Friday, February 19, 2010

Heading Back to Cuzco

Waking up after a groggy and much needed sleep left me in a state of confusion that never really lifted though out the rest of the day, for various reasons.

Today was the day that we should have spent at Machu Picchu, but as it was still inaccessible, we were headed back to Cuzco for a lovely time there, to be sure. Ah Cuzco – what wonders you offer, from your square full of shops, and people offering you massages, to fast food joints that are anything but fast. You also have a lovely stadium, but that is far removed from the centre, and who knows what mysteries transpire there? Probably football, I'd imagine.

Before leaving this town, oh so close to the undamaged Machu Picchu (the problem is getting in and out with the train tracks not really together anymore) I stood on my balcony a final time and took in the various Inca works that surrounded me. I can only imagine what the locals think – are they jaded, do they think it's impressive? And what must it have been like hundreds of years ago to have these veritable castles towering over you?

A final glance, and off to the bus.

It was on the bus ride back to Cuzco that I asked how we go about claiming our 400USD refund from Gap Adventures, at which point I was told that there would be no refund. I'll keep this short for now, as I'm involved in a few e-mails trying to sort this out, my favourite paragraph from them all reading:

“To clarify, as per the notification sent the refund was offered if you stayed in Cusco for the time dedicated to the Lares Trek, Inca Trail or Machu Picchu. However, our records indicate that you participated in the Lares Trek. I apologize for any confusion or disappointment this may cause, however there is no refund owed to to you. If you wish to submit a claim through your insurance provider, we can provide you a letter confirming that you were not able to visit Machu Picchu as it was inaccessible.”

In this paragraph they claim that you can only get the refund if you stayed in Cusco during the time you should have been on the Lares Trek or at Machu Picchu – then following up to say I don't qualify for said refund, and then finally admitting that I did not spend time at Machu Picchu (which you will recall qualifies you for said refund). Me thinks that they wanted to write the word “and” instead of “or” (which doesn't make total sense as no trip goes on and Lares Trek and the Inca Trail), however as they did not...

But no more on this for now, as if things do not get cleared up I'll be writing a much larger piece on this issue. And if things do get cleared up, I'll just let it all blow over.

I state this only because the mood in our bus for the few hour ride back into town was notably soured. Is silent rage a descriptor? It's accurate here.

We made a few stops on the way back. One of them was a salt mine. Well, a salt – acquiring – place. I'm sure it's still a mine even though it's all done above ground, but in my mind a salt mine should be full of churches, and statues, and replica pope salt carvings. Hey – give me a break, I've only ever seen one salt mine before, is it my fault that it happened to be the most impressive in the world?

Also mines are for dwarves, and other such creatures, and they're often underground. Thus my mental image is preconceived.

This mine required more treacherous twisty, fall to your doom mountain roads. It looked, well not entirely, but not entirely not, like a huge honey comb. There were pools and pools networked together where through some sort of alchemist magic the water streaming down from the hills forced the salt to the surface, where it would then be scooped off and placed in large bags to be stored for, I assume, processing.

We wandered down all number of steps to see this mine, and it was quite lovely. There were also free samples of banana chips – also lovely. However, when we were done wandering the network of salt pools, and finished making boot prints in the salt (this is why I hope it's processed and refined, you see) we looked back at the stairs that would lead us up to the minibus waiting for us. There were only about thirty five or forty steps.

By the time we reached the bus we were all huffing and puffing. Lares Trek, why must you have hurt us so?

The next stop was an Inca site with ringed terraces. We had the option of wandering down to the bottom. I thought about this for no more than a few seconds before deciding that wandering down to the bottom would require wandering back up to the top. This seemed like an impossible dream. However, don't think that I didn't appreciate this Inca site. Oh no, I enjoyed the Moray terraces quite a lot, and marveled at their splendor.

The purpose for these rings, each one deeper than the previous, was for experimental farming. Due to the various height of each ring, the temperatures were different. This allowed the ancient Inca farmers to discover the best ways to grow their crops.

Today, however, yo may find some energy seeking, crystal healing, new agers down at the bottom holding hands, and lying down in circles trying to feel the presence of this place.

Pretty much that's like walking into a cornfield, and attempting to feel the healing energy there. Hey, who am I to criticize? If they're happy, then I'm happy taking pictures of them, and reporting on this modern use for the Moray terraces. Travel agents, I'm sure, are also quite pleased with the turn of events.

Back on the bus, we headed for our final stop. A church build atop Inca foundations. This was at the top of a hill. Can you see a pattern here? I stayed in the bus, partially due to the still present silent rage, and partially due to a lack of desire to climb up and down more hills. Can I be blamed? I was not the only to refuse said sight.

Back at Cuzco we checked into our hotel once more. I made sure to hand off my laundry for washing, and then made my way down to the main square where two McDee's quarter pounders were eaten before heading to Bembos. This is a Peruvian burger grill. It is lovely. It is wonderful. It has Aji sauce (think hot chili sauce. Not like the Asian kind, it's more like Mustard or horseradish – but not... not at all, because it's Aji. Just don't think red and goopy.)

With that packed away I headed back to my hotel, and had a good lie down. And another shower that lasted until the hot water ran out. And it was lovely. There were also Olympics.

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