Day 25 - Pisac, Cuy and Concert


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South America » Peru » Cusco » Ollantaytambo
October 29th 2018
Published: October 30th 2018
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This morning we were woken by large explosions. I decided to just ignore them but Daisy was worried and got up to see what was happening but couldn’t see anything. The explosions occurred at random intervals for about 30 minutes and we managed to get back to sleep before getting up at 07:00 to shower and have breakfast. I asked the lady at the reception what the explosions were and she told us it was just to signify the start of the day’s festival. I asked why so early and she just said they want to wake everybody early to join in. She also said that many stay up and drink until 06:00.

We arranged to meet Julio at 08:00 at the main road to save him walking up to get us and he called the hotel just as we were about to walk down at 08:00. We were driven for about 90 minutes to the Pisac ruins passing through Pisac along the way before winding up the mountain which was on the other side of the valley to the one we drove up yesterday. The Pisac ruins also feature terraces but these were actually used for crops for consumption unlike the circular experimental terraces from yesterday. Other buildings in this area are temples, residences, water channels and a cemetery which is situated on the side of a hill, almost like a vertical cemetery. Julio directed us to walk up to the main buildings but suggested we just go to the main level to save our legs, but if we felt all right we could go higher if we wished. He gave us 30 minutes. Of course, I wanted to reach the top and did so fairly quickly but resting now and again and managed to get back down to the meeting point right on time.

We then drove back to the town of Pisac and were taken to a shop for explanations about silver and alpaca wool, yes, another tourist trap. Before buying though we ate some very nice empanadas and a drink made from boiling purple corn with cinnamon stick, cloves, sugar and lemon. This actually reminded us of Ribena. After the snack, Daisy showed some interest in getting a cardigan, but most of the designs were too brightly coloured but she settled on one and decided I should get a jumper as well. However, then we asked for the price and it was 1,100 soles ($AUS462) and we just said out right that we couldn’t afford that but they started the hard sell and asked what we wanted to pay. I just walked out at that stage because we only had 60 minutes to look around the market and this had already taken 35 minutes, but then Daisy came out and said she offered $200 which turned out to be $200 US and they accepted that, if in cash, so one of the shop assistants took me to an ATM and I ended up having to withdraw sole because the ATM had run out of US. In the end we paid 670 sole ($AUS281). Daisy assures me they are worth that but I still need to be convinced. We then had about 20 minutes to quickly walk through the markets and bought some small items as well.

We left Pisac at 13:10 for a short 20 minute drive to a locals restaurant that Julio himself goes to with his family. The specialty is cuy (guinea pig) which is an authentic Peruvian dish which we knew about. Daisy had her doubts about trying it but Julio encouraged to try it. It was roasted on a stick and stuffed with herbs and spices and then cut into 8 pieces. We didn’t want the head so Julio took it and gave it to the driver for a snack. Julio had one piece and Daisy and I ate the remainder. It tasted like chicken to me but was not very meaty, but the skin was quite crunchy. I probably liked it better than Daisy did but neither of us would bother trying it again. Daisy also had a drink called Frutillada which is corn beer with strawberry. The meal with drinks was only 34 sole ($AUS14) and when we ate later in Ollantaytambo, the restaurant had cuy for 80 sole, so that proved to us that it was a genuine locals restaurant.

Julio left us again in Urubamba to catch a bus back to Cusco and the driver continued driving us back to Olantaytambo, but again, we were diverted around the town because of the festival and traffic was horrendous with buses, large vans and cars trying to get both in and out of the town. At the parts the dirt road was very skinny and there was very little room. As we got closer the police had also closed off access into town and the driver had to enter a parking station that was close enough for us to walk.

We then walked home and had a bit of a rest and spoke to Graeme and Mary Sandstrom for abut 50 minutes before going out again to another recommended restaurant called Uchucuta. Funny thing was that we saw the sign, walked in after inspecting the menu and then I noticed the menu had a different name, so I walked outside and realized we were in the wrong restaurant. The one we wanted was next door up a flight of stairs, so we made our apologies and left. The reviews on Trip Advisor suggested that the grilled alpaca and quinoa soup were good so that’s exactly what we ordered as Daisy was happy to just have soup which she said was delicious, I think the guinea pig had put her off meat for the day. It did have one alpaca ravioli in the soup, which is another one of their dishes and she said that was nice also. My alpaca was also nice but I would still prefer beef or lamb over alpaca. We also asked the owner about the explosions and he explained that festival is actually celebrating the anniversary of the town and is a big annual event.

It was now around 19:30 so we made our way to the main square where a very good Peruvian band was playing. They must have been a well known band because everyone was singing along with them and we enjoyed the music as well. They had 9 musicians playing a variety of instruments. Besides the usual drums, guitar and bass guitar (a left-handed 6 string version), they played saxophones, recorders, pan pipes and ukuleles. We managed to get a good spot near the front of the stage and watched for quite some time before Daisy decided she didn’t really want to stand too much longer so we headed home for an early night.


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