Today’s excursion was a visit to the Matetic Vineyard. This vineyard is unique because it uses no artificial fertilizers or pesticides in making the wines. They planted their grapes in such a manner as to maximize the natural layout of the land. They take advantage of the daily fog and low clouds to provide water for the grapes. The result was a really delicious set of wines.
Our guide was very knowledgeable and personable. One treat was trying two of the wines in small chocolate cups. You eat the cup and wine all at once. A treat not to be missed.
If you didn’t know, internet on the ship is very expensive. So when a port has free internet everyone flocks to the port to use it… including us at the moment.
Today we visited the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. It is located atop a mountain where there are usually 300 days of clear weather per year and the air is super clean. It is owned and operated by a consortium of US and South American colleges/universities. We toured the facilities and treated us by opening and closing the observatory doors and rotated the telescope like they would if they were actually viewing the night sky. What fun!
Later traveled to the small Town of Vicuña for lunch. The Nobel winning poet Gabriela Mistral is from there. Her face in cement is at the bottom of a fountain there facing the mountains around the town that she loved.
We then returned to the ship.
We were both thankful for a couple of Sea Days after the long overland trip. It was great to sleep in my accustomed bed, not worry about drinking the water, and being able to sleep in a little! Ron went to the cooking demonstrations with our new guest chef from Peru. Ron picked up some new recipes. I got to attend my watercolor classes. Here are two watercolors based on things we saw in the Galapagos.
Next Morning we traveled by Bus back to the ship from Lima to General San Martin port. Before we left Lima, I wanted to mention that a very special person was due to arrive in Lima in two days: The Pope!
Luckily, we were gone by the time he showed up. I believe that the city’s security would go up about 1000%. As we rode from Lima to the port where the ship waited for us, we saw quite a few preparations for the Pope’s visit… new landscaping spelling out his name, setting up grandstands, etc.
Our trip to the Galapagos and Machu Picchu were amazing, but it was really nice to get back “home”, the Prinsendam!
A 3:30 a.m. wakeup call started our busy day. We started with a quick 1 hour flight from Lima to Cuzco where we were met by our van drivers for the next leg of our journey. We drove 1-1/2 hours to Ollantaytambo to catch our ride on the train to Machu Picchu village. On the way, we saw several women in traditional Peruvian attire (mostly for the tourists), but several other women we saw were wearing garments with traditional accents.
On the train they served us a quick lunch/snack and a mug of Coca tea. Coca tea is an old Incan remedy for Altitude sickness (further refined it can be used to make cocaine). It started to rain during our trip and was pretty heavy by the time we reached the village. We also saw numerous Incan sites most with terraces that are still in use today.
To get to Machu Picchu you have to board a shuttle bus to take you up the mountain. I believe there were 8 hairpin turns to get there and no guard rails for 99% of the way. Sheer drops galore. We finally made it to the top and to Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu is probably the largest Incan site in their vast empire. No one knows for sure why it was built at the top of a mountain. But is is magnificent!
Walls with blocks so finely carved they they fit like a glove with each other. Other structures that appear to be temples (no one knows for sure), dormitories, storage buildings, working fountains and in some places running water.
On the hillsides and terraces of Machu Picchu we also saw llamas. Ron tried taking a picture of one of them.
We spent about 3 hours touring the site before the death-defying ride back down the hill, a 1-1/2 hour train, and another 1 hour van ride to reach our new hotel.