Day 24 - Dance Festival, Hike to Inca Granaries, Moray and Maras Salt Mine.

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South America » Peru » Cusco » Ollantaytambo
October 28th 2018
Published: October 29th 2018
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Relaxed start today as our scheduled tour wasn’t on until 14:00. We ventured out about 10:00 and wandered down to the main square and heard music as we approached. Turns out there is a Festival of Dance on and all these little kids were lining up to perform. We watched and waited for them to start but when 10:30 came around I decided I should start my short hike for the morning to the Inca Granaries (Pinkuylluna) that we can see from our window. It was suppose to take 1.5 hours but I figured I would go slow and hike until 12:00 before coming down again as I had arranged to meet Daisy at 13:00, so giving me an hour to get down. The hike was suppose to be moderate but moderate by Peruvian standards is not moderate by my standards. It was quite steep and I had to use my hands in parts. Luckily, the had wooden handrails in parts which were of great assistance. I didn’t take hiking poles and they would have not helped much because it was better to use your hands. These structures were agricultural storehouses. Along the way I met three young girls from Indonesia who recognized my accent and we took photos of each other.

While I was doing that Daisy was enjoying the dance festival in town and took a load of pictures , especially of the cute little kids. When 12:15 came around she looked up at the ruins and saw me coming down so she went to the start of the trail and waited for me there. It only took me 30 minutes to come down but took me 90 minutes to go up, including taking lots of photos of course.

We then walked back to the square and a couple of the streets behind and picked a place which had a special tourist menu deal. We ended up sharing it as daisy only wanted soup and I had the trout main meal. It was then time to walk back to hotel and await our tour pick-up.

Our guide this time was Julio who was very good. He had also worked on cruise lines Royal Carribean and Carnival and gave us interesting information. First stop was Moray but the drive up was a feature in itself we started at the river level of the valley and then went to the top of the mountain range at 3,500 metres. The road was winded its way up and we had tremendous views of the valley and mountain ranges and could even see glaciers. Moray was fascinating as it consists of concentric circles of terraces that were used by the Incas as an experimental spot for testing crops, the different levels having different temperatures. These crops were not actually consumed and stored, it was a purely an experimental area.

Next we drove through Maras where most of the residents work in the salt mine. In fact it is a misnomer because it is not a mine at all. The better description would be salt pans. This particular mountain has a high concentration of sodium chloride because the land was originally in the ocean and the Andes were formed by the collision of tectonic plates. In fact, shells are often found and the Incas believed it was good luck to find a conch shell. So when rains falls it collects sodium chloride, magnesium etc. The incas then designed small viaducts to collect the water and ran the water into large pans that they made. The pans you see today are the same pans the Incas used. They were very clever people. The pans then are allowed to dry and after 30 days salt can be collected. The other interesting fact is that families from Maras own 10 of these pans each which is passed down within the family and they are not allowed to sell them. However, the income they generate from the pans is a very good income for the families so they would not ant to sell them in any case. We then some products from one of the families as they have all set up market stalls at the mine. The products they make from the salt actually increase their profitability. Also, on the way out we noticed these random little buildings and Julio told us the land is not owned by anyone so people have built structures there as a squat so that they can claim the land later if the government decides to start providing services to that land, sounds strange but that's what he told us.

We were then driven back to Ollantaytambo, Julio left us at before getting there as he had to travel back to Cusco where he lives. We requested to get dropped off at the El Albergue Restaurant which our friends Jill and John Reed (as well as Lonely Planet) had recommended and the driver even parked the van and walked us down to the train station to show us where the restaurant was as it was actually in the station and he explained to the ticket collector that we were just going to the restaurant. We had a mixed grill of beef, alpaca and lamb. The problem was that the Daisy asked for medium to well-done as we were advised to do but the meat came our quite rare so we finished the beef which was quite nice with the sauce they provided but Daisy didn’t like the alpaca so raw so we sent it back along with the lamb and it was much better. The serving wasn’t that large for two people so we ordered dessert which I thought was OK but Daisy did not like that much, it was called bread pudding with sorbet. We thought it might be like bread and butter pudding but it was quite different.

We then walked slowly back to the hotel but noticed the concert was still going and they had fireworks going. There was quite a big crowd and we couldn’t see much so decided to go home. I’m finishing this blog at 10:40 and I can still hear music coming from the square!

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