|Link to the pictures on facebook
One of my challenges on this trip has been: how do I get from my apartment to where I catch the bus or minivan to an outlying area to visit the ruins? I have ended up in the wrong place before and I like to avoid that.
Ok, how do I get to Chinchero? The taxi driver took me to the bus station. The vans are just around the corner but I decided to stick with the bus thinking I would have a little more freedom of movement and it would be easier to take pictures out the window. Wrong.
I learned something very important. Try to request a seat. I ended up sitting down in the front before I realized there were assigned seats. I quickly found out when a couple came to claim their seats. Ok, where is 28? I kept walking back looking for the number. Turned out, it was sort of a non-existant seat, in that it was in the back row, which already looked filled. So I threw my stuff overhead and squeezed into the seat. Luckily there was a very friendly mother, daughter and puppy next to me. We had some conversation along the way and I was able to understand quite a bit and also get my thoughts across to her.
I got off the bus in Chinchero and walked up to the ruinsgot my ticket punched and was escorted by 2 young girls towards the ruins. They wanted to sell me, I don't remember what. I just kept telling them I didn't want to buy anything and they were very persistent as most of the multitude of vendors are. I finally sang them my Ollantaytambo song, they still wanted me to give them money. Cíao, I am going, bye, see ya later. No gracias. Cíao.
I took the path below the ruins. I knew where I wanted to go. I already had 2 beautiful visits to Chinchero and I was headed for the trail I had seen before. Below the ruins there were some crops planted and ultimately steps leading down to a creek. The last time, there was a sign there about the trail, but this time it was gone. I didn't remember what it said, so I had no clue where the trail would lead. I started to follow it.
I could see that there was a lot of work being done down there. It looked like old walls were being restored and new ones were being constructed. I was stunned by the beauty and the care that was being taken to create this amazing trail. It was one of those "pinch me" moments, am I dreaming? I kept following the path and when it split, I took the left trail. I could see eventually that it would lead up into the mountain, so I went back to the main trail across the creek. A bit farther, I thought I could hear singingI was finally able to spot two boys way up the mountain on the other trail. I waved and greeted them and we soon lost sight of each other.
I kept on walking, thinking about the time, and being sure to have enough to walk back before dark. I continued to be impressed with how well the trail was being taken care of and restored. Amazing sights were before me with every turn.
I knew I would find the right spot to sit and have a little picnicand there it wasan incredibly beautiful waterfall and some new grassy steps leading down to it. Just another confirmation of being in paradise.
Not long after the stop at the waterfall, between the mountains rising on both sides of me, I saw the valley far below. I began to understand where this trail was going. It became a real idea that I could actually walk to the Sacred Valley, near Urubamba on this trail, but there was still the question of timing and daylight. It felt do-able so I kept on going. It was a much better idea to me than walking back uphill. I kept looking at my fear in the face. I was alone on this trail. What or who might I encounter? I saw no animals. If I found any people along the way, surely they would be local residents with their animals or crops and not really interested in me. The farther I walked the deeper the commitment to move forward.
Eventually the trail wound down into the valley. More and more fields of wheat and corn appeared. It was all beyond beautiful and such a gift I was being given. I let it fill me and saturate me. The path became ambiguous only onceotherwise, it was clear which way to go. I paused before the parting of ways. Do I hop this mud rock wall and go through the orchard, take a right which could lead me close to a house, or cut to the left down by the creek?
I am not sure I made the best choice because as the trail wound along the creek, pretty soon there was the wall of a house through the vines on my right. As I came out to the driveway, I was surrounded by several barking dogs. I wasn't afraid. I could tell they were making noise to be sure I kept going but they had no intent of harming me. I looked around briefly for people, saw none and kept walking out to the end of the driveway where I could see a gate.
Once on the other side, I was greeted by some friendly local children. I passed beautiful gardens, filled with flowers, that looked like they could be in California. Fields of red sweet williams.
One of the things I have learned here, is that people almost always greet each other when passing or encountering each other. Buenas dias, buenas tardes or buenas noches. I have taken up the custom and it so softens energy. Here I am, this unusual character walking around Peru, and all of a sudden I say buenas tardes to a person passing by and a smile or some sort of warmth is shared.
I greeted one man, walked a little farther, greeted another and passed. He called back after me and I joined him and the other man. Pretty soon the wife came out. I told them I had just walked from Chinchero. I had been practicing what I was going to say almost the whole way in case I ran into someone. Caminé de Chinchero. Caminando a la valle. (I walked from Chinchero and I'm walking to the valley.) We chatted for a while, talked about how beautiful it was there and how lovely the gardens and just plain exhaulted life. I got ready to move on and they encouraged me to return again. I treasure my time with the people.
It was four hours all together by the time I reached the bridge that would cross the Urubamba river. I stood on the road with the locals and waited for a collectivo to take us to Urubamba where I would then catch another to Ollantaytambo. I spent the night at Las Orchideas, a hostel that Musi and I stayed at before. Next morning I climbed the ruins.
And from there, on to Moray and Salineras. But that's another story.