Wednesday, October 12th, 2022
It was a gorgeous day as we boarded our bus to ride to the Sacred Valley. The sky was clear and we could see some of the snow-capped Andes mountains.
Our first stop was to the salt mines, Salineras de Maras, nicknamed “the white gold of the Andes”! It was made up of thousands of small pools carved into the side of the mountain. This company produced, extracted, treated, marketed, and exported the salt and/or its derivatives. More than 633 families from this town of Marasal have their own salt pool. These salt mines have been in existence since the time of the Incas.
The salt mines are fed by saltwater and uses an irrigation system. The salt extraction is done in layers from an accumulation of 3 or 4 inches in height. The extraction gives different commercial qualities with the first being kitchen salt and the second layer of lower quality called bulk salt. The third layer is called industrial salt that was used for agriculture. The profits from the sales are then distributed among the owners according to the number of wells they own. Each well produces on average between 330-440 pounds of salt per month!
On our way to the Moray archaeological site we saw some farmers using animals to plow their field.
The Moray site was believed that this Inca site was once used for agricultural studies and experiments because there was no written language. It was comprised of three groups of terraces that were circular. They descend 490 feet from the top terrace to the lowest.
We ate lunch at a local home in the town of Maras.
The small kitchen where the family prepared our delicious lunch. “Grandma” was cleaning the dishes as we were leaving.
After lunch, we had a lecture about Inca agriculture by Maywa Blanco who was a university professor. She had many samples of the various beans, potatoes, and other Peruvian crops.
Our next stop was to learn how to weave baskets from corn husks from two local women. After their demonstration, we also had the opportunity to weave our own ornament out of the corn husks.
A shaman performed an ancient Pachamama ceremony. The sacred ritual was a tribute to Mother Earth for the good harvests. This ceremony has been performed since the time of the Incas.
These farm workers were working the fields with hand tools.
We returned to our hotel for dinner and to relax before a busy day tomorrow.