More posts coming soon….

Hi All,

I’m back in Cusco from Machu Picchu and it was unbelievable! More posts coming soon….

-Lenny

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Day 173 – Cusco, PE

Day 173 – Cusco, PE      02/10/11       Mileage: 0

I spent the morning in typical fashion, and that is sitting in an internet café working on the blog and getting caught up with email. After doing that I toured two museums, the Museo Historico Regional and the Museo Municipal De Arte Contemporaneo which were both nice and included in the multi-day tourist pass that I bought.

The Museo Historico Regional…

The Museo Municipal De Arte Contemporaneo…

 I also helped (or tried at least) Danielle with a computer program she needed for her volunteer work at Cositas. We grabbed a quick dinner and a few beers afterwards and then I retired to my $7 room for a few hours of reading and route planning for the road south.

Day 172 – Cusco, PA

Day 172 – Cusco, PA      02/09/11       Mileage: 0

I spent most of the morning updating the blog and catching up on email. After that I spent the afternoon walking around the areas of central Cusco I haven’t yet been to and took care of some errands.

The Plaza de Armas…while it’s not raining. A rarity for this time of year….

More famed Inca stone work. This wall collapsed in an earthquake and had to be rebuilt, but is a good example of their curved stone.

At 3 I met Danielle who I had met 2 days earlier in a coffee shop and had a nice conversation with. She’s from Holland and is here living in Cusco volunteering for a Dutch aid program that teaches women weaving and silver craft skills and promotes fair-trade and prices for their work. She had offered to show me the workshop high on the hill above Cusco where the local women learn and practice their craft, so that sounded like an experience too good to pass up.

We jumped in a collectivo (a small local bus) up to the workshop where I got to meet the teachers and a few of the women in the program. I watched them making silver jewelry and weaving blankets and pillows on wooden looms and the amount of work that goes into these crafts is enormous.

Here they are making silver jewelry…

A simple white alpaca wool pillowcase takes 14 hours of work, while a blanket with an intricate design can take weeks! It certainly makes you appreciate the amount of work that goes into even a seemingly simple craft. Back in town we went to the shop were the crafts are sold which is also a nice café. The idea is that the café pays the bills and covers the expenses for the shop so that the bulk of the proceeds (90%) from the craft sales goes back to the women artists. We had a light dinner at the café and I had alpaca carpaccio (yes, raw alpaca) which was very good…and no it doesn’t taste anything like chicken…  😉

Day 171 – Cusco, PE and The Sacred Valley

Day 171 – Cusco, PE and The Sacred Valley      02/08/11      Mileage: 0

I met the 8 others in my group at 8:30 and we were soon on our way to the Sacred Valley of the Inca’s.

Entering the Sacred Valley

It was an hour drive to our first stop, the town of Pisac and the central market know for great local crafts and in particular silver. We were given a short tour of where they make the silver and other kinds of jewelry which was very interesting.

After walking the market we went to the Inca archeological site of Pisac above the current town. It’s an amazing site with many terraces that were still in use until a few years ago.

 After walking the site for an hour or so and a quick lunch in Urubamba, we were off to the next archeological site of Ollantaytambo. This site was to be the Temple of the Sun, but the Inca’s never got to finish it because of that pesky Spanish invasion. It was nonetheless and impressive site and in some ways more interesting as you can see how the site was built.

I am still in awe of the Inca stone work and the precision with which some sections are constructed. The seams between the large stones is so perfect you can’t fit a pin in anywhere.

The largest stones known to be quarried by the Inca’s are found here and are pictured above. They weigh over 50 tons each and were brought to the site from a mountain 7 kilometers away! It’s amazing what these ancient people did without machinery and power tools.

Errrr, yah….

Next up was the market and archeological site in Chinchero.

This market is known for its woven alpaca and sheep’s wool textiles. We were given an interesting demonstration on how they still use the ancient methods today to clean, spin, dye and weave the wool.

 After that we toured the archeological site. Like many colonial buildings in Cusco, the Spanish put their buildings on top of Inca foundations as the stone work was so good. Here the Spanish put a church on top of the stone walls of an Inca temple.

After lingering there for a bit and trying to resist the pressure sales from adorable local kids, it was back to Cusco for dinner at Paddy’s Pub and to catch up on my email.

Day 170 – Cusco, PE

Day 170 – Cusco, PE      02/07/11       Mileage: 0

It was a late morning due to last nights bender but I didn’t have anything grand planned for today anyway. I spent most of the day walking around and gathering info on the numerous sites, figuring out what I wanted to see and making a plan for the next few days.

This is the famous 12 corner stone. I still can’t wrap my head around how perfect the joints between the stones are….and to think they did this with basic hand tools….amazing!

At night I had dinner and few drinks at a great little joint just off the Plaza de Armas called Chez Maggy.

They had a great local band play a few sets and they were so good I bought a CD. I shot a video but the internet was just too slow to upload.

Tomorrow it’s off to tour the Sacred Valley of the Inca’s…

Day 169 – Chahuanca, PE to Cusco, PE

Day 169 – Chahuanca, PE to Cusco, PE      02/06/11      Mileage: 202
The rain started shortly after getting on the bike this morning and poured almost the whole way to Cusco….which explains why I took so few pictures.

I arrived in Cusco mid afternoon and immediately liked it here. I found a room and after unpacking the bike I walked to the town center and the Plaza de Armas.

Cusco is a nice mix of locals, travelers and ex-pats and there are tons of great bars and restaurants. History is literally all around you and down every street you walk. You can see the famous Inca stonework everywhere and the level of precision that the stones are fit together with is utterly incredible.

That night I knew exactly where I was going, and that was to the notorious Norton Rats Pub(Norton is an old British motorcycle manufacturer)…one of my to-do’s on this trip!

I could hardly contain myself when I saw the nice selection of Belgian beers they had! I think I might of had 1 other Belgian beer since leaving the States, so I splurged the $11 for a nice Trappistes Rochefort and savored every drop.

After that it was back to the local brew which is perfectly drinkable, but average. They also had the Super Bowl on the big screen and there were lots of Americans there to catch the game, and I ended up partying with a few of them until the wee hours of the morning.

The one lone picture from the nights debauchery before it got bad…(good?)

I would have taken some pictures had I been sober enough to work the bloody camera, or even remember what pocket it was in. Damn the bottle…

Day 168 – Huacachina, PE to Chahuanca, PE

Day 168 – Huacachina, PE to Chahuanca, PE      02/05/11      Mileage: 304

I was on the throttle shortly after 8 and eating up tarmac across the open desert south of Ica.

My route took me by the famous Nazca Lines so that was worth a quick stop and 2 soles to climb the observation tower.

You could also take a tour by plane for around $50, but in the end I decided to skip it and keep rolling. The road turned sharply up into the desert mountains and the air was once again getting thinner and colder.

I don’t have any pictures from the last half of the ride because it was abject misery…cold driving rain, fog and countless switchbacks which while fun on dry roads, suck the big one in the pouring rain when all you want to do is make time to end the suffering. I pulled into Chahuanca like a drowned rat and took the first room I looked at…which I was told was the honeymoon suite.

I had a hearty dinner in the restaurant downstairs and then retired to my suite for some well earned rest.