Facebook    YouTube 
 

| Home | Diary | Travels | Treks | Blogs |

 
 
 
 
Home > Treks > Inca Trail > Day 2 > 2.3
<< Previous | Next >>

Mountain Storm

Mountain Storm
 
 

UPON returning to the school, we were entertained by another dance by the children of the village. They were all wearing their dark red, black and white traditional costumes It was hard to understand what was going on as they were dancing in circles – usually the boys in the outer circle and the girls in the inner circle. The three musicians who had been playing much of the day were providing the percussive rhythm.

Boy dancing with an axe
Boy dancing with an axe

The girls carried very brightly coloured rainbow tassles, and the boys were yielding tomahawks sometimes chasing the girls with them. I wasn’t sure what the dance was about. Perhaps it was a hunting dance. Maybe the boys were the hunters and the girls were the llamas or alpacas. It was very funny though. I couldn’t possible imagine schools in Australia doing these sorts of dangerous dances in our cotton wool society.

Young children watching the dance
Young children watching the dance

I looked around. Everyone was very attentive, including the very small children, who were no doubt envying the dancers and perhaps wondering what their role will be in the future when they are old enough to go to school and participate. I got some very nice shots of some of the young children watching the dance.

When they finished dancing, they suddenly (though predictably) ran towards us and collected us for a group photo. We gave our cameras to the villagers who took our photos as we stood there in photo posing formation.

Dancers come and collect us for...
Dancers come and collect us for...

It was now lunch time. We were pretty tired after all the exercise at altitude, so we were led into the same classroom we had been entertained by the children when we had first arrived. The children were all gone and the desks had been rearranged into a long table with a large white plastic table cloth on it. Two more of the desks had been arranged near the door with one very large cooking pot and a smaller one on top of it, with one of the women of the village stirring its contents. The steam condensation rising from the pots had a strong earthy smell to it. Another small pot was cooking something next to the main pot.

...a group photo!
...a group photo!

The table was surrounded by cheap plastic chairs. We sat on them noticing the sky outside continuing to darken. I could hear distant claps of thunder, but thought nothing of it. We were served potato soup in small very organic looking ceramic bowls obviously made here. The soup was very yummy. We were then provided with the potatoes that had been cooked in the oven we had created earlier today. We also had a bowl of couscous and some green vegetable stew. We also had coca tea – hot water with a couple of dried coca leaves mixed in with it.

Hail on the ground
Hail on the ground

Lunch was almost finished when we heard the roar of sharp pitter pattering on the corrugated iron roof above us. This intensified very quickly, so we went to the windows and as expected we saw a lot of hail plummeting to the ground. Soon the green grass was covered in white ice, almost looking like snow. We were definitely in an alpine area up here with the weather changing so suddenly.

We stayed in the classroom for about twenty minutes watching the hail storm. We were due to leave, but couldn’t get across the school paddock without getting pelted by the hail. Small claps of thunder sounded nearby. Finally it stopped hailing long enough for us to be able to run across the now slippery school grounds to the minibus still parked on the side of the road. Fortunately the hailstones were too small to cause any damage to the van. A very cold wind blew in an attempt to hold us back.

The hail storm resumed just after we reached the van. We slowly set off back down the dirt road we had travelled earlier. About two hundred metres along the road we saw two children walking with a large blue plastic sheet over their heads. We protested to the driver to give them a lift, so he obliged and picked them up. They climbed in the back with us and we continued along the road to the first hairpin bend only a few hundred metres further where they asked to be dropped off. They must live in a farm around here.

We continued along the road, negotiating the precarious ice and mud that had now formed over the gravel during the storm. Small streams were running down the embankments bringing down mud onto the road. The road quickly steepened, and large blocks of ice from the hail that had accumulated on the van’s roof ran down van onto the windscreen to be knocked away by the windscreen wipers. The paddocks were white covered in thick hail as we continued working our way down the hill.

We were almost at the junction of the main road when we saw some children wearing bright maroon coloured school uniforms soaked to the skin walking up the road back towards the village. Perhaps they are used to these conditions all the time, being so accustomed to walking so far all the time. After all they are the descendants of the hardy Inca who had built the amazing civilisation we were about to encounter.

Finally we reached the main road and turned to the right. We immediately started climbing gently uphill through ice covered farmland. We kept climbing and climbing and climbing at a gentle grade until eventually reaching a small town at 3790 metres above sea level. I was starting to feel a little giddy and recalled from Mount Kinabalu that I had started feeling the effects of altitude at about 3800 metres. I was getting the same effect here. Obviously three thousand eight hundred metres is where I start feeling affected by high altitude.

Sacred Valley
Sacred Valley

The road climbed a little higher until we reached the edge of a deep glacial valley. We parked at the side of the road, but the weather up here was very windy and rainy. Thankfully it wasn’t hailing here. There wasn’t much hail on the ground here either, just rain falling horizontally. Luis mentioned there are normally stalls here where we could buy souvenirs, but they had closed to seek shelter from the storm. A few of us braved the elements to get out of the van and have a look at the valley. All that was left of it was a small whitewashed building with a terracotta roof and a few large bags under the eaves no doubt containing some of the merchandise the marketers were unable to take home with them when they had evacuated from the rapidly approaching storm.

Abandoned Market
Abandoned Market

The squally rain made the scenery a bit hard to see, but it was obvious we were about 1400 metres above the floor of the valley far below us. This was the Sacred Valley, an important area to the Inca. It had classic U shape of a glacial valley, and flowed to the left. A large snow capped mountain rising to over five thousand metres high dominated the far side of the valley. A large black cloud hung over its summit. The Urubamba River meandered across the bottom of the valley in a tiny silver ribbon. This was the river that we will be following downstream on the Inca Trail tomorrow, and the same river that passes Machu Picchu. I could just see a small town far below us.

We quickly returned to the van before the bone chilling wind made us too cold. Then we set off rounding a low brown hill before starting the long zig zag down towards the small town at the bottom of the valley.

View all photos...

<< Previous | Next >>
 

 

 

About this Page

Date:

 

Location: Country:

 

Latitude: Longitude: Altitude:

14 October 2010

 

Cusco

Peru

 

13°28'S
71°54'W
3600 - 3850m ASL

 

Google Maps Link

 

 

 

Jeff

Where is Walkabout Jeff?

 

 

 

Jeff

What is happening in Walkabout Jeff's hometown?

 

 

 

Jeff

Who is Walkabout Jeff?

Any normal person's idea of going out involves going to the local pub for a drink with a few mates. Walkabout Jeff isn't normal.

 

Read more...

 

 

 

Follow Walkabout Jeff

Facebook    YouTube

 

 
 
 

| Home | Diary | Travels | Treks | Blogs |

 
© 2001-2019 walkaboutjeff.com - Copyright - Disclaimer - Who is Walkabout Jeff?