Chinchero Walk 2.11.13
Click here for the link to the pictures that go with this story.
I have walked the trail from Chinchero to the Sacred Valley two times in the past. It was such a wonderful walk that I wanted to do it again with Gwen. We started out in the morning with our packed lunch and took a taxi to the street where we could catch a collectivo (large van) to Chinchero. We got off of the Collectivo which we rode with the local Cuscanians, in the town of Chinchero at the place where we would walk up to the ruins.
We passed a collective dedicated to keeping alive the traditional spinning, dying and weaving techniques. Had a nice little chat with the women there. I am amazed that with many people, I am able to have simple, understandable conversations in Spanish, and thus it was with the women in Chinchero.
We went on our way and headed up the hill to the checkpoint where we showed our Bolleto Turistico. This ticket, which we paid 130 soles for (about $52) was our entrance into several of the ruins—Saqsayaman, Qenqo, Pisaq, Tipon, Ollantaytambo and Moray.
We walked through the ruins and headed to the far corner to the beginning of the trail. I showed Gwen where the "Soy de la Tierra" song came thru a few years ago. Oh and before we entered the ruins, a man at a shop asked us if we wanted to buy walking sticks and said something about the trail which we did not fully understand.
So we headed down the trail and passed men carrying Eucalyptus logs up the hill. Next we encountered a man and his sheep who warned us about big slides on the trail. I think he offered to come back and help us but I am not sure. What we gleaned from that conversation is that we would be able to cross over the slides.
Now we come to the part when Gwen and I remember things in a different order—which is so interesting to us and which we will never really know in what order things happened. I will proceed with my version…
Gwen made the comment, I hope we run into someone who speaks English so we can really understand what is ahead of us. Just after she said that we met 2 young men coming up the hill. One began talking to us in Spanish about what was coming, and then the other guy piped up in English! Quick manifestation. They told us there was a big slide ahead and that it was a long way down to get to the river to get around it. We continued on to see for ourselves and to decide what we would do.
Next, we meet an old man. He tells us to turn around that it is not possible to pass. We talk to him for a while and he really discourages us. My first reaction is to think, ok, we have to turn around. Then Gwen and I talk about it and decide to go and look at the slide and feel out how to proceed. We get closer and the trail starts to get very muddy. I ask Gwen to go on ahead and scope it out and see what she thinks. I didn't wait for her to come back and started to follow.
Now we're right there with a huge slide in front of us. We decide to go for it. Gwen chooses a path and traverses the muddy hill. I watch her for a while and choose a different path. I decide to climb up the hill through the brush, clinging and pulling from weed to weed. From down below I saw a way up the side of the slide and then over a gully, across an area with very little growth and a lot of mud, over to the next section of brush and weeds. I made it up and over the gully as I had planned and then had to cross a muddy area with little to hang on to. I figured out that I could pull on weeds that were buried in the mud to brace myself as I took careful steps across the muddy slope. I felt like it was the most daring thing I had ever done, yet I wasn't afraid. I just kept moving forward and not looking down too much. I did, however, stop and take a few pictures on the way. I don't think they give a true depiction of the circumstance as it was much harrier than the pictures show.
After traversing the mud, I came again to the other side of the slide to a slope covered in grassy, shrubby growth. I called out for Gwen a few times but heard no response, I was too far up the hill for her to hear me. I made my way down thru the growth, this time encountering stickers and pokey things. I wasn't sure how to get back to the trail and kept calling Gwen. Finally we heard each other and she tried to direct me. I didn't want to come down to a drop and was looking for a place where the transition to the trail would be gradual. She was able to guide me to this place and I landed back down having completed a most daring adventure safely. It's days later and I still have scratches on my arms and bites from something that got me on the way.
Soon after we were on our way again, a man came up behind us. He told us he was going to see his corn which was way down at the bottom of the hill. Not only was he going to go all the way down there, but he was walking back up as well. We asked if there were more slides and he said yes. We began to follow in his footsteps as he crossed over the next 2 slides. I waited for Gwen and he went on ahead. We could see him looking back from the next slide. We called him our angel—figured he was leading the way even tho we couldn't see him. If he could make it all the way, we knew we could.
Each of the next slides was a little easier to cross and we made our way safely down the hill. When we came to the flat lands, we stopped to have a little mango. Just before we were ready to get up and continue, an older couple came along and told us which way to go. Behind us was a trail that we didn't even know was there. "Go that way" they told us, "avoid the barking dogs in the corn fields." We followed the trail as directed and it led us along a canal and behind some houses. There were more barking dogs but they didn't leave their perches on top of the walls above us. We followed the canal till we met up with some folks sitting on their front stoop. Had a little chat with them and they pointed the way through the plaza to the large canal that would lead us to the bridge over the Urubamba river. Crossed the bridge and went out to the road to wait for a bus or collectivo. One came pretty quickly and we were on our way to the Urubamba bus station where we would catch another collectivo to Ollantaytambo. And that's another story….