The weather was much kinder to us this day, as the clouds parted shortly after sunrise and we had bright sunshine all day. In the morning, we headed through Maras to the ruins at Moray. Moray is a location with a series of circular terraces. Apparently there was a natural crater-like indentation here and the Incans, true to their “organic” style of architecture, built around the natural shape of the land. Rudy (our local expert guide) indicated that the terraces at Moray were used as a sort of crop laboratory – the temperature and other conditions varied enough from the top tiers to the bottom, that they would test out different crops at different levels to see which crops would grow best at each “elevation.”
We clambered all the way down – those steps that they built into the wall are much steeper than they look! Oddly – the Incans are not much taller than I am, but they liked to take huge steps! On the way down, I thought that the climb down was the trickiest part, because it felt precarious – but I was wrong – hello altitude! Climbing out was much more strenuous than I anticipated. After getting to the mid-level, we were breathing pretty hard and needed to catch our breath (Moray is located at about 11,500 ft).
They also talked to us about quipu here – this was the Incan method of keeping records. Each color strand represented a category – like soldiers, or timeline, or crops. The knots represented numbers and each level of knots represented thousands, hundreds, tens, etc. They gave each family a sample Quipu to take home – although I’m sure the hot pink thread was not Incan!
After our time at Moray, we headed to the salt pans of Maras. Call me crazy, but this really reminded me of a planet from Star Wars (no, I don’t know which one, I’m a geek, but not quite that much of a geek). Because the Andes were formed from the ocean floor, there is salt in the mountains – either captured in the lakes or somewhere in the rock (I wasn’t completely clear on this fact). So some of the mountain streams have really salty water (they let us taste it) and they use that to fill these shallow pools. They fill the pool, let it evaporate, fill it again, evaporate, etc. The layers of salt are then harvested – the top layers are used for humans and the bottom for animals. I’ve got a pic of Derek helping them move a salt bag halfway through our hike – this wasn’t a staged Disney thing – but these were the actual salt bags that the locals were harvesting or storing. Of course, they made it look a lot easier to carry…
Our hike led through the salt pans and then down a dusty trail to the Urubamba and back to Sol y Luna for lunch.
Again – the food was unbelievably good – I had trout ceviche and then shrimp – yum!
In the afternoon, they taught us the game of Sapo. When it’s your turn – you have 11 coins that you toss onto the top of a cabinet – trying to get it in numbered slots (with specific scores) or a frog’s mouth (the ultimate goal) – kind of similar to skeeball. Here’s Derek taking his shots.
We had a game of girls vs boys and the girls crushed the boys – even in the rubber match that the boys insisted on. I can’t take a lot of pride in this, as I stunk so bad at my practice round, that I opted to sit it out (I also let loose a minor swear word, that wasn’t very Disney appropriate…oops)
An optional late afternoon activity was a trip to Seminario – a pottery studio of Pablo Seminario, a famous potter/sculptor from Peru. We got to meet the artist as well as see many of his staff hard at work. He has pieces exhibited all over – and many at the Chicago Field museum. He has studied the ancient techniques and uses those, but also has his own style. The pieces shown below are everyday pieces made by his staff.
But wait – the day is not yet done! This was a jam-packed day. In the evening, we met for a cooking demonstration. The first part was making Pisco Sours (and, of course, my favorite – drinking them!). Then they did some ceviche (the pic shows Diane plating the ceviche), a quinoa soup, and some stir-fried alpaca. The alpaca was flambeed – now that’s what I call flambeed!
After that – we finally called it a night – we had an early call for the next morning as it’s Machu Picchu day!