Day 3 started again early for the kids. We went on a long bus ride with a few stops for "restroom breaks"! The restrooms were all paid ones with 1 Sol per person per use and they hand you two sheets of toilet paper as part of the service. No soaps or hand sanitizers in the restrooms, so recommend you grab your own. They were also reminding me of the duty free shops at airports. You have to walk through them to reach the gates. You had to walk through the shops selling local stuff before reaching the restroom. Same concept! Let's just say we bought some stuff! We also had fun trying stuff and taking pictures..
We then were told about the two cows (bulls?) on every rooftop.. Apparently they are for good luck and they have some symbolism which is Christian mixed with Inca.. the animals and rooster signify prosperity, the ladder for upward mobility and the cross is self explanatory..
Finally after a few stops, we were on our way to the sacred valley. We rode along the Urubamba river which is the heart of the valley and everything else around the place. It starts in the high Andes between Cusco and Puno and eventually comes down the valley, goes into the amazon and ends in the Atlantic! Almost goes from Pacific to Atlantic. The river with many names was in full flow..The views were amazing!
Then we reached Pisaq after climing back up. We were getting glimpses of the terraces on the mountainsides which we knew were made by the Inca. The ones on the side looked eroded and not well preserved. We were in for a surprise after reaching the entrance to the site.
This was again built in three levels across the mountain slope. Everything was stone walls, perfectly aligned stone walls and tatch roofing, nicely designed for water flow. Not as advanced as what was going on in other parts of the world at the same time, but given these guys were isolated in harsh conditions, what they built was amazing! Here are some pictures..
They found some gold in one of the holes on the mountainside and realized they were tombs. They dug out everything and found a lot of mummies. However it was apparently beginners luck and the first mummy was that of the important person and the rest were common folk. Now we have a mountainside riddled with desecrated remains! This also reminded us of the same thing on Cook point in Hawaii!
Kept thinking of Ozymandias!
We got nice views from the top of the settlement as well as on the way out..
By the time we were done with this place it was early afternoon. We were on our way to the next stop, which was Ollantaytampo.. we had no idea what it was about, other than it had an interesting name and a lot of the folks on our bus were going to get down there and not coming back to Cusco..
The entire bus got off at a restaurant for lunch enroute as they had a different "coupon". For everything you hand over coupons given from your tour company. We had a special coupon for "vegetarian food" at a restaurant 10 minutes away called Tunupa. We were dropped off separately. The driver said "you get 40 minutes to eat. I go get the rest of the group and pick you up on way".
So we rushed into the restaurant and were not disappointed. They had enough veggie options including bread and Chole (Peruvian version!). It was delicious. We finished lunch in 20 minutes. The back of the restaurant had steps that led to the Urubamba river. It was gorgeous. We got to pet some Llamas and Alpacas in the lawns and this kid was selling us stuff under her mom's watchful eyes. Apparently it was school holidays so this was part time for the kid!
We got one family picture with the river in the background, a few more shots at the entrance to the restaurant and were reunited with our "group".
We had bonded with some of the folks in the group over the previous days and by now we were talking in a mix of English and Spanish.
Then we drove on to Ollantaytambo!