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Choquequirao - Cradle of Gold -chapter One

Cachora Choquequirau Inca Los Tres Balcones Muleteers

The future catches up to our travel plans. I preach not to wait till your retired or this or that to take off on a trip. Time waits for no man. I was organizing a trip to Peru with my friend Frank. We would spend about 8 days in the Peruvian Highlands visiting the Inca sites of Choquequirao and others. We asked our daughters if they wanted to”come with” and to our amazement and delight they said yes. My concern was that soon they would get married, have big deal careers, or babies, and no time for a trip like this

 

Pretty soon it was Frank’s daughter and my three girls all 20 thru 25 on the treadmill, running up stairs, and losing weight getting ready for our expedition. Fast forwarding 8 months, it is now mid June, we are sleeping on hard benches in the Lima airport awaiting our 6:30 flight to Cuzco. We spend 2 days inhaling Cuzco’s thin air, enjoying the great food and shopping for warm sweaters, hats, leggings, and gloves – shopping being 2nd nature to my girls.

 

We leave Cuzco with our guide, Sergio Expinoza, and travel 4 hours to Cachora, a little village that is the starting point for our trek. We arrive after dark but are warmly greeted by about six young men who grab our gear and show us our rooms. Francisco Alcosar, our chef, is bustling in the kitchen preparing our meal, some of the best pizza I have ever tasted, cooked in a wood fired clay oven. He has on a white uniform, white hat, and is throwing the pizza in the air and asking me to take pictures of him as he does this. We have a great evening, picking out the ingredients for some of the pizzas, everyone laughing, getting to know each other, and having a great time. Frank and I sit grinning and bemused at all the giggling of our girls.

Next morning I awake in our hotel, Los Tres Balcones, to the sun warming my curtains. I clean up quickly in the shower, wake up Frank who is sharing the room, and we go out and explore this small rustic village as it stirs awake. The homes are all adobe brick with mostly Spanish tile roofs. On each roof is a good luck symbol to ward off evil spirits.

 

A few mules are being led down the street, already laden with cargo. The bright sun is warming the valley and we squint at the distant mountains, little clouds clinging to their snowfields. The smoke of cooking fires rises into the heat uplifting air. It’s going to be a hot one.

 

The first several miles are very easy, except for having to dodge a herd of cattle with 2 bulls fighting it out. After 2 hours we arrive at Capuloyoc, a lookout on a ridge. We buy water and cokes and look down the deep canyon to the Apurimac River, the source of the Amazon. Salcantay, an Inca sacred mountain rises above us across the valley to 20574’

 

Once we cross over the ridge and start down the switchbacks, we are on a very arid, hot, dead burrow steep, dusty trail with tall straw colored cheat grass and no shade trees. Did I make that sound fun enough? Occasionally it get’s really steep and there are railings built along the outside edge, but later signs in Spanish and English warn us not to lean on the railings – and now some of the railings are dangling over the sides of cliffs so it is a little hilarious and unnerving at the same time.

 

To see the full version of this book with great p;ictures, you can get the Blurb version or the e-tunes version at

http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id671359228



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