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Published: September 9th 2018
We finished our breakfast and spent some time in the hotel lobby chatting with some local folks who set up their small display of merchandise for sale. I suppose, it is part of the hotel ritual to create the ambience that promotes the Inca culture. In my view, that is great…a multicultural mosaic! We spent some time with the folks.
The bus came on time to pick us up from the hotel. It would be a day trip to visit the close by interests; Sacsayhuaman and of course, Pisac and the Sacred Valley in Ollantaytambo. It’s a double deck bus with open top. The day was nice and warm and we chose to sit on the open deck for a 360 view of the beautiful landscape around us. Of course I have another interest to grab a sit on the open deck – yeah, you guessed it - I was itching to capture some great images in such a beautiful day.
After driving around the town of Cusco, the bus left the town and started climbing up. It was a sunny day and it was not bitterly chilly. Wearing a wind cheater was fine. And Wow! What an amazing
view all around us! The rolling hills dotted with the Pines on the slope of the Andes made a picture perfect landscape. The first destination was Sacsayhuaman. It is the remains of a massive fortress at the northern edge of Cusco that was built between 1438-1471 AD by the Pachacuti Incas. Obviously keeping in mind to protect their Capital, Incas felt they needed to build this massive fortress. Sacsayhuaman could hold over 1000 warriors and they used to have temples built inside the fortress. And to my surprise I found that Incas were expert in handling heavy stones. The massive stone cubes each over 100 tons were perfectly fitted side by side and from the top to the bottom. When the Spanish conquered and entered Cusco, first they removed all the gold from Coricancha, the Temple of the Sun. Then they discovered Sacsayhuaman and were perplexed having seen the massive stone work so neatly stacked together. Today, the remains of the fort was silently reminiscing the glory from the past amid the green pastures surrounded by the far away mountains. Our bus stopped there but didn’t allow us to get down. I wish they did. That’s why I always dislike
this kind of organized tours. I love my freedom and when I travel alone, I try to travel on my won with the local transports, bikes or whatever. But Suman was with me in this trip and I had to keep my nomadic behavior within control!
“Are you cold,” I asked Suman; I knew it was getting slightly chilly on top of the mountain.
“I’m fine,” I’m used to that response!
The bus rolled down the mountain roads of Andes. I was engrossed by the rich mountain landscape around me. I have travelled quite a few other countries that are blessed with great mountains and hills. I find that mountains in every place have unique features and each offers amazing beauties. I tend to fall in love with the mountains wherever I travel. At this altitude, the areas were covered with the tall Pine trees. The light and shadow inside the woods created a designed carpet with the green grass texture… so beautiful. I watched a small river flowing by the side of the road like a dancing little girl and I could see a lama at a distance grazing over the grassland…so peaceful. It was hard
to imagine that the area was turned into a killing field by the Spaniards destroying a rich culture and a prosperous civilization! I sighed. The greed of power and wealth has swamped the humans for thousands of years and seem to be never ending. The bus slowed down and took a side road to stop at a small Inca village by the roadside. We stepped out of the bus and an Inca priest came out from a small hut. There was a small circular area surrounded by stone and the priest brought some materials from inside the hut to perform some Inca ritual. Sure I had some interest in the ritual, but I also knew that it was a bit of show and tale prearranged by the tour company. It would have been more interesting to enjoy the landscape surrounding the hamlet, but I went with the flow.
The next destination was the Peruvian village Pisac. It is an Inca village in the Sacred Valley. Actually, the entire area including the Ollantaytambo is Inca Sacred Valley. The picturesque Pisac is sitting by the Vilcanota River and at the entrance of the famous Inca Ruin atop the mountain. Generally it
is a sleepy village and the tourists stop here to get a coffee break. But the village is vibrant on the Market days, i.e. Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. On those days, busloads of tourists flock here and buy whatever they can – from handicraft to fruits and vegetables. This indeed helps the locals with some income for living. We stopped for coffee and the tour guide from our bus led people to the market place. Shopping is always my least of interest when I travel. Suman went to check some stores and I went around clicking my camera to capture the images of the village and the surroundings.
We left the village in about forty minutes and visited the nearby Inca ruins. Agricultural terraces are all across the Hills. This is an ancient Inca culture and the practice is still there today. We started climbing up the Inca Ruins of Pisac. It’s not a cake walk, especially with the thin air at 11,000 ft. We rested a bit every time we needed to catch our breath and surely we came up to the top. Wow! What a spectacular view of the Pisac and the valley further down. A picture
perfect valley dotted with the Nature’s handicraft spread far below like a gift from another world. Similar to Sacsayhuaman, the masonry artwork of the ruin was amazing and worth visiting. I have no idea how the Incas hauled such heavy stones up the mountain without any of the modern accessories. It’s unbelievable! I call it a marvel. We spent there about 40 minutes before we started coming down from the top of the fortress. I didn’t want to miss the bus. No, we were in time and it was almost noon and we were getting hungry. It was a short drive from Pisac when we entered the town of Ollantaytambo. It’s a relatively bigger town than Pisac and the other villages close by. Peru Rail offers a service from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. Actually, many tourists who travel on their own, travel to Ollantaytambo from Cusco, explore the area for a few days and then head out to Machu Picchu. So the train that runs from Cusco to Machu Picchu, stops here first to pick up passengers on its way to Machu Picchu.
It was almost noon. I could tell that without looking at my watch; my stomach growled.
“Are you hungry,” Suman asked.
“Umm, getting there, I guess.” I replied.
“Me too!” Suman smiled. I think the bus driver heard my stomach complained and rolled the bus in front of a beautiful ivy laced gate of a high end restaurant in a quiet neighborhood.
“Lunch Time” announced the guide!
Next - More of Sacred Valley! Stay tuned!
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