So to continue, Susan missed MP completely as well as all meals at the fancy hotel due to illness; Ginger made it from the train to MP, then had to sit most of it out due to the same. The rest of us had Santiago, our guide, lead us for 2+ hours around MP with explanations about the history, the sun dial, about how the different neighborhoods were set up... He is a good guide, though a bit long-winded and would stand in one place too long with much information—hard to stand still all that time and not have my mind wander. Things haven't changed much—just like back in school. Too bad I couldn't knit and listen...
I was worried about not being able to keep up, even had dreams a few days before about the steps being about 4' tall and impossible for me to climb, but I did fine. The place is so fascinating, you can't help but want to continue to see more. However, at the end of his walk and talk, I was ready to rest or find some shade. The day was beautiful and perfect there, but now it was noon and the sun was getting warm. We found a building with openings and a roof, and stayed for 10-15 minutes to enjoy the breeze and view. Then we decided to commune with the llamas who had tired of the tourists and headed downhill to munch in peace. We joined them, sitting on the grass nearby. They're very docile and peaceful animals and one even came within about a foot of me to eat.
When we got up to leave, my body had stiffened and the climb up was not so easy! I made it—what choice did I have? And this is why I carried Ibuprofen with me. We had a cool drink before heading back on the bus down the winding road to Agues Caliente. Everyone talks about the bus ride and winding road, but those of us who have driven to Tahoe or grew up driving the roads in places like Hillsborough—no sidewalks and narrow roads—know the drill. Matthew and I shared a pizza for lunch, then met up with the group for the next train ride into Cusco. This train felt luxurious compared to the one in that morning! Much wider seats and more leg room, which was good since we had 3 ½ hours on this one.
I have to digress a bit because I didn't mention the ceremony the last day in Chinchero with the weavers. A few of us brought gifts to the women—i brought notebooks, pens, pencils, some glass beads in two colors, and two colorful shirts. Nilda had all of us circle around the things we'd brought with the weavers, then each was able to choose what they'd like. While they were doing this, I brought out something I'd brought for a snack on the plane that was unopened—Trader Joe's cinnamon and sugar pita chips! These women rarely eat dessert, so it was really fun to walk around and offer them this sweet treat. One woman's young daughter was also there, so I went to her first. They seemed to really like the snack, but the funny part was the beads. They were yellow or green and enough of them for each to have a few. But at first, the little girl and some of the women got really excited because they thought it was candy. One woman missed the explanation because she grabbed a couple, then realized what they were and handed them off to someone younger. Teresa, who owns a yarn store that handles all their own dyed yarns in Taos, and her mom who helps with the dyeing brought them indigo for dyeing, which she'd been told they need, so they was given lovely thank you gifts from the ladies, including a huge hank of indigo yarn. Nilda showed us the green house—or plastic-lined structure that houses their indigo plants and dyeing. The plants aren't growing, but they keep trying—it's hard to come by, but can be found in other areas. They had several covered vats with yarn being dyed using the women's urine as the mordant to set the dye. Yep, smelled BAD. I think Nilda said it takes 4 or 6 weeks to set and if it dyes blue right away, it will wash right out and that's the end of that batch.
Okay, let's catch up...after Machu Picchu, we went back to the hotel Marqueses in Cusco. We got there after 6 pm, so a few of us went back to the place we'd been to before. Matthew and I shared cuy—guinea pig dinner. It was just okay as far as I was concerned. I'd rather have chicken. The last day our group was together as 13, we all went our separate ways to shop or site-see. Matthew and I went to the Church of the Sun which blends the Inka ruins with some Catholic influences from the Spanish takeover. From there we went to Nilda's weaving center to pick up a piece she had washed for us and we invited her to dinner next month when she comes to San Mateo to teach knitting classes. Then we walked down the local market and back up...and I was amazed at how I could now do it without losing my breath and becoming totally winded. Of course, now that I'm acclimated, I'm leaving...
We had a nice farewell dinner with the whole group, then Susan, Matthew and I departed the next morning at 7 for the airport and the rest of the group left for Lake Titicaca.
We're now in the Amazon...left our hotel at 4:45 am today heading for Iquitos...long time in the airport since we were slightly delayed. But we're here now and it's hot and humid...duh. Our guide's name is Abelardo or Abelito – he'll answer to both. He's our private guide for the 4 days. He took us on an hour walk (I could have sworn it was longer given the sweat I produced) in the rain forest on this property. Tomorrow we do the big day—up and out around 6 so we can get to the other Explorarama property for breakfast then do the canopy walk way up high. Ooh. Ugh. I wonder if having a pisco sour for breakfast could help?
More to write later,but once again, this area has wifi but it's very slow....again. no pictures will load either.