the peacefulness of nature all around.


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The ruins, day 5.

The face of a God laying down, Wayna picchu behind the ruins of Machu picchu.

25th October 2010.

Today I am off to see Machu Picchu, I line up with about 300 other eager tourists waiting for the bus ride to the other side or the river to Machu Picchu national park.
There is a line of about 5 buses, one behind the other loading up and driving away, it was a relatively short wait maybe 30 minutes if that, not too many street merchants trying to sell things, some sunscreen and hats, and the stores to the right had most other things you may need for the day.

We head out of town down the main road which quickly turns to dirt, it follows the river which runs quite rapidly and has many large boulders in it causing some nice currents and cascades to be formed on the other side there is the railway which runs above us and goes through tunnels in the mountain, there is an area where there was a small avalanche, workers were slowly cutting this on site for use in some of the new buildings.

The bus goes through the gate and crosses the river to the other side, we turn left and start to climb this zig zag road, to the top, (well nearly to the top). On one side there is jungle with brief glimpses of  the mountains and on the other there is through the trees you can see part of the ruins. We stop at the main entrance to Machu Picchu, and line up like everyone else, my guide says to wait a second so I stay in line. He returns to say come on a we walk to the front of the line he says hi to friends and we get stamped to enter the park. As we go through the gate I am told I can get my passport stamped if I want, It is not compulsory but it makes sense in a novel way, we are entering another world or at least another time.

A view of Waynapicchu through the ruins.

I snap a few photos as I enter, I look at some of the stones not to big yet but I know they get bigger, some are as big as a mini bus, how were they transported here? He tells me we are heading to Wayna picchu, I have no idea what he is talking about and he points and smile, (I must have looked like a dumb tourist), I said something along the lines of ‘the mountain’? He had his characteristic grin and laugh which I have grown to appreciate and he said ‘yes, we have to be there before 7 am because the gate opens soon and we have to go in and climb it’, They only allow a 400 people up the mountain per session, the second and last session is at 10am, that’s 400 per day. It was a nice walk, (more stairs) long flat paths some grassed areas and stone walls everywhere. We go to the gate to Wayna picchu and wait around, the crowd is growing at a steady rate, someone must have told them there was something nice here, I wish I was told before I got here, ha ha.

The gate opens, you need to show your ticket sign in name, country, time, age, this is to know who and where your from, good idea keep statistics, also you can check you own time but lost importantly to make sure you return and leave, if not people start to worry about you. There is no need to worry, the rangers are trained in vertical rescue so if you have an OOPS they can help you get out again. This I realise why later, it started off like a normal (what’s normal really, compared to home this is another planet, it‘s a matter of perception) walk in the park, a dirt track, lots of trees, fresh air and stone steps. I weave may way along the track following my nose and the noise the people ahead are making, (no screams so far so good) I get a little further and there they are (I don’t need to say it do I?) the stairs that lead to the top of the mountain, they were not too bad to start, they were sort of “normal” the higher you get the steeper they got, the height starts to vary from 200 mm to 400 mm, some steps were very narrow, 500 mm to maybe 300 mm and to make it exciting there was a very steep drop to one side and no hand rails, I actually liked this feature it did no ruin the view and those who climbed had to take responsibility for themselves (that’s a new concept to many western people), there was a small rail, it was a thick wire rope but against the rock to help people pull themselves up, (this is a nice compromise for the westerners, ooh that includes me), After a few stops for photos and deep breathes I am nearly at the top, my legs are burning, heart pumping and I was sounding like a dirty phone call, (yes I know what they are like, I have had one or two in my lifetime).

A cloud floating by at about 500 meters.

I see a cloud float by me when I look past a set of stairs, it is a funny feeling considering I am 500+ meters high. Only 50 metres to go, I stop on one of the terraces and relax, I have a tourist photo of me taken and I continue up. A few stairs later I get to a small cave which I have to get on my side and drag myself through, (it would have been smarter to take off my camera back pack). One small make shift log ladder to go and here I am, there is a small line waiting for the rock with the highest tip. There are some people from Australia and the U.K. celebrating with cheers an a half finished mini bar bottle. The last few steps to the highest point and I felt relief, I was very happy and sort of surprised I did it so easily, I did expect it to be harder. I relaxed with the other crazy climbers, that includes a 64 year old woman that nearly beat me.

After telling my guide this was boring I asked for something more exciting, for a split second he thought I was serious. We head down and see some of the buildings, I can not imagine who would want to live or be up here, it is so high and away from everything else. The walk down was a little easier, I see a few of the second session climbing and they ask how much further to go? I snap a few photos and get back to the gate and sign out. Not to go to the opposite end to see the guard house, it is on the high point at the other side and many stairs to go.

The Inca bridge, built into the side of the mountain.

From there I walk to the Inca bridge, this is part of the original Inca trail, it had been damaged by an earthquake and has now been rebuilt, this whole path is built on the side of the mountain, it was interesting to see how it was built and made wonder how it did not just slide off. We walk back to look at the rest of the city there is a wall which has a section that is falling, it is believed that when it was built there was a fault in the rock and this is visible in the way the wall had sunk in one corner. It was a great, long and hot day, now it is off to lunch and relax. We head back to the hotel where I have more stairs, (ARRGGGHHHH, what am I stressed about, it is only four floors). I relax for and hour and head to dinner, chat and laugh and go tuck myself in for the night. Tomorrow to follow the dream again, even if it is to the same place for different lighting affects.

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The ruins, day 4.

This is pat of Pinkuylluna, the rock in the centre resmbles a face thought to be a god, above are three structures built to crown him.

24th October 2010.

I woke up to the faint sound of trickling water and get myself to breakfast, it was a simple cold meat and cereal and some freshly made scrambled eggs, that was a nice change, (have I mentioned that a warm breakfast is rare here in Peru?). I meet my guide/assistant for the day, I get my camera gear and water and head off for the day. We walk along the cobble street listening to the running water and chatting about what to expect today, we turn left and right and get to the road which leads to the plaza outside the ruins. There is an open water channel that goes underground, it passes under the road and comes up on the other side and continues along as an open water channel, I have a weird chuckle as though I have never seen this before, (maybe I have just lost it? finally)

We get to the plaza and pass the all the market stalls, lots of the same thing, maps of Peru in various languages, decorated and carved walking sticks, traditional dolls and lots more. As I walk towards this big stone wall I see the ruins on the other side, I enter the gates and look for the way to go and decide to start at the highest point possible, (may as well get it over and done with), while it is early and I have energy this made sense. I start to climb the steps beside the terraces. Stopping now and then to appreciate the different aspects and shadows. Once at the top there is a view of the town, it is such a small town the square is just about it, around the town is farmland, at the bottom of the opposite mountains I can see more terraces, green from the crops that were growing there, opposite from the ruins

This area is a place of importance, the rocks ar smoother and fitted together more accurately.

on the other side of the town there are a second set of ruins, part of it was a grain storage bin made of stone, other bulidings were perched high on the edge of the cliff, it was explained that the Incas saw the gods in the shapes of the rocks and mountains etc. There was a large rock hanging out from the mountain behind the town, with the shadow of the sun looked like a face, on top of this were three structures built to crown it. Were I was there was an area that was a temple, the stones here were quite large, I would guess one was anything up to fifty tons, the stones in this area were smoother than the rest and the joins were one stone meets the other are so tight you can not get paper in between, they have carved on them small handles thought to have been where ropes were there were tied to lift and position them. Further up there are buildings and a maze of wall to walk through, the stones were not as smooth and this signifies more common areas. At the foot of the mountain there was the square and garden area with smaller terraces, there was a watering system here which was open and also went underground these turned into small fountains were they came into the open and fell into pools before they continued on the journey down hill.

That was it for the moment, it was about 4 hours later, my legs were sore and I was low on water, we walked to town, the long gruelling walk to the other side of the river, a whole six hundred meters or so. We sat at a café and had lunch, I watched the three wheel mototaxis go by, they were made by Honda, small motor bikes, locally modified in Peru, they

Mototaxi. These are a very common mode of transport around Peru. They are a specially modified Honda motor bike. Apparently no longer being produced, I hope they do not become extinct.

reminded me of the Tuk tuk in Thailand but smaller and cuter. I chat for a while with my guide and find him to be a nice man, a little different in personality, almost a gentle giant and fun with a good sense of humour.

I decide to walk up the other side to see the ruins on Mount Pinkuylluna, we walk up a narrow stone street, virtually unchanged, although they have been rebuilt, you can see the electrical conduit and water pipes running from underneath to the houses. We turn right and there they are, (I was expecting these, more stairs). We start the climb up the hill, it did not take long for my legs to feel the strain. I stop to take photos of the ruins on the other side and also the various cacti and grass growing in the rocks. The view of the face changes as I climb higher and closure to the storage bin.  This bin is a large stone room with small opening at the bottom to get the crop out, it was apparently used to store the harvested crop. I go for a walk in what seem to be stone houses all on the edge of the cliff, (I would hate to sleep walk here), the  view is amazing overlooking the valley and small town of Ollantaytambo.

Various cati and plants grow from the rocks.

This is it for the climbing today, there was more to see and kilometres to walk but I don’t want to, my legs hurt. It is getting to hot in the sun and the paths are a little sketchy.
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I head to the hostel, relax and freshen up and meet my guide for dinner and a laugh, we go back to the hostel to collect my things and then get a lift to the train station on one of the mototaxis, (what a lovely ride it is fitted with rattle and bumps and also came with a view of the road below), after a short wait we get on the train and ride to Aguas Calientes, we walk up another hill this is the main street, (or was it a mall?) to where my hotel was, I book in to my room which is on the forth floor and guess what? (have I mentioned I am starting to hate stairs?), there are no lifts so I have to walk, this was it for now, I slept well that night, ready for tomorrow where I see, (more Stairs), Machu Picchu.

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The ruins, day 3.

Chinchero, this is the entrance to the chuch with painted walls, the inside was more spectacular.

23rd October 2010.

Today I am off to see Chinchero a old colonial town built on an Inca foundation.
Here I find a small town with narrow stone streets, a town square out side the grounds of an old church and more terraces. The streets are very narrow, wide enough to get a small cart up or to carry a bail on your back, for safety fences to properties line some streets, when you look over them you can see a chicken or pig pen, some were three meters lower than the road level. The terracotta Spanish style rooves with weeds growing out of them had a lovely aged characteristic, (looks like hard work to clean, I never thought about weeding the roof before). A few terrace levels down is an old church with a lovely painted arched door way, I was not allowed to take photos but the inside were a work of art with lots of hand carved frames and painted ceilings and statues. In the square were street markets with the local people selling beautiful handmade textiles.  On the way out of this site we see a wedding being photographed near one of the stone walls near the newer part of town, how pretty.

Some of the salt pans in Maras.

We head now to Maras. As we drive around a bend in the road there is a silver shivering light, this is the reflection from the salt pans, Maras is a salt mine built into the side of a mountain in the valley, the water here seeps from the rocks and is rich in minerals, this water is collected in pools and left to evaporate, this dried salt is collected and used for cooking, medical purposes and sold to the government for use in labs and more. You can buy some salt for the table, carved salt statues, health packs and more if you fell like taking a souvenir home, I was happy with photos and good memories.

Next we go to Moray a large amphitheatre built at the bottom of hill I looks like it is five hundred meters below, the people in the centre looked like ants, some of the walls of this site were showing signs of ware and tear with logs propping up the old stone walls of a few terraces, not bad for such an old structure. I didn’t go for a walk to the bottom, I was afraid I would not make it back up the stairs again, (I am getting tired of all the stairs). I went for an easier option, about 100 meters away is a mini amphitheatre it was much smaller and at the top of the hill with views of a snow capped mountains in the back ground.

This is the small amphitheatre with nice views in the background of the snow capped mountains.

Last stop for the day is Ollantaytambo. In the distance are a set of ruins high on the mountain side. We weave our way through a few streets to the town square,
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this is a hive of activity with locals and tourists going about their things. I meet my guide for the next few days, he will be assisting me to see these ruins and then take me to Machu picchu. I am taken to my hotel, after settling in I go for a walk around town to see the river which runs between the town and the main ruins. There is a lovely ambience created by dimly lit streets and the sound of running water along many of the streets of the town. Time for be because tomorrow I need to get up early and walk up more stairs, (I am so excited, NOT!)


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The ruins, day 2.

This is some of the finished thread. in the forground to the sides is some raw materials.

22nd October 2010.

Today my first stop is Awana kancha. I am off to see how the native people make their cloth, the thread, the colouring, the weaving and learn a little about the way things still are here in Peru and also to see the finished product, amazing woven artworks.
I start my day by walking into a gate to visit the Alpacas and lamas, I first see an Alpaca Suri, it looks like Bob Marley with dreadlocks down to the ground, then a Lama Ch’ Aku, a Vicuna and a few more from the Lama and Vicugna families.

The colours are made from many different leaves, roots and soils. The colours are not what I would have expected, the leaf or root would be one colour and the pigment for the dye would be an amazing bright vivid different colour. I watched the women and men weaving their artworks, the colours coming together in the designs, most designs are traditional and there were other that were very modern, all the products, blankets, scarves, wall hangings and more are for sale. The money helps to run this facility which is a private venture involving 14 communities (420 families) of native people. The people working here come from the local communities work for a month and then return to their community. This is a way to preserve the millinery art of Andean weaving and sustain the communities involved in this project.

A view of the tiers at Pisac.

Next I am off to Pisac. We drive over the temporary bridge which is there due to the recent flooding washing away the old original bridge, the town is next to the river at the bottom of the Sacred valley surrounded by the mountains, it is almost a scary thought all that water and you only a few metres higher than the rivers normal height. We drive up the other side, in the distance high up on the mountain you can see the ruins and the now familiar terraces that are an Inca trade mark,,,, (at least to me they are). I arrive at the site and start to get approached by the street merchants, I look say hi and thanks and keep walking, this works on most but then you get the smart ones, they speak English and know how to counter the “NO“ very well so I have to resort to a half truth, “sorry it is too difficult to get through customs as it is made bone and wood“ I say a half truth because due to my last adventure, I can bring it through but it cost $60.00 to irradiate an item worth $15.00.

I start the walk along the ruins, there are old bulidings and terraces and a long walk to the next section, it is very warm sunny day, I have a little water and start to walk happily snapping photos, I get to the other side and there is what looks like a castle or small city built on the hill, I manage to climb it and walk through a maze of walls and broken rooms looking through windows at the scenery. on the other side of a small gorge I notice holes in the side of the mountain, some were just holes and craters and others were stone walls built around ledges, I was told these are graves.

We head back to town to look at the markets, we drive around the maze of streets to get as close as possible to the square and then get out and walk the last few hundred meters. This lets me look at some of the handcrafts and goods being sold, there are some very interesting items, but I am running out of space and weight allowance so I resist, a few turns later this narrow street opens in to the town square. There was an old church which was being demolished so that it can be rebuilt a little more modern and a few trees. It was lovely and peaceful considering it was the square. We walked to another narrow street, it was more like a wide footpath, then entering a small door we walked into an open area where there were a few art stalls and a big wood fired clay brick oven at the far end and a little restaurant which sold some local dishes, we looked at the guinea pigs, they were cute, having fun in their little pen with a few toys to keep them amused, (I wonder if these are pets or on the menu, I don’t really want to know), my friend and I had a few empanadas and a drink and headed back.

One of the stone walls at Saqsaywamn. The lower wall is 3 to 4 metres in height.

The last stop for the day is Saqsaywaman, when I was told this I was happy, of course I want to see Saqsaywaman, I am a man after all,,,, (the English sound of the place is Sexy woman, OOPs silly me). It is on the back to Cusco city which was good for me, I was over the walking for the day, too many hours in the sun and too many stairs,,, (I am here to enjoy holidays not work out).  We go in the gate and there to the left is a large statue of Christo Blanco and to the right are the ruins, the stones here are so big, I can not even imagine how big but if you started at ten tons I would not doubt it. There is a long zig zag wall, the stones curving on each corner and are fitted together as though they were concrete and as it dried someone drew lines and may them look like the joins. My next question was how did they get this rocks here? I was told by my guide that there is a belief that there may be tunnels leading own the mountain to Cusco city, this unconfirmed. One story I was told was that when the Inca lived on the lower land near the ocean the land sank and after that they started looking for higher ground to rebuild so that is would never happen again, (well, at 3900 meters I hope it never does). This seemed a little extreme but who really knows? I don’t! The view from up here of Cusco was great, I felt like a kid trying to point to places I have been, I was off by a few hundred meters, all the stone buildings look the same to me. Jaja. That’s it for today, relaxed and slept for tomorrow  I follow the dream to Ollantaytambo…..


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