Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 3 - The Sacred Valley

I would like to start off by saying I apologize for all the typos and grammatical errors in the last post.  I hope this did not take away from the post.  I had a Pisco Sour (Peru´s national drink) before I wrote it and at 11,000 ft up, a strong drink can get to ya.
This was best day so far!! Just bear with me because everyday will probably be the best day.  Anyway, good ol Meeeeester Washington picked us up in the morning as we began our drive outside of Cuzco, and into the Sacred Valley of the Incas.  The Sacred Valley is the most beautiful place I have ever been.  Extremely fertile valleys sandwiched between towering peaks, colorful flowers, and the cool crisp air made me want to stand atop that cliff forever.
Sacred Valley

 Pisac or Pisaca as it once was. 

Looking up the Ruins

Looking down the ruins

There was a man right below where we took those pictures that was playing a native flute.  It is kind of like a recorder flute, but harder to play, and made of wood.  The sound was so peaceful and added definite character and authenticity to the experience.  The sound of the flute resonated throughout the ruins and made me happy... super happy.  

This city was the administravtive city where Incas would come through and conduct much business there.
These terraces look fairly small when looking from afar but when you get up close you realize the tremendous size of them.  The are all the same height too, another Inca specialty... perfection.  

Every story Washington tells us about the Incas seems to blow us away.  They began making sandals and rope out of the wild grass that grows in the Valley.  Characteristically, they gradually started to make baskets, bags, and eventually BRIDGES! Yes they were able to weave this grass so well, they actually made sturdy bridges that lasted until the damn spaniards burned em down.  

Did I mention they built combustion engines out of the grass... 
Whoever believed that LIE should stop reading immediately.   

Washington pointing at water
The side of the mountain is spotted with holes carved into the rock.  This is considered the largest cemetary in The Sacred Valley.  Incas believe in after-life and most of these bodies are buried along with sandals (to walk in their next life), weapons (for protection), and food (this one is obvious). 

Next we went to the Pisac Market where not only was I inspired, but i also started to hone my negotiation skills.  While I was exploring the market, the awesome shopper I am, my attention was immediately drawn toward a guy playing ´Hey Jude¨ on one of those cool flutes.  I went over there and he showed me his cd where he recorded himself playing a bunch of Beatles songs on his flute.  As hard as it was to turn down his cd, right then I decided I wanted to play The Beatles on a Peruvian flute.  We began to barter and he told me 40 Soles (about $12-13).  I showed him the THIZZ face and said 12 sole; I learn from the best.  He looked at me and said 30 sol.  Again, I said 12 sol, just like Washington told me (sorry if you thought i was talking about you papa ... your good too).  He soon realized I called his bluff on a shitty wood flute he didn´t make and eventually we landed on 15 sole (about $5).  I walked away very happy, with a songbook included.  

After countless attempts to play the god damned thing in the car, I am sure Papa, Washington, and our mute driver Carlos (not mute, just quiet), were sick of my weak flute skills.  

We drove along the Urubamba river for an hour or so, while I just absorbed the magnificant landscape the whole way.  We got to the tourist spot that lies right on the Urubamba river and looked up at the mountains from the valley floor.  We ate a good meal, had a small Pisco Sour and headed to Ollantaytambo, about 30 minutes down the road.

Looking from where we ate lunch
On the way out I actually heard them play ´Self-Esteem´ by The Offspring on their flutes!!! hahaha YES, love this place.

We then arrived at my favorite part of the trip, Ollantaytambo or Ollanta (as locals call it).  This was a fortress and a Temple with a very unique town at the base of the ruins.  The entire place was carefully planned out before they even started to build it.  Architects, builders, artists, astronomers (or astrologers I guess), etc., all got together and laid out the plans for irrigation, protection, water management, astronomy, and much more.  

Panorama of Ollantaytambo

Note - The Incas built such sound water management systems that they have been virtually unaffected by the 5 centuries of abuse, and still are in use by the city today.  The Sacred Valley gets on average 30-40 inches of rain per year.  Last January, they received 36 inches in 4 DAYS.  Much of the Sacred Valley was affected, however, ruins such as Ollanta, Pisac, and Machu Piccu which have been around for over 5 centuries were UNAFFECTED.  These ruins are carved into the mountain-side, after 500 years of rain and erosion, these ruins still stand stong!  Sort of like Brett Favre before this NFL season (by the way, I am in the finals in my fantasy football league WOOT. Toppled Bill´s ¨fuckin¨ Ballas in the semis, pardon my french thats for you Bill ¨f-in¨ Doyle).  Hopefully I didn´t just jinx the ruins.

Ollanta was originally built as a fortress and an agriculture center.  Eventually they got rid of the agriculture on the terraces and began to plant beautiful flowers among the terraces for decoration.  I can´t even imagine how beatiful that place looked.  They did successfully beat the spaniards here in 1518 i think it was.

Again, the stonework on the place that is most impressive.  Even more impressive than Sacsayhuaman because it is higher up and they acquired the stones from a quarry about 10 miles away and 2,000 feet up.  There is a ramp built up that you can see, and even a stone that was in the process of being lifted to the top Temple.  The ruins are unfinished, meaning they had to abandon the site.  The reason for this was most likely because of the bastard spaniards (now they got me hating spaniards, great).  This place was my favorite of the day, and of the trip thus far.  We got a flat tire on the way out so it stalled us a little bit.  This is where I had a legendary staredown with a huge bull.  I was trying to go after him but Washington kept holding me back! (hahaha not) but i really did get the staredown on John´s flip cam.

Lastly, we got to our hotel.  Papa told me yesterday, when I asked him what our hotel is like, it wouldnt be as nice as the one in Cuzco.  He was lying.  Long story short, I got a complimentary foot massage that it changed my life.  I have never had somebody go CACTUS on my feet like that (thats for you John).  This hotel is soooooo nice, unfortuanely we only get to stay here for one night.  
Horseback riding tomorrow to some ancient ruins and maybe a post about the day tomorrow, depending on if I have internet and a computer.  
Muchas Gracias

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