March 5 Ollyantombo and Maras
Some final pics of Aguas Caliente. The little stream dividing the town
The main river roaring below. It looks like Hidroelectrica downstream is a pretty substantial power producer. With power in this river, it's no wonder.
Little girls are cute everywhere
Catch the early train back to Hidroelectirca. While they still have the special dome car on the train for tourists, it originated in Ollantaytambo and is primarily bringing workers and locals to Aguas Caliente, Machu Pichu and Hidrolectrica. Just like a bus, it stops along the way to drop locals off.
Get to Hidroelectrica and another train engine is slowly coming down a second track in front of all the vendors and the track was swarming with people from my train. No problem. They put a guy on the front of that train and he whistles at everybody to get out of the way. Low tech works again!
I’m hoping someone was creative and figured out how to get one of these mini-buses over to this side of the slide as I’m not relishing carrying my bag over the little hill and across the slide. Hot damn, there is one and the helper recognizes me as the guy with the moto. Get over to the washout and the helper grabs my bag and disappears with it. I’m starting to think maybe I tipped the crazy guy too much if I’ve got that much of a reputation around here already. Turns out this is one of the Santa Maria taxi drivers and when I get there he’s already got my bag in his van and loading people up.
Where the road used to be at the washout. Starting to rebuild.
Looking out on the valley between Santa Teresa and Santa Maria
This outlet pipe is the size of a tunnel. I think this is another example of their style of sticking the generating facilities inside a mountain. There is enough fall in the river to just divert some and forget about big expensive dams.
Looking across the valley at what looks like a new road. Looks like they don't have problem getting rid of excess material, just push it over the side.
Load up and head out of Santa Maria in some nice sunshine but of course can see clouds up around where I’ll be ascending. Fog wasn’t that bad – maybe down to 200 ft vis in a couple of places. Had a blast on the switchbacks again. Started raining pretty hard towards the top. Down to about 5 deg and it was getting chilly.
Stopped just before Ollyantombo at a roadside restaurant and had some fantastic chicharon with fresh mint leaves.
Took a picture of the restaurant. Notice on the left side of the building is the little restroom or, Baño. On the side of the Baño you can see a blue line, which is the urinal. Latin American's seem to be less concerned about the act of peeing than we of uptight English stock are.
On to Ollyantombo which has some Incan ruins dating to the same time as Machu Pichu. These are easy to get to as they are right in town.
This was apparently the personal home of the King and was where he holed up trying to defend against the Spanish. Vacated it around the same time as Machu Pichu was vacated.
Notice the sets of terraces on the hillsides? I have no idea why they built these here other than they were either holy places or defense positions
Stopped at the little town of Maras to find the famous salt mines. I found this fascinating. They are located a few miles from town and as we approach, this is our first view in the valley below
The Incas and their predecessors had found this spring that has a high concentration of salt in its water. Sure tasted saltier than ocean water.
They decided to devise a method to extract salt by evaporation. These beds were originally designed and built by the Incans. It is a pretty simple but effective way to make salt. The beds were built down the hillside as terraces to allow for ease of getting the water to the beds by gravity
The stream is channeled along the top of the beds
Smaller channels (along the top of the ridge near the bottom of the photo) take the water down the hill where it can be diverted into the beds which are filled.
Crank up the sun to evaporate the water and, salt. The skill comes in scrapping up the salt – some people get white salt and the less skilled get brown salt.Some of the bagged salt ready for sale
This guy was making adobe bricks beside the road to the salt mines
Above the valley with the salt mines
Very common sight of a lady tending her sheep
You can see the edge of the lake that was built to supply irrigation water to the area. The patchwork of little plots is pretty. Mostly corn and what looks to me like beans
A little spillage from one of the irrigation canals created this pond and this is one happy porker
Another common sight is people cutting some sort of forage and carrying it back to their livestock. This guy has a burro so he can carry twice as much
Back to Cusco for a night.
- RexBuck's Latin America
Information on travelling in Latin America.
Includes links to ride reports to Mexico and to South America