Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Travel Log, Tuesday, June 15, Moray, Salineras

After breakfast we boarded a "combi" - a small mini-van stuffed with about 20 people, and rode it to Urubamba, switched to a bus headed to Chinchero, and got off on the road to Maras, where we caught a cab to Moray.

Moray is an interesting site consisting of about 15 concentric terraces, the lower eight being perfectly circular. The steps up and down the walls consist of rocks jutting out from the terrace walls, three or four per wall. Unlike in other terraced sites we've seen, the steps are symetrical and form a double zig-zag pattern down the levels, equidistant from a center line formed by a channel carved in a large rock on each terrace wall.

Moray is set in stark but beautiful Andean highlands, at about 11,000 feet above sea level. Across the river valley, snow covered peaks abound, MontaƱa Veronica dominates the view from Moray.

About 10 km from Moray are the salt "mines" of Salineras. This is a working site, which consists of hundreds of rectangular shallow pools along a hillside which collect mineral spring water. As the water evaporates, the workers collect the salt. We hiked down the hill from Salineras, stopped at a strategically located restaurant for some juice, and then caught a combi (this time packed with about 25 people) back to Ollantaytambo.

While the kids chilled at the hospedaje, Debby and I explored the small ruins of Q'ellorq'ay. These are right across some agricultural fields from where we are staying, are completely unvisited, and consist of a medium sized complex of rooms, a fountain and terraced fields. As with all Incan sites we´ve seen, walls are filled with windows, doors and large and small niches, all built in trapezoidal shapes. The terraces at this site are actively agricultural - corn stalks and cows share the site with ghosts of past civilizations.

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