Yesterday began early ! We were collected from the hotel at 7.45 and had a 90 minute drive through some wonderful mountainous country.
We had a couple of stops, once at a high point where we were able to look down at a valley known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The source of the Amazon is reputed to be in this valley. The source is also reputed to be in numerous other places in South America. Clearly its source is dependent on which guide you choose and where you happen to be. Peru, Columbia or Bolivia!
Peruvian girls chew coca leaves constantly and use a shampoo made from coca leaves. This is given as the reason for their long strong black hair. THEY NEVER GROW GREY,! Coca leaves are on sale in little bags on every street corner, but although we were advised to drink coca tea whilst here to combat the effects of the altitude we were warned not to try to leave the country with it. Peruvian gaols are not recommended for Jewish princesses.
The other stop was to visit an Inca family who are still living in the ancient Inca fashion. i.e. Everything in one room with stone walls, thatched roof and packed earth floor. The family eat live and sleep in this room together with the chickens, cats and numerous guinea pigs. The chickens and guinea pigs are bred for food, hopefully the cats are not intended for dinner! Bunches of corn and coca leaves were hanging from the roofs and niches in the stone walls were decorated with the skulls of Grandma and Grandpa. The floor was crawling with guinea pigs of various sizes and colours. There was one “bed” for the parents, the children sleep on the floor with the guinea pigs. They keep each other warm. It was very confined and dark so the photos are not very clear.
On the way we passed a new hotel designed for rock climbers!
We eventually reached a village Oyatamtamba where we boarded a train. The train journey took just over an hour and it took us to Machu Picchu town. We had lunch there at a restaurant which was situated among the railway lines, the entrance was reached by crossing the lines. No nanny state here.
Then we took the bus which takes tourists up to the ruins. The bus journey was positively hair raising. The road hugged the side of the mountain looping back and forth across almost sheer rock faces. but the views can only be described as awe inspiring.
If I thought that going on the bus meant that there was no climbing I was soon to learn differently. After we left the bus then the climb began. The path was very uneven and steep and the frequent steps were so steep that in some places the height was as far as my legs would stretch.
We climbed to a high point from where we were able to look down on the ruins.
The various pictures I have seen and my own photos do not do it justice. It is far bigger and more impressive than I ever imagined. From the highest point we made our way back down through some of the more interesting areas the guide explaining different features as we went.
The only residents of this city are the llamas!
When we exited the ruins we discovered an enormously long line of people waiting for the bus back to Machu Picchu Pueblo. There were lots of buses though and we managed to board a bus with only a half hour wait. On the train going back to Cuzco, there was a really fun entertainment with a traditional dancing monkey clown and a fashion show.
We finally arrived back at the hotel at 10p.m. We all have stiff legs today after the climbing yesterday but everyone agrees that though very long, it was an amazing and totally memorable day.