Published: July 20th 2010July 20th 2010
Day 1--Journey to Huchuy Cosqo:
We woke up at 6am to meet Jonathan in front of our hostel at 6:30. After meeting him, we drove to Ollantaytambo to pick up the family of 3: Bob, Trudy, and Zack, who would be joining us on the trek to Huchuy Cosqo. After this we drove another hour and a half to Patabamba where we began the trek. Patabamba was a small town with basic homes made of mud bricks--one of the porters let me use his bathroom in town, which ended up just being a hole in the ground with 2 foot prints to place your feet--hadn´t done that one in a while...
The views of the Andes were instantly breathtaking and absolutely indescribable. The path was so remote that it wasn´t even a path at times. Every time I stopped to marvel at the scenery, it felt surreal. It felt like I was standing on the edge of the world with the surrounding views as a pure photographic backdrop. Absolutely incredible.
Along the path we saw pigs, alpaca, sheep, and even bulls blocking our path. The most incredible part was the fact that we were the only ones on
the path. Had we chosen to do the Inca Trail or a jungle trek for a cheaper price, we would have had to share the mountain with hundreds of people, which would have taken away the awe-inspiring effect of the landscape. After about 3.5 hours of walking, we had lunch on an elevated spot with a civilized table covered witha table cloth and even a bathroom--aka a small pitched tent with a hole in the group inside. Awesome.
As we continued on the climate changed from sunny to cloudy and back to sunny so it was a bit ridiculous having my jacket on then off etc. But I was still glad I brought my winter jacket for the cold bits, because it definitely chilled you to the bone. We spent the majority of the 2nd half of our walk along the actual Inca trail, which was incredible. When we finally arrived to the house near Huchuy Cosqo, it was already dark out at 6pm, but we were greeted by the warm glow of the fire and the aromas of the food cooking inside the kitchen by Navidad and Salvatore, the Quechua owners. We sat down to have tea time
with popcorn, roasted corn kernels, and taqueños/wantons. THen after changing into warmer clothes in our basic, but cozy rooms, we had a delicious typical dinner of sopa de trigo (wheat), pollo frito con papas, y pera hervida (boiled pear) for dinner--yuummmyy. I also cant wait to see the house and the property tomorrow morning in the daylight!
This day had been one of the best so far on our trip and I am definitely glad I dished out a little extra cash to have a unique experience...money is just paper while the experience last a lifetime.
Day 2--Huchuy Cosqo, Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes
We woke up early this morning at 7am to the sound of roosters and got our things together before breakfast. We had a new breakfast fo pancakes with butter and jam, baby bananas, coffee, and milo, which is a really popular fortified chocolate milk in South America. Afterwards we checked out the rest of the house/property, since it stopped raining, and discovered a little hut FULL of guinea pigs. They were so cute! We discovered that the spanish call them ´cuy¨ because of the sound they make. It made me miss Moe, my childhood
By 8:30 we said out goodbies with Navidad and Salvatore so we could make our way back to the Huchuy Cosqo ruins, which were only about a 2 minute walk away. I still can´t believe we slept literally next door to these ruins. Jonathon explained how Huchuy Cosqo meant ¨little Cuzco¨ and described what each broken structure used to serve as. It was really interesting to see the prevalence of red mud bricks instead of typical stone. This was apparently due to the influence of the previous inhabitants.
The morning was still cloudy and a bit rainy from the previous night, which made the ruins and the mountain seem so mystical. It was amazing seeing the same mountain witha completely different character.
After our history lesson, we winded our way down to the small town of Lamay where our van was waiting for us. After we got picked up, we drove over to the town of Calca to have lunch at Las Gemelas, where the locals eat. I got sudado de trucha, which is a trout boiled in this delicious tomato-onion-potato soup--Mama you would have LOVED this! The trout was so flavorful and tender, and
I was so happy not to eat rice!
After lunch we drove back to Ollantaytambo where Jonathan printed out our train tickets, and we said our goodbyes to Trudy, Bob, and Zack. They were definitely different from the backpackers we´ve been hanging around, but they still offered a wealth of informationa and I really enjoyed their company.
At this point, it was about 2:30 int he afternoon so Sim and I spent the next hour exploring the ruins of Ollantaytambo. Jonathan explained how tambo means shelter in quechua, and Ollantay used to be a chief. So basically this city used to be a refuge for nobility passing by. The best part was looking across the town from the top of the ruins to see the face of a grumpy old man, which the Incas apparently carved themselves. The face is really cool but really creepy at the same time.
By 4:15 we boarded the PeruRail to head to Aguas Calientes, and were pleasantly surprised with the snacks and refreshments for the 2 hour ride. When we arrived, we were greeted by more rain and our new guide, Elese. She helped us find a hostel and we bargained
the lady down to 25 soles per person with breakfast included. We were really just happy to take nice hot showers after grundging it for 2 days. Now sleep so we can wake up at 3:30am to trek up to Machu Picchu!
There are more photos below