Touring and rafting in the Urubamba Valley
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The drive all day long was so scenic with mountains all the way. Sometimes we drove up them and sometimes down them. Our first couple of stops were along the side of the road on some mountains that overlooked the valley below and mountains in the distance.
Next we stopped just for 20 minutes at a market. The first section was filled with women selling produce, vegetables and juice. Then there were rows and rows and rows of vendors selling homemade goods. Bram did some negotiating and bought a nice chinchero (small spanish guitar) for his brother.
Then we drove on and stopped at Pisac. This is one of the places I was excited for because Thursday was one of the three days each week in which they have a large market. Unfortunaltey we only stayed less than an hour. Once again I enjoyed looked at all the homemade items.
Next we made an interesting stop at the side of a highway where some men were making mud bricks. Out of everyone, Bram got selected to be a brick maker. He had to use a shovel to scoop mud into a wooden crate that was divided into two sections to form the bricks. Then he had to use the shovel to press it down and form it into place. Finally he lifted the wooden cover and had succesfully created two mud bricks.
For lunch we were dropped off at the Sonesta Hotel for a buffet. The hotel was under construction, but Bram and I quickly finished lunch to explore what was being built. The place was magnificent.
Our next stop of the day was the most famous; it was the Incan ruins of Ollantaytambo. It was very impressive with row after row of terraces. The city of Ollantaytambo is best known for its ruins, and for the spot where the Inca emperor Manco Inca was able to defeat the Spanish in a set-piece battle. The finely cut rocks and plantation terraces were very large obstacles for the Conquistadors to surpass, and the fortress was also used by Manco to conduct successful attacks on Francisco Pizarro and other Conquistadors who were based in Lima.
The hike up to the top was a real chore. I had to stop so many times. The elevation of over 12,000 feet really winded me, but I finally reached the summit. Up top we toured the temple and saw how incredibly the Inkas had transported stones that weighed over 50 tons and then shaped them into perfect edges and placed them together perfectly. The view from up top was brethtaking too (as if the elevation hadnīt already taken my breath). The valley was filled with patches of farming. After climbing back down I had some time to run up and down the streets to see what the town was like.
Next our tour guide showed us a side of Peru I would have never seen otherwise. He showed us a bar; although it looked absolutely NOTHING like you would imagine a bar to look like. There they forment some items to create a strawberry concoction and another that tasted like beer. They tasted alright and supposedly are supposed to have many healthy side effects. Then our tour guide showed us a drinking game there. He explained that usually the loser would then have to pay for the drinks. Basically there ws a wooden box that kind of ws like a pinball machine in that there were certain targets. Then we had to stand ten feet back and try to toss our six coins into the various targets. I squared off against Bram and beat him only by scoring one coin in the hole.
Back on the bus and we made another roadside stop to admire the mountains in the distance.
Next we arrived to Chinchero which was the Inkan city with the highest elevation. We received a terrific demonstration from the local women on how they use insects, crops, or plants to create color dyes. Then they showed how they use that dye to color wool that they then use to make blankets and sweaters. It was interesting to learn that each city has their own colors that they wear that represent them.
On the drive back to Cusco our guide shared some Peruvian whiskey with us. Bram and I arrived back at the hotel at 7:15PM.
We got semi dressed up for the first time and a little after 8PM we walked back to the main square. We had dinner at Nuna Raymi and it turned out to be another terrific dinner. We both had the duck. Afterwards we went to a club nearby called Up Town. We stayed there until 11PM and theyr were teaching people (well, teaching the women really) how to salsa dance. We ended the night back at a pub for a drink and to watch some futbol.
Bram and I were picked up a 9AM and driven 90 minutes to Ollantaytambo for a white water rafting trip. Along the way we picked up 3 travelers from Oklahoma and 3 from Sweden. We rafted down the urubamba River. It was pretty calm for the most part, but at least the scenary was spectacular. The river cut through mountains on either side of us and the clouds hung low covering the peaks of the mountains. Sometimes the clouds seem to reach down almost as low as the valley and devour one whole entire mountain while the one next to it is perfectly exposed.
Near the end we hit three different sets of class three rapids that definitely were an exciting rush to splahs through. As we took out our rafts at the end of the day, Bram even decided to jump into the river off a protruding 8 foot boulder.
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