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Posts tagged ‘sacred valley’

admiring the incas

Those who know me well are aware of my tendency to crush on engineers 🙂  So needless to say I was impressed with the Incas!  The truth is not entirely clear and I hear some varying accounts of history so it was tough to make a final call on whether they were gods or just great strategists but there is no question their engineering and architectural accomplishments were astonishing.

david and I in the sacred valley

david and I in the sacred valley

There was talk of meritocracy and a perfect society but I am a skeptic by nature.  I need to learn a lot more before I will have any official opinions but I was further impressed by David’s skills.  I wish I had spent more time with him – and taken notes!

We visited two Inca ruins.  The views were spectacular and the climb not too demanding.  The Sacred Valley

inca ruins near pisac

inca ruins near pisac

was apparently the agricultural heartland of the Inca empire.  It’s not clear the exact purpose of the terraces but it definitely seemed likely to have been an early version of an agricultural research station – a way to determine what plants grew best at what elevation and how to optimize the production of those 3,000 varieties of potatoes!

David also explained how each of the Inca cities was built in the shape of revered animal in Inca culture.  The big three were the puma, the condor and the snake.  I’m trying to remember everything I learned (and googling for support 😉 but it reflects my experience in Peru where the information I gathered about the Incas seemed sometimes open to interpretation.  That will happen when a civilization is that old.  I think we’re going to go with snake for knowledge, puma for power and condor for communing with the gods.  I was mostly fascinated with the idea of creating a city in the shape of a puma!

not your average supermarket

not your average supermarket

David also taught me a little about Inca symbolism so that I could buy jewelry 🙂  We also hit the Pisac Market.  It was overwhelming in that grand way of seeing so many gorgeous and new objects to lust after.  And Peruvians are into colour so it was tough to resist!

He took me into a shop just off the official market and I was mesmerized by the jewelry.  I got a

lots of colour

lots of colour

demonstration of the craftsmanship and learned how to tell silver apart from nickel (nickel is shinier).  It was hard to restrain myself but came away with a necklace and earrings showing the sun and the moon, the father and mother of the Inca empire.  What was most exciting to the amateur geologist in me was the gorgeous polished stone inlaid into the silver.

My day in the Sacred Valley was a great example of the serendipity of travel.  David, my outstanding guide.  The gorgeous landscape and spectacular ruins.  The enticing Pisac market.  Be sure to include it on your visit to Peru 😉

obsessed with llamas…

As noted, Puno was wonderful.  I highly recommend it.  I was hoping to continue the winning streak when I arrived in Cusco.  It started well.  Enrique picked me up at the train station and he has a smile that is so infectious it’s like his whole body lights up.  He didn’t speak much English but he tried and the short ride to the hotel was a lot of fun.

Found out I wasn’t staying in Cusco for two nights as I expected so no laundry.  But Robinson was at the hotel (a first!) and I had a fairly detailed itinerary mapped out as well as tickets for everything.  So it sounded promising 🙂

I met David the next day.  He was my favourite hands down.  He was a great guide – very knowledgeable and patient with great English language skills.  It was mostly random that he was talking to Enrique in Spanish about his vacation so he mentioned to me in English what they were speaking about.  He had just been to Australia!

It started a really interesting conversation as I used to live in Australia and travelled extensively there so knew the landscape he had just seen.   But we also discussed what it was like to travel from a country like Peru to a country like Australia.  The complicated visa procedures – and the culture shock upon arrival.  It has been a one-way street for so long.  Tourists from developed countries venturing into developing countries and having a chance to evaluate their own culture from a different perspective.  It’s exciting to see the new middle class in the emerging countries having the opportunity to travel and see the world from a new perspective.

As I’ve already noted, I was mostly winging it in Peru.  Most days I just woke up and wondered what might happen.  I was especially unclear what my day in the Sacred Valley was going to be about.

peru 382

worth looking out the window!

At first it was déja vu.  I was back on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater with Alex spinning around the narrow

everyday street scene

everyday street scene

switchbacks at a pace that felt not entirely safe – while the Brazilians looked out the window nonchalantly and I kept searching the horizon for a guardrail!  But Alex assured me over dinner that he drove that route every day and we were perfectly safe.

So this time I decided to try and act more like the Brazilians.  It took me a little while.  These are the Andes.  Some of the roads are too narrow for two vehicles to pass without special manoeuvres and the drop off is spectacular.  But that also means there are gorgeous views if you DO decide to look down, way down…

And it also meant I got to see a llama up close!  Right on the road in front of us.  And then we arrived at the Planeterra Women’s Weaving Co-op.  It’s one of the good works that g adventures is involved in.

http://www.planeterra.org/peru-women-s-weaving-co-op-projects-23.php

it's a llama!!!

it’s a llama!!!

You have a chance to see how llamas turn into sweaters!  I also learned the difference between llamas, alpacas and vicunas – both how to identify the animals and the difference in the quality of the textiles that can be made from each.

David explained the entire process and also told me about some of the crops grown in the Sacred Valley.  I can’t remember exactly how many types of potatoes there are but over 3,000 I believe.  It’s also the home of quinoa.  I hadn’t realized how healthy it was but David convinced me so I am going to try and eat more quinoa 🙂

Of course, in order to weave cloth you need some animals so a great opportunity for more llama photos!

weaving coop

weaving coop

The women obviously had been practicing their sales skills in addition to honing their weaving.  It was a little overwhelming as there were a lot of different stalls and my backpack was already full – but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to be able to buy directly from the people who had made the goods and do my little bit for the Peruvian economy.  I even managed to squeeze in a purple alpaca sweater!  And so many scarves you would think I was opening my own boutique…

More llama sightings ahead…

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