On Our Way to Machu Picchu!

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We made a couple of discoveries on our way today. First stop, a chicha bar where corn liquor is sold. Locals know the places by a red flag/bag-look hanging on a pole. No license is needed for people to have a bar; actually anyone with corn can produce "ajha", a 3% alcohol product. We received a demonstration of how to make it and a sample taste. Not my favorite. People play a game called "sapo" which is with a metal toad/frog on a board where different holes have different scores. Each person throws 10 quarter-size thick disks and aim for high-scoring holes to score as many points as they can, but thrown into sapo's mouth is 5,000 points. We all had a chance to play and it was fun! I could see how that would be a fun game while drinking alcohol! We walked around this property. Typically the guinea pigs would be scurrying under your feet at the bar, they were moved to another room….many of them!
Second stop was at a house where skulls of ancestors were at the family's alter. Skulls are kept to protect the family from bad spirits. There were dried alpaca and trout hanging in the room which was where the family's beds were also. Atop the house, on the roof, we saw the 2 bulls and cross. Again, these are for wanting prosperity and fertility in this household.
As we walked the streets of this village, we saw a young boy and girl in their traditional clothes. They came from higher on the mountain with their parents to do their shopping. Our guide suspects these young people will be the last of their generation maintaining the dress and much of their culture. To encourage Peruvians to know their Mayan history, and hoping there to be less discrimination as they all remember their common ancestors, Machu Picchu is open free to all residents of the Cuzco district. I think that is fantastic!
We continued on by bus to meet the train. We had a 1.5 hour ride and I enjoyed Inca tea made from eucalyptus, coca, and muña (do not know what that is). Then we arrived in the Machu Picchu village with lots of other people there too! After a 25 minute bus ride, approximately 5 miles of uphill hairpin turns, we arrive at the entrance to Machu Picchu. There is lots of history, but here are a few facts: 1,000 Incas at max ever lived here at a time between 1438 when building began and 1541 when the area was abandoned. In 1911, a young boy showed Hiram Bingham Machu Picchu. Today 70% of Machu Picchu is original. Some renovations were necessary, but it is mind-boggling how the Incas shaped, moved, and built terraces and temples …. and all done with rocks during almost a 100 year span of time. Forty-eight inches of rain fall a year in this cloud covered area near the rain forest/jungle. Park employees and llamas now keep the ferns, and other plant growth off the walls and "mow" the grass.
We walked throughout many levels and were told about the history, etc. tomorrow morning I am up at 4am to catch a bus and then hike to see the sunrise. Tomorrow I will let you know if I am successful, along with 4 other people. Today we had some rain upon us and so I hope to get better photographs tomorrow in the sunshine! Machu Picchu is an amazing place and how did the Incas do all that they did? Historians are trying to figure it out!

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