Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Inca Trail Marathon Adventure Day 4: Inti Raymi

We thought that more would be organized today, but as it was, we had a great time on our own.
We started off just slightly mis-timing breakfast, and therefore missing the prime table location for watching the morning ceremony across the street. But we snuggled up with two very nice French ladies and had a great view anyway. The Inca arrived, made a proclamation, and there was much singing and dancing from different tribes. Or at least that's how it looked from across the street. It occurred to us that perhaps the marching yesterday was to select the different dance / processional groups, but I don't think so. Later that night we caught the ceremony on television -- best seat in the house, that.



Andy, Annie, and Jenni watching from the street

Then, suddenly, it was over. Erik recommended we follow the procession up to Sacsayhuaman, but we thought we'd go poke around the San Blas neighborhood instead. However, as we headed up the hill, we ran SMACK DAB into the front of the procession -- about 15 feet in front of where the Inca was being carried. A woman behind us went into religious ecstasy, shouting, "INCA! INCA! INCA!" over and over. It was weirdly emotional and absolutely amazing.




We let ourselves get caught in the procession for a couple of blocks, moving slowly to the beat. Then the Inca moved into the narrow alley, so the police turned the crowds to the left for a wider road.




We turned right instead and continued heading to San Blas, stopping to see the 12-sided stone… woo-hoo. Even this stone geek, while appreciating how weirdly awesome it is to have a 12-sided stone nestled in a wall was a bit under impressed…

the twelve-sided stone!!!



I had decided, at some point, that I wanted a photo with one of the "llama girls". This one was super cute and very friendly -- though let's be honest, the best picture is this one of us taking a selfie. :)

I like that the alpaca is trying to get in the shot

both of them are super cute

whereas I look as if I've already been traveling a little too long...

hello, alpaca!


We arrived in the Plazoleta de San Blas and it was absolutely perfect -- so perfect that we got a couple of sodas and sat there watching the scene for over an hour. Highlights: the best alpaca salesman in the world, the little boy kicking the ball between two benches and us shouting GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!, breaking down and buying an engraved gourd (that's the xmas ornament taken care of, at least), and eating Peruvian candy and crisps.

the Plazoleta San Blas… and the Best Alpaca Salesman in the World getting set up
Triangula!!! Best candy in Peru
We eventually decided to push on, and ended up joining folks who were heading up to Sacsayhuaman after all. We worried that we'd be stopped for tickets, but nope. We entered the site near the "puma teeth" and were routed around the ceremonial area (and kept out of the ruins), and then we went up onto the hillside. It was really crowded with locals celebrating, buying and selling snacks, and just crowding in.



yep, that's guinea pig. definitely guinea pig.



Wil by the puma teeth wall

a massive campground / fun fair had grown up across the street from Sacsayhuaman

super cool rock formation at Sacsayhuaman!

spot the tourists!

guinea pig in a go box? why of course!

really just here for scale -- some "Incas" on a break in front of the puma teeth wall

Then "home" to pack for the trail -- which took longer than it should have, and I still forgot to bring my pillow! The challenge was keeping the porter bag under 16 pounds -- due to the totally fair and sensible weight limits imposed to protect the porters.

Packing time was funny, we all had our doors open and were going from room to room borrowing and lending. It felt like what I imagine a dorm to be like.

getting packed!

After packing we went downstairs for some tea, and decided we should get empanadas from next door, as well as some chips. We got chips from the vendor with the cart next to the hotel (best prices in town! and nice!) -- he charged less than half what the little shop wanted to charge. We sat in the lobby sharing a Cusquena, eating a picnic, and watching something called Esto es Guerra -- which is a little like "Gladiators", but with apparently no civilians and two teams going head to head each week. And when one team wins, it does some seriously sexy dancing. It was like watching a car crash. You really just couldn't look away. And let's just say that trying to get a wing nut off a 2-foot bolt *is* a physical challenge. I think.

Did I mention that the teams -- the Lions and the Cobras -- had mascots? MASCOTS?!?

lion, top left… cobra, top right
Needless to say, we were mesmerized by this program and came across it multiple times… and later we saw vendors on the streets of Lima selling play-at-home versions of the games, plus posters of your favorite players!

However, we did manage to tear ourselves away so that we could go to bed -- we knew we were going to have a full day the next day!

finally got a photo of the bollard that bit me (I still have a divot in my shin, weeks later!)

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