Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Weekend Trip to the Sacred Valley of the Inkas

Sabado, 22 Septiembre
We started off about 9 in the morning.... 15 volunteers and 2 tour guides. The drive is about 40 minutes by bus out of Chuzco to our first stop Chinchero. Here was an Andean village rich with Inkan history. The Inkas used to call this village the "Birthplace of the rainbow" and you can tell why. The views from the top were absolutley spectacular. The valleys and the shadows cast over the mountains was just beautiful. It was hard to peel ones eyes away from the scenery. There was also the colonial church of St. Franics Xavier which was built over the Inka walls with an elaborately decorated interior and where they had a replica of the body like the one preserved in Goa.We also got to sit in the original chairs carved out of rocks for the Inkan Kings.

Leaving Chinchero, we were driven down in the Sacred Valley stopping at a few lookouts along the way. When we descended into the valley, we stopped for a buffet lunch at a restaurant overlooking a beautiful garden and river. The food as usual was fabulous and the dessert even better.

Once we finished lunch, we continued on to one of the largest Inka ruins, Ollantaytambo whichh is located on the banks of the Urubamba River. Legend states that this name was given to the site because of Cacique Ollanta who fell in love with Inka Pacahakutec's daughter, Kusi Qoyllur. It is also one of the only locations where the Inkas defeated the Spanish during the conquest, although their victory was only short lived. Ollantaytambo is the only Inkan site whose buildings are still used as homes by the locals today. The ruins are amazing. After a slow, long climb to the top of the ruins, we got to the Temple of the Sun which is built which HUGE rocks and hauled in from across the valley. We walked around the ruins for a good two hours and learnt much about the history of this advanced indigenous civilization and how they created such magnificient structures and how they preserved food. We then descending down to see the Intlwatana- bath of the princess with the fantastic 'magic' fountain system.

Leaving Ollantaytambo, we stopped at a local "Chicha" brewery. Chicha is a Inkan beer that is made from corn. I saw purple and red corn for the first time ever. We learnt about the brewery process and got an opportunity to taste the normal Chicha beer as well as Strawberry beer. It tasted a little strange.. like beer and wine mixed together. The locals apparently drink it by the bucket load.. literally. We also indulged in a traditional game of 'Sappo' (frog) .. which was basically us throwing gold coins into the mouth of a frog on a dressing table contraption. Apparently, the locals sit around in the brewery drinking beer and betting on games of 'Sappo'. I wasn't very good at it ... only got one coin in.

Rest of the photos from Chinchero and Ollantaytambo here

Domingo, 23 Septiembre
We had a late-ish start fortunately and also got a wonderful buffet breakfast at the hotel before heading up to the Pisaq ruins on the mountain-side, above the hotel and the town. We were driven to the very top where the ruins and terraces were. As we walked through the ruins, we were explained the cultivation purpose of the huge sytem of terraces... but I was concentrating on taking photos and not falling off the mountain so I don't really remember much. We also saw the unique burial system of the Inkas which was basically holes cut into the cliff face. We walked from one end of the terraces to the other.... up treacherous (by my standards) paths and into small dark passage ways. We finally got to the other ruins of Pisaq where we saw another Sun Temple and took lots more photos. The views were..yes, amazing. We were even able to see our hotel from the top. And then we had to endure the long long long long long walk down the mountain to the town. All in all, it took us about 3 hours of walking... but it was definitley worth it.

When we got down to the town, we all rejuvinated ourselves with some fresh orange juice from one of the local ladies before heading to lunch and then some shopping at the famous Pisaq artesian markets. The main square of Pisaq was jam packed with textiles, crafts, food, jewellery and much more. It was shoppers paradise. I spent about a half hour shopping before I had to help Charlotte with the shopping for "the Ball". Peru's Challenge is having a ball in Sydney on 15/11/2008 to raise money and awareness for the school and all the work we do. So Charlottes and my job for the day was to buy the bulls which are to be used as centre pieces on the tables and lots of Inkan table cloths. After about an hour of hunting and barganing, we managed to seal a deal. But, it did take a fair bit of effort on our part, because we asked for one size of the bulls... but when we did a random check, found that we had about 4 different sizes. So, we had to make the ladies unpack it all get us the right sizes.
After all that hard work, we decided to treat ourselves to some cheesecake and then made the journey back home with about 6 huge bags full of bulls and table cloths...

More photos of Pisaq and the ruins here....

1 comment:

Candice said...

Did you discover that Inca's are now spelt Inka's??