Tetsu’s jibber jabber:
For our final day, we decided to each do our own thing. Alli found a day trip to Rainbow mountain for $30, so I decided to give it a go.
It was super touristy, but still enjoyable. And the drive up was fun.
Got picked up at 4:40am.
Drove two hours to get breakfast, a light continential’esque meal (we would end up getting lunch here on the way back as well)
After that, we had another hour drive to the parking lot
Once at the parking area, we were told there was an option to ride a horse partway, so I had to give that a try. It seemed like something fun, but the horse I was on seemed a little tired.
Along the 2.2km or so, there were two bathroom stations as well. each a km apart. It costs a little money to use the bathrooms, and bathroom is a generous term. About what you’d expect from really badly kept pit toilets. It seems the locals were in the middle of constructing new brick building bathrooms. So I imagine in future years the bathroom experience will be much nicer at the two rest areas.
The half of the group that rode horses got to the base area first, of course. And I’m glad i went with this group as we got to the rainbow mountain area before it got crowded.
In the photo below, it’s hard to tell, but you can see where the road veers to the right and goes to this dipped part of the ridgeline. That dipped part of the ridgeline is where everyone takes their Rainbow Mountain photos. From that dip, if you go left, you can see the peak that it climbs up to. That peak is the Vinincunca (or Vinikunka) Peak.
This next photo below shows partway up the climb, looking back at the the horse ride dropoff.
I like this photo because it looks down the length of the valley. Though you can’t really see it, in the center, which is really the far end of this valley, is the parking lot. The entire trail along the valley’s length was beautiful.
With almost no gear, even my weak climbing legs were able to make quick work of the first half of the climb to the photo spot. There were enough people there to make a solo selfie nearly impossible, so rather than spend a lot of time “waiting in line” here, I snapped a few quick shots and headed up to the peak.
In the photo below, which looks down from the Vinikunka peak, you can see, just right of center, where the horse dropoff is.
The peak isn’t too far from the photo spot, so i was able to take a selfie with the peak sign post and the photo spot in the background. I actually think this is the better photo spot, and only about a third of the tourists bother coming up here, leaving plenty of space.
On my way back down, I met the guide and other younger folks from our group coming up. The horse taking me partway really put me ahead of the faster hikers.
As is often the case, on the downhill, I booked it pretty fast as I wanted to take a nice break at the parking lot.
Once there, I realized that the parking lot area was actually setup with a bunch of vendor stores. Most weren’t open yet, but I walked along the market street for a bit.
There was a kind street vendor waiting for his boss to arrive to open up a vendor stall. But quite the diligent employee, he sat working a small table of energy drinks and souvenirs. He even let me take a photo of him making the thread he uses to knit toys for sale.
He chatted with me using my phone’s google translate, shared a cigarette, and seemed genuinely happy to just talk to someone. I guess most visitors don’t really have time to sit and chat for a while.
Was this really me?!
This guy looks like he’s pretty done in. Never seen the area around my eyes so sunken in before.
Meh, nothing an energy drink or two can’t fix. Keep going old man, you can do it!
The drive back was also fun. While I didn’t time the photo right and this photo below doesn’t show it, there were parts of the road that were very narrow where only one vehicle could pass. So when two were coming at each other, one vehicle had to backup far enough to where the road was wide enough to let the other vehicle pass.
We stopped back at the same restaurant again. And had a great map of the area. The restaurant we stopped at was La Montana.
The restaurant also had a super cool outdoor kitchen.
After that, we headed back to Cusco downtown.
Thanks to our cell phone connections, I was able to meet up with Alli and Kyu.
We found a rooftop restobar and hung out there for a while and had dinner. It had an amazing view of the main Armas.
I got to mess around with Kyu’s telephoto lens on the Sony A1.
Alli enjoyed a fruit drink that had a flower called a pensamiento. It wasn’t the first time we had saw this flower as a garnish in a dish.
After recharging for a while, we headed to the Pre-Columbian Inca museum for a bit since it was close and the only museum open until 10
Upon entering the museum, there was a looped video explaining a little about Incan history and its religion. Learning even this high level light touch about the Inca empire, and all the different cultures that made up this empire was fascinating. From jungle forest cultures, to sea-side cultures, to desert plains cultures and high mountain cultures, it was awe-inspiring to learn how the Incan empire gradually took in these different cultures, one could say different “countries” and end up as a single empire.
The empire’s single religious symbolism seems to have been a key unifying fabric across all the cultures. In this religion, there is a heaven-like “above”, a present or middle, and an “underground”. Similar to many religions, except the underground isn’t a kind of purgatory. Instead, it’s a place of seeds. It’s where life exists before being born. The underground is fertility. Each of these levels is represented by an animal.
- Condor represents heavens sky. Connection between worlds, messenger.
- Cat puma represents the here and now, earth
- Snake represents the underworld, seeds, fertility
Architecturally, the museum itself is essentially a massive Spanish style villa, and the art is laid out so that each room represents first the different materials. Bone, wood, silver, gold, shells. Each was a preferred art medium for distinctive “countries” or “cultures” under the empire. And each culture tried to use not just materials but different artistic flourishes to separate it from other cultures.
But the unifying symbols o the Condor, Puma, and Snake remained the same for all the countries.
An incredible and vast empire indeed.
The last hallway to the exit is lined with Spanish era paintings.
Probably my greatest regret on this trip was to miss all the other museums in the area, many of which looked absolutely amazing.
After that, we headed back to the Airbnb and watched Love is Blind Japan Edition again.
Oh, total side bar. A strange bit of trivial silliness. One really funny observation we had while staying at the various AirBnb’s while in Cusco was that one we stayed at had one uneven step in their respective staircases, which threw us off.
The first regular apartment style airbnb we stayed at after we missed our flight had one step that was an inch too tall, so every time we were going down, we felt like we missed a step and were falling. The Airbnb we stayed at the next two nights, the too step was a couple of inches too short so we would always hit it too early which was jarring.
Useless little trivia, but a distinctive memory nevertheless.