PERU - DAY NINE - Salt and Terraces

Previous Blogs:

Day 1 - Arequepa | Day 2 - Yanque | Day 3 - Colca Canyon | Day 4 - Lake Titicaca | Day 5 - Road to Cusco | Day 6 - Machu Picchu | Day 7 - Cusco

Day 8 - Sacred Valley | Day 9 - Salt and Terraces | Day 10 - Rain Forrest | Day 11-12 - Rainforest/Lima | Day 13 - Paracus

Click photos for a larger image...


Lets talk about dogs...

As can be seen in the picture on the left, there are 8 dogs of which 6 are eating garbage.

Dogs are everywhere. At first I thought they were stays, but the tour guide informed me that they all have owners - typically poor and the poorer the owner the more dogs they seem to have. The poor can't afford to fix the dogs (so they have more) and can neither feed them, so the dogs hunt food during the day while owners are at work. There is also no leash law so they roam the streets during the day looking for food.

The worst part is that all night long they bark. Does not mattter which city or where you are, all you hear all night long is dogs barking. Weird.


We had a later start today, finally! Were only picked up at 10am which meant we could sleep in. Sadly it was raining so we had to get out our $1.75 rain jackets we bought a few days ago.

Instead of the valley we headed out to the highlands 14,000 feet above sea level.

Today's short 5 hours tour is to visit the salt mine and a unique Inca terrace.

Note the rain jackets!

This is a rather unusual Inca terrace. They are completely round and there are three of them. The purpose is quite unique - they are an Inca Agricultural Experiment Center.

The Incas built this in order to test and trial different crops on the different levels to determine the micro climates needed to get the best results on a variety of vegetables. They would then take the results of their research to plant the large terraces you have seen so far. It is the only terrace structure of its kind in the entire world.

Next we went on to see the salt mine. This is the only one of its kind in Peru.

Salt mines are normally flat and are more like lakes of salt (at least the ones I have seen before).

There are no flat areas in Peru so the Incas applied the same technology they use on their terraces and created a terrace salt mine.

Ponds are buildt and channels constructed in such a way to evenly drain rain water through the ponds. Being rainy season right now the ponds are filled with water. Once rainy season is passed, the water dries and three layers of salt are left.

Each pond is individually owned, some people own more than one. They are passed down through the generations. During winter (rainy season) they are left alone. During summer (dry season) the water goes away and the ponds become a startling white color, too bright in the sunlight to even look at. There are three layers of salt. Brown at the bottom, this is used for medicine, pink in the middle used for seasoning BBQ, and white at the top a refined salt sold to the factories for commercial manufacture - adding iodine to make it safe for human consumption.

With people in so you can see the size. Each pond produces between 300 and 900 lbs of salt per year.

The scenery on our way back to Cusco

The Incas were definitely a very learned people. They studied the stars and many of their structures where based on the shape of the Milky Way. They built entire cities in the shapes of their revered animals which were Puma, Condor and Snake.

Even though they would never be able to fly high enough to view the shape, they used mathematics to calculate where each building went so from the skies the shape could be seen.

Lets bring this discussion back into the gutter and talk about toilets.

By the large the restrooms in Peru are clean and plentiful.

The provision of toilet paper however, is a hit or miss affair so one should always carry emergency stash with you.

Not because they don't want to provide paper, they are just not that attentive about refilling it when it is empty.

Most toilets are free, and those you have to pay for cost no more than $0.33 (Sol 1.00), and these will always have paper because they generally have an attendant.

HOWEVER - and this I have not figured out yet - the picture on the left a case in point -  in MANY locations the toilet seat has been removed, or more likely, was never installed in the first place.

More common in men's toilets, I am thinking that some feminist in charge  established men often never lifted the seat to pee so they removed the obstacle!

However, Wendy did say there were no seats or lid in the Ladies Room either.  There goes my theory!

The tourist service in Peru is pretty good. People are very helpful and polite, often going out of their way to provide you with excellent service, such as seeing you looking around for the bathroom, they will rush over open the door for you, make sure the lights are on, etc.

Tours always leave on time within minutes. However, the only time I have seen Peruvians get pissed is if YOU make them late. One day we were 2 minutes late getting downstairs and the tour guide was clearly put out saying now we had to rush because we made him late.

On the other hand they have no problem being late when returning. Several tours returned at least an hour or three later than on the itinerary because the guide spoke too much and time got away.


And finally...

The other night we went to dinner at a local restaurant which boasted Mexican, Italian and Peruvian food.

I ordered what I thought might be a Peruvian dish, but in retrospect I think the chef just made it up as he went along.

Thin sliced steak (OK), Fries (OK), Fried banana (?), two slices of cold ham (?) Cooked hot carrot on top of cold sliced tomato (?) and finally a fried egg placed on top of  very dry white rice - WTF?

  Wendy just had boring chicken chimichangas with homemade corn chips and guacamole.