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Sunday, May 28, 2023: The Sacred Valley

Our local guide today is Adelky. The driver, Carlos, told me that he is the best. It turns out that he was the tourism instructor for Kati, our G-Adventures guide, when she was getting her degree at the National University of Cusco.

First we left Cusco and drove through The Sacred Valley. This is the fertile region between the Andean Mountain Range. The Rocky Mountains are older than the Andes, but part of the same chain of mountains.

In the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the head waters of the Amazon starts with the Urubamba River. There are 4,200 miles to the Atlantic Ocean. In 2017 an expedition determined that the Amazon is actually the longest river in the world. This distinction used to be held by the Nile. Trout was introduced to the rivers from Canada and has adapted well.

We stopped at Pisac, a UNESCO site, where we were able to see the famous terraces. This farming technique was used to prevent landslides, preserve the soil, and slow the rainwater down.

Terraces from the Inca period are protected by UNESCO. One can see many throughout the countryside. The Incas used them for growing crops for eating, trade, and for carrying out experimentation. Seeds were also a great source for trade.

Life expectancy for the Inca was 45 years. The dead were buried in the fetal position since they were expected to be born again in the next life. They were feared and took over other cultures. They kept what was good about each culture as they assimilated them. They didn’t share knowledge or power.

Wherever we go, there are hill people donned in their finest apparel who come down to sell their handmade goods.
Next we drive up high into the mountains to the Potato Park. Here is where they work to save native seeds. This is a demonstration about how the calendar affects the planting, growing and harvesting of the potato.

Farmers work from sunrise at 5:45am to sunset at 5:45pm. This time never changes during the year. Ninety-five percent of their produce is organically grown. In the USA only a small percent is grown organically and is labeled that way. However, in Perú so little is not organic they should probably label it, NOT organic!!

Here is a collection of seeds. They are securing biodiversity and work with the Svalbard Global Seed Vault located on an island far north of Norway.

Where does the potato come from? Most people, like me, would have said Ireland or perhaps Idaho. The potato comes from Perú. It was transported back to the Old World by the Spaniards and then brought to the USA.

The treeline in Perú is higher so they can grow many things. In fact, the same potato planted at different elevations has a different shape, color, AND even taste.

Due to its popularity Perúvian quinoa is exported to other countries. Perúvians import their quinoa from Spain. They can make more money selling their quinoa.

Bluebonnets, like we have in Texas, are edible and have a better nutritional profile than quinoa. The world will soon take notice.

These native women at the park told us about dying alpaca fibers, spinning, and making textiles. I bought a hat and a little toy alpaca from these ladies.

Llamas are used for work. They can only carry about 50 pounds. People cannot ride them. The alpaca is used for food and textile fiber. (It tastes pretty good.) The vicuña makes the finest fur but is very expensive. It was almost hunted to extinction but is now protected by the government.  They live wild in the upper Andes. When it is time to harvest the fur, people form big circles and close in on them.

This man gave us a talk about potatoes. Small potatoes are used for planting. Some they allow to go to seed. He is wearing his “work” clothes or traditional clothing.
As we were leaving, I saw him with a POLO cap and I was wearing a traditional hat. I guess we could say that we were trading places. (Actually, he was riding our bus to the soccer field to play in a game. He is 58.)
We arrived at Ollantaytambo . It was a storehouse for the Inca military. This was like a convenience store. Many of these forts were built outside Cusco.
Rob is all smiles as we reach the top.
There is a celebration in this town with lots of singing, dancing and even a bull fight!
Many of these red clothes on a long stick can be seen along the road. It means that there is a party going on in here!!! Perhaps a Peruvian bar crawl??
This is the view of the mountain across from the storehouse. Tunupa’s image is in stone on the mountain Pinkuylluna. He was the creator god of pre-Incan and Incan mythology. Can you see the angry man in the mountain?
We have worked up quite an appetite and are given a traditional Sunday meal. A special treat is a roasted guinea pig! This is considered a delicacy and has been eaten by Perúvians for hundreds of years. This was hard to swallow as we had a pet guinea pig named Piggy!!
This was unexpected. We arrived at our room after a long day and were surprised to see four beds. How do you choose?

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