The Peruvian Experience – Part 1

A few months ago Josie and I decided to look into going to Peru for our Christmas break. After some research on options, we decided to use Sam Travel. After several emails, we were able to choose the package that we wanted to be able to see what we wanted while we were in Peru. So on December 16th, the trip began with a nice long flight from Moscow to Havana to Lima!

The flights were long but okay. Getting through the Havana airport was hot! We waited in baggage for a while, but our bags never came. Apparently, this is pretty normal for Havana as we had the same baggage wait on our way back. Finally, we found someone who told us that they probably were actually checked through to Lima. So we had to go through “inmigration” before baggage. So we had actually entered Cuba. We had to go upstairs and check in to our flight to Lima since we didn’t have our boarding passes.

Josie realized that she was a Star Alliance member so we jumped in that line. The last directing people lady asked if we were heading to Lima and we said yes so she confirmed that we were in the right place!

This didn’t take long and back to immigration we went! Once we got back to immigration the lady asked me for a Visa, which I said the airline did, but apparently, that wasn’t enough. So I told her that when we came back we would get one in Lima! She seemed happy with that and let me through.

Once we got through and found out gate we had an ice cream and a coke which hit the spot! Our next flight was 5 hours and I actually slept for like 2-3 hours! Which is a miracle since I don’t sleep on flights usually ever!

When we landed in Lima our bags were the first off! So we grabbed them and headed to find our hotel. Which turned out to be directly across from passenger drop off! I am so very glad that we booked a hotel that was at the airport, after a long flight finding your hotel is the last thing that you want to do!

Dec 17

We had a great breakfast and then headed for our fight to Cusco, but we were really early! The flight to Cusco was neat because it was over the Andes. Coming into Cusco we had to spiral down into the valley which was interesting.

Sam Travel picked us up at the airport and dropped is off at our hotel. We walked had lunch then can back for a nap and staying in our beds to acclimate. Cusco is at 3400 m (11,100 ft) so it is the highest that I have ever been on the ground!

We walked over to Sam’s and had our briefing. To find out about our trek and get our supplies.

Dec 18

We started out early which was rough for me because I did not sleep well. I did feel better after a good breakfast. Today was the Cusco City tour of the ruins around Cusco. Cusco was the capital of the Tawantinsuyu people which the Spanish mistakenly called the Inca, which actually means King.

The ruins of most of the sights have been mined by the Spanish for the stones for building and the metal that was used to lock the stones together. The stonework is amazing. It comes from people in the South that were assimilated from near Bolivia. The Inca culture was to collect the good elements of the groups that the assimilated and to use that to improve their society. As a society, they were only in place for about 100 years give or take, but because they took from the other cultures they improved themselves very quickly.

The sights were all pretty close to each other but all different. They are still developing theories about what the purpose for each site was because the Inca didn’t write it down and the Spanish wrote it from there perspective and without drawing much only one person drew images to go with his writing. This means that the theories about what things were or how they were used are constantly being revised and updated. One thing that Cliser our guide was good at was saying “the current theory is…”

Sacsayhuaman is one of the biggest sites around Cusco and was very impressive in size which was the point of it. They aren’t really sure with most of the sites what their meaning was but they think this one was just too impressed and what’s left is only about 35% but enough to impress.

Then we went back to Cusco to the site that is now a Dominican Church and saw some of the original Temple site there which was really awesomely built. As in line with typical Christian practices, many of the Inca sites in Cusco and many small towns in Peru have been converted into churches.

Then we went for lunch at a place that our guide suggested Mercela Batata and tried alpaca skewers. It was a fantastic meal. Then we went to the market area and I found some paintings that I bought which means I will need to take a trip to IKEA soon!

Dec 19

Today was the sacred Valley tour it’s called The Sacred Valley because the river runs the same direction as The Milky Way. We started in Pisac which is up on top of the hill and has the most amazing terraces that were done for erosion purposes and farming.

It was easy to see the different areas at this site the area for the military, the area for the common people, we couldn’t see the area for the rich because it was on the other side of the mountain and would have taken too long to get there and it was closed today. There was a burial area on the mountain to the side which was very cool and they have found over 200 mummies. Though there should be about 2,000. The mummies were all found in small holes that were created all along the rocks on the mountainside.

Then we drove through the Sacred Valley to the town of Pisac and went to the market where we were shown the different types of Alpaca wool. Baby alpaca is the softest which is sheared at 2 years old. Across the street was an oven that has been there since the Spanish. It is a community oven. Which is used daily still to bake bread.

We then went to Ollantaytambo which is shaped like a llama. It made me think of Mayan temples when we first drive up to it because of the same of the terraces. The winter solstice, June 22, creates a light phenomenon on the six large stones.

The small stones in between they think are for if an earthquake happens, so they get crashed and the big rocks don’t get damaged since they weight 90 ton and come from 7km away from an adjacent mountain.

We then drive into the mountains to the Maras salt mines. They were really cool and all from freshwater springs in the area. They direct the water into the pools then during the dry season they wait a month for the water to evaporate. Then they harvest. This salt has no sodium on it so it is good for people who usually can’t eat salt.

We then went to the Moray which is an Inca greenhouse to grow Coca leaves. Because they are tropical they don’t survive here without help. Each step down is 2°C warmer than the one above. They think that this is the first Moray sight. Which is pretty impressive since they went very big right off the bat.

Tomorrow we trek!

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