May 21th, 2005
This morning we first flew to Lima and this afternoon further to Cusco. We knew that Cusco would be very touristic, but that touristic? Everywhere you are buttonholed if you not want to buy something, hundreds and hundreds of shops and stands full with coloured souvenirs. We arrived at the end of the day and then the temperature falls down rapidly. We came from temperature between 30 and 40º C, but here the temperature falls down to 10-12º C. Maybe not really cold, but cold for us. But also the Peruvians were wearing sweaters and winter coats. We thought we could relax here, but our hotel room is too cold to relax and read a book. Soon you crawl under your 3 blankets.
May 22th, 2005
Today we did an organized tour along the most important Inca ruins in the ‘Sacred Valley’. Some are located quite far from one other. First we went to Pisac, it turned out that at Sunday you have here a very tourist-art-market, you better can say tourist market. As I had it cold last night with my fleece sweater and my raincoat I bought an Alpaca sweater for 8 USD. Probably it is not the best quality, but it is warm. Then we went to the ruins of Pisac. Cusco is already located quite high at 3300m, Pisac at 3800m. Everywhere around you, you see very high mountain peaks, some very impressive, the most over 5500m. At some mountain peaks you see snow. The first Inca ruins we saw just outside the city. Although it are really ruins, the big exactly fitting rocks are very impressive. Also at Pisac, and than all the terraces, with rock wall, although with a little less finishing, but still perfectly fitting. We continued to Ollantaytambo, a beautiful ride through the valley. The Inca’s had very ingenious constructions. By placing the rocks at certain places they could see at the shadows of the sun the exact time and date. Also their hydraulic constructions were impressive. We also visited Chencheguo, this was not that impressive, a church built in the 17th century at some Inca ruins. We had forgotten that all the Middle and South American catholic churches know that many finery and saints. You hardly can find an empty spot at the church wall, all complete decorated, painted en placed full with tens of sculptures, tapestry, decorations, flowers, candles etc.
May 23th, 2005
This morning we went to the ruins of Sasquwaman, just outside the city. Again stonewalls, but still impressive. Sasquwaman used to be a fortress, especially the roundings in the wall were so perfectly finished off. Three weeks we spent relatively primitive, now we are since a couple of days in some more civilized surroundings and a good hotel and now I get sick. I cannot keep anything inside, I laid for a while in the grass next to the ruins, nicely in the sun. During the day temperatures raise to 22º C. But running every time to a toilet, having diarrhoea and vomiting is not quite relaxing, so I preferred to return to tour hotel. During our walk back I had to rest several times as I was wavering. Back in your cold hotel room, you had to crawl directly under your blankets. In the afternoon we did another attempt, to sit in the sun at a terrace to warm up. But within a few minutes I had to run again to my room. At the end of the afternoon they came to bring our tickets for our train to Machu Picchu and the tickets for our flight to Lima. As the girl saw me, she ordered directly a doctor. Not necessary I said, but within 20 minutes the doctor arrived. Nothing serious as I already thought, just symptoms of an infection, which could be strengthened by the altitude. With tablets against nausea and an antibiotic cure I could go tomorrow to Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was located lower, a lower altitude would do fine for me.
May 24th, 2005
We took the 6.15 AM train to Machu Picchu, we were riding through a beautifully landscape. As the Sacred Valley was very dry and barren with here and there some eucalyptus trees, the last part before we reached Machu Picchu was a tropical rainforest. Trees full with bromeliads, everywhere heleconia’s and other flowers. We did not expect that Machu Picchu was located that beautifully. If we had known this, we would have gone directly to Agua Calientes and taken a hotel over there, so we could walk around here. You see here everywhere very clear fast running rivers combined with a tropical rainforest, which looks ideal for the athelopus. From Agua Calientes you could walk up to Machu Picchu or take a bus. As I was still seedy, we took the bus, a ride of 20 minutes. I had expected that Machu Picchu would be a little disappointing, as I wanted to visit Machu Picchu since I was a kid. But the location of Machu Picchu is so beautiful, so unique, it was still very special and impressive. Of course there were many tourists, but those got dispersed relatively fast, except for some groups. You had parts were you hardly saw anybody.
May 25th, 2005
Today it was Corpus Christi, half Cusco was on its feet. 14 Saints, sculptures from several churches in the area, located at silver and golden thrones, completely decorated with decorations and flowers, were carried by some tens of Peruvians to the cathedral at Plaza de Armas. Each Saint was accompanied by its own brass band and dancers. The one even more beautiful dressed up than the other. This festival, with a lot of music and dance, continued the whole afternoon and night. Great to watch for a while, dancing with the crowed, sitting for a while at a terrace and again watching. It was a real national feast. Before coming to Cusco we hardly had the time to sit at a terrace, but this we compensated here. Tomorrow morning we will fly to Lima. It happens regularly that flights to and from Cusco are cancelled, so we do not want to take the risk and fly Friday to Lima. So we just called Everson, he will pick us up tomorrow afternoon. He asked if we would like to go out in Lima tomorrow night and what we wanted to see from Lima Friday as we fly back in the evening. What should you see in Lima? Lima did not appeal to us at all, but I had read something about the Inca gold, so I said I would love to see the gold museum. The last 2 days will be hanging around a bit.