Today was one of those days when it was all about the journey rather than the destination, although I didn’t know this when I set out. After breakfast, I pottered for a while before starting on my adventure to get to Moray and Maras. This required 4 separate collectivos and 2 hours to reach Moray, which is another Inca site.
The first leg of the trip was from Huaracondo to Izcuchaca. This was the easy part. At Izcuchaca, I had to go on the hunt for the collectivo station from where cars/collectivos departed for Cusco that would drop me off at a crossroads outside Poroy. It took a bit of time to find the right place but, eventually, I was on my way in a station wagon type of vehicle in which several people were crammed in the luggage space. At the junction, I just had to stand at the roadside and wait for a passing collectivo to stop. It only took a couple of minutes!
Half an hour later and I was dropped off at the turnoff to Maras from where it was a 4km walk. Apparently, there are sometimes taxis waiting but, today, there were none, so I started walking. It was a beautiful day and the countryside was spectacular. However, it wasn’t long before another collectivo stopped and I could get a ride to Moray, about 13km away, beyond Maras, along a very dusty road.
On arrival, I was charged 10 soles but the driver wanted 25 soles for the return trip, which, surprisingly, I declined! I had a wander around the site, which is a set of 3 circular terraced bowls that were probably used for agricultural experiments. As with all Inca sites, there is much speculation about their purpose as the Incas did not leave any written records. I have to confess that I could only find 2 of these bowls despite following the signs for the third. I was either being blind or the third one was an illusion!
Moray is in the middle of nowhere. Having declined the collectivo driver’s offer, I found myself with a bit of a problem as most people seem to visit Moray on a tour. There were therefore no obvious taxis. There was nothing for it. I started walking! It was still a beautiful day, the scenery was still spectacular and I had all afternoon. However, the road was very dusty and there were sufficient vehicles to make it not quite as enjoyable as it could have been. Fortunately, I hadn’t gone far when a taxi stopped and only charged 5 soles to return to Maras. It was obviously my lucky day!
In the back seat were a young Peruvian couple. On arrival in Maras, they asked the taxi driver where the track was to the Salinas (salt beds), which was about 6km away and the other main attraction of the area. The taxi driver assumed that I would want to visit them as well (I did) and told me to go with the young couple, so I did. (They didn’t seem to have much say in the matter!)
Having bought water and a quinoa ice cream (which tasted much better than expected), we set off. They, of course, were able to ask directions, Francie had some English and I could understand most of what Francisco said in Spanish. It was a beautiful walk down the valley, which we took quite slowly, so it was over an hour later when we arrived.
The salt beds are quite extraordinary in that they are all built in terraces on the hillside. Francie and Francisco had been told that they could walk right through to them to the other side and then descend into another valley and get a bus back to Urubamba. This we did.
It was a lovely walk, the only concern I had being that it was getting late and I knew that I would end up trying to find collectivos in the dark, which wasn’t my ideal. However, I had little choice but to follow them by this stage and I really enjoyed it. I’m not sure how much they appreciated my company though!
By the time we arrived at the collectivo station in Urubamba, it was well after 5pm. The others went off to find somewhere to eat and I caught a collectivo back to the junction at Poroy. The sun had set and the sky was a lovely pink colour above the raggedy mountains.
It was completely dark when I was dropped off and there was only a small light above the shop at the corner. My worst nightmare! Another lady was waiting and when a car approached, flashing its lights in the manner of collectivos trying to attract custom, I assumed it was a taxi and got in, having ascertained it was going to Izcuchaca. It was only when the lady kissed the driver that I realised it was her husband and not a taxi! Whoops! They dropped me off in Izcuchaca anyway, I gave them the collectivo fare and tried not to think about getting into cars with strange people in a foreign country in the dark!
Finding the collectivo back to Huaracondo was even more of a mission. Streets are not well lit and, on asking, I was directed from one end of the street to the other. It is made harder by the fact that not all collectivos have their destination written on the front so you have to ask the people who are hustling for the business. I eventually found one (after starting to panic slightly) and learned from Lyle, when I returned at 7pm, that the collectivo station closes at 6pm and the collectivos then leave from the other end of the street – hence the conflicting directions. I was just very relieved to have returned safely and sat down to appreciate a much needed glass of wine and dinner.