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Tuesday, 06/14/2005...

We got up and had breakfast - the usual: bread, fruit, coffee - except John had the best scrambled eggs ever.

We went on the Sacred Valley tour with our guide, Sylvia. We picked up several more passengers before heading out of town. To keep track of us all, we were dubbed "Pachamama" group or "Mother Earth."

We made an unscheduled stop on our way at a potato farm, where we learned the process used to dry potatoes. After the potatoes are harvested, they lay them out so they will be exposed to the frost of the cold mornings. Then, they are dried in the sun over a period of time. By doing this, the potatoes can be stored up to ten years. This allows the farmers to ration their sales throughout the year. The dried potatoes can be used in soups as well as many other dishes. The potato dying process takes two months - the rest of the year the use the area as a soccer field. An interesting fact - there are approximately 3000 varieties of potatoes registered in the International Center of Potatoes, most of them originating from Peru.

We shopped and ate lunch in Pisac. And one of the workers outside the restaurant let John hold his eagle...

Afterward, we headed to Ollantaytambo to have our guided tour with Sylvia. We climbed to the top of the Inca terraces and observed the ruins. It was believed this was a central agricultural/market center for the Inca kingdom, due to its location on the Inka Trail.

Note in the following two pictures... The one on the left contains a natural formation of a face in the mountain. The picture on the right is very high, and the profile was sculpted by Incas.

We then stopped at Chinchero and saw the local church (no pics allowed inside, though)...

Sylvia told us the government wanted to build an international airport in this town because the area is fairly flat. She was adamantly against the idea, indicating it would not benefit the local people, and because of the very high altitude, people would not want to make this their initial stop. Additionally, she felt the government lied to the people, telling them they would be employed by the airport. However, none of the people in Chinchero knew anything of computers, and how can an airport be run without computers?

Our final stop before we returned to Cusco was at a local bar in a small town to try some chicha (homemade "beer) and to see a room full of cuy (guinea pigs) waiting to be eaten.

When we returned to Cusco, we were dropped on the main square, since the bus was too big to get up our little street. We hopped in a cab and told the driver where we were staying. Apparently, the driver heard what he wanted to and started off it the wrong direction. After several attempts at telling the driver he was going the wrong way, Cecily pulled out the address of the hotel and showed it to him. After all this driving around all over the place, the driver rolled his eyes when Cecily paid him the three soles initially agreed on. It's not our fault he doesn't listen. Maybe it's because he was too busy listening to the soccer game on the radio.

We got back to the hotel to find our train tickets and admission tickets to Machu Picchu. The clerk called our PFL rep and got it all figured out. We went down and had dinner at Ami Manera and when we returned, our tickets were waiting for us. So far, this is the only bump we've hit with PFL. I'd say that's pretty good.

We headed off to bed in preparation for another early day tomorrow.

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