We continued towards the Salt mines in Maras, close to the Urubamba river. I didn't unfortunately make it down the hill, having only photographed them from uphill, though I must confess I was nevertheless impressed to find out that the manner in which the salt was extracted during the Inca reign is still maintained nowadays.
Soon after lunch, which I had none of taking into account my then physical limitations, we headed towards Pisac, which is said to mark the beginning of the Sacred Valley.
According to scholars and the Inca mythology the Valley had a sacred character because the river that flows along it was joining the Milky Way, the celestial river. For that reason Incas are said to have constructed a series of sanctuaries to observe and revere the constellations. As well as serving to observe the weather and therefore for aid in agriculture they were used for spiritual consecration of the Inca Deities.
We didn't visit the archeological complex comprising the fortress and the Sanctuary or Temple of the Sun, which we could see in the distance but exclusively concentrated on the residential part of the city.
We were impressed with what we saw on both the exterior and interior of the houses, one of which we were granted the privilege of visiting. Guinea pigs (considered a culinary delicacy) do cohabit with the villagers, as we noticed, but so do the skulls of the older members of the family who have died (placed in shrine-like niches), which according to the belief are said to protect the relatives alive and left behind.
We then visited the market, close to the city square, which I once more didn't thoroughly visit, if I am honest. As Marie Hélène wandered about the numerous stalls I sat somewhere awaiting her return and resting.
Thanks to the kindness of some of the street vendors I was given coca leaves to chew, which locals consider miraculous for the "cure" of a few diseases, amongst which stomach related ones. My concerns about the following day in which we would be visiting Machu Pichu were increasing, though I was beginning to feel slightly better.
Our last visit was to a rather special and innovative (in terms of design) ceramics factory - Seminario, which still uses the traditional ways to produce this type of Art. None of us felt indifferent when looking at the beauty of the finished artistic pieces.
Having brought just the necessary backpack for the night at Urubamba hotel San Augustin, which we reached by late evening, I decided to skip dinner and go straight to bed, once the wake up call the following morning would be at around four ... and I felt that I definitely needed some extra rest, so as to be "in shape" for the Machu Pich climb.