We hired a driver and guide to take us to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. Along the way we stopped at Chinchero, Morarys and Salina
In Chinchero we were shown how they spin, dye their wools and weave to the finished products. It was absolutely fascinating how they obtained the many colours from natural sources to dye the wool and how the amount of time the wool was soaked determined the shade of colour. For example the cochineal insect (which lives on the local cactus plants), produces a brillant red colour (the girls also use it for lip stick, guranteed for 2000 kisses), but when mixed with lime juice turns to orange.
I have seen people weave in many countries and it always seems to be slightly different to previous demonstrations
Everywhere the women were spining the wool onto a small wooden tool which looks like an odd shaped spinning top, as they worked, walked and talked....it is like they are doing it subconsiously
Once again we find a steep staircase to climb to the church at the top of the hill
The church was built by the spanish conquestadors on top an original inca temple or palace. They did this so that the towns folk would continue to worship there.
One unusual feature is 10 trapezoidal niches in which is is reckoned mummys of the inca ancients were housed. It is told that the spanish burnt these, and then combined the ashes in the effigies of The Virgin Mary or other christian saints, to quickly convert locals to catholicism.
The country side was awesome
and very dry and barron looking. It doesn't really rain in winter....the wet season is in the summer months
and these clouds look like they are under the sky
In the Inca times these terraces in Moray were created to test the ability of crops to grow in different climates. Each terrace was 1 degree warmer. Different soils were brought in from around the country to help with their testing. It is believed that the crater that the terraces are in were created by meators. These terraces have been repaired to their former glory
while these terraces are original. The stones that have fallen from the terraces have been put into piles so that it can be restored in the future.
Next stop was the Sallinas salt mines
The salt that is collected from these terraces comes from one tiny stream which comes from within the mountains. It is hard to believe that this little stream can provide enough water and salt for around 3000 salt pools.
These salt mines produce 3 different grades of salt which are used in food, salt licks for the animals etc You can see 3 piles in the photo below which represent the 3 diferent grades of salt.
Our last stop was at a chicha house where they make an alcoholic brew from corn. A chicha house or shop is identified by a stick with a plastic bag tied on to it outside the shop door.
It is amazing the varieties and colours of corn they have in Peru...around 200 different types. A favourite nibble is roasted kernels.
This shop also made chicha flavoured with wild strawberries. We tried both, Mel liked it, I found the flavour a little unusual. Mel would describe the taste as burnt corn in dish water, disguising the flavour by adding wild strawberries.
While the locals drink chicha, they play this cool game where you have to try and get a large coin sized disc into the frog's mouth or into the holes around. Each hole had a different score.
More photos can be found in the photo gallery