Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 13 - Walking Takes its Toll

When we stepped out of our new San Blas Plazoleta Hostel, Kilua was waiting for us. Sucharit invited him to come with us to Moray, an Incan site constructed in concentric circles terracing downwards. We made a stop at Chincherro, where a local market was in full swing. Just like last Sunday, we perused through the products spread out on blue tarpaulin sheets. Unlike Huancayo´s market, Chincherro was maller, and seemed to have more international visitors than local ones.

Afterwards, we took a path not really leading anywhere. There was nothing about this in the Lonely Planet, which made our short walk all the more interesting. Each turn led to another treasure. Orange rocks jutting out of spongy grass met us at one corner. We squeezed through cracks between these awesome structures, climbing uphill and sliding downhill. After coming to an opening, I saw large steps wide as a field and steep enough that we´d have to jump down to the next one. Next to them were normal sized steps, where children were playing amongst themselves. Rolling farms lay below us and sheep grazed on the rich green fodder. The smell of mint permeated the air, maybe it was eucalyptus. No piece of land was flat, and humans had found a way to make it work.

The taxi from Chincherro to Moray was a drive in the heart of agricultural Peru. We stumbled over muddy rocks, stopped for a herd of cows, and passed multiple lines of dark, fertile soil. The fields forming a patchwork of green and brown created a brilliant synergy with the purple snow capped mountains in the distance. It´s truly difficult for words to describe the joy one feels in being silent amidst such beauty. I couldn´t utter a word.

Moray is even harder to describe with adjectives, so I´ll stick to numbers. Imagine a flat field about 30 m in diameter. Upon it are rows upon rows of concentric circles, spiralling upward in three feet high steps made of stone. There were three such formations, the biggest on consisting of smaller sets of terraced stairs as well. I lay on my back, and looked at the sky. The wind whistled, literally. Everything was peaceful....until we decided to head back on foot instead of by taxi.

We followed the main road until Sucharit found a path in between the farms. The hour´s walk that followed was by far the best part of my day. A farmer was sifting his maize. Children were playing catch. Families were walking beside their mules and donkeys after a hard day´s work. The path dropped near 180 degrees at one point, and I was practically crawling. As expected, it rose steeply also. Within an hour, we reached the pueblo of Masar. A taxi drive offered us a ride to the bus station, but we declined. Sure it was dark, but we weren´t tired. An hour later, we were still walking on a road that was pitch black. "We should have taken that taxi," Sucharit muttered.

Trying to hitch a ride was difficult on a dark road, but after many unsuccessful attempts, a kindly cab driver pulled over. Three passengers werer already in the backseat, so Sucharit took the front while Nikhil and I stuffed ourselves in the trunk. The cab took us to a bus stop where we could catch a bus to Cuzco. It was cold by now and we were hungry. I ate a piece of cold, hard bread and half a mini-banana. We really should have taken the taxi, I thought.

None of the buses we tried to pull over would stop. Thus passed a long forty minutes. I saw a large bus coming our way and desperately waved my hands so it would see us. The large bus didn´t stop and I lowered my hands, dejected. Luckily, there was another bus behind the first one which did stop. We excitedly hurried on.

Earlier, we hadn´t taken the taxi because we weren´t tired. Now, the exhaustion hit me flat in the face. I was hungry . I was cold. I wanted to sleep but all teh seats were taken. I stood for more than an hour, waiting anxiously to get to Cuzco. At one point, the hunger was so unbearable that I ate a stick of gum that´s been lying in my bag for who knows how long. When we finally reached Cuzco, we ate pizza at an overpriced Americanized restaurant.

Lesson learned for the second time: when going on day trips, always eat lunch.

P.S. You can thank Nikhil for uploading pictures.

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