We know we have a lot of reading to do when we get home (just quietly if you have decided to follow this blog you may have a lot of reading to do too!), but after spending a few days in Peru we are emotionally scarred by the atrocities committed by the Spanish and yet impressed by the pride of the Peruvian people in their history – both Inca and Spanish – and the ultimate marriage of the two – a unique Catholic Inca religion ith different developments in different areas.
Our tour of Cusco took us inside the most ornate Cathedral you could imagine – think baroque think gold and silver everywhere, mirrors in Inca tradition, Christianity and Inca moulded into one (sorry no photos allowed), we also visited many ruins, museums and other churches and have to say Cusco is like a time capsule of historic significance. Apart from learning quite a bit about the place we had the thrill of visiting one site that was over 3800m above sea level (Higher than the highest mountain in Japan apparently) and viewing the city from the Inca site of sexy woman (actually its saqsywaman but its pronounced sexy woman so I'll stick with that). We had some great meals, a day to ourselves and indulged in a bit of tourist shopping for a change. The broken beak penguin and the miniature sea lion no longer seem to be adequate tokens to remind us of this grand adventure now!
Anyway on morning two, and after a very unwelcome bout of food poisoning (or god knows what) I hit the medicine cabinet and thankfully stopped a potenially fatal condition in its tracks! I did however feel a little unwell for the morning and would have preferred another free day. Nevertheless I was up and ready as we had an early pickup and visit to the Sacred Valley and transfer to Macchu Piccu. On this trip we finally had the privilege of meeting some condors up close at a family run sanctuary where they were rescued from a circus and private homes. These condors were amazing and because they have not been in the wild they apparently have to stay at the sanctuary (at least for now) – we went in the enclosure with them and watched them being exercised over our heads! They are a member of the vulture family and seeing them up close was quite a surprise after seeing so many gliding through the sky back in Torres del Paine – I have it on good authority that they only eat the dead! Thankfully we werent still comatose from our travels or they may have mistaken us for dinner!
Then we went to more inca ruins – not meaning to sound blase' as these ruins are quite spectacular but we were feeling a little over incad for the day and wanted to see how people live in the present – the animal shelter was my highlight for the day as it was also part of the family home. The family run establishment had pet peruvian hairless dogs which I also found amazing – Husband finally got to see a boomer (read puma) that had been rescued from a sex show of some sort in Lima (I dont want to know what they did with a wild animal in a show of that nature so you can imagine that one for yourselves!). As an aside they also had a little pen of guinea pigs – these were not rescued from someones dinner table nor were they pets!
We also had a quick stop at some markets where we were offered roasted guinea pig (cuy) on a skewer – I took the plain bread (solo pan) – even if my stomach wasnt sensitive I dont think guinea pig would have sounded appealling!
We then caught the train from Ollyantambo to Aguas Caliente – also known as Pueblo Machhu Piccu. I had visions of bathing in the hot springs (aguas caliente means hot water) and then relaxing before dinner and taking an early night ready for the creme de la creme of Peru tomorrow (Macchu Piccu). Unfortunately the said baths were somewhat shall I say “unappealling” – actually lets say also not as expected – you know, natural water pumping up into pristine water holes – as it turned out they were part of a poorly maintained pool system where the first pool was empty and too many people crowded into the other very small brown water pools – cleaning their ears, scrubbing their bods, and generally trying to gain the health benefits which are obtained by the pools. I was unaware of the ear picking at this point and still adamant I would quickly jump in then out until the security guard chased me down the stairs babbling something about not taking my little daypack into the bathing area – well that was it – my staunch determination became a clear decision to stay away. I was glad the guard had broken my strong pace toward the pool because quite frankly I was terrified – I'd already dealt with stomach bugs and flu and probable food poisoning – the immersion into this pool of dubious character was destined to provide some further disease to deal with – viewing back down over the rail and seeing the scrubbing incidents confirmed I had made the right decision – husband had no intention of indulging from the moment he set eyes on the place. So, back down the hill, back to the rather unnecessarily bad hotel and out to a really expensive inedible dinner! Pueblo Macchu Piccu was not proving to be an attraction of any sort! But tomorrow was too be the star of the show.