Once upon a time...
in deepest darkest Peru, lived Uribamba, the Inca God of protection.

He was a very lonely God, looking for an overland campervan to protect.

A global wanderer named Judy found him at an indigenous market in the ancient Andean village of Chinchero, in the Sacred Valley of the Inca outside of Cusco near Machu Picchu. He was lovingly created by hand out of old Peruvian yarns and textiles. His headband is woven with images of the elusive and rarely seen puma, and his hair is braided with multi-colored strands of hand-spun yarns.

On the magical day that Uribamba was found, six adventurous overlanders in Cusco were picked up by a careful and vigilant driver named Geronimo.

He drove them to the ancient town of Chinchero where Uribamba was discovered, and where the never-ending mortarless Inca walls are built of stones that fit together like jigsaw puzzle pieces.

The overlanders were hard-pressed to find any gaps between the tens of thousands of heavy, carefully chiselled stones.

At the next stop of Moray, five of the six overlanders huffed and puffed their way down and back up the jutting stone steps of the terraced circular Inca masterpiece. Each of the ancient agricultural layers has its own microclimate. The Incas were renowned for creating productive crops in the most difficult of conditions and circumstances.

During the day's drive past landscapes of sacred mountains and dramatic gorges, paragliders were spotted sailing through one of many spectacular valleys. Flying is a smart way to sight-see in the Sacred Valley, as one becomes short of breath at such high altitudes with the slightest of physical exertion.

Peru is a country full of climactic and agricultural surprises. The sun warms the day in these regions, and a cold chill sets in at night after the sun sets. Big spiky cacti grow in sharp contrast to dramatic snow-capped mountains nearby. Natives wearing warm alpaca sweaters, woolly hats, colorful knitted leggings and patterned ponchos were seen herding camelids and livestock by the roadsides, or selling beautiful crafts near Inca sites.

Upon reaching the top of another peak, the overlanders were surprised to find a terraced expanse of shocking white and beige shades painting the enormous valley in the form of salt pans which have been in production for thousands of years! A walk was taken along the narrow, crusty, salty pathways near the top of the Salinas, where locals could be seen opening or closing the ducts that feed water into each of the many terraces. The workers chipped and chiselled away at the individual frost-like pans, harvesting salt crystals to be sent out into the marketplace, and to be sold in the site's gift shop.

After a lunch experience of guinea pig (tastes just like chicken) and llama (tastes just like beef), Geronimo drove the overlanders to the well-preserved Inca site of Ollantaytambo. The spectacular stone fortress is perched on top of steep terracing, where Spanish conquistadors lost a major battle hundreds of years ago. Transporting the massive granite blocks from six kilometers away to the top of the peak was a stupendous feat for thousands of Inca workers.

As the sun began to set behind Ollantaytambo, the tired overlanders were transported back to Cusco.

Geronimo's excellent daytime driving became somewhat erratic during the dark night ride back to Cusco. He was observed making the sign of the cross many times throughout the return journey, especially when the bright lights of busses passing from the other direction were coming right at the overlanders' mini-bus. It was a bit distressing that a sign of the cross was made before getting out of the way of oncoming traffic.

One will never know which of many Gods got the overlanders home safely that night, but immediately upon arrival at the Quinta Lala campsite, Uribamba's wish to protect an overland campervan was fulfilled as he promptly took a very special place inside of Mog.

Judy Bartos.

Home - This page last changed on 2006-06-19