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The Rock-itt : November 2009
garden, with a massive statue of the sculptor, a naked octogenarian having sex with a female probable a third of his age. It was probably more offensive as the female figure was dressed ... ... .What people will do to prove... The walls and seats around the "work" were lovely with mosaic and story pictures throughout. The work is no doubts a great sculpture, the figures were emotionally strong and powerful, and I think I would have rather seen it in wood instead of stone; the light would then have soothed the rawness of the subject. Or situated in a well timbered park, again the light would have been less harsh. Maybe I'm just an old romantic! Our guide dropped us at our hotel, and we prowled off to find lunch and an internet café and shops. Big Pond let me down; I always seemed to get a notice saying they were shut down for maintenance. This happened at other times of the day as well and in the hotel. So I guess Big Pond was having very long lunches! On our return to the hotel, we actually entered the wrong hotel, went up in the lift, tried the key, were seriously puzzled as we had been directed here, no joy with the key, went to the desk and found our hotel lay diagonally across the road. There was much laughter and we were both relieved to get into our own room in the right hotel. Our guide returned in the morning, which was day 3 of the tour to take us to the airport, where we had to pay $45US tax for the use of the airport. (The toilets were free.) On arrival in Cusco we were met by a very jovial guide, Luis, with excellent English. We seemed to drive for a long way (the drivers in Peru take their speed bumps very, very seriously and dead slow). We visited vicunas, llamas and alpacas, who share the same DNA with camels, I never found out if they spit like them though. We made a fuss over the animals and watched some of the traditional weaving. We entered a warehouse where the woven wall hangings were breathtaking. I lacked the walls and the money, but....... There was also a display of alpaca clothing, and guess what, a SALE, so naturally I succumbed. I'm an absolute fool when a sign says 50% off. My friend knows her alpacas so I relied on her expertise. We went to a very posh place for lunch. I wished I could have had a doggy bag. This was included in the tour and was excellent. (All the meals provided by the tour have been good). We drove on up the sacred valley of the Incas to the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo. My friend andIdidnotdotheclimb,asIwas too full of lunch plus alcohol and wasn't sure of my breathing. The fortress has been tinkered with a bit and has its own legends in relation to the terrain, which was very impressive. It is difficult for sharp high mountains with snow caps to look anything but impressive - wonderful clear air and sparkly sunshine. We were taken back to our hotel and decided we couldn't face a big meal, after that lunch, so we had toast, jam and butter, a glass of milk each and fell into our beds. Dinner was not included in the tour. The following day we had an early start to catch the train for Machupicchu, leaving heavy luggage in store to be transferred to Cusco to the Del Prado Inn. We enjoyed the train journey to Aguas Calientes, as it followed the Urumbamba River and is a lovely journey at approx 35km/h with impressive scenery. On arrival at Aguas Calientes we were taken to our hotel, dumped our overnight bags and then caught the bus to Manchu Picchu. We saw people making the climb from Aguas Calientes to Machupicchu ruins, I think you have to be a bit careful, especially at unusual altitudes. At Machupicchu we had to pay $47 each for our entry and our guide, who was female and very helpful. She had learnt English from books and had trouble with her spoken English, that was unfortunate because she had a lot to tell us. The history of Machupicchu was interesting and the information that it had probably already been abandoned at the time of Pissarro and the Spaniards invasion. I think I was most impressed by the system of agriculture, the terracing is wonderful and they must have had a large population to be able to do all that work, highly skilled too. The present day Peruvians are noted for their longevity as were the ancient ones, so they must have got something right, diet, clean air and hard physical work. This at a time when Europeans were old at 50 and seriously old at 60, the Peruvians managed their centuries. We made our climb to the Altar of the Sun, I felt quite proud of myself, but decided that the descent was the difficult part so gave up on the chance to climb to the Altar of the Moon, as I could clearly see the steps, very steep but no handrail. Lunch was a buffet and excellent. In due course we bussed our way back to Aguas Calientes and decided that feet up was a good idea. The hotel was good, and a plentiful supply of Coca tea bags and hot water. We had been advised to drink it as it helps to prevent altitude sickness. I don't think you would be allowed to bring it into Oz, but there is a world of difference between dried coca leaves and cocaine I was told. Ollantaytambo Machupicchu