First Installment: Pre-Trek report
June 15, 2011 § 7 Comments
OH MY GOD IT’S FINALLY HAPPENING!
It took me a while to get this going, but I finally got around to it. No promise it’ll be good, but it’s better than nothing. So with that, here is the first installment.
Day T-3: We Depart…and Arrive
My flight went Cincinnati–>Miami, where I met up with Susie. We flew down the Atlantic coast of Florida alongside a really awesome electrical storm that was happening just off the coast (even the stewardess got her camera out).
My attempt to capture it was a fail. But you get the idea.
Landed in Miami, hung out with Susie at the Admirals Club (um, they have showers in those things…I had no idea) and caught our overnight flight to Lima. I took an ambien and tried to stay awake while I ate dinner on the plane, which was fun (couldn’t tell you what I ate, or if the food made it into my mouth). Landed in Lima at like 4 am and finally caught our flight to Cuzco around 9am.
After landing and a short nap we decided to go check out the city and get acclimated to the altitude (>11,000 feet).
Cuzco is pretty awesome, we wandered around the Plaza de Armas, where both Inca leaders Tupac Amaru I and Tupac Amarau II were executed (thank you Kim McQuarrie, Last Days of the Incas)…
…and walked to Plaza San Blas, which is up some ridiculously narrow streets.
Up there we had some delish cous cous soup, and Susie first learned that Peruvians eat guinea pig.
Day T-2: The Sacred Valley
The next morning we woke up to gorgeous weather and were feeling pretty good, so we decided to make a trip into the town of Pisac in the Urubamba Valley. Instead of taking the minibuses (which costs about $1.50) we went through the concierge at our hotel and got a car and driver for the whole day for about $60. Traveling with Auntie Susie has its perks.
After a 45 minute drive down through the mountains and into the Sacred Valley, we arrived at the ruins at Pisac.
Our driver told us the Incas planted crops like this for three reasons: 1.) they could test how well different crops grew at different altitudes (apparently the variation in height from one level to the next makes a difference); 2.) it was easier to irrigate this way; and 3.) it looked nice.
We did a little hiking to prep ourselves for the upcoming trek…
…heard some good mountain flute music…
…and then made our way down to the open air market that happens every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.
That night Sue met a couple in the hotel bar that had just returned from the same Mountain Lodges of Peru (MLP) trek that we would be embarking on in 2 days, and they invited us to come tour some of the local Cuzco ruins with them the next day. So we did.
Day T-1: Sacsayhuaman, Tambo Machay, Puca Pucara, and Quenqo
The next morning we woke up to absolutely BEAUTIFUL weather again. We met up with the couple and a friend of theirs, Maribel, who was a local. She agreed to be our guide for the day.
After a minor debacle of trying to get four gringo tourists onto a packed, public minibus, Maribel decided it wasn’t worth the trouble and the 5 of us squeezed into one taxi, whom we paid to take us around to all 4 ruins.
There are four “ecological sites” surrounding Cusco. First up was Sacsayhuaman (aka “sexy woman”):
This place was awesome.
It has the biggest rocks in the area. Apparently some of the rocks were actually moved to the site from across the river, but they don’t know how the Incas managed to get them across. There are theories that maybe they dammed the river up, but no one is sure.
And of course, they had llamas.
Next up was Tambo Machay, the sacred bathing place of the Inca rulers.
This place was equally as cool, and apparently the water in these springs hasn’t dried up since the time of the Incas.
Next up was Puca Pucara, a smaller fortress that was probably used to defend Cuzco.
…and finally, Quenqo.
We heard two stories about what Quenqo was. One said it was a temple where death rituals and sacrifice took place, another that it was a temple for fertility. Who knows.
On the way back down we got some nice views of Cusco.
That night we said goodbye to our new friends and went to the pre-trek meeting for Mountain Lodges of Peru (MLP), where we met our second group of new friends who would be joining us on our trek.
Then we went home and packed.
Next up: Day 1–The Hiking Begins