A page from a diary
I am sitting on one of the terraces of the ruins of Wiñyawayna, the site of our final camp. This is unbelievable. Unbelievably unbelievable. No words or pictures can describe this sight completely. Nestled on the slopes of a mountain, facing east towards the sun and the magnificient peaks of the Peruvian Andes, are the most beautiful ruins we have yet encountered on our trail.
At the top of the mountain is the temple associated with most Inca towns. This temple has a wall that has been partially restored by the government after it was damaged in a mudslide or something of that sort. All important Inca buildings - temples, homes of nobility etc - are indicated by double jambed doors. This is no exception. Upon entering the building, there is a semi-circular room with seven windows along the arc. The temple is not of the high quality construction seen in Pisac. This indicates a temple built for a lower god - in this case the rainbow. The rainbow was considered a messenger between mother Earth and the father Sun. Also, the Incas predicted their seasons by the rainbow. If the rainbow was bright, it indicated to them that there would be good weather for their crops. If it was dark, it forebode disaster. On the right of this temple are the living quarters of the high priest. Simple in formation, one can oversee the entire city from here.
The actual town of a few hundred inhabitants was located down the slope. What remains of it now are some magnificiently preserved ruins. This is the first time we have seen ruins with the roof structures intact. There are several homes at levels, and the entire city sits on the edge of a sharp precipice. Heading down to the city from the temple are the terrace gardens of the Incas. Looking from here, the gardens seem to fall off the mountain. The have been built right to the edge. These terraces served several purposes. Firstly, they prevented erosion of the mountainside due to rainfall. Secondly, they were used to cultivate crops for the inhabitants. They were also sometimes used as nurseries to acclimatize crops to higher altitudes and the seeds were transported to the various Inca cities and tambos.
I've had this place for myself since I got here. Now, all of a sudden it's been overrun by visitors. My train of thought's broken by all the conversations and flash bulbs going off (it's getting dark here).
Last night we had a huge storm pound us. It was so loud and non-stop. But, I managed to get some good sleep. Wake-up call was supposed to be at 6:30 but woke up around 5:30 and wrote some. After a great breakfast of pancakes with caramel and scrambed eggs, we set off.
Speaking of breakfasts, we've had such unbelievable food on this trip. Our cook, Piranha, is incredible. He creates the best meals in the middle of nowhere. Last night, we had cream of mushroon soup(which i tried to spice up with chillies and got my tongue burnt !), rice with a curry of potatoes and beef, and chocolate with rum for dessert. Yesterday's lunch was corn soup & bow-tie pasta with chicken and salads of coleslaw, cucumbers, lettuce and potatoes. Who would have thought I would have to travel to the other hemisphere and climb 14000 feet to eat the best food of my life !!
The sun's suddenly disappeared. Not set, but engulfed by the clouds. This is the ecozone of the famed cloud forests. We've walked through these the entire day. As we started off this morning, and climbed a few metres, I looked back at the campsite. It was bright and sunny, surrounded by green mountains. But, a slight cloud could be seen rising from the valley. As T and I stood watching, the cloud rose to engulph the entire vista and soon enough we were walking down into the clouds. Because of the humidity, the vegetation in this part of the Andes, at this altitude, is very lush and filled with moss-covered trees, ferns and orchids. The orchids are especially spectacular. They are a burst of color in the lush greenery of the forests. The mountain in front of me has an almost vertical slope, yet is lush with forests. The trees almost seem to be stacked on top of each other. Very funky.
We had a not-so-difficult (for me) ascent to our fourth pass and we then descended 3200 steps on the original Inca Trail to our campsite here. Stopped for a lunch of vegetable soup, sphagetti, and strawberry juice before walking to these magnificient ruins. This campsite is next to a restaurant and has showers for 5 solas. The rest of the gang is out showering but I don't feel right about it. It's like I am on an adventure and I should wait for it to end before I get back to the comforts of a hot shower and warm blankets and ...
It's really starting to get cold (am shivering as I write) and getting pretty dark. aha - found a torchlight at the restaurant for 8 solas. Am good to go tomorrow. Lost my Petzl somewhere between Olyantaytambo and Camp 1. I would hate to bother someone else to share their light especially given my slow pace. So, wake up is at 3:50 AM tomorrow, breakfast at 4:20 and we leave soon after for Machu Pichu guided by torchlight.
Next entry after that. Now, off to dinner.