01.12.2011 8 °C
Another country and finally a chance to put up a blog. The internet can be a little dodgy and unreliable in Bolivia so although its been a while, it doesn’t mean we have been standing still. We are now back in the USA and after a couple of nice days back in Miami we have just arrived in the freezing cold city of San Francisco.
Firstly we had our hearts set on a trek through the mountains of Peru where we wanted to end up in the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. We chose a lesser known and trod trek over 5 days called Salkantay. The Salkantay trek took us to an elevation of 4600m that encircled the Salkantay mountain and followed an old Inca trade trail. We were with a group of about 10 other trekkers complete with a guide, horseman and a cook and tents. Most times throughout the five days we were completely on our own and didn’t see a soul. It was a great way to meet people and we made some great friends. Each day promised an early cold start but once a bit of breakfast and hot tea was on board we were ready for the long days’ walk.
The fourth day of our hike saw us arrive in Aguas Calliantas, a small town at the base of the ruins of Machu Picchu. We stayed overnight, had one last dinner with the group and headed for the ruins via the old track. We opted for that as it seemed a bit ridiculous to balk at the 1 hour and a half climb after what we had experienced the previous 4 days. We could have taken a bus but arrival times at the ruins would have seen us getting there with the throngs of tourists and we wanted the place to ourselves even if was only for 15 minutes or so. Our fitness levels must be high, Brenton the mountain goat made it up under 40 minutes and I think the rest of us under 50 minutes.
The ruins were spectacular, despite only living there for a short time the Inca’s achieved quite a lot. Their way of building and laying interlocking blocks together for beauty and strength is beautiful. It seemed every structure is carefully thought out and located according to an overall plan that when viewed from the air seems to represent a Condor. They built representations of sacred mountains and calendars marking Eqinox and Summer and Winter solstice to tell them when to plant and harvest. A very simple but effective way of living. When visiting the site you can only imagine the hardships they must have faced just creating the site. They literally carved a community out of stone to make terraces and level housing sites and all at the top of a mountain.
Moving South Lake Titicaca beckoned and saw us on a bit of an organised tour throughout the number of small reed floating islands that is home to these island people. They create the islands themselves by cutting down through the reed base and by lashing the large pieces together, drag them wherever they want to go. Securing them with tethers of rope they ensure the island doesn’t float away. They cover the entire island with more levels of grass and start building their huts on it.