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Published: September 16th 2018
The restaurant in Ollantaytambo was gorgeous, - tastefully decorated patio overlooking the beautiful garden by the side of the Vilcanota River. Perfect for a relaxing lunch break! A Mexican couple joined our table and we hit instantly. The gentleman works in New Jersey in the U.S. and commute from Mexico City every weekend. “You fly every week from the Mexico City to New Jersey? No way Man,” I was shaking my head in disbelief! I recall the fiasco we saw in the Mexico City Arrival terminal! Boy oh Boy! I simply said “Wow! You have the mojo”. Flying every week more than 4-5 hours each way and battling the immigration is no joke! We settled in a corner table in the patio and quickly became friends.
“Tell me, how the hell do you manage traveling every week to the U.S. from the Mexico City?” I asked while waiting for the food to arrive.
“Got used to it, my friend…no big deal.”
“So do you fly every Friday night to the Mexico City from New Jersey?”
“Yep. And fly back to New Jersey on Sunday evening”
“OMG! How can you? You gotta face the huge line up
every week at the immigration when you arrive, right?” I sure was showing my disbelief!
“Well, kind of…not every Friday, but some time it happens…it depends on the flight” He chuckled!
I quickly finished the lunch and excused myself to take some pictures in the beautiful garden. Suman continued the conversation in the mean time. It was a semi cloudy day, but nice and warm. The garden by the side of a bubbly river looked beautiful with lovely flowers and there were two lamas sitting close by the river side. Of course it is the perfect photo-op I thought; I adjusted the camera and came close to one of the lamas to get some portraits! Crap, the Lamas were not friendly at all, probably tired of all the paparazzi like me! But I managed to get some close ups anyway.
“Hey, come up…the guide is calling us,” Suman hollered from the patio. That’s the pain in the back when you travel with a guided tour, they will drive you around like a herd of goats! Crazy! Anyway, we were back on the road again and the bus rolled down the mountain roads and the small villages of
Ollantaytambo and slowed down by the beautiful fertile valley of Urubamba. It is also known as the archeological capital of Peru. The bus climbed up the mountain until we stopped near the top. We stepped down from the bus and Wow! What a view! I don’t know why the Nature has dumped all Her treasures just into one place! Mother Nature! Far below is the lush green valley surrounded by the majestic mountains. One can see the agriculture in terraces on the slopes of the Mountain like a designed staircase. Right on the top is the ruin of an Inca fortress and we walked inside the ruin. Just like the ruins in Pisac and Sacsayhuaman, the architecture using the stones was amazing! We walked down the ruins where the terraces have started. We got down the first level of the terrace and curiously looked around when we noticed some water pipes coming out from the terraces. I made a close check and indeed they were for irrigation. The water pipes were placed in a row with equal spacing between the pipes. It was impressive how the Incas engineered the water flow for irrigation at such a high altitude.
was leaning down towards the west and we headed towards the bus. The local tribes were selling some small handicrafts. We bought a few small items from them. It’s their living and if I could chip in even a small amount to help them out, it would be my pleasure. The bus rolled down the mountain and we headed towards the Valley of Urubamba. It’s time to go back to Cusco, but not tracing the same route along the Valcanota River. From Urubamba a road travels south to Chinchero and meets the main road to Cusco. It’s a shorter route, and that also would give us the opportunity to see the old Church and the local market of the Incas at Chinchero.
“What the hell are those?” From the window I pointed to some glass capsules hanging in the air from the high rocky mountain slopes. Suman also was looking at them but none of us had any clue about what they are. The guide came alive in the PA system. “You see those capsules hanging from the mountain, amigo. They are the lodges.”
“Whaaat?” I almost fell from my seat. “How the hell do you go up
there?” My curiosity burst out!
“Well my friend, you climb.” The guide replied.
“Did you say I climb? Are you crazy?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Who on earth would climb up the 1200 ft. steep rocks to reach the capsule type lodges! And why, for God’s sake?
“You will be surprised amigo. There is a good demand of the Skylodges.”
“But how do you take the supplies up there?”
“Not much you need amigo. You sleep for the night with an amazing 300 degree view around” My guide was smiling. I wanted to ask, well how would one handle the Nature’s call from there, but restrained my curiosity to discuss such biodiversity in Sacred Valley after all. The bus came close to the lodge while driving along the highway and guess what – surprise, surprise! A team of 3 to 4 Rock climbers were about to climb up the 1200 ft steep rock to one of those hanging capsules, with all the harnesses in place. ”You see amigo?” the guide was pointing to the climbers through the window of the running bus. This is something I had to see to believe it!
Man oh man! I sure have no chance to experience those capsules!
We stopped in a rural area of Chinchero and met some Inca ladies. They wanted to show some local rituals. We knew it’s all prearranged by the tour companies, but it’s almost end of the day; and the ambience seemed natural and not a total sham! To me, one big purpose of any tour is to learn the local culture. As I have been always interested to learn about the Inca Civilization and any opportunity to come across such events is definitely a bonus for me. Rituals in every country are different and I was curious to observe such a practice in Peru. The girls performed the rituals for about twenty minutes and it was interesting. I was itching to ask a few questions, but I realized that there would be a language barrier and I kept quiet. At the end of the rituals, the girls showed us around some of the products they sell to the tourists, mainly hand knitted sweaters and shawls. Lovely! Every race on this planet has something new to offer. I find that so fascinating!
The sun has gone down in
the horizon sometimes ago. A somber evening greeted us as we were boarding the bus. I love such pleasant, quiet evenings….‘far from the madding crowd’. I took a deep breath and boarded the bus.
Our last stop was in a church in Chinchero. The church was built by the Spaniards in 1607 AD. It was evening time and we walked inside the chapel. The ceilings were designed so elegantly. Located so far away from the city and deep in the valley, the government sure takes care of the maintenance of such an old church. The Peruvian Government continued to surprise me with their sincere effort to preserve the history and the culture that they inherited from the past! I wish many countries would do the same.
It was around 7:30 pm when the bus stopped near the Armada Plaza back in Cusco and we took a walk back to our hotel. It was a lovely day. I was rewinding my thoughts. My mind was roaming around the Sacred Valley; I could see a tranquil evening slowly descending from the sky all over the Sacred Valley and the mountains, the Vilcanota River, the pine trees in the
rolling hills, the ruins of Sacsayhuaman. With the approaching dusk, I was listening to the weeping Inca land whispering in my ears to tell her untold stories of the bygone days and the glory from the past. I sighed!
A quiet dinner in a nice Peruvian restaurant was a perfect closure; it ended a lovely day with a touch of class and with a touch of sadness.
Tomorrow is another day and we head out to Machu Picchu!
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