Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley Adventures
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I visited Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley in May 2005, as a part of the Crooked Trails tour of Peru. We traveled by private bus to Chinchero where we toured the Inca ruins there and visited a weavers' cooperative run by Vilma and Paulino. After demonstrations of weaving and wool dying, we tried our hand at the backstrap looms with mixed success. We were then treated to a lunch of the national Peruvian foods of potatoes and cuy or guinea pig. We then toured their new weavers' cooperative called Minka Chinchero, which has covered sales stalls a weaving and dying demonstration areas, dining areas and a hostel. We continued our journey to Ollantaytambo where we unexpectedly came across a huge three-day festival that was ending that day. We joined the festivalgoers down by the church in the pampas area. There were more than twenty groups that were dressed in various costumes ranging from drunken cowboys, lawyers, bejeweled step dancers, bolo dancers to fancy hat dancers. There were also horseback riders who competed for the grabbing a corncob that was suspended over the raceway on a rope. We returned for dinner near our hotel and then many of us joined the continued festivities in the plaza. There we saw all of the groups parade around the plaza for awards with some of our group joining in on the parade. The winning groups were allowed to set off elaborate fireworks. Following that, there were three dance bands set up by some of the wealthier groups, so we joined in the dancing and drinking until late in the evening. The following morning we caught the train to kilometer 104 where we began our day hike along the Royal Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This route is believed to be the ceremonial path that the Inca ruling caste used for ritual purification before entering the sacred site of Machu Picchu. The trail is a magnificent hike to from the Choquesuysuy ruins to Quetzal Falls, to the watch tower of the Winayhuayna ruins. In the afternoon wemoreless
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