21.04.2006 24 °C
Class finally finished today. Now I just have to digest all I've learned for the last week and try to actually form a sentence when I speak instead of spitting out vocabs. It'll take a lot of practice.
After school, I decided to go back to the local market a few blocks away and took some photos for my blog. In Cusco, where the proportions of tourists always rifle that of locals, you need to pay for your photos most of the time if the subject notices you. This has become quite annoying because of the materialist nature of these locals.
My time in Cusco is ticking. My curiosity had urged me to take a local bus to Salinas and Moray. Salinas has thousands of salt pans that had been used to extraction since Inca times. A hot spring at the top of the valley discharges a small stream of heavily salt-laden water which is diverted into these salt pans. During the drive, my taxi driver, a very nice man who lives in a nearby village, Maras, explained to me that ex-president Futomori gave the salt pans to the Japanese. I'm sure if this is still true. My spanish had made me more confidence when I communicate but understanding is still a problem sometime. In Moray, there is a impressive deep amphitheatre-like terraces that are carved into a hugh bowl with each layer having its own microclimate. It was used by the Inca to experiment agriculture methods.
The local bus going back to Cusco is an adventure by itself. Since it was coming from Urabamba, the bus was already full when it got to Moray. I squeezed in anyway hoping to get back to town before dark. Little that I know the bus driver had decided to give me a special cushioned seat next to him and two other guys right in front of the bus. I returned the favor by giving him some corn snack. A woman dressed in traditional Peruvian clothing boarded the bus a little later and put her bag of live chicken behind me. For the rest of the trip, the lovely chicken struggled to escape and kept poking my back. In a way, I cared less because the sky was getting dark and the stars were shining as bright as they can be. I stared out the windshield for a good half hour wondering what constellation it is in the dark sky with peruvian music playing in the background.
My last night in Cusco was spent in Mandela's Bar, a lounge and live music spot that attracts more outcasts with treads than regular customers. Me, my classmates and their host family spent the rest of the night talking in broken spanish about the world.
Saturday morning, I went to Ollamtaytambo by myself hoping to do some last-minute ruins touring. Ollamtaytambo, a fortress with steep terraces was used by Marco Tupac after his defeat at Sacsayhuaman in 1530s. The village itself is very serene when the tour buses are not trying to take over the narrow streets. The ruins are equally impressive, different from Machu Picchu. However, being a bit under the weather again, I could not fully appreciate the magnitude of this fortress. I took an early bus back and said goodbye to my favorite travel agent, Gladys and her baby.
More pictures here: