After the Cusco debacle, it was nice to enter into serenity by way of The Sacred Valley.
Among other things, the Sacred Valley is a place of transformation. It knits the deserts of Lima and Cusco to the forests that preview the Amazon Rainforest. It embraces Christianity while holding fast to ancient Inca ways in equal measure. It is the path to the most scared of Inca sites, Machu Picchu. The Scared Valley has a code of living that is simple, sacred and embedded in community. But it can also be a place for transformation of perspective if allowed to occur. Where I saw poverty, they saw simplicity. Where I saw hardship, they saw opportunity to live closer to Pachamama or Mother Earth. A number of thoughts I had about the area were less than accurate.
Example. Much to my dismay…there are no wild llamas and alpacas bounding among the spire-like peaks that bordered the valley as I expected. There was lots of whitewater, some forests but nothing running through the woods- though we saw a really cool Motmot (a colorful bird with a long tail) that I spotted. Well. Ok. I didn’t spot it, my sister did but I am still claiming a percentage of the find because I asked her if she could see anything out the train window.
It’s a slow train. One hour and forty-five minutes to travel 53 kilometers. Not that we were in a hurry. And it had complimentary snacks! I’m all about snacks. Coffee, ‘coca’ tea, pound cake! (It does beg the question of why one can get really nice snacks on a train whose ride is less than two hours and the ticket costs roughly $110.00 and one can spend $650.00 on a four hour plane ride and they can’t seem to pry a bag of pretzels out of the galley. And don’t even bother asking for a ‘bottle’ of water. They can’t do that, ‘then everyone would want one.’ And wouldn’t THAT be a disaster?) I digress. Back to the valley of happier thoughts.
Carlos was our guide and he was raised in the town of Ollantaytambo and he famously said to our group when asked about the little town, ‘We don’t need money so much. We barter with potatoes and corn for other things someone else might have like meat from a cow. A little money is needed is true for maybe sugar, things like that. But mostly bartering. It is a good way. It is a way to make sure everyone in the community has what they need.”
Simplicity. Keeping your hands in and on the Earth. Supporting your community.
The Scared Valley was designed, by way of the Inca Trail, to allow one to meet hardship and beauty in preparation of the mind, body and spirit for the deservedness to enter Machu Picchu.
Well, we took the train, the shortcut. Typical. Hopefully we will have been purified enough not to turn to ash once we get there.
I guess we will find out.