03 November, Monday - Day 7
Free day in Ollantaytambo. Visit to Fortress Ruins in the Morning, Private tour of Moray and Salt Mines for the Afternoon.
It rained last night. We’re up at 6:30 am to visit the fortress ruins. It’s sunny but still cool.
We take our time climbing the steps up to the top.
There are a few small tours at the ruins so we eavesdrop.
The small stones between the larger ones in the ruins help guard against friction caused by earthquakes.
There are buildings high on the side of the mountains which were used for storage by the Incas. Because of the cool climate, grain could stay fresh for up to 11 years. The largest blocks on the site were for an unfinished temple to the sun. Ollanta was successfully defended against the Spaniards. We try hiking a trail near the top of the ruins but it becomes too rocky and steep so we decide against following it to the end. There’s a reconstructed thatched hut and its very cool inside. On the bottom of the ruins is a bathing area. We spent 3 hours at the ruins and then had omelettes for brunch.
The museum is now open so we spend some time enjoying the exhibits. There is English translations of the displays on paddleboards in each room. I didn’t know that the ancient people freeze dried potatoes. We take a private taxi tour at 2 pm to see a beautiful place near the village of Maras called Moray (3575m).
The site has micro-environments in graduated terraces and is thought to be a place to test crops of coffee, coca, beans, and corn.
Our guide helps us navigate the inca steps on the terraces.
The Inca calendar begins on August 1st. In the old days the favorite llama was sacrificed and its heart buried as an offering to the pachamama (Mother Earth). Nowadays, people leave coca leaves and coins.
Our guide tells us that most folks don’t usually go all the way down to the center of the site. Only the young ones. We’re doing well with his help.
Rusela buries a coin at the center of the circle.
The driver asks if we would like to stop at the village of Maras for pictures but it looks like rain and it is getting late so we opt to continue to the salt mines. Supposedly there are twice as many burros than people in Maras.
Women wear layers of skirts, leggings, sweaters and a hat with their hair braided in two braids in the back tied together on the end. A shawl is tied so they can carry babies and other stuff on their backs.
There’s a beautiful rainbow over the mountains.
It’s a serpentine dirt road to the mines and we’re surprised to hear that tour buses come often.
There are over 3500 wells of salt in various stages of evaporation.
A warm salt water spring feeds into the wells.
We have a nice dinner of chicken soup, squash, green beans, tomato and green onion salad, parsley, coca tea and a brownie garnished with kiwi at the hostel restaurant.
Musicians come and play and sell CD’s.
There’s a short electric outage at 8pm for 15 minutes. Rusela reports that we walked over 15000 steps today. Seems to get light at 5 am and dark by 5 pm. We’re usually asleep by 8 or 9 pm every night.
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