Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday, Jan 30th, Yucay, Peru


Flying from Lima to Cuzco was even more enjoyable than I imagined it would be.  Short flights in the U.S. usually don't get the newer planes, and I thought we get a large puddle-jumper delivering cargo with room for some passengers.  TAC airlines, part of the LAN airlines network, uses AirBus 320's that were right off the delivery room floor.  Very comfortable seats with top notch entertainment systems (USB plugs in the seat back?), and a large selection of recent movies, television, and music. The fight attendants seemed like they were having fun, and helped make our flight very pleasant.  Did I mention that we had to leave our hotel at 3:30am to get to the airport and wait for a 6:30am flight?  

Our fears upon hearing that this was the rainy season in Cuzco were that our sumer clothes would be tested.  We knew we were in for an altitude challenge, but climate change was not in our plans.  Fortunately, though cloudy and windy, our day went much easier than the weatherperson predicted.  We'll see what February has in store for us.

Met at the Cuzco Airport by our new driver, our tour guide (Pablo) and our new local guide (Anna Maria) we were driven down from 11,500 feet at the airport through the city to the relatively lower (9,000 feet) elevation town of Yucay in the "Sacred Valley of the Incas".  Along the way, we stopped at several ruins, saw lots of locals in their colorful dress, and wound through beautiful agricultural lands.  It is amazing how fertile and green Peru is, especially when you get into the Andes.  

Arriving at noon at the Casona de Yucay, we decided to try to catch up on the sleep we missed out on this morning.  Casona is beautiful, and the rooms are spacious and quiet.  The mountains and countryside around us are stunningly gorgeous ( I have to find some different adjectives.  You guys must be getting bored by these repetitions).  At 2pm, we met at the hotel restaurant for our briefing by Anna Maria, who gave us the shocking news that Pablo's wife had suffered a heart attack and he was rushing back home.  Not to worry, she said, she would take over temporarily to ensure that we all could continue uninterrupted on our journeys.  With nothing we could do but hope for the best for him and his family, we discussed the itinerary for the rest of the day.

Ollantaytambo is a terrific preparation for Machu Picchu.  Containing architectural elements from six pre-Inca groups in this area, and just enough stirs to climb, the site was strenuous and challenging.  Viewing mind-boggling vistas, and gaining a deeper understanding of the skills and achievements of 2, 000 years of practice, Anna Maria coached us through a hard afternoon of paced climbing and lecture.  

The sheer engineering feats necessary to drag stones this size down from quarries at the top of an adjacent mountain range, across the Urumbamba River, us long ramps to the top of the site, and then shape them into jig saw pieces to construct this temple is really hard to imagine.  What kept me going up the mountainside was that, at every height, there was something more amazing to see and learn. 

But it was a hard climb.   It gave all of us a serious wake-up call on how much we will be able to accomplish at Machu Picchu tomorrow.  As we've got two days to visit the most popular site in the region, the trip tomorrow will help us make decisions on how well our bodies have adjusted, and how hard we want to push them.  I don't know who's more capable right now, with my now four-day Pizarro's revenge and Pat's knee being tested with every step up or down.  The good news is that there is plenty to see on the site and in the area without climbing to the temple.

And to make our day even more frazzled, the wifi doesn't seem to want to upload photos here at Casona.  It's getting late, and we need our sleep if anything like what we imagined would happen at Machu Picchu .... is really going to occur.  Wish us luck, and I'll inundate you with photos when we get to our next hotel.  
ps. Had some success on Thursday,  Here are some from Wednesday's adventure



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