HOLA! Nosotros estamos en Cusco! Es una ciudad muy bonita! We spent two wonderful days in Aguas Calientes, a small town north of Cusco. We took a train through the Andes to get there, and the view through the mountains was a-mazing! We passed through a few small villages, including Ollantaytambo, which was a cute little town. There is a backpacking trail through the area (which goes through Machu Picchu too) and takes about 4 days, and at some point before the train station in Aguas Calientes we dropped off some backpackers.
Aguas Calientes was a small town close to Machu Picchu, and almost as soon as we got there we boarded a bus headed towards the Inca city. We met our tour guide Franklin in front of the entrance to the park (it's kind of like a national park in the US) and he took us around the ruins. We learned about the Inca history, and found out that Machu Picchu was never completed, it was actually abandoned in fear that the Spanish Conquistadors would find it. One theory was that Machu Picchu was built as a university, there are many different areas in the city, including places to study astronomy, hydrology, religion, and agriculture. We also learned about the importance of the Condor in the religion and culture of the Incas, as well as the Puma and the Inca Cross. We also learned the language of the Incas, Quechua, is actually still spoken by many locals.
Machu Picchu is situated between two mountains, Machu Picchu (the old mountain) and Huayna Picchu (the young mountain), and is within many other mountains, so you can imagine the view was breathtaking.
We went back to Aguas Calientes after a rainy day at the ruins (it's the rainy season here) and visited the local shops and restaurants to get a feel for the local culture. The textile shops sold very colorful clothes, hats, blankets, and scarves and granite carvings and souvenirs. We spent the rest of the night getting to know each other better!
The next day we took the train to Ollantaytambo and took a taxi back to Cusco. Our driver, Alfredo, actually spoke Quechua (it's his native language) but he spoke Spanish and English as well. We went through the town Urubamba and went through a different region of the Andes mountains (in that area). We saw a snow-capped mountain, crop fields, and many farm animals. The ride was gorgeous and was definitely worth it!
We're now back at our hotel in Cusco and are ready to celebrate the New Year! We learned from our driver that yellow is an important color during this time because it brings luck. Many stores and buildings are covered in yellow balloons and people wear yellow and give each other yellow flowers. We are heading to the main square tonight, where there should be fireworks and a lot of celebration!
We will be heading back to Lima tomorrow and are really excited to make contacts for volunteering! Feliz anos nuevos para todos!!
Kirsta and Biology Without Borders