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Published: July 30th 2013
This morning I awoke to gunshots. Or at least that is what it sounded like. Mark seems to think it might be fireworks but I am not convinced. Who the fuck lets fireworks off at six in the morning! He is probably right though, it was independence day in Peru on the 28 July so the streets had been progressively filling with people dressed in police and military attire, in preparation for the big march last Sunday. The celebrations appear to continue for days. My understanding of the march is that it was a military type parade, rather than a cultural one, similar to what we would do for Anzac day, so Mark and I booked ourselves on the earliest bus out of here.
It’s funny the people you meet while you are on holidays. A few years ago, Mark and I attended a music festival over New Years, as we often do, with some old friends who brought along some new friends. We spent nearly a week together, drinking and listening to music. Fast forward a few years and Mark and I found ourselves early in the morning waiting for a bus to take us to the Sacred Valley.
Suddenly three people appeared before us and one of the looked really familiar. I asked Mark if that one of them was Brad, the friend of a friend that we had met only the once many years earlier and Mark replied no, it just looks like him. I wasn’t convinced and continued to stare. I think the realisation that we did indeed know each other occurred at the same time and my mind is still completely baffled by how, on the busiest day tours go to the Sacred Valley, we managed to, not just bump into, but be on the same tour as someone that we know – or at least are facebook friends with!
The Sacred Valley is a fascinating place. The ruins at Pisaq and Ollantaytambo are impressive to say the least. The Incas are well known for their stone work but nothing really prepares you for coming face to face with blocks of stone that weigh 22 tonnes, which were taken from the side of one mountain and placed on the side of another mountain in a lego type formation, where the joins are so precise you cannot fit a piece of paper in between them.
And the massive terraces where they tested the growing conditions for produce at different altitudes and were experimenting with genetic modification all that time ago… it's difficult to imagine the kind of thought and planning that went into these great structures and what life must have been like for the people living there.
There is something very special about this place though and I am enamoured of its beauty. The rocks that protrude the mountains around me created an illusion and the more I looked, the clearer they became. There were faces everywhere. I am not a spiritual person, in fact I am quite the opposite, but I think if I had lived in this country all those years ago, I would have believed in a god of the earth – one that had been punished by the sky and was trapped in the mountains, pushing against the dirt and earth trying to be free once more. I suddenly understood why all the artists in town were trying to sell us pictures of the mountains that doubled as creepy men with large noses. As we headed back to Cuzco I had only one thought in my mind, if these
are the ‘secondary’ ruins in the area, what is Machu Picchu going to be like…
It’s been nice having Mark back. He arrived on Tuesday armed with funny stories, memories of some incredible things and a whole lot of new friends (head to his facebook page for some photos, my particular favourites are the 2000 year old mummies with hair… eek!). His experience overlanding has opened his eyes to how easy it can be to move around these places and I fear that it has unlocked the door for future overlanding tours. Don’t misunderstand me, I am aware of the benefits of using a guided tour, of which there are many, however I still prefer independently moving around, even if sometimes it isn’t as comfortable.
I’ve been sick for about a week now. Not surprisingly I managed to catch a head cold which has, rather annoyingly, moved to my chest. The result is a burning sensation in my throat and chest each time I walk around in the cool air and my pace while strolling the streets has noticeably slowed. I have just under a week so shake the damn thing before we do our five day hike
of Salkantay. I am not concerned however, as I have been informed by the locals that you can purchase antibiotics over the counter at your local chemist and thanks to one of the wonders of the 21st
century, google translate, I should be reasonably confident of what I am taking. How did people manage in the past eh?
Mark has been fantastic and has managed to be very sympathetic even when I am aware of how pathetic and annoying I am being, especially since all I want to do in the evenings is be rugged up in bed. This has just reinforced the fact that I married the best type of man that there is.
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