Sunday, October 25, 2015

Cusco Craziness, October 20-25

Our time in Cusco has come to a close. We`ve spent the last week getting to know the city, drinking gallons of chocolate milk, running errands, preparing for Bolivia, and visiting this place called Michu Pacchu, or something like that. The pictures will take it from here...

Jesus` open arms overlooking the city

The old city of Cusco from the church of San Cristobal. The massive cathedral is dead center facing the spacious Plaza de Armas.

On a tour we attended, we were shown how the locals dye their wool. First they take a parasite called cochineal from its home on a cactus and smush it...

...then they mix the insect`s blood with substances such as salt, water, and different compounds from local rocks...

...creating a number of different colors. 

Adri and Tam trying on the local alpaca hats

A charango, a mandolin-like instrument local to the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes, made from an armadillo hide.

Two days of our stay were filled with an impressively organized strike by locals from Cusco and the surrounding villages to protest the proposed privatization of the ruins. Nothing was open for those two days, not even the roads through the Sacred Valley or the trains to Machu Picchu. According to a show we heard on the radio, the strike cost the tourism industry 1.5 million dollars, and that, not to mention the accompanying flood of complaints from thousands of stranded tourists, got the government`s attention. The law was repealed the following day, and we were able to begin our journey towards...

..Machu Picchu! All the trains from Ollantaytambo were full due to the previous days` road closures, so we shared a taxi with some friendly Chileans to go around the back way. It navigated a huge mountain pass and some sketchy roads like this one, arriving after a few sweaty, nauseous hours at a hydroelectric plant, from where we...

...hiked a few tranquil miles of railroad track to Machu Picchu Pueblo (or Aguas Calientes).

Heliconias abounded along the way, splashing color on the otherwise green forest.

This curious motmot was one of a few interesting birds we saw along the way. Check out its ¨racket¨ tail.

We woke up at 4 am to hike the steep trail up to Machu Picchu but were frustrated to find a gate over the bridge at the bottom. A crowd of hikers gathered before the floodgates were opened at 5, and we booked it up the trail, arriving at 5:37 only to find another gate: the site opens at 6. We didn`t mind the wait, taking pride in the fact that we had beaten the buses that leave the town beginning at 5:30. This picture was taken at about 5:40...

...and this one at 5:55

Yay, we made it!

The classic shot... I had to take one, or fifty.

A tiny part of the lesser-visited residential sector of the ruins

Spectacular rock engineering of one of the temples

Inca houses

Amazing. A tomb under the Temple of the Sun
Machu Picchu: expensive, a huge hassle, and overrun with tourists, but absolutely spectacular and totally worth it.
The icing on the cake of a wonderful day: a torrent duck, a bird we had been looking for for months!
A special thanks to Fedor and Maria Cristina for hosting us in their beautiful home! Mil gracias a ustedes!

Coming soon: Bolivia!


  1. You guys are amazing! I love your pictures. They tell so many stories. Thank you for sharing. I'm impressed with how you've kept up with posts, too! As soon as I get busy I forget. This will be a lasting memorial to your epic journey. Enjoy Peru! Your pictures remind me how much I want to go there!! Love you guys :)

    1. Thanks Rosalie! You should definitely go to Peru; it's an amazing country. Love and hugs to you too, from us both.