Sacred Valley Picnic - Note the Chairs (Kristine Kyllander)
Today we left Cusco to journey to the Sacred Valley and ultimately Ollaytatambo. It is impossible to comment about the drive out of Cusco without mentioning the plethora of stray dogs that seem to overtake the city's outer edges. I wonder how they all manage to get enough to eat while appearing to leave the roaming chickens and such alone. Our first stop was a native Ketuwa town where we were treated to an incredible weaving demonstration. They showed how glass was used to cut the wool from the hide, how they clean the wool using a root that makes a natural shampoo when grated, and how various color dyes are created using all natural elements found locally. By far the highlight was the ''sacrifice'' of a beetle/parasite that can be found on cactus which is used in order to make over 24 different shades of red (apparently it is also good for a lip color which will last 24 hours or 100 kisses but we didn't test this out ourselves). We also got a kick out of Anita, the resident alpaca, when she spit at Teddy. This is also where we treated ourselves to some textiles to take home with us and it is fun to be chronicling our adventures after the fact with an alpaca throw blanket wrapped around me. From the weaving demonstration the day just kept getting better, we got to see our first up close agricultural terraces in two different locations, a national park that is currently restoring some terraces, and a church dating back to the 1500's. Perhaps the best part of the day however, was our picnic lunch that we had in a secluded spot that Teddy and our driver discovered which had a breathtaking view overlooking the Sacred Valley and Urubamba river. The descent and drive into the town of Ollaytatambo was lovely and although we had already had such a full day by the time that we arrived, we were excited to walk up and explore the massive ruins. At the height of the ruin temple, Teddy pointed out the mountain range on the opposite side of the river from where we stood. ON this range you could see the granite quarry which was apparently where the Inca's had taken the stone to build the temple we were standing on. How they transported 1000's of tons of granite down a mountain, across a river, and up another mountain without the use of any modern day equipment is astonishing. This was also a really good place to visually see and be amazed by the extensive aqueduct and irrigation systems built by the Incas that are still working today.
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