Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Day 11: Sacred Valley

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.

The Sacred Valley is carved by the Urubamba River, and includes everything between the southeastern town of Pisac, which we saw yesterday, and the Inca fortress Ollantaytambo in the northwest. (The river flows northwest.) Our hotel is in Yucay.

From The Sacred Valley

Today we began with a trip into the mountains to the south, to Chincheros, where we visited a weaving cooperative. I've noticed that a lot of our trips include shopping, and even when they don't, there are people looking to sell us something. I suppose that's what happens when the strongest part of your economy comes from tourism. I was happy to buy from these women at the co-op, because they showed us exactly how much work goes into each handmade piece. They start from a llama (or alpaca or sheep), spin the wool into thread, two-ply the thread, dye and wash it (in that order, because dying it can include boiling it with moldy twigs), and finally weave it, all by hand. It was impressive. I bought a bag.

From The Sacred Valley

Next we went to the end of the valley to Ollantaytambo. The Andean people built their civilizations in this order:
1. Find a glacier, to serve as a source of water.
2. Build walled terraces on the sides of the mountain, watered by the glacier. Grow crops there.
3. Build the urban center at the bottom of the mountain.
4. Go back up to the top of the terraces, build a temple.
Ollantaytambo is an example of this, and it's still in basically the same condition it was 500 years ago when the Spanish invaded. The city itself has narrow streets and buildings with Inca foundations, but Spanish-style (lower quality) masonry built on top. The Spanish spent two years in Cusco before invading the Sacred Valley, so the Inca had time to prepare: you can see that they stopped in the middle of building the temples, and instead built lookouts and fortresses at the top of the development. Unfortunately, they still lost.

From The Sacred Valley

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a ceramics studio that's supposed to be famous or something. It was neat to tour the studio, but really the best part is that they also take in animals like llamas and an owl monkey. We had the opportunity to buy something, but although they were reasonably priced, I didn't find anything that I had to have.

From The Sacred Valley

Click here for the whole day's album.

See vacation summary (with links to each day).

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