Day 8 – May 16, 2012 Cusco & Sacsayhuaman

Breakfast this morning at 6:30. Some members of our group were having laundry done by a local lady who collected the clothes at the hotel, laundered and returned them to the hotel for 10 soles per kilogram or about $2 per pound. She was in the lobby at 6:30 to pick them up and would return them by 1:30 this afternoon. Pretty good service…

Kay made the observation that it was very hard to dress for Cusco. It is quite cool in the morning but gets very warm later in the day, especially in the sun. You just had to layer and remove!

We left the hotel by bus and traveled a short distance to the old colonial section of Cusco to the square the Plaza de Armas (it seems every Latin America town of any size has one). Here we visited Cusco Cathedral. The entire inside is covered in gold leaf and there are numerous very large paintings done by painters of the era. The Cathedral was completed in 1654, almost 100 years after construction began. Unfortunately no photography is allowed in the church, plus the fact that we were visiting during non-tourist hours. Edgar said that if anyone asked to tell them we came to pray. Well, it being a church I didn’t feel too compelled to lie, so I prayed….

Cusco Cathedral

Not sure what Edgar, Bea and Frank are looking at, but it must be interesting…

A view from the square. There are numerous Catholic churches here, established by different sects.

Below of course are photos of my favorite subject…

Spanish repair of an Inca wall. Can you guess which is the Spanish work?

We visited the Church of Santo Domingo and Coricancha. The church is built on the ruins of the famous Inca site of Coricancha – The golden courtyard, which was known literally for its gold. This was of course looted by the conquistadors and most of the gold was melted down. All that remains today is the fine Inca stonework. Unlike the Spanish architecture, the Inca wall has withstood all of the major earthquakes that have rocked Cusco.

While visiting here I saw a display of bas relief carvings which were for sale. After consideration, we returned in the afternoon and made a purchase.

Our travels carried us up the mountain to Sacsayhuaman, the most significant ruin in the Cusco area. It is thought that Sacsayhuaman was built to be a fortress with both military and religious significance. Only about 20% of the original site remains. Up until the 1930s blocks from Sacsayhuaman were being hauled away to use for construction in Cusco. Most of the largest stones, some which measure over 24 feet tall and weigh up to 360 tons were left.

Edgar pointing out the size of the stones.

After Sacsayhuaman we went to a field and met a Pago or Healer. He is not a priest, but one who has studied and believes in the healing power of ancient Inca rituals. The ceremony was quite formal and impressive. Edgar explained that OATS, uses three different Healers in their tours. The healers all walk to the ceremony and walk home. One of the healers comes so far he must overnight in a cave. It is part of the ritual they celebrate.

Bill being administered to by the Pago. We each had our turn.

From here we made our way back into town to have lunch at a delightful local restaurant, La Casona del Inka.

I liked their “happy house” signs as Gustavo our Galapagos leader liked to call them….

Our group enjoying our meal. Well, actually we had just finished.

Unfortunately not all of our experiences in Cusco were good. As mentioned earlier Candy was having some difficulty in Machu Picchu and Edgar had a physician see her at our hotel. It was found that her blood pressure was quite low and was recommended she be admitted to the hospital. This was done the first night we arrived back in Cusco. We learned to our sadness that Candy had decided to return to the States and not complete the trip. Edgar asked if we would like to visit her before we departed tomorrow for Ecuador. Of course we did!

This is the outside of the hospital where she was located. It was very modern and we were really impressed with Candy’s room.

As you can see, we were all allowed to visit and there was room for a dozen more people. It was good to see Candy and she was certainly surprised because she was not expecting us.

After we returned to our hotel, Janet, Carl, Kay and I walked back to the plaza area and acquired the carving mentioned earlier. On the way I managed to get a few more portraits.

This evening Edgar had a great surprise for us. He said he had never done this in 35 years of being a tour guide; he invited us to visit his home and meet his family. What a great honor and what a great family. Thank you Edgar. After our visit we journeyed on to the restaurant “Mammacha”. Unfortunately I did not make a note, but I believe we were served goat. At any rate it was good.

Well, we have to be up early tomorrow to catch our flight to Lima and then an international connecting flight to Quito.

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Day 7 – Tuesday May 15, 2012 – Machu Picchu

[This post was revised on 5/30/12 to include the photos which did not post originally]

Internet access finally!!!
I apologize for not being able to post for the past three days. We were in the Sacred Valley Saturday and Sunday and did not have any internet access. Come to think of it, we didn’t have a phone, television or heat and air conditioning. Actually we would not have missed the phone, TV or AC, but some heat sure would have been nice. Well, that will be a topic for an earlier post.

I plan to try and pick up today and when I am able will catch up with the earlier days. This might not happen until we return due to time limitations and internet service.

Today started at 4:30 AM, we dressed and were at breakfast at 5:00. Breakfast was at our hotel and consisted of a buffet of fruits and a hot (warm) selection of eggs, fried franks (they have been served everywhere for breakfast), fried chicken nuggets and steamed vegetables. Yes vegetables are served at most breakfasts. We then made a quick trip to our room and finished getting ready for the day. We dropped our luggage at the front desk for the porters to carry to the train station later in the day.

We then left with 7 other of our travelers and our assistant guide while in Macchu Pichu, Joel. After a short walk to the bus station we boarded the bus for another exciting 30 minute ride through switch backs to the top of the mountain. Our plan this morning was to arrive before sunrise so we could witness the beauty of the sun as it crossed the mountain and Machu Picchu. Joel quickly lead us to the best vantage point about 15 minutes before sunrise. It was worth the effort.

Getting ready for breakfast. Kay found a bug in the meat… I guess just extra protein.

The sun is just rising above the mountains and first light is cast on Wyaupicchu

Our guide Edgar has been very accommodating. Today he arranged different departure times for those who wanted to go early and those who wished to come up later. We were all glad we elected to make the early trip. After viewing the beautiful sunrise we all agree we would like to hike the Inca Trail to the Sun Gate. This is about a 3 to 3.5 hour round trip. The Sun Gate is where the Incas coming from Cusco first saw Machu Picchu. It also served as a sentry for protection. The hike was fairly strenuous but we all made it ok.

The start of the trek up the Inca Trail to the Sun Gate

In the next several photos you may see views taken from our hike. No narration just photos.

Joel who was very knowledgeable of the mountains and trails. He know the best times to be at the best places.

As we reached the Sun Gate

View of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate

Carl & Janet

Kay and Frank and Bea resting at the top

Kay and I standing in the Sun Gate. As travelers came to Machu Picchu from Cusco on the Inca Trail, this is their first view of Machu Picchu thru the Sun Gate.

Our group of 9 who made the trek starting at 4:30 AM

Headed back down, had to be even more careful than going up.

Wyaupicchu taken from the Inca Trail. If you look closely you can see people. They now limit the hike up Wyaupicchu to only 400 per day and you must apply for a permit online and pay an extra fee.

We were quite literally feet and sometimes inches from a 1000 foot drop. You had to either walk or view scenery. You could not do both!

After we returned from the trek, which we made in about 3 hours, we took a brief rest and all agreed to hike to the Inca Draw Bridge. This is a very narrow trail which the Incas cut into the side of a mountain and constructed a “gap” which they could cover with logs to cross and then remove when enemies were coming. This is only a 45 minute hike but is pretty precarious. For this reason hikers must sign in and out at the trail head. Below are some photos but they just cannot convey the feeling of being inches away from the edge of a drop of several thousand feet.

The Inca Draw Bridge

Walk this trail for an adrenalin rush!

Here I am with the Inca Draw Bridge behind me. This is as far as you are allowed.

This is the point most people stopped. From here the trail narrowed down to the Draw Bridge.

After returning from the drawbridge, some of us just decided to relax and enjoy the fresh air and view until time to leave. Here are a few photos taken while resting.

We all met back at the departure point at about 12 and had another exciting bus ride down.

I had grilled alpaca which was pretty good, tasted like beef. Kay and some others had mountain trout which they said was not very good. The other times we have had trout it was excellent.

After lunch we boarded the train for a 1.5 hour ride to Ollantaytambo where we again got on our bus for the 2 hour ride to Cusco and our hotel.

Below are a few photos taken from the train.

Plowing with oxen and a wooden plow.

This gentleman was trying to bum cigarettes from the train passengers.

Back at the train station.

Photo taken from the bus trip back to Cusco.

We arrived after dark at the Jose Antonio Hotel in Cusco. The hotel was very nice, but no A/C but the rooms were comfortable.

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Day 6 – Monday – May 14, 2012 Train ride through Urubamba Gorge

We woke early again to a chilly room, 62 degrees. At least this will be our last night here. It is really a nice hotel and the views are beautiful, if only they had heat!. Our luggage is outside our door at 7:30. We have breakfast which for me consists of some eggs, lots of fruit and chesses washed down with about 3 cups of the excellent coffee. We are on the bus at 8:00 AM and on our way to the first adventure of the day.

Part of Overseas Adventure Travel and Grand Circle Travel’s philosophy is the principle that they should give back to all the countries in which they have tour. This is done through The Grand Circle Foundation. To this end they help support three schools in Peru. The one we are going to visit is “Pucruto”.

When we arrive at about 8:20 the entire student body is in the courtyard having a “parade” to celebrate one of the national holidays. They line in formation and sing several songs. After the ceremony, the principal introduces our group and the students make their way back to class, all except the 4th grade class we are to meet with. They quickly approach us and each student selects a “friend”. I was fortunate to be selected by 9 year old Anyela.


The students quickly herded us over to a large world map painted on one of the school buildings. Here they wanted us to point out where we lived.

The young man on the left, I believe he was 12, suffers from polio and is incredibly agile on his home made crutches. He seemed to fit right in with the rest of the guys.

Following a brief tour of the school, we returned to the class room where we had an opportunity to interact with the students and review some of their work.

Here Frank is trying on his amigo’s hat to his amusement. Bill, as always, is engaging a youngster. Everywhere we traveled Bill seemed to have a special affinity for the children and they all responded to him.

Kay’s partner is showing some of her work. I was amazed at the math level these 4th graders were doing. Math was about the only thing I could evaluate since I don’t speak Spanish and none of the children spoke English.

Anyela drew a self portrait for me and wrote a note. I later got Edgar to translate for me. It said “My name is Anyela, I love you so much. I am giving this to you so you can remember me. To Wendell”. The children were neat and clean although many had very worn clothes and shoes.

After our individual time, the class using Edgar as the translator told us their names, how far they traveled to school and what they wanted to be when they grew up. Anyela only had a 5 minute walk to school, but one child had to travel for an hour each way. Most of the girls wanted to become teachers and a few doctors. Anyela was the only one who wanted to be an attorney. The boys overwhelming wanted to be tour guides, a very good job in Peru.

Afterward we had a group photo with the children and their teacher.

After leaving the school we traveled to Ollantaytambo to board the Inca Train for Machu Picchu. We had only a few minutes to walk some of the narrow streets which date back hundreds of years.

I of course had to take a few photos of some of the locals going about their daily routine.

Our train departed at 11:15 AM, already a full morning…..

In addition to the beautiful scenery on the train, Kay and I sat opposite a very nice couple from Miami. It made a very pleasant one and one-half hour train ride. During the train trip Edgar supplied us with a box lunch which again was both nutritious and delicious.

After arriving in Aguas Calientes Village, at the base of Machu Picchu, we walked immediately about 2 blocks to the bus station for the trip up the mountain. The only access to Machu Picchu is by bus or by hiking up the mountain. I believe a bus ticket is $19 and that trip in itself is an adventure. The road is dirt and one lane. There are innumerable hairpin switchback and absolutely no guard rails. Your life is in the hands of the driver and the mechanical condition of the bus. If you meet another bus, the descending bus must back up until you reach a place wide enough to pass.

After reaching Machu Picchu all I can say is that the trip was worth the effort. We stayed in the park until the last bus returned to Aguas Calientes. I will let the photos speak for themself.

Photo from the bus

Edgar, our trip leader. He did an excellent job of giving us an overview of Machu Picchu and its interest in the observation of the sun and moon. A great emphasis was placed on the sun and in many places there were sundials and special alignments to mark the solstice. His timing was perfect, we arrived in the early afternoon just as many of the day trippers were leaving and by the time we left at 5 PM, the park was almost empty. I never thought I would have the opportunity to photo Machu Picchu without hordes of people, but I did!

Joel, he was our second guide while in Machu Picchu. Joel spoke excellent English which he said he acquired in the field. Joel loved American idoms and was anxious to pick up new ones. We assisted at every opportunity. Probably his favorite was one Carl gave him. “You don’t want to be the richest man in the cemetery”…. enjoy life.

Janet, Kay, and Ashleigh

Kay and Wayne

After returning from the mountain to Aquas Calientes, we went immediately to dinner. Several of us decided to eat at Totes, a restaurant just a few buildings down from our hotel. I was pleasantly surprised. I had read about how expensive everything was in Aquas Calientes since it must come in by train and you were essentially a captive audience. We had a very nice pizza, 3 beers, salad bar and the manager provided us with a complimentary pisco sour. The total bill with tip was only about $24. Edgar was kind enough to point out what to avoid on the salad bar. There are just some things our sensitive stomachs have problems with in Peru, mainly lettuce and other “ground close” vegetables that are not cooked or peeled.

Totes Restaurant

We finally made it to our hotel at about 8PM. This was really the first dissapointment of our trip. We had been warned by OATS not to expect plush accommodations in Aquas Calientes but I was still dissappointed with our room. It was clean and adequate but it was literally a portion of the hall which had been closed in to make a room. We had about 18 inches of space around the bed. It was a good thing that we had repacked to carry only small bags for this overnight trip. Our regular luggage would not have had any place to stay. Not everyone had such small quarters, some in fact had quite large rooms. The redeeming fact was that we were only to spend a little over 8 hours here….

Carol, Pat, Janet, Bill and Carol when we arrived at the hotel. The “Flat Rock Society” had elected to delay dinner for their traditional glass of wine. They are meeting just outside our room. You see the curtains on the right? This was our room view. Pull back the curtain and our tiny bed was on dispaly!

The rest of the group, Carol (again), Candy, Wayne and Edgar.

Bill is telling us about his experience. After arriving at the hotel, he had a knock at the door. A porter asked if he would like to see a magic trick, he said sure. The porter said show me your wallet and when he reached for it it wasn’t in his pocket. The porter then produced it for him. Apparently he had left it at the restaurant an and someone there tracked him down and brought it to the hotel. It’s nice to know there are honest people still… Edgar did warn us that unfortunately not all people in Peru are so honest. Well neither are they in the US….

Got to bed about 9PM for an early 4:30 wake up call.

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Day 5 – Sunday May 13, 2012 – Sacred Valley

After a hot shower and a very chilly shave (62 degrees in our room), I got dressed and we proceeded to another early morning breakfast. As was all the food we have had, it was excellent. Our breakfasts have been buffet style with a huge selection of fruits, cheeses and breads and yogurt. There is usually eggs and a meat. Personally I prefer my eggs “over easy”. In Peru they are always served very soft scrambled and usually just warm. I would be happier with my scrambled eggs hot and firm. Well, just one small complaint. The meat is usually mild sausage links (very good) or fried hot-dog wiener. I really believe they feel obligated to provide a meat to the tourist since the locals generally eat little meat other than fish and some chicken which we have occasionally seen for breakfast. The coffee served here is superb, which is surprising since the locals drink very little coffee. I attribute the delicious coffee to the fact that it is probably several months fresher than we usually see in the states.

Loading the bus at 7:30 AM

Our first stop, which was only about 20 minutes away was the pre-Inca and Inca fortress at Ollantaytambo. Ollantaytambo is both the name of a town and the name of an Inca archaeological site. It is located about 25 miles northwest of Cusco at 9,160 feet elevation. It was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region, built the town and a ceremonial center. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru it served as a stronghold for Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance. The battle with the Spanish in 1536 was the only victory the Incas had over the Spanish. Rather than continuing with a dry boring history, I will just show you some photos :).

Our fearless group leader Edgar

Wayne, and I believe Carol just behind him

Ashleigh and Kelly, sisters – our groups two “daughters” traveling with 7 sets of parents 🙂

The stonework is unbelievable. The walls were designed to survive the frequent earthquakes in the area, and have for hundreds and some cases thousands of years. The Inca builders fitted each stone with several interlocking components which kept the stones from sliding.

A nice photo of your group. Unfortunately Edgar is not in this one since he took the photo. Good job Edgar!

After leaving Ollantaytambo, it was just a few miles more to reach our next stop. This would be the beginning of our “Day in the Life”. This is a component of OAT’s tours which allow you to experience what it is like to really live in the area you are visiting. It is a step beyond just being a tourist. Our first experience would be with a typical Peruvian farmer. This farmer was probably a little more prosperous than many in the area. He owned his home and a few acres of land as well as a couple of cows and some pigs and a mule. His primary commercial crop is corn.

Unfortunately I did not get his name. He was in the field when we arrived and his wife was at the market.

The court yard of his home. Notice the corn drying on the roof. The ladder lead up to additional crib space where the farmer was currently sleeping because someone had stolen a cow. From here he could see his field and observe any activity. Just the fact that he has something valuable enough to steal speaks for his relative prosperity.

Peruvian corn comes in many sizes, shapes and colors. The grains are huge and corn is a staple at almost every meal. Despite it frequently appearing on the plate, I never tired of it. They have so many ways to prepare the different varieties that it was never boring or bland.

The youngest two of four children.

This little girl just breaks my heart…..

This is one end of the kitchen, the food preparation section. The floor is dirt and they cook with wood. Utensils are stored on pegs driven between the rocks in the wall. Knives were also stuck in the wall.

This is the other end of the kitchen. Guinea pigs are nesting here. These are raised for food, but normally eaten only on special occasions. There was one bare light bulb to light the room which has no windows.

Here he is proudly displaying some Inca pottery he found on his property. There is a cliff directly behind the house where you can observe several burial caves from his court yard. One of the hardest things for me to get used to is the fact that Inca ruins are everywhere.

Kay in the field husking an ear of corn. When the corn was husked you tossed it onto a blanket (yes, like the ones I told you about yesterday) and then carried from the field to the house to dry. There are no motorized equipment here. He plows the fields with his mule and wooden plow. The ground is so rocky that it is hard to believe they can grow anything.

After leaving the farm, again it was only a few miles more to another location where we continued our “Day in the Life” experience. Our next stop was at a Chicheria or”bar” by the name of El Descanso. This is where locals go to enjoy their favorite beverage chicha, a corn beer. Chicha is a quick fermented, low alcohol beverage which I would assume is very nutritious.

Serving up a big (over a liter) glass of chicha. If I remember correctly this glass cost 2 soles or about 80 cents.

Bill and Pat enjoying a glass…. Well not really, we all had a taste but no one had a full glass. It was surprisingly good. It won’t be replacing my English Bitter anytime soon, but it was certainly drinkable and a lot cheaper!

A young man sitting in the window observing the tourists.

After leaving El Descanso, we went to downtown Urubamba, where the market was in full swing. The idea was to get a feel for what it is like in a Peruvian village to shop for your food. After the market visit we are continuing our “Day in the Life” adventure by visiting a local home for lunch (yes, we have done all this in one morning).



“Specialty” Meats

After a few minutes in the market we decided we would wait in the shade of the park in the square. Of course I had to take a few photos of my favorite subject – PEOPLE.

Teenagers are teenagers everywhere….

Leaving the market to travel to our host’s home, Edgar thought it would be a good experience to take a motorcycle taxi. Since each taxi can only transport 2 persons he had to arrange for 8 drivers.

Here is Kay getting into our taxi.

Finally everyone is loaded and after making two circles around the square… not really sure why… we headed for the short, about 10 minute ride to our lunch. Upon arrival, Edgar and the bus were already there waiting for us. We met our host and family but soon realized that we were short two of our fellow travelers. This probably would not have concerned us much, except the two missing persons were our “daughters” Ashleigh and Kelly. For the next 30 to 40 minutes there was a lot of worry.

From the look on our hosts face you can see the anxiety while waiting for the girls. Finally word arrived that they were still in the square after their driver became confused about the address and had ridden them all over town.

Our host’s home, one of the nicer ones in town. Following are some photos of the family and the home.

Kay and Bea

Wayne, Kay and Bill Whiteis admiring our table.

Before the meal, the ladies had an opportunity to help in the preparation.

Demonstrating how to batter a stuffed pepper to make chile relleno.

Kay trying her hand with the pepper.

Finally meal time arrives. We were served a delicious lunch of Chile Relleno, a pasta, corn on the cob and pickled apple along with a corn beverage to drink. The beverage was purple from the type of corn and looked like grape juice. It had a slightly sweet taste but not much flavor. Not unpleasant, but not my favorite drink. Like I said, corn appears at every meal. The highlight of the meal was the serving of a special dish…… did you guess?

Roasted Guinea Pig… Almost everyone tried a taste. To me it was like a cross between duck and squirrel. It did not taste like chicken! It of course was dark meat and slightly oily like duck, but stringy like squirrel. Again not bad, but I will stay with my steak.

After the meal we said our good-bys and the ladies left a small gift. Kay gave a Soleil community cook book.

We then visited a local pottery shop which had some very good work, but I was too tired to even take many photos….

We arrived back at the hotel about 4:00 PM, in time for a short nap before boarding the bus for a “roast chicken” dinner at the Wallpa Wasi (Chicken House) restaurant. Edgar explained that eating chicken brought back many memories for him. As a child the family could not afford chicken and he made a promise to himself that one day he would enjoy not only a piece of chicken but half of a chicken. This finally happened when he was 16 and had a job. He got his first half chicken and took one home to his mother , brothers and sisters. Folks, just remember the many blessing we have and also remember to say a prayer for those less fortunate…..

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Day 04 Saturday, May 12 –

NOTE: This is the first of several entries I plan to make since we returned home. Not having internet access made it impossible to post along the way. I will try to be faithful to our travels, but it is not as easy as posting daily. I am working from memory and a few brief notes. Fellow travelers, please excuse me for errors and omissions, I know there will be some. Thanks, Wendell.

We had breakfast at the hotel and then take an early morning flight to Cuzco, landing at the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport. You may see the spelling of the city Cusco with a “c” or a “z”. The locals tend to use the “z”. Everything went smooth except Kay was almost arrested for having a nail file in her carryon. Well not really, but it was one she didn’t know she had or how long or how many airports it had passed through. Atlanta cleared it with no problem but not in Lima. It seems when we travel, at least one of us will be stopped at security for something. In Atlanta I had a bag search and a chemical swab of my hands, must be the beard….

Cusco Airport

At 11,000 feet elevation, altitude sickness can be a problem for some. To help with this problem there are Oxygen dispensers available.

We boarded our bus which waiting for us and headed through downtown Cusco. Candy (Smith) was experiencing some difficulties in the Cusco airport. When we reached the bus, Edgar put her on oxygen and she seemed to be doing better. She said she just felt very weak, not the typical altitude sickness.

There were many interesting sites, but as usual when in cities or villages I tend to focus on the local people and their lifestyle.

This lady was carrying her child in the ever versatile blanket which all the local ladies wear. It is a multifunctional garment which does service as a child carrier, grocery transporter, wood hauler, head cover and any number of other functions.

We stopped at an Alpaca “factory” i.e. store. Here they gave demonstrations of the weaving process as well as lessons in how to tell the difference in the various grades and types of alpaca cloth.

A few of the ladies who worked in the store doing demonstrations. Note the different hats. In Peru (and Ecuador) the women of each village have a special style/color of hat they wear. It is fascinating to see the varieties.

Kay attempting to spin a thread from the alpaca fibers.

After leaving Cusco, we traveled north to Pisac, a town known for its splendid Incan ruins high on the mountain overlooking the city. We enjoy a boxed lunch on the bus, amazingly good. Along the way we witnessed too many beautiful scenes to show them all but here are a few.

The Sacred Valley, the Urubamba River.

We stopped along the way a few times for some photo ops. Throughout the blog I will try to introduce the members of our traveling group.

Bea and Frank Skvarca from Hampton, IL

Carol and Bill Whiteis from Iowa City, IA

Of course, Kay and I

Just before reaching Pisca, we stopped for a photo op and these two little girls just appeared from nowhere, literally. We were along an isolated road far from town. They were selling various types of corn seeds, packaged in plastic strips and other items for the tourist. I didn’t purchase any, but did give them a few soles.

We reached Pisac, our next stop where there are some nice ruins, but the main attraction are the many mountain sides covered with terraces where the pre-Inca and Inca raised crops. It is hard to imagine the amount of work which went into the building of these terraces. Some were only a few feet wide but many were 30 feet wide or more. below are a few untitled photos of the Pisac ruins and the mountains.

Finally, we check in to our hotel in the Sacred Valley the Eco Andina which is at a lower elevation than Cusco; staying here helps us acclimatize to the altitude.

Our bedroom, very roomy and nice. Our only complaint; there was NO heat or air. Air wasn’t needed but heat would have been nice. I believe the highest the temperature in the room got was about 64 degrees. To its credit there were plenty of nice blankets and the beds had a down cover. We were fine in bed, but it sure was cold after a shower in the morning.

Hotel Lobby

The dining room

Local musicians who entertained us during our dinner. We found out that in Peru it is quite common for local entertainers (mostly musicians) to play at restrurants or hotels for tips. They also sometime try to sell there CD’s. That is one BIG pan flute.

Tomorrow more Sacred Valley and the Ollantaytambo ruins.

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Interim Post Thursday May 17

Well we have again been without internet for 2 more days.  Tonight we are in Quito, Ecuador after leaving our Cusco Hotel at 7:00 AM then flying to Lima with a 2.5 hour layover before continuing on to Quito.  We went from 11,000 feet elevation to 15 feet elevation, then back to 9600 feet in a matter of about 7 hours. I have internet tonight and part of tomorrow but when we depart Quito on Saturday morning there will be no communication for the next 5 days. No phone, no internet or TV.  At this point it looks like this will be my last post before returning home. 

When we return I hope to do our trip justice with photos and commentary.  I have been keeping a journal, but writing the blog just “flows” better when it can be done while the events are fresh.  I do hope you will pick back up with the blog after we get home and I a able to finish my posting .

Until then I will leave you with a few random photos.   I hope to see you again in a little over a week.

Postscript : It happened again, after spending an hour getting photos ready, the internet just can’t handle the bandwith of the pictures. Sorry, but will post when I get home. Off to the Galapagos Islands on Saturday.

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Day 03 Friday, May 11 – Free Day!!

After a very long two days, we rested well last night. Since we decided to not go on the optional tour today, our first “event” was to meet with the group at 8:30 AM to receive our itinerary for tomorrow (Saturday) . Luggage must be outside our room at 7:30, we leave Hotel at 8:00AM our flight departs Lima at 10:40 and arrives in Cusco around Noon. We depart Cusco for the Sacred Valley at 12:30. Lets just hope everything goes according to schedule!


Miraflores Colon Hotel

We have a free day today and elected to walk down to the bluff overlooking the Pacific to the “Lovers Park”. This is a very beautiful, well kept area and sure enough we did see some lovers… Kay, Janet, Carl and I were joined by Patricia and Bill from Iowa. We were the only ones who elected to not do the tour today. Along the way we watched some surfer’s brave the cool water (they were all wearing wetsuits) and just enjoyed the views.


Janet, Kay, Carl, Pat & Bill



Surfer's van




Three Dogs, dressed for a city outing

From there we turned back inland toward Kennedy Park. This park is named for John F. Kennedy, who the Peruvians hold in high esteem.


Bust of JFK in the park

After the park we continued just a few block farther to reach the “Indian Market”. This is a huge market which is several blocks long where a wide variety of handcrafted goods are sold. We visited this market last year on our trip to Peru but did not have enough time to really explore. Today we made our way leisurely through the many stalls. The only purchase made by our group was by me. I bought a beautiful wood intarsia framed picture of Machu Picchu. Intarsia is the art of cutting and combining small pieces of different woods and textures to produce a work of art. The price was an unbelievable $35. The amount of work for something of this detail is incredible.


Indian Market



Intarsia Picture

After the market we came back to the park and had lunch at Cafe de lo Paz, a sidewalk cafe where we enjoyed a very nice lunch. Patricia and Bob continued back to the Hotel since they were meeting some other travelers in their group.



Carl making sure he is sanitized.

We got back to the Hotel at about 2:30. Kay is taking a nap and I believe Carl and Janet are doing the same. I, of course, am writing the blog while enjoying one of the local beers I purchased last night at a Mercado across the street. We plan to meet at 5:00 to walk down to the Miraflores Mall near the coast for dinner. We plan to be back early so we can get our packing done and get a good nights rest.

When we arrive in Cusco tomorrow the transition will be from sea level to 11,000 feet and from 77 degrees to about 60. We want to be ready. Edgar encourages us to have coca tea in the morning and a very light breakfast. He also will supply coca leaves to help avoid altitude sickness. Again, we hope everything goes as planned.

I ask your indulgence as you read my blog. As I pointed out earlier, it is being composed and sent from a tablet not my usual laptop. Editing and formatting are much more difficult and my photos are being posted “raw”, no editing whatsoever. Perhaps I can clean it up a bit when we get back home.

By the way, we are having a great time and our fellow travelers are fun and interesting to be with. Wish you were all here.

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