Float, Visit Ollantaytambo Ruins, Cuy at Lunch

Prickly pear cacti exist in Arizona and also here in this area of Peru! Our guide showed us a small white worm found on the cactus pad and when squashed it has a purple color used for dye.
Here we are at 9,000 feet surrounded by 13,000 foot mountains and glaciers higher up at 15,000 feet, but we are enjoying a sunny warm day as we float, with an occasional paddling by us down the Urubamba River! The valley was sacred ground to the Incas and in places we can still see terraces from the 1400's/1500's. Present people live in adobe houses, farm, care for cows, horses, sheep and pigs. (Read to the end of this blog about the phone dropped into the river during our float trip!)
Then we hiked the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo. How did the Incas move the 22 ton rocks from the quarry on the other side of the river! How did they notch pieces together with no mortar and with correct shapes? The orange lichen on the rock indicates how clean the air is here. We walked our way to the top by stepping about 60 steps and taking a rest (total steps may have been 270). This fortress has plenty of history and will be worth reading about as the Incas were in conflict with the Spanish Conquistadors. The good thing though is the conquistadors went no further; therefore, Machu Picchu is in better shape than here, but this is really amazing! As a result, I cannot wait to get to Machu Picchu….tomorrow! It is raining there now, but hopefully our good weather will continue to follow us.
We had lunch at Emma's home and everything was delicious! The woman and her three daughters live in a large home and the woman is an excellent cook! We had quinoa soup, cuy which is guinea pig, white large kernel corn, potato slices, rice, and the chile rellenos which she showed us how to make and then we added the last touch before dropping each in a fry pan. To drink, chichamirado which is from dark corn, and a peach for dessert. Very nice family. The older twin girls will go to university in Cuzco for business-hotel management. The younger sibling has a Down's syndrome and attends regular school Monday through Friday, and a special education program in Cuzco on Saturdays.
Another stop was at Pablo Seminario's ceramic's workshop. He and his wife spent time with us and explained their work. They are truly artists! They employ 50 local people, use electric wheel and electric kilns, and talked us through the entire ceramic process. They are working with clay as the Incas had done. A museum in Chicago bought 60 pieces and the Smithsonian bought one.
Tonight we have to pack with an overnight bag for Machu Picchu. We'll get a pisco sour demo so I will know how to make one! Dinner, rotisserie chicken, and then to bed. Busy day to catch bus, train and hike to Machu Picchu!!
So…about the phone in the river….our guide told us to take little and with my camera to be sure I keep the strap around my neck. People who had cell phones were encouraged to keep them on the bus. One woman was successful carrying her cell phone, taking photos, tucking her phone between her body and life vest….until it all of a sudden slipped out and fell into the river! Minutes later she told the guide of our raft and we continued down the river. Attached to her phone was a Visa card and couple of other unimportant cards. We all continued on to the ruins. Amazingly, the guides got someone who either snorkels or scubas and they found it! They delivered it to her while we were at the ruins. Now the phone is in a bag of rice and we'll see if it can work again. I still cannot believe they found the phone!

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