Sacred Valley, Peru... Another round of tours
Jul 24, 2005
|The past week has been very productive at work, but lacked somewhat of social life. Fortunately the Dutchies (Jani and Suzan) have also been planning to do something fun on weekends, as our stay in Cusco approaches the end. The plan was we do a tour around some sites in the Sacred Valley on mounain bikes today. By mutual interests, next Saturday will be river rafting (day trip), then paragliding (woah-oh!!) the Saturday after - which should also be our last weekend here.
Though didn't stay out until too late last night (back at 12:30am), woke up unfortunately at 4am and couldn't quite go back to sleep again. Hence had a bad feeling that a big fall may occur sometimes today. Had two cups of tea in an attempt to stay awake, but not to much avail. The tour was all paid for, and we were all looking forward to it, and I hoped for the best.
Didn't start off well though... As we turned into the agency (next door to The Real McCoy's - for reference to anyone who may want to take up a tour with them), we noticed four tired looking bikes leaning on the wall (also joined by the Dutchies' neighbour, Maaike also from Holland). We were also given helmets which were somewhat big, and the straps were tightened dodgily with knots. Since it still moved up and down my head, I hope that it would reduce any impacts which may happen!! Then when we finally mounted on our bikes, Jani found that her bike's front tyre kept deflating, despite working the bike pump. Minutes passed as we watched the technician changed the tyre, and having some problems making sure it was securely back onto the frame and the brakes were correctly connected.
Just as we were about to set off, Maaike's bike chain became loose, and they tried to fix it quickly. No luck. The guide swapped bikes with her, and even he had trouble staying on the bike and had to keep pushing off the pavement. As we turned the corner, Jani's chain also came loose. She demanded that the bikes be swapped. But there were no other ones available, and the guide hailed a taxi to take the two faulty bikes to the bus terminal - where apparently there would be more. He also packed the Dutchies into the cab, and the three of us - the guide, Maaike and I followed by bike. We both rather be in the taxi, to be honest, and it was quite a scary experience cycling through the chaotic traffic.
The speed was ok at first, but after a while, I lagged behind braking downhill, and trying to avoid swerving combis, crazy taxis and determined pedestrians and dogs. Traffic lights were also not on my side. Luckily managed to get to the bus terminal - just in time to hear Jani complain to the guide that it was not only about the bikes, but that he was a bad guide for having left me behind. Damn right!
We held a conference quickly as to whether to continue or not, with such a bad start. I quite fancied changing to go horse riding instead, and Maaike also rather give the bikes a miss that day. There were no bike replacements, and since the Dutchies still wanna go cycling, thought they could take our two instead. But they wanted us to stay together. The boss of the agency came, apologised and offered us the same tour but by private bus. $25 was a bit much, and $15 by public transport was outrageous (other agencies offer that for $10 by private bus). So we decided to do the tour ourselves by bus, and they offered us a full refund.
We did wish we have had our Lonely Planet or Exploring Cusco with us, but we didn't want to turn back since we were already at the bus terminal. We got off at Chincero (same place I went to previously with Lobke a few weeks back), and asked for quotes of taxis going to Moray, Salineras and Maraz. We managed to bargain one for 50 soles (10 pounds, US$15) for all of us.
The drive to Moray was about 25 minutes and passed some splendid landscapes. Since we didn't have a guidebook with us, not quite sure what the amphitheatre rings were for. Suz explained they were used as an experiment to see how crops grow best under various positions of the sun by the Incas. We took our time walking around the two "amphitheatres" and even had time for some silly pictures.
Though we were hungry, the next stop was Salineras. Having mistakened the "salt pans" as written in the Lonely Planet to be cooking utensils before, hence not very interested in going. The view which greeted me was stunning. There were terraces of gleaming white salt pans - like salt pans. There was a salt water outlet, and the Incas harnessed them through channels and terraces to deposit the water into various ponds. The water takes about a week to dry to become solid salt. Even from up the hill, we could see the various shades of the ponds at their respective stage of salt forming. It wsa wonderful to walk among the terraces, seeing at close up how different each stage was, and of course sampling some of the salt!
Then it was back again in the taxi, and back to Chinchero for a spot of very late lunch. Luckily they also offered a veggie alternative for Jani and I, and we were all very happy with the turn of events of the day. We took a cab back into Cusco again, now quieter and reflecting on how enjoyable the day has been. And also all looking forward to go home for a shower and a nap, before going out tonight for Lotta and Stella's last night in Cusco. It's gonna be a long night, but I will have to bear in mind my commitment to work tomorrow morning...