Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Machu Pichu

Hola everyone,
Well it is Friday June 3 and I am back in Cusco Peru after taking a two day trip into the sacred valley and visiting Ollantaytambo and Aguas Caliente (Machu Pichu)
Machu Pichu is the most famous archeological site in Peru and probably in South America and one of the top places to visit ancient ruins anywhere in the world. I have been to many ancient ruin sites in South America and Central America and Asia. Maybe I am a little burnt out on ruins.
Machu pichu was just not that spectacular in my humble opinion. It was Beautiful and unusual more for its location than for the actual city itself. The city was abandoned hundreds of years ago during the Catholic/Conquistador holocaust that devestated this part of the world, all through the 1500s and 1600s. The Spanish monarchy sent these ruthless barbarian conquerors over here to steal all the gold and silver they could from the local peoples.
They did thier hideous attrocitys with the aid and encouragement of the catholic church who were more than happy to export the inquisition and take a 40% share of the plunder. The Church and the Spanish Monarchy got very rich indeed at the expense of the local indians, and imported slave labvorers from Africa. In Bolivia for example at one site, the Potosi Silver/gold mine, over 6,000,000 slave laborers were worked to death. That is as many Jews as died during Hitlers reign over Europe!!! But I digress.
Machu Pichu is a complete city. It is perched on a small plateau high in the Andes mountains. From Aguas Caliente the town closest to the site, it is a 3 hour climb almost entirely up hill (steep) or a 30 minute bus ride. Once at the top, you pay a 25 dollar entrance fee and visit this pristinely restored city. There are No Great buildings,i.e no huge pyramids or even 2 or 3 storie buildings but the layout of the city and its irrigation system are still intact and one really gets the feeling of what life must have been like here 500 years ago.The Buildings are all stone held together by natural mortar.
The Incas never advanced in the technology of building roofs beyond thatch, so all the ruins are now roofless and open to the sky. I sighted many beautiful birds there and a lot of lizards too. Oh yes and lets not forget Sand flys. Ai Zukes!! These vicious little pests had their way with me let me tell you! They are like a mosquito bite but much worse. They itch like mad for ... well now its my third day. I reek of tiger balm, but it helps.
Ollantaytambo, besides being very difficult to spell and being a real tongue twister is a quaint little tourist town in the sacred valley well know for its ruins as well. It takes about 90 minute to hike up hill to reach. You have to stop every 15 minutes to catch your breath because dont lets forget we are talking about being at 2700meters above sea level to begin with, before the 400 meter ascent. The ruins here are also interesting but again not very spectacular.
In my opinion the ruins left behind by the Maya and Toltec indians of Mexico and Guatamala are far more interesting and spectacular than the ones found here in Peru and Bolivia left behind by the Incas.
Cusco is having festivals every weekend from now until the Big broo-ha-ha on June 23 and 24 to celebrate the solstice. This last week was the week of Corpus Christi. It began last Thursday when I was in Arequipe(they also celebrate this there) and last night and today and tomorrow it culminates with many parades and beautiful costumes and people dancing in the street to marching bands.
Yesterday was a peculiar feast day as well and I will try now to elaborate a little. All around town everyone eats this platter of cold foods . It includes a kind of fried corn bread or crouquette with veggies in it (maybe the most delicious item on the platter). A cold cooked sausage, cold boiled chicken, a section of roast guinea pig (called "cuy" here) which looks like roast rat and tastes like duck,A piece of Semi dried cheese which is excellent, dried salted lama meat (tough chewy and decidely an acquired taste!)fresh green seaweed and poached mackerel eggs (yes mackeral caviar) I personally have long been a fan of fish eggs but these were a new one for me, they were crunchy at first but later creamy as you chew with a yummy flavor not salty at all. The roe are in a big jumble held together by a membrane. All this is piled high on a bed of dried roasted maize which is a large starchy grain of corn like character. When they are boiled I like them much better than roasted. They are kind of powdery when roasted and make your mouth dry. I have had them before salted and slightly sauteed as a pleasant appetizer with a peanut mouth feel and a popcorn flavor but again they really give you dry-mouth. Boiled they are quite nice and a creamy texture just like hominy.
Near the Main square in Cusco there were about 50 kiosk tents set up with strolling musicians wandering around and all the tents were serving this same cold platter which one is meant to eat with ones fingers. Fun and interesting. I was hanging out with a very nice Italian woman named Silvia whom I met on the bus to Ollantaytambo and we both liked the food. Her favorite was the cornbread thing.
Parades of all the local churches began at 3 pm. Each church has a patron saint and the congregants march with a huge beautifully painted wood and plaster statue of the saint held on the shoulders of about 20 brawney men and followed or led by a brass marching band and everyone in beautful colorful costumes.
All the marching processions come out of the main cathedral and head once around the square and then the hole thing with 20 statues in all breaks up and everone just goes every which way and dances and sings and drinks lots of beer in the streets. Until well after midnight.
Ah my life is always interesting. Tomorrow I have an overnight bus to Nasca. I will write again before I leave Nasca on my way to Ica.
Peace to you all.


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