Tuesday, 25 November 2014

0155 Ollantaytambo to Cuzco

23 Nov
The wonderful thing about paying a few soles to camp in the secure grounds of a hotel is that the price often includes a hot shower and the use of toilets, as well as sometimes breakfast as well !  So once we had packed up, we showered and enjoyed some huevos revueltas before heading back towards Cuzco.

Troopie’s suspension has “squeaked” for a while, and although we greased it regularly, recently the squeaking has got a lot worse.  During a routine undercar check the other day I had noticed that a couple of rubber bushings in the rear suspension were breaking up, which rather annoyed me since these were knew before I left Aus, and should last more than 30,000 kms.  One option was to hope to get to Santiago and then bring some new bushes back in from Aus at Christmas time, but over the past couple of days we had decided that the safer option was to try to see if the Cusco Toyota dealer had any bushings to fit my car, and if so, we knew we had a good campsite to stay in while they were done.  And although Troopie is not due an oil and filter change for another 4000 kms, if I got that done at the same time it would mean we wouldn’t have to do it again until Santiago or later.  So instead of heading to Lake Titicaca and Bolivia from Ollantaytambo, we decided to head back to Cuzco the way we had come a couple of days ago, and on the way try again to find the Inca crop growing amphitheatres, and also go to some Sunday markets in Chincheros on the way.

As previously mentioned, Ollantaytambo has some amazing Inca ruins, but we decided that, after Machupicchu, plus all the many other Inca ruins we had visited in the past few months, those in Ollantaytambo were not at the top of our list.  And as all these runs cost quite a lot of money to enter, one has to pick and choose those that you visit.  So while we could see the ruins, we decided not to go in and spend a whole morning wandering around them, but to get on the road to see some other sights we really wanted to see.  So after a quick detour around the rough cobbled streets of town, we headed east towards Urubamba, and then turned south towards Cuzco.  First task was to look for these Incan agricultural amphitheatres, and it was looking good because we had now realised that while the
Salt pans were in a place called Maras, the amphitheatres were in another similar sounding place called Maray. Our previous confusion was compounded by the fact that you were supposed to drive through Maras to get to Maray !!  So armed with more knowledge, and more time, we once again started asking directions once we got to Maras, and despite the amazing lack of sign posts in this part of the world, finally found it – And I have to say it is quite a big complex – They just don’t signpost how to get there very well !  We drove some 14 kms on dirt roads, through a very rural area with people ploughing with oxen, and farm yards full of piglets and tiny baby donkeys – Quite an amazing little trip.   When we finally arrived at the gate, they said the entry price was 70 soles, per person (over $20).  We
felt this was a ridiculous price to pay (remember we are paying to see lots of other things on this trip), and were about to leave, when we remembered that our French friends Greg and Estelle had given us some unused tourist tickets when they left Cuzco, and when we found the tickets saw that entry to the Moray complex was one of the items on those tickets !!  So luckily we got in at no cost !  And these amphitheatres are quite impressive considering their age – And the skill and knowledge of the Incas to develop a crop testing environment like this back in the 1400’s or so, really was quite amazing. And with 3 separate amphitheatres, and site rally is quite extensive.  Some areas have been repaired, some have been left as they were found, and in some areas there is ongoing work to prevent further decay, so overall you get a pretty good idea of what it was like. 

Coming back through Maras we stopped to photograph the fountain in the village square, on which, in addition to the statue of a farmer and his wife and their donkey,  are depictions of the salt pans, the amphitheatres, the local church, and something else we are not sure of (!), and a local who was running a 4 WD buggy tour of the area came over to ask us about our car and our journey – Like so many others we meet, he was very jealous and wanted to do a similar trip, or even come with us !!

From there it was on the short distance to Chincheros, where we parked down on the main road and then walked up into the village following the locals who were coming and going to the Sunday markets.  These markets are quite well known, and have a permanent area where they can set up to sell their wares sheltered from the weather.  Everything from fruit and veggies, to clothing, to souvenirs and jewellery, to a man mending shoes on an old treadle sewing machine, and then at the far end, a food area where many of the locals were having their lunch.  Very pleasant just wandering through there and soaking up the atmosphere.  We then took a few of the things we had bought back to the car, and knowing there was room in the car park up in the
village, drove the car back up to save us a second walk up the hill (we are still stiff from Machupicchu !).  Then we headed off further up the hill (on foot !), following directions up to a church at the very top of the village that is actually built on top of some Inca ruins.  Unfortunately the church itself was closed, but it was pleasant just to wander through the Inca ruins and see how the Spanish had then come along and plonked their church on the top of it all !!  We then walked down the cobbled paths (with the drainage ditch in the centre of the paths !), back down into the village, where I made myself a sandwich for lunch while Janet had some corn from a vendor in the market.  I find this corn too dry with my lack of saliva – And it (IMHO) has far less flavour than our smaller kernel corn that we get at home.  It is just completely different – And they have so many varieties here, including black and multi coloured cobs.  And they all taste different !

From there, it was a short run back to Cuzco, and this time we knew how to find the camp site !!  Even so, it is not straightforward – More a case of getting to some area you know or recognise and then going from there !!  Arriving at the camp site many of our friends were still there, plus a couple of new ones, so much of the eveneing was spent catching up with each other, and finding out where people had been, and where they were headed. 

Quick supper and then to bed, ready to pack up and head in to town to be at the Toyota dealers by the time they opened.

Pics are here :- https://picasaweb.google.com/117739775480775657932/0149MachupicchuToCuzco?authkey=Gv1sRgCOTG2Z24qZOUoAE#

1 comment:

  1. Caution when eating inferior grade sweet corn, Giles. I have just checked; we are 14910 km apart!