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Published: September 22nd 2011
Saturday (Sep. 17th)
I was supposed to go on a tour today of the South Valley and its ruins, but I ended up being sick all day. It was no fun, I literally spent almost the entire day in the bathroom, and I ended up having to pay for the tour I missed anyway since I hadn't told them enough ahead of time to cancel it. Oh well.
Sunday (Sep. 18th)
I felt infinitely better today so I went on the tour we had planned to the Moras salt mines and the Moray ruins. They were incredible, I am so glad I got to go, and there were just four of us on the tour (Vivi, two other guys, and I) so it was basically a private tour. The Moras salt flats (also called the Salineras) were really interesting. They are terraced salt pools all fed by the same natural salt spring and each pool belongs to a different family from the village which they can harvest every three weeks (or they can wait longer to harvest to get better quality salt.) So we just walked around a bit by the pools and we got to try some of the salt before being good tourists and purchasing some bags to take home. We then drove to Moray, an Inca ruin, made up of terraces built in a circle, getting smaller towards the center. There is a debate over whether the terraces were used as a kind of greenhouse for agricultural purposes or used as an amphitheater for religious ceremonies. There are actually three different cirlces, similarly built, but only one (the biggest) has been restored so you can walk in it. To get to the center you have to walk down 'stairs' built into the walls of each terrace which are giant steps, on some of which ou have to practically jump to make it to the next one. In the very center of the last terrace there is a ring of rocks that people leave offerings in if they believe in the religious purposes of the ruins. Our guide was one of those people so our group took a moment and all put our hands on the ground in the circle to say thanks to mother earth (Pachamama.) And then right when we got up people started stepping in that circle to take their pictures, typical tourists. But it was a great tour and now Moray and Ollantaytambo are tied for my favorite ruins here.
Back in Cusco, Vivi and I still had the Pachacútec monument entrance included in our tourist ticket that will expire tomorrow so we went to take a quick look there. That was actually really informative and cool too. The monument is a big stone tower with a statue of Pachacútec on the top (supposedly the man responsible for the greatest expansion of Inca rule) and 6 levels inside full of information on the Inca expansion and Pachacútec's life. The last level is a view point from which you can see all of Cusco in every direction. From that point we were able to also see the bus station which Vivi needed to go to to figure out her bus tickets for when she leaves Cusco next week, so we marked the spot and went to take a look when we got down. There are soooo incredibly many bus companies, it is crazy! The bus terminal walls are just lined with company after company, all trying to get you to buy their trips. The trick is knowing which ones are actually safe. So we looked in our trusty Lonely Planet guide and found some that are supposedly safe and good, but not too expensive. When Vivi was done (and I had looked at options for a bus to Arequipa for a weekend trip) we went home for dinner quick before going to the Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo (Cusco Center of Native Art) to watch a show (the last thing included on our ticket.) That was actually a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. There were dances from different regions of the Cusco area and the costumes were really cool to see. Overall a very satisfying and interesting day, I am so glad I wasn't stuck at home sick again.
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