Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Day 10: To Peru!

Note: Because I had no internet connection on the boat, I'm posting these about a week after they actually happened. I'll post one Galapagos post each day, followed by Machu Picchu posts, so you can live vicariously through my diaries and photos.

Mainland Ecuador is 1 hour ahead of Galapagos, and we had to leave the hotel at 5:30 am. That means I had to get up at 4 am, Galapagos time. After staying up late to post as many pictures and diaries as possible (and enjoying the first internet access in over a week), it was tough, but I managed. The highlight of the flight (Guayaquil to Lima, Lima to Cusco) was the in-flight snack. The 50 minute flight from Lima to Cusco included a dark chocolate caramel.

From The Sacred Valley

Cusco (above) was the capital of the Incan empire, and remains the center of the Andean culture. It lies at 11,000 feet, so first thing after getting off the plane, they gave us coca tea. We headed straight out to begin our tour of the Sacred Valley. We first stopped at a viewpoint where we could see the Cusco city center and our hotel from above. In the park there a woman dressed in traditional Andean clothing, with a llama on a leash and holding a lamb, offered to let us hold the lamb and take her picture for 1 Solas, about 30 cents.

From The Sacred Valley

Next, we went over the mountain into the Sacred Valley, which is where the Incas grew all the food to feed everyone in Cusco. It's considered one of the most beautiful parts of Peru, and I can see why. The mountains are tall and narrow, and the sunlight shines through with great clarity. The Sacred Valley is carved by the Urubamba River, the origin of the Amazon, fed by glaciers. Our visit began in the southern town of Pisac, where we visited a market (clearly supported by tourists looking for silver, gold, pottery, and weavings).

From The Sacred Valley

After checking into our hotel in Yucay, we had a lecture by an archaeologist who gave an interesting introduction to Andean culture. He stressed two main points about the way Andeans think. First, whereas we think about time in a linear fashion (past, present, future), and have difficulty living in the present, Andeans (including ancient Incas) think about time as cycles: of the moon, the sun, the seasons, life, etc. This makes them excellent farmers. Second, they consider everything around them to be of divine origin. That is, they have one space: Pachamama, or mother earth. And they pay homage to each thing, for example they planned the city of Cusco in the shape of a puma.

From The Sacred Valley

Click here for the whole day's album.

See vacation summary (with links to each day).

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