So guys... our sixth day in Peru took all 29 of us on the sacred valley tour. With few of us still feeling a tad peaky to say the least we headed up the winding road that exits the back of Cusco past the Jesus Christ statue. Our chatty tour guide informing us all the time of the influx of eucalyptus from Spain in the 1900's, the sprawling topography and various inca traditions that have sprouted from Cusco being the physical and spiritual capital of the Inca people.
Our first fleeting stop saw us pull in at a side stop overlooking a deep valley with towering mountains flanking a tiny market village. After realising why we were struggling with sightseeing thanks to our guide's indecisive left and rights we made the quick hop down the valley and took a break and our first taste of a Peruvian market. As we were soon to find out both Alex and Dom couldn't resist the temptation to buy a useless yet amusing garish balaclava each. This wasn't their last purchase.
We carried along the winding road that at times offered a plummeting shear drop deep into a sprawling valley with the town of Pisac nestling astride the Urubamba, Vilcnota, river. An impromptu stop in another lay-by provided Alex and Dom's second purchase, a bird whistle, that as you can imagine thrilled everyone else on the bus. Our journey took us onto our first Inca experience with a ramble across the precarious Pisaq ruins.
Now chica's and chico's this is where we started to feel that we were being immersed the Inca world. A few of the less fortunate among us held back on the bus with the ill effects of Pooru, Peru's equivalent of the Delhi Belly, still doing its worst. The ruins tour took us on a circular route of a hillside settlement that consisted of both older inca and more recent ruins. This also gave us an insight into the terrain that we'll face a week from today when we set foot at the bottom of the inca trail. Some people were second guessing their fitness and almost everyone was blowing by the time we'd made it back to the bus. It's going to be a hard effort...right?
With a few tired bodies we clambered aboard the bus and made our way to lunch. The journey had an unknown length but luckily the incredible views and sceptical driving style of our bus driver kept us all entertained. At one point while rounding a sharp hairpin bend on loose gravel and with two cars overtaking us, horns blazing, a large lorry rounded the corner. He'd never make it surely... amigos... I assure you, he made it with inches to spare, plenty of room! A gasp and sighs of relief turned to raucous laughter as the pocket size lorry driver with only a handful of teeth beamed a toothless smile through the window not a foot from us.
A bus load of hungry, wearisome UoB staff and students rocked up at the plush looking La Alhambra restaurant that for all intents and purposes seems placed solely for the travelling contingent and seemed totally out of place surrounded by a road strewn with mud brick huts and unfinished buildings (Kane).
The buffet was a miracle for a few broken bodies and with everyone having their fill and a few having more than their fill, naming no names Ollie, we retired to the gardens that provided a welcome break from the monotony of the bus journey. A small group of llama and an alpaca provided entertainment and as you can guess guys some of the students got a little too close to comfort! Kane was once again in his element surrounded by the fruits of nature and bonded immediately with the well groomed alpaca.
A shorter hop on the now more up beat bus delivered us to the Ollantaytambo ruins. Our idiosyncratic tour guide once again showed us the vast doings of the incas almost five an a half thousand years ago. A beautiful amphitheatre of enormous steps rising some one hundered foot plus from the valley floor ascended the mountain before us. There were many a groan at the though of yet another ascent but as the steps fell away behind us and as the guide regaled us with stories of the ancient Inca people hauling huge igneous rock cubes up the unimaginably steep incline we were captivated.
The huge steps provide the Inca's with plentiful farm land that was otherwise unmanageable. We started to realise and respect the knowledge and ingenuity of these ancient people. Their temple made of vast pieces of stone were perfectly placed to worship the movements of the sun and the stars. You know guys this is the most important aspect of Inca life.
With a new understanding of the ancient people and a few bargains found in the market at the foot of the ruins we made our way to our hostel for the night.
So señor a a señoritas we can only finish on the fact that Luke Holland polished off a whole Guinea pig, head and all. Lets hope he doesn't feel the wrath of Pooru tomorrow... thanks guys!