Leg muscles are sore in this neck of the woods! The last two days have been super cool. Yesterday, I decided to walk along the highway to the neighbouring town of Urubamba, some 11 km away. It seemed like a solid idea at the time, though the sun confiscated nearly all my energy and I ran into a few dogs that were a little too growly for my liking. I’m starting to slightly freak out over this “hike” Piper and I have booked. The Salkantay Trek is twice as long as the classic Inca Trail Trek, with higher altitude passes and steeper pathways. Ay. The longest day will be 18 km for us, so I said to myself, “I best be able to walk at least 11 on a flat surface without any grumbling!”
26 cows, a few tied up sheep, too many stray dogs to count and some roaming roosters later, I arrived in Urubamba to meet up with the gang who were awaiting there with open arms and cold water. Saffy came running up to me from her perch on a park bench and I was flooded with relief that our little plan worked! It’s all guessing games here. We have no way of communicating with each other. Alvi’s cell is permanently shut off and mine is on airplane mode. When we’re out and have no access to wifi our only option is to make the most educated guess possible as to when we’ll connect and then pick a spot that’s noticeable.
So yesterday was pretty satisfying. After the long walk, we all had a bite to eat at our favourite Peruvian restaurant and then meandered through the local market to grab supplies for the next few days. Words cannot describe how awesome it is to have access to endless amounts of fresh food.
We capped our evening off by watching a previously down-loaded copy of The Jungle Book, all of us snuggled on the couch under the cozy warmth of the thick alpaca blankets.
Today was our day to head BACK to Pisac where Piper and I were going to attempt to climb up to the ruins. Leaving the house was fraught with the usual shenanigans, though this time around some of them were more pleasant to deal with than negotiating over who was getting sun-screened first. We enjoyed a visit from little Lunaya this morning (she’s one of the daughters of our landlord), and for about an hour I was reminded how interesting and beautiful life can be with a 2 year-old. I was endeavouring to book some accommodation for the next leg of our trip and soon I had a bouncing little one on my knee. She was fascinated with the laptop and before too long I was googling pictures of baby bunnies, while she was kissing the screen and oohing and ahhing. Any more adorable it could not have seriously been.
At any rate, we shuffled off around 12:30 which was honestly a bit of a record for us! The 2nd bus we took from Calca to Pisac damned near caused me an anxiety attack as it was so crowded, hot and stuffy. Usually you can crack a window on one of these buses, but not this one. I’m pretty sure Alvi felt the same way as he kept encouraging me, “Almost there, dear. Almost there.” So we make it to Pisac, discussed a loose plan to meet back at a central hang-out (Ulrike’s ~ most amazing food ever) for 5:30 pm and set off in different directions. Piper and I dragging our butts up the steep, Incan-built steps and Alvi and Saffy heading for ice cream. I love the diversity within our family!!!
Now, according to the guide books and research I had done previously, it was supposed to take 3 hours round trip for us to hike the 4 km up and get back down. It was, indeed, gruelling and steep. But thankfully, the sun hid behind the clouds for the most part and inside of just under 1.5 hours including some rests and water breaks, we had made it to the top. These ruins were epic! The work involved in building the terraces alone astonished me. We navigated through some pretty exposed little passes, too; and often the path appeared to veer in another direction leaving us wondering if we were going to get lost. I kept telling Piper, “as long as we have the terraces to our right, and the valley gorge to our left, we are fine.” Lo and behold, we were indeed. At the “top” ~ some 2,000 feet higher than where we started ~ we were met by some control officials who wanted to see our ticket (it cost 140 soles for us to have a permit to be allowed into these sacred ruins!! That is nearly $50 U.S….. expensive, if you ask me). Then he snapped a few pics of us and at that point I noticed the red flag at a higher point across the ridge and asked if we could go. My Spanish is extremely limited, but from what I understood it was a big fat “NO”. Given that it was possible for taxis to drive tourists up from the town ~ Alvi and Saffy’s plan ~ I once again questioned myself, wondering if we were at the “right ruins”. Otherwise, where were all the tourists? We were the only people up there. I was sort of hoping we might run into our people and be able to hang out and explore together. No can do. It was only later on in the Cafe when I met back up with Alvi that I learned they had cordoned off an entire section of the ruins due to a death recently occurring in one of the caves one must traverse through (rocks falling on the person burying him alive). So these ruins were actually so immense that we were separated by probably another km or so, with more in between. Nonetheless, I was very proud of Piper. Not only did we get along splendidly, but she trucked up there with a positive attitude. That, in and of itself, was a victory considering how the last week or so has gone!! Here are some pictures of our day!