Peru 2012:
Day 1 - Chinchero/Maras/Moray


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Peru 2012: [Day 1 - Chinchero/Maras/Moray] [Day 2 - Macchu Pichu] [Day 3 - Cusco]

Thursday, November 22, 2012: We left Indy on Wednesday, November 21, flying to Lima through lovely Miami, ...
... where our favorite rays are among the aquatic creatures featured in the artwork in the Miami airport.
We arrived in Lima at dawn, ...
... and had a quiet two-hour layover. We scoped out the food court restaurant where we planned to have dinner on our way home, Manos Morenas, ...
... and we debated eating at McDonald's, but the breakfast menu didn't have anything really unusual on it and we weren't that hungry, ...
... so we bought some small cinnamon rolls here instead. We had to use pointing and what little Spanish we had to communicate, which was a common occurrence throughout our visit.
On our flight to Cusco, we spotted numerous Maersk containers.
Here's a shot of Lima from the plane, with the Pacific Ocean just beyond.
From the overcast weather at sea level, our short flight took us above the clouds, and it wasn't long before we reached the place where the Andes cut through the clouds too.
At this altitude, some of the peaks were dusted with snow.
We enjoyed some yellow-green Inca Kola with our LAN Airlines snack boxes. We had started taking altitude sickness medication two days earlier, and one of the side effects is that carbonated beverages have a funny taste. Inca Kola was no exception, but with its strong tutti frutti aroma, we had a split-second of enjoyment before the taste turned odd.
We circled around Cusco and got to see the amazing landscape of the mountains. Some of the terraciing we saw was manmade and some of it was natural erosion of the rock layers.
We arrived in Cusco to a beautiful sunny day, even though the weather forecasts we had watched before leaving were predicting rain.
Both Coca-Cola and McDonald's welcomed us to Cusco.
Twenty five minutes after landing, we had our luggage, met our guide, and were off for the day's tour.
We had booked tour guide Bryan via Tours by Locals. He spoke fluent English and was the translator for our non-English-speaking driver.
We drove through the charming streets of Cusco, ...
... with a brief stop at Bryan's apartment to pick up his tour guide pass.
We drove past the town of Poroy and down into the valley until we reached the small town of Chinchero, about 30 km from Cusco. It is at a higher altitude than Cusco (which is already extremely high at 11,400 feet), and we could definitely feel it.
This was one of many, many decorations we saw on the middle of the tile roofs throughout the region, called toritos de pucará, consisting of two bulls, and often other embellishments such as crosses, flags, and even fresh flowers.
Our first stop was a textiles co-op.
We were greeted by their pen of guinea pigs, who squeaked at us because they thought we were there to feed them.
We were served our first of many cups of coca tea. The tea is made with coca leaves and is a remedy for altitude sickness. It certainly tasted delicious.
Then the show began. Our English-speaking hostess showed us how to wash freshly shorn wool using a solution made from a grated root of some sort.
This display showed the different plant sources of colors used to dye the wool.
This red stain was made by crushing the white fungus that grows on prickly pear cactus. Our hostess dabbed a little on her lips to show how versatile it is.
Once dyed, other techniques can be used to change the initial color further, as shown here by dipping red-dyed wool into something else.
The wide variety of colors was displayed on a wall of the facility.
Next, we saw the technique used to do the weaving, ...
... and an example of a runner that is a little closer to completion, showing the reversible patterns that include representations of a puma, snake, and condor.
Once the main runner is woven, another intricate pattern is woven into the edges.
While the guinea pigs feasted on their meal of barley grass, we did some shopping. We bought a runner, a pair of socks, and two beautifully crocheted scarves. The runner was fairly pricy, as to be expected with something that takes weeks to complete, but the socks and scarves were very affordable.
We walked through town a little more, always at a very slow pace.
Here's a passionflower vine.
We reached the Catholic church, which dates back to the early 1600s.
The tragic thing about the church is that it is built on top of an Incan temple. Some of the original Incan stones can still be seen. Shown here is an Incan inscription on one of the stones at the bottom right.
On the church grounds and on the square in front of it, vendors sell their wares, including woven goods, paintings, and jewelry.
Here's the entrance to the church. We weren't allowed to take photographs of the interior, but the artwork inside was very similar to what we saw later when we checked into the Hotel Monasterio.
Next to church are a series of terraces ...
... that extended down and back into the valley.
In the distance, the snow-topped Andes peaks beckoned.
We were there!
We headed back through town to our car, stopping at the tourist office to pick up our tourist ticket, pick up some puffed corn and drinks from a snack stand, ...
... and photograph the local flowers.
We drove across the plain to our next destination, ...
... the archeological site of Moray. We paid 130 soles each for full tourist tickets, but we found out when we got home that we really only needed a partial ticket for Circuit 3 (70 soles), since this and Chinchero were the only places that we used it.
Moray features four crater-like areas that have been terraced. This is the largest of the four.
It's hard to convey the scale of this amazing sight, ...
... so we'll zoom in and show you the people who are touring the interior. We were in such bad shape from a combination of sleep deprivation, altitude sickness, and side effects from altitude sickness medication that we chose not to to hike down into the terraces.
Here are some flowers with some sort of orange growth on the stems -- Peruvian aphids, perhaps?
Here's the second of the terraces.
And the third.
We had a nice view of snowfields and glaciers on the Andes.
We snapped a shot of these tiny snails as we wheezed our way out of the Moray site.
Next, we drove to our next stop, past farmland and mountains, ...
... through the town of Maras ...
... and to our next stop: the salt mines of Maras. The approach to this amazing place involves coming around the corner of a hill and suddenly seeing this.
Here's the view from just past the entrance.
A stream comes out of the hillside and feeds the hundreds of terraced salt mines with water.
Bryan told us all about the mines and how they are owned and used by the villagers.
Here's a salt pile that has been harvested from the mine next to it.
The salt forms in crystals on top of the shallow water.
Salt is everywhere, and creates beautiful formations along the edges of the terraces.
The water is carefully directed to the individual terraces via a series of narrow waterways, ...
... that work their way down the hill along the edges of the terraces.
Behold the beauty.
At this time of year, most of the salt has already been mined, but some had not been hauled away yet. In this photo, piles of different grades of salt await bagging and transport.
Here are some workers hauling away the mined salt.
We went less than halfway along the walkway before we turned to get a photo looking back toward the top of the hill and began the return trek.
We stopped to learn a little about the local plant life, including this large agave plant with beautiful markings on the leaves.
We were running short on time and Peruvian cash, so we didn't stay and eat at the cafe or do much shopping, but we did spend 1 sole on a tiny bag of Maras salt.
On our drive back to Cusco, we took a photo of the Inca Kola bottle we had purchased at Chinchero. We knew that drinking it would not be pleasant due to our altitude sickness medication, so we saved it for later. At this point, we decided that the side effects of the altitude sickness medication (nausea, distorted taste) were worse than altitude sickness itself, and vowed to stop taking the medication.
Bryan dropped us off at our hotel, the lovely Hotel Monasterio.
It is an old monastery converted into a luxury hotel.
The gorgeous interior features stone arches and floors.
We were welcomed into the lounge with cups of coca tea while we were checked in.
With no elevators, we had to walk up a single flight of stairs to get to our room which always left us winded, so we normally would rest for a few seconds on the landing under this huge round stone-lined window.
We had a small but pretty room with ...
... a balcony that overlooked ...
... a small courtyard.
The bathroom was solid marble and luxury.
Here's the opulent hallway, above which the oxygen enrichment pipes ran, boosting the rooms oxygen content from 21% to 24%. Whether it was the extra oxygen, lack of walking, or placebo effect, we usually felt much better within 30 minutes of returning to our room.
The main courtyard was beautiful in the afternoon sun, ...
... and we could see Cristo Blanco on the hill overlooking the hotel.
We walked the short distance toward the Plaza de Armas, passing this series of fountains next to the Inca Museum, ...
... and the Cathedral of Santo Domingo.
We reached the Plaza and got our bearings. Our first stop was exchanging money at one of the small souvenir stores facing the square. We also said "no" repeatedly to the many vendors selling paintings, hats, jewelry, weavings, and shoeshines.
Our second stop was food. We hadn't stopped for lunch on our tour and we were starving. We selected a small smoothie-and-sandwich shop.
Two large smoothies and two hot sandwiches were ridiculously cheap, and they were served with a delicious green minty sauce that we would have loved to bring home with us.
Here's the front of the Cathedral of Santo Domingo ...
... and here's the Church of La Compañía de Jesús on another side of the plaza.
We slowly trudged the few blocks back uphill. Here's the Chapel of San Antonio Abad, which is a part of the hotel.
We got to our hotel just as the sun was going down.

We were asleep by 8:00 PM and slept quite well.

Day 2 >


Peru 2012: [Day 1 - Chinchero/Maras/Moray] [Day 2 - Macchu Pichu] [Day 3 - Cusco]

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