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Published: November 28th 2010
Tue 16 to Thu 18 Nov - Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
A well deserved lie in (woke at 7am) was followed by a lazy morning in Aguas Calientes, drinking coffee and watching the train go slowly by within arm´s reach. Old women, children, dogs and tourists stroll casually along the train tracks and move out of the way only after it has honked it´s horn.
In the afternoon we caught the train half way back to Cusco and got off at Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. Managed to catch a tuk tuk to our hotel for just a few pence ... :o)
Went on a downhill mountain bike ride (on paved roads) the next morning. They drove us up to 4420m (14500ft) to start it at the base of a glacier - this is higher than I skydive from ! It was cold and wet up there, we were feeling dizzy and were having second thoughts. We started off in cloud and had rain dripping from our faces as we flew round hairpin bends with frozen fingers and dogs chasing us - It was great fun !
They next day we were due to go on a
horse back ride to some other Inca ruins but Ken woke up feeling pretty rough. We were at an altitude of only 2792m but I think altitude sickness had reared it´s ugly head again. We both woke up with some bites and think that there must have been some critters in the bed - Nice.
Ollantaytambo is quite a small place with lots of character and impressive Inca ruins dominating the skyline. There are two main squares and lots of narrow cobblestoned alleyways that as you wander down you get glimpses of locals in their yards living in harmony with pigs and chickens.
In the taxi on the way back to Cusco it really dawned on us what a vast and beautiful country this is. We passed mountain ranges and huge valleys dotted with mud-brick houses that are exactly the same colour as the earth - because they are made from the earth. We passed animals tethered by a single ropes and people working the land. The men still use oxen to plough the fields and plant the crops and the women tend the animals and pick the harvest by hand. There is a lot of poverty here
but they seem very happy. Thu 18 Nov - Cusco, Peru
Back in Cusco we stayed at The Niños 1 Hotel this time. Again, there´s a big gate facing the road with a miniature door in it and no clue of what lies behind. Once inside you are confronted with a glorious courtyard and a restored colonial mansion and the staff are very friendly. This hotel was started by a Dutch woman to help starving children. She now has 3 hotels and 5 restaurants for children.
Had a look in the cathedral, there´s a painting of Christ´s Last Supper with a cooked guinea pig on the table ... mmmm... Unfortunately we´ve not been allowed to take photos in any of the religious buildings we´ve been in yet. I´m guessing this is true for the whole of South America? Fri 19 Nov - Bus to Puno, Peru
05:45 alarm to catch the 07:30 Inkaexpress to Puno on the banks of Lake Titicaca.
We both felt ill and nauseous this morning and couldn´t eat breakfast. So glad we packed our bags the night before. I (Ken) hate adjusting to altitude. Cusco is about 3400m above sea
level and Puno is about 3827m ... so we´re heading even higher ... :o(
This was a 10 hour journey in a pretty comfortable bus with 5 stops along the way, including some Inca ruins, a couple of museums, an amazing church in a small town called Andahuaylillas and a stop at the highest point of our trip - La Raya (4335m).
Our first site of Puno was not very impressive ... and we didn´t change our minds much later. It´s a sprawling, loud, dusty city that´s not very easy on the eye. The only reason we´re here is to visit Lake Titicaca tomorrow.
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