Its been a couple of weeks since I´ve updated my blog, I´ve just been having to much fun.
I arrived in Cusco in late July and hung out for a couple of days to meet up with my friend Michael Letson. Mike was flying in from the states to do the Saltankay trek with me to Machu Picchu. Cusco is a very beautiful city with cobblestoned streets, narrow alleyways and tons of great picture spots.
There are some cool ruins above Cusco called, Sacsayhuaman. The pronounciation sounds just like "Sexy Woman" As you could image every t-shirt place in Cusco had a shirt playing off some sort of "Sexy Woman" theme. I refrained from purchasing a t-shirt and just took some pictures. It gave us a good taste of the upcoming ruins we would be seeing.
We met up with our tour group for a quick briefing and the following day we were off on our five day adventure. Our group of twelve started our trek at Sayllpata. Lots of pretty views of the Saltankay peak as we headed up into the mountains.
Here is a view of our campsite for the first night. It was unbelievably cold. I put on a balacalva (ski mask) and wool hat on my head before climbing into my sleeping bag. Still shivered off and on all night long even though I was wearing almost all my clothes.
We all survived the cold night and started up to Saltankay pass the next morning. Just one hill to climb for the next two hours but we all made it to the top of the pass.
Our guide Marco performed a blessing ceremony for us in Quechua at the top of the pass. His grandfather was a shaman and passed some of his knowledge down to Marco. He offered up coca leaves to the sky, mountains and earth as a blessing for our journey. We all followed along with his motions. This is Naomi from our trekking group holding the coca leaves.
As Quechuan people walked through the mountains for the past 1,000+ years they have been doing this same ceremony at the highest point of their walks. Very special to be connected with all that history.
The rest of our days trek took us downhill into the high forest.
It was amazing to see the scenery changes as we walked down, down, down for the next several hours. Our camp for the second night was in the town of Colpapampa, which thankfully had cold beer for sale nearby. The beer was cold not from refridgeration but because the air was so cold. It tasted so good after all that walking!! Thankfully it was much warmer the second night, yeehaw.
The third day found us heading downhill to Playa. The weather continued to get warmer and warmer as we headed downhill. Funny how 40 hours earlier we were all freezing and now everyone was shedding layers. After lunch in Playa we grabbed an hour combi ride to Santa Theresa for the evening to stay in a hostel. A combi is a minivan that drives a route between towns or areas. They are generally meant to hold about 12 people so in Peru that means it is doubled. I´ve been on combi rides with at least 25+ people in them for two hours. Quite an interesting way to travel with people passing babies, produce, animals, etc in and out windows. People sitting/standing everywhere.
Santa Theresa is a very, very small town. Our hostel was located on the only paved block in the whole town. The rest of the town roads were dirt including the town square. Our hostel was super cheap. For $3.33 US we each had a well used bed to sleep in and shared the bathroom/shower with the family of six who ran the hostel. They had an electric shower in the bathroom which I used since I was so filthy dirty. Managed to not get shocked and the water was surprising hot. Nice to be cleaned up and sleep in a bed. The family was very, very nice and friendly.
We were awakened the following morning at 6AM by a rooster crowing on our roof and a man testing the PA system for the Peru Independence Day Parade. He was playing loud music between announcing there would be a parade later that day. Only in South America. After drinking some strong coffee and wiping the sleep from my eyes we went down to see all the festivities. This is a photo of Melagros Rondan, she is the daughter of the owner of our hostel. She is all dressed up for Independence Day.
It was quite a colorful parade to watch during the morning hours. Lots of marching around and speeches. The Mayor of Santa Theresa even gave a speech. I knew he was the mayor because he was wearing a shash across his chest just like Mayor Quimby on the Simpsons cartoon.
Rode another combi for about an hour to the train station in Hidroelectrica. Thankfully there were only 14 people in this combi. All of Hidroelectrica station is in this photo and apatly named for the nearby Hydroelectric Plant, how original.
Got on the train and zig-zagged up the mountain side. Backwards & forwards we went several times to gain elevation and then we were off to Aquas Caliente for the night. Next up Machu Picchu.....
More photos available here!!!
The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends