We went up to a high viewing point to see the city from above; quite a challenge we found at altitude!
Whilst standing in the sun and listening to the guides talk about the impressive Inca walls in front of us, one of the group members fainted and smacked her head pretty hard on the concrete. An ambulance had to be called. It was quite a shock to see how vulnerable one is at altitude.
When you are this far from home this made us basically neighbours; they know Charlie and Lyle from Flock and Herd butchers and Anderson and Co Café run by Hereward and Lisa. We had met each other in Arequipa when staying at the Flying Dog and got the same bus to Cuzco, sharing the taxi to the depot.
We went out to some great restaurants together that Hannah keeps finding (she is becoming our private gastronomical GPS).
The four of us also spent a great deal of time in the Choco Museo, sampling the delicious chocolates, liquors and tea. Hannah bought some Coca husk, which makes a delicious and healthy brew.
...before our next appointment at a local bar for a Pisco Sour cocktail making workshop.
What followed was pure comical mayhem at the bar, some very drunken pool playing back at our hostel and barely comprehensible or memorable conversations about how close we all lived.
Hannah and Alex discovered they were even closer to home with each other; having lived in West Horsley and Ripley, going to neighbouring schools, members of the same swimming club and having the same dentist!
What was most bizarre about this procession was the inclusion of many different aged school kids. Behind the real soldiers with machine guns at the ready marching through the main square were lines of children between 4 & 6 years old dressed as field nurses and mini officers griping their mini guns. All trying to march in time whilst desperately looking for glimpses of their proud parents spattered amongst the crowd. Very bizarre indeed but pretty cute to watch. Not sure the UK parents or MOD for that matter would agree with the inclusion but there we go.
Fascinating to observe the rows and rows of stall holders all selling what looks like the same product and a great spot for some local people watching. Everyone and everything is so different! The colours, foods, smells and dogs looking for scraps on the floor.
What struck us most was the amount of elderly women working everywhere. From restocking the fruit and veg, chopping up meat, carrying HUGE bundles of produce on their backs and generally looking very tired! Life's pretty tough.
We are fond of the laid back atmosphere of the area and had a small siesta on the sunny benches in the square before being gently awoken by a young woman trying to sell some belts. After politely saying ‘no gracias, no nessicito’ a few times with sleepy eyes, suddenly out pops this very cute little girl’s face from over her mothers shoulder, being carried in a traditional Peruvian blanket. The Peruvians use these stunningly bright blankets to carry EVERYTHING in. I wish it were like this in the UK instead of those overpriced boring baby back/front packs or prams that everyone just has to own with the latest alloy wheels, 3 point harness and suspension! ... After we saw this cute little 1 year old and having a sort of ‘Spanglish’ conversation with the sweet lady we found a nice belt and was happy to pay the S/20 (£4.45) she was asking, all to provide for herself and her ‘bonita niña’. Each belt takes roughly three days to make and is made with all natural colours. She learnt the skill from her mother when she was 15 and showed us one belt that she was half way though making.
We were up at 4am and gone by 4.30. Our early start paid off and we were up at Machu Picchu gate at 5.50 and probably 2 of the first 20 people out of the 5000 that visit each day.
We ended up in a hut (which you can see in the background of the photo above) where the tour finished, huddling to each other for warmth. Cold and wet. It was 8am and we had planned to be there until dusk… We played eye spy and word association games in a hut on mount Machu Picchu for a good hour! Thankfully the rain stopped so we ventured out to explore.
What a special place…the day just flew bye after this!