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Published: September 8th 2005
Yeah okay I fell off a horse. Not far though, and I was
trying to get off.
After our adventures in Machu Picchu last blog, we decided to try out the wonders of Incan hub, Cusco. The 4 hour train ride back from Aguas Calientes was a shocker - it was so unbearably hot leaving at 4pm. Some boy started having hallucinations and sobbing, though laura said he was just a drama queen.
Anyway, back in Cusco we went and signed up for a horseback tour through some local ruins on the first day, white water rafting on the second, and a sightseeing bus to Puno on the third (what in the name of Ray Mears were we thinking?). Horses
This was fun, although the horses were a) too fat, and b) too lazy to go faster than ambling speed. Nothing like the pantanal.
Our group consisted of me and laura, and an american girl whose friend was ill. Sad as that was, Laura got her ticket to the ruins, so it's not all bad. They normally cost 70NS, and let you into all cusco's museums and archeologial sites (35NS for students with ISICs).
We saw four incan
sites, and one wari. The first three were pretty standard, nothing at all compared to Machu Picchu - an Incan "bath" (actually Wari), which was basically two walls and a tamed stream. Not very impressive but still interesting. The second site was a decimated fort - hardly anything remained, but you could still get an idea of what it would have looked like in it's time. Llamas roamed around which is always fun.
Another 45 minutes riding or so from there took us to an Incan temple carved out of a huge rock, which was very interesting to see, though laura had an attack of sunstroke and nearly fainted.
The temple was essentially carved tunnels into the rock, with tiny openings at the very top which had some astrological significance - one let in the sunlight at certain times of the year for certain purposes that our guide couldn't translate, and the second let in moonlight for rituals and sacrifices. Spooky, but interesting.
Penultimately we visited a place called the "zigzag", which was a sacrificial temple carved, again from a huge rock formation. It was interesting to walk through, and see the carved alters and steps and
stuff, but after machu picchu it all seemed so tame. Maybe it's a good idea to see these ruins before you venture up there.
Lastly we explored an impressive site called Sacsayhuamàn. It was huge, though apparently the spanish tore down 80%!o(MISSING)f it to build houses in the town. See the pictures for a better description than I can give.
I wandered up the hillside and sat at the top in the blazing heat, huffing and cursing this damned altitude, which denies proper sleep, and which we have been victim of for several weeks now; and gazed out over the huge walls. This day there was a film crew filming a television advert - a llama, traditional peruvian lady (similar to a cholita in all but name) and a little boy standing surrounded by reflective screens (as if there wasn't enough sun!).
We walked back from here, and sampled some fine peruvian food (no more guinnea pigs though - don't eat them! They're for chasing round the garden, not ripping apart with your fingers and peeling the skin off). Rafting
Now this was fun. We shopped around a got a good deal on this which
included lunch and transport for a price i can't remember.
The first part of the river was pretty tame, and long. Most of our time we were just floating, or paddling slowly waiting for something that idnt come until much later.
When it did though, we had a great time! The rapid were only grade III, and pretty short, but it was still fun. We didnt manage to find a waterproof camera, and missed buying the company photos, so no shots for you.
Anyway, after 2 hours on the water we were given the opportunity to swim for a bit, which another english guy and I took. After being pulled from the freezing water we decided it still wasn't enough, and jumped off a bridge. The other guy hit his back on the bottom, but I survived unscathed.
We recommend doing this. Tourist bus
Whatever compelled us to travel round with a group of 40 people i do not know. What a waste of time. We wanted to see more of peru, which we did. But the guide's english was awful, the bus was so hot it was ridiculous, and the stops were incredibly boring. We managed
to subvert this by wandering off on our own, which was fine. but the heat gets to you pretty quickly, and ten hours on that god damned bus took it's toll. Laura wasn't feeling well anyway, and coloured in the gravel outside the place we stopped for lunch, which wasn't nice.
One good point though, we did get to see some incredibly fat guinea pigs (presumably dinner) and an amazingly cute puppy amongst some soft toys made of alpaca fur, that shivered unless you held him tightly. Also we found two cats in a huge jar... bizarre but friendly.
Anyway, we had palnned, when we arrived in Puno, to get a bus straight to La Paz; but we both felt rough and just bedded down in Hotel Nesther again.
This morning laura was still a little ill, so bus travel was out of the question, but maybe this afternoon or tomorrow we'll make our way back to La Paz, then fly to Santa Cruz and continue making our way back towards Rio for the flight (NB: the most uncomfortable seats on this whole trip were on Iberia airline's flight from Madrid to Rio)
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