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Old 06-29-2011, 09:18 AM   #13
poolman OP
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Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Darnestown, MD
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Again I awoke several times during the night in cold sweats, hoping the fever was finally breaking. I had trouble getting back to sleep each time, anticipating the morning ride which would carry us past the Maras salt pans.

Our route for the day:

We would ride twisty asphalt as far as Anta, and then follow a dirt track through Chinchero to Maras.

The map indicated we were in the town of Huaypo.

The road opened up and so did the throttles. I was following Culin at nearly 100 KPH when I could see his bike doing some strange acrobatics in the distance. I slowed and found a steep, 24" deep washout crossing the entire road! I have no idea how he made it across at that speed, but he came through unscathed.

This unusual structure was located in an extremely remote area.

In this region it is common for children to be responsible for the family livestock. This boy was tending a large herd of cattle.

The salt pans of Maras have been used since pre-Inca times to capture salt water from a mineral spring and harvest salt through an evaporative process. The same "salt farmer" families have worked these ponds for generations, diverting the salty water into the hundreds of pools, waiting for the salt crystals to form as the water evaporates in the hot sun, and harvesting the salt. It is hard work, but salt was once a precious commodity.

These pictures do not depict the vastness of the salt pans of Maras. The complex is absolutely enormous.

From Maras, we continued on a dirt track to Urubamba. Juan knew of an outstanding lodge that was priced at 95 soles (less than $30 USD) per person, breakfast included.

Our lodge in Yanahuara, Urubamba

The llamas maintain the lawn, in terms of both trimming and fertilization. Come to think of it, llama was on the menu as well.

When we checked in to the lodge it was just mid-afternoon. Culin and Juan went to explore Urubamba on the bikes and I went straight to the room, completely drained. I still had a high fever, and had not been able to keep food or water down for three days. The trip to this point had been for the most part fluff, and we had some seriously challenging days ahead. As I lay in bed I faced the solemn realization that I couldn't complete the trip in this condition. I said a prayer for my family many thousands of miles away, and for my health. With dismal thoughts in my head, I drifted off and slept 14 of the next 16 hours.
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