Sunday, 7 October 2012

The long road to Machu Picchu - Chincheros, Urubamba

I'd like you to believe that the long road was the Inca Trail but had we even attempted it, we would never have made it as the highest part of the trail was over 13,800 ft and we could barely exert ourselves at 9,000!  The long road we took was the International Expeditions' tour itinerary before Machu Picchu the purpose of which was to acclimatize us to the high altitude.  I was considering how best to blog about our very intense 10 day trip to Peru and thought it best to say it the way it was - how we experienced it starting from the time we landed in Cusco (elevation 11,200 ft).  

We were whisked off in a bus that took us through the outskirts of Cusco and a steep climb further up the mountain to the town of Chincheros at over 12,300 ft.  We were supposed to spend a restful afternoon observing the intricacies of Andean weaving.  But it was hard to stay cool when we were thrown into so much culture shock, even though it was all very enjoyable.

You can see from the photos below the demonstration by four generations of the Minka family of the weaving process starting with the spinning and dyeing of the wool using natural colourants.  It was eye-opening to say the least.  We then drove to Urubamba in the Sacred Valley, at 9,400 ft, an accepted location for acclimatization.  We spent the night at the splendid Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel - an experience in itself (more about this later).  In between, we had a Peruvian buffet lunch and a delicious dinner where I had my first taste of alpaca.  Look out for future posts on Peruvian food on Foodsparks.

Streets of Chincheros

Common roof decorations - two bulls (mother earth, happiness, health, fertility) beside two bottles (fertility) and in front of a crucifix - they've got it all covered!  This is our first exposure to the duality pervading Peruvian religious life.
Learning all about organic textiles with the Minka family  - notice the unique stove and chimney and the guinea pigs underneath

The root was grated to produce the cleaner for the wool

Cleaning the wool


The different plants used as colourants

Guess what colour this cactus produces?

Answer on the palm

The spinning Minkas...

Serious weaving - it's all in her head!  

The finished product

Market day in Chincheros

Photocopies?  Why?  What an unlikely spot!

The spectacular view of the Sacred Valley

The Urubamba range in the distance - always in view

And in the most unlikely of places - the Aranwa hotel with splendorous grounds and chapel...

Machu Picchu coming up!

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