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Lucy French’s Travel Diary

Friday, 22 Aug 2008

Location: Sacred Valley, Peru

MapAlthough I´ve been taking loads of pictures Peru is a bit behind with their technology and none of the internet cafe PCs have usb so I can load up the latest images. As soon as I can find a way to load them I will so in the meantime I´ll try to paint the best picture I can.

Yesterday was our first real day of seeing the Peruvian culture and countryside. We want to Ollanytabo, which was originally a Royal Incan palace. hard to describe, but they choose a mountain and work with the natural contours of the mountainside to build terraces which they grow crops, but also their temples. The buildings are like works of art, and the walls are made of stones (like in Egypt) that fit so closely together you can´t fit anything between them, and all the stones are or irregular shapes, making the feat of constructing them even more amazing. Some of the stones that form the walls and the astrological observatories that are placed high on the mountain top weigh over 300 tonnes and they even have bevelled edges! How they get them from the bottom of the valley to the top of the mountain is a mystery.

It´s a real workout to climb up the mountainside, not only because the steps are incredibly steep but the high altitude stops you from getting another breath and oxygen into your lungs, so you feel like an old woman, and have to stop many times before you reach the top. But when you get there it´s worth it. All the sacred sites are aligned to the winter and summer solstice and other key astrological milestones.

Last night we were invited to participate in a ceremony given by a local shaman, who blessed us for a safe trip and release any negativity that surrounded us. I must admit I slept like a log and this morning felt really clear and light and much of the altitude sickness had gone.

This afternoon we visited another sacred site at Pisac. A huge one hour hike up the mountain, climbing the old Incan steps and pathways, to the top. It was a huge challenge physically because again it´s hard to get your breath, but we all made it.

The group is wonderful I´m really enjoying getting to know everyone. My room mate is a woman from Sydney and we get on very well (she doesn´t complain about my snoring)!

The sky is so clear at night you can see all the stars, and behind the beautiful hacidenda where we are staying is a glacier high above us in the Andes mountains and I think we will be going there tomorrow. Tomorrow will also see us leave this beautiful valley and take the train to Macchu Picchu where we are staying for a couple of days. If we thought it was hard walking at Pisac, Macchu Picchu will be much harder . I guess I´m going to be much lighter by the time I leave Peru, with all the exercise we are getting.

I´m just loving this trip, it really is very special - worth every dollar.