Where are we?

On to Cusco

When we left Ollantaytambo I noticed lots of long poles with red plastic bags hanging out over the road. I remember my girlfriend Sue saying in one of her comments, that when she was here the tour guide told her it means they sell liquor. So I thought I'd get Dwayne to stop and I would go check it out since there were quite a few bagged poles on this road! So we stopped and I went in and spoke with the woman and found out it is a place where they make chichi, an Inka drink, which is made from corn and can be either fermented or non-fermented.  She explained the process to us and gave us a sample of the original non-fermented chichi and then one with strawberries mixed in it. The strawberry one tasted much better so we buy 2 liters of it for S/20 ($8C) I then asked how long does it last, said one day! And if you drink it later it will give you a stomach ache, well there is no way we'll drink 2 litres of it today especially when Dwayne is 'so so'  of the drink! Oh well....

The history of this drink goes way back when the women would chew the corn so it was a mash mixed with saliva and then put it into a bowl add whatever and eventually it would be a fermented alcoholic drink served at ceremonies. YUCK!!! At least I know this corn was ground on a table, then put into a pot with water and boiled for 4 hrs. The mash is then put thru a straw/grass sieve and into a ceramic vat with sugar, fruit and added water and left for 3 days to ferment. This job is only done by women.

Here we are stopped at one of the poles with a red bag
Inside the chichi "bar" pretty sure she also serves alcohol chichi
The lady poured the two types of chichi

Types of dry corn used to make the chichi

Once the corn is ground down it is boiled in a pot for 4 hrs

Then put into a straw sieve
Fermented in these vats for 3 days
Then she uses a wooden ladle to pour into a jug and then into our container
We then drive to Maras to see the salt pans. Just outside of the town there is a HUGE area where there are 6000 salt pans which are all owned by local families in the area. The salt pans have been handed down generation to generation but new families into the area can request to become part of the cooperative and take over any abandoned salt pan. The salt pans are only about 4' x4' and about 6" deep. It's believed the Inka's also used this area for salt.  The saline water actually comes straight out of the mountain. From there it is diverted to many small canals from which a small notch is made so that the water can fill up the salt pan. Once filled the opening is closed with rocks and the sun does the rest. Once the water is evaporated and only the salt left, the owner then chips out the salt in big chunks and then it is processed by the cooperative and distributed, which is all in the same area.  I  did buy a small bag of smoked salt and small bag of seasoned salt with garlic, cumin, peppers.  They have all types of salt mixes.

Beautiful mountains and valleys in the Sacred Valley

Zoomed in to the glacier and it sure looks thick!
Plaza de Armas in Maras where they had an interesting monument

It shows the Salinas de Maras

The Moray terraces 

Nice gardens around it with my favourite flower - African Daisy

Driving to Salinas de Maras stopping at a high viewpoint to see all the salt pans 

Watching some of the people working and carrying out the salt that has been harvested

Display showing the chunk of salt and then different qualities of salt

Looking down at the canal where the water enters and then can be diverted into the pans

This pan looks ready to be harvested

walkways are pretty narrow to bring up the salt

Once enough water is in the salt pan the small opening is closed off with some rocks

Dried bags of salt 

Here the salt is broken down and dried before being bagged for further processing
From there we head to Chinchero - even though it is Friday and they only have a big market on Sunday we thought we would still go through because we are not coming back this way once in Cusco.  When we get there we stop and have some sopa criollo (chicken noodle soup with a piece of chicken in it and in this case a whole hard boiled egg!) always tasty soup and only S/5 ($2) for a huge bowlful. Then we continue our walk around the main square and buy a couple of small bags of popcorn from some local ladies for later while driving. Then we went to the weaving market. Chinchero is supposedly where weaving started - I also read that it is where the rainbow started - hummm not to sure about that!! Anyways, we go into the big market where lots of different tables are set up with many sweaters, toques, gloves,blankets, ponchos ...... and more are sold. All made by the local women of the area. The girl in the market can speak English so that is a nice change! We asked where she learnt it and she said in school.  So she showed us the different ways that the wool is coloured and shows us samples. Interesting how they get some of the colors! Dwayne starts to look at sweaters while I'm taking pictures and finds one he likes. The prices is S/80 ($32C) and it's made of alpaca wool and not itchy :)  so I thought maybe I should try one to,  even though I think it's going to be itchy but it's not! Very nice and soft.  I tried on a sweater but then saw a wrap that I know I would use it more. My sweater was for S/100 so I thought the wrap would be about the same but it was for S/250!! Nope guess I'll  look at another sweater. Then she asked what would I pay and I said thought it would be same price as sweater. No,  because it takes more wool. But she came down to S/150 ($60C) so I thought ok, I'll get it. So that was our be big purchase of alpaca products.  And as we leave I take our water bottle with the chichi and give it to them to finish. I'm sure they have family that will finish the 2 litres by today ๐Ÿ˜Š They were quite happy receiving the drink.

Plaza de Armas Chinchero 

All the different colors of yarn that have been dyed using plants

Dried cactus parasites that are crushed for red colouring
Those little round balls on the cactus are parasites

Once the parasite is removed and crushed in her hand its a red dye. Using some lemon juice it changes to more of an orange color

Think some of my friends in Edmonton could use this nice warm alpaca hat right now!!

 Our purchases 

Now it's time to head to Cusco, here we are again going into a big city on a Friday afternoon! How does that always seem to happen? LOL!! Our first stop is going to be a propane place, even though we probably won't get the van tank filled we need the 20Lb cyclinder filled so Dwayne can MacGyver it again to fill the van tank! We find the propane shop and yup can't fill the van tank only the cylinder. So got that done and should be good for awhile again. Hoping maybe it will be different once we get to Chile :) I don't expect much change in Bolivia, just hope they can fill our cylinder!

Then it's time to hit the big grocery store and stock up. Nice store here and has everything we need including the peanut butter but still to expensive at S/20 ($8C) for 250gm!! Dwayne has learnt to live without it since Colombia ๐Ÿ˜…

The spot we are parking at tonight is a quiet deadend side street that hasn't been a problem for any other overlanders.  When we get there, it's a bit noisy with barking dogs, but hopefully that won't last all night!

In the morning it's raining a little. As it turned out the dogs did stop barking by 10 or so :)  This morning we'll get an early start and try to beat the rush to Plaza de Armas!  Being Saturday it could be busy!  We finally find a parking spot about 3 blocks from the plaza and start walking towards it. It is already very busy!  Of course we are right near a mercado and outdoor markets selling alpaca sweaters etc.  We stop at one and look at a sweater that looks similar to Dwayne's but doesnt have a short zipper at the front - and the girl said it was S/40! WHAT??? Dwayne figures it's not as thick as his - hope there is some difference at half the price! I couldn't find any Made in Taiwan labels! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

We get to the plaza and all the churches are closed other then the ones that are charging S/30 to get in!  We stop at MacDonald's on the plaza and have an ice cream. I really wanted a coffee but not sure how long that coffee has been sitting in the glass coffee carafe.  So passed on that.  We continue to walk around looking at things and people.

Gateway into the centre of Cusco

The main Cathedral - 1654

Water fountain in the Plaza de Armas

La Merced Basilica -1651- rebuilt over the previous one that was destroyed in an earthquake

View of the Plaza and the 2 churches

For only S/1 I get a picture with a baby lamb and the owner - she was looking at another lady coming over with her baby alpaca :) 
Eventually heading back to Vanna to continue our drive south.  We are now heading to Rainbow Mountain on our way to Puno. Should be interesting since the mountain is at 15,000' ๐Ÿ˜ฐ We find a spot to park in a small village at 12,000' if we continue further it will get higher and could be cold!  We'll leave that for tomorrow ๐Ÿ˜‰

Saturday morning shopping!

Yup time to get out of the city!

Along the route south we go thru a small village that has a statue of a girl serving their speciality - Cuy

At our parking site a truck comes in to unload 3 horses

After the horses they unloaded a motorbike. The lady on top just sat there and watched

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