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May 15, 2015

I met two women who are in the photo program, and we decided to take a trek to Moray and its salt pans and the small city of Chinchero, about an hour outside Cusco. Our helpful hotel desk clerk found us a taxi driver and negotiated a good price, and off we went on Thursday afternoon. Driving through the northern edges of town gave us a vivid picture of the abject poverty in which folks live here: dozens of dogs scrounging in piles of uncollected garbage, partially-finished buildings that looked to be inhabited, and potholes to rival any found in Connecticut in March and April. For our protection, Pedro removed the Taxi sign from the roof of the car.

Once outside the city, however, the landscape was magnificent. Fields stretched over the rolling hills to the snow-capped Andes in the distance. Since it’s late fall here, the crops had mostly been harvested, but we did see groups of workers digging potatoes. No sign of mechanization here, as the folks who were plowing were walking behind oxen.

Fields 2      Fields 1

As we neared the turnoff for Moray, sizable stones and boulders littered the highway. Pedro told us they were associated with the demonstrations going on in the Cusco region over teacher or professor pay (my Spanish wasn’t good enough to catch it all). We finally had to stop because the road was totally blocked by earth and rubble.

We followed a bus down a grassy path bypassing the road and continued on, but a bit further we encountered an even larger barricade, so we turned back.


En route to Chinchero we stopped at a small hillside market, where three or four ladies and their children were selling hats, sweaters, blankets, gloves — all manner of hand- and machine-made textiles. Kitzen and Colleen contributed mightily to the local economy during our extended visit, and we all took lots of shots of the panoramic views of the mountainsides and the Urubamba River below.

Mountainside    Alpaca Hats  Textiles for Sale

Incan Boy

Chinchero is a charming Andean village surrounding some magnificent Inca ruins and terraced hillsides. The Incas considered this spot the birthplace of the rainbow. Reaching the entrance to the village we were confronted with a vertiginous pedestrian-only street. As we groaned about the climb ahead — and we were told Chinchero is already 3000 feet higher than Cusco — the hombre at the ticket kiosk reassured us that we only had to climb to the first cross street.Incan Stone Walls

The walls of the ancient city are remarkable, constructed of huge stones that have been carved to fit tightly together and carefully stacked without the use of mortar of any kind. Ancient Incan Wall

It’s amazing to realize that this part of Peru is on three geological fault lines and the walls have withstood countless earthquakes over the past several hundred years, while Spanish structures built on top of the Incan buildings have collapsed.

Incan Stone Walls 3Terraced hillsides, cultivated for farming since ancient times, climb the hillside opposite the plaza.

Terraced Hillside

There’s a small market several days a week on the plaza overlooking the ruins, and a colonial church sits atop. No photos are allowed inside the church, which is a shame, because every surface is decorated, including the ceiling and its beams.

Colonial Church

On the way down the hill we stopped to watch some Andean women weaving using alpaca wool they dye with plant, vegetable and insect dyes. More on that in a few days, as we’re coming back to Chinchero, and hopefully I’ll have better photos.

Incan Weavers 1 Dyed Alpaca Yarn

On the way out of the village, Colleen just had to have the corn snack a woman was selling in the parking lot. Kitzen and I were wary of eating food from a street vendor, so we took a pass. The real snack also has fresh cow’s cheese spread on top, but Collen decided not to press her luck. These ears had the biggest kernels I have ever seen, and it really was delicious.

Corn 1          Corn 2

As a wrap to a great day, the three of us dined at El Museo de Pisco, where the specialty is Pisco Sours.

Pisco Sour

From → Women travel

  1. Karen Dugan permalink

    Wow! You sure are getting a full range of experiences and sights! Great photos! Hope there may be a brown bag lunch talk in the future.

  2. Katherine permalink

    Amazing photos. I can’t believe you’re really there! Tengo celos.

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