Monday, September 21, 2015

Peru- Day 3- Maras, Moray, and Mountain Biking

We hopped back on the Inca Rail train to follow the tracks along the Urubamba River away from Aguas Calientes and the amazing experience we had at Machu Picchu. Everyone one of us had super sore legs from the stair climbing we had done the day before. Walking down stairs became a comedy routine as we held onto each other and grunted in pain. On the train, lush green jungle slowly changed to eucalyptus and ceader  forest as we bounced along. 
We were met by a new guide- Kennedy- at the Ollantaytambo train station. Kennedy would be our guide for the day on the mountain bike tour we had signed up for. We drove up out of the sacred valley to the plateau above where our bikes and another guide were waiting for us. We took off down a dirt road that led through a small farming town. If I didn't have to hold on to the bike with both hands, I would have been taking pictures and video constantly! It was beauty every where we looked. I couldn't resist stopping to take a photo of a traditionally dressed woman walking her cow on a leash. She saw me and asked for a "propina" - a tip. After I gave her a coin, she thanked me and said she was going to buy a beer with her money (at least that is what our guide translated).

We mainly followed dirt roads through farming villages. We saw shepherds, heards of sheep, colorfully dressed women with large packs on their backs, and every little kid we passed waved and said "Hola!"  Luckily there was eye candy all around to keep our minds off of how much our legs and butts hurt. Probably wasn't the best plan to do a 13 mile mountain bike ride after a hike to Wayna Picchu. Plus we were doing all this biking in the Andes above 10,000 feet! 

Our first stop on the ride was at the planting terraces of Moray Agricultural site. The Quechua people (Incans) were not lazy. They built these terraces so that they could plant in micro climates. There was a huge temperature change from the top to the bottom. Another site that pictures can't capture the enormity of it all. 

From Moray our bike were loaded onto the van for a quick shuttle so we wouldn't have to bike up hill again (we had already biked uphill enough!) we biked right though the colonial town of Moray, stopped at the central square for a quick pep talk because we were apparently heading into the technical part of the ride (technical = difficult and dangerous). It was now steep single track with a sheer canyon off to one side. Ian was wishing he has his bike so he could really take advantage of the terrain. Emily was wishing she was back in the car as this was her first time ever mountain biking. Oops- my mistake. I wrongly assumed she had experience. She did amazing and even when she and Rick were lost for 15 minutes- our 2nd guides fault- she didn't quit!  The big payoff at the end of the ride were the terraced Salt Mines. It made all the pain worth the gain!! 
Back in the van, it was starting to rain and the sun set as we drove to Cuzco. After a long hot shower we walked the 3 blocks into the main Plaza de Armas. This was our first time on the streets of Cuzco- it was such a cool city!! And it was cold! Nice relief after the heat of Machu Picchu. We ate the best meal of the trip at at restaurant Marcelo Batata. Everyone, but me, had alpaca. So the next time we saw an alpaca out in Cuzco Emily said "yummy!"

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