Sushine in the Sacred Valley


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South America » Peru » Cusco » Sacred Valley
March 6th 2013
Published: March 7th 2013
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Thankfully I woke up feeling so much better today. I always plan an extra day in my landing city for the most undesirable "Wallow Brendan" where I feel crappy, wallow in self pity and second guess my desire to travel. By the next day he has been beaten into submission by one of my other selves and off we all go to have the most wonderful time. That was how this trip started. I had a nice breakfast in the hotel, met for the tour to the Sacred Valley. To be honest, I really signed up for this tour to kill a day and had no real expectations. Was I ever wrong? Today’s tour was great and the group had some of the nicest, most interesting people on it. All in all it was fun to hang out and talk with the others, plus we got to see some amazing scenery and ruins. Ok, are you hooked and want to read more? Great, because I am all set to type my fingers off and load pictures until my laptop screams.

Leaving the city of Cusco, I noticed a statue on the hill that looked like a small version of Cristo Redentor. I am putting up a picture, although it is rather far away. If you look closely, you can see the resemblance. We stopped on the side of the road to take some shots of the green hills and deep blue sky. The views were stunning. From the weather forecast I had anticipated cold weather and rain, but today was sunny and warm, well at least sunny most of the time. This is one reason I try to not obsess over the weather forecasts. There is nothing I can do but be prepared, so off I go with rainwear and layers of clothes that I can safely remove. But that aside, our next stop was in Pisac where we went through a market place and wandered for a while. Someone found a guinea pig habitat down a back alley, so I took some pictures. We all know why they were there, but they were still cute to watch. Seeing these guinea pigs reminded me of two things. First was Snowball, the guinea pig our second grade class had. On the weekends one student was allowed to take Snowball home. Since we had a cat in the house, we were never able to host Snowball. The second is a book my Mom has. It is about foods of the world and has pictures of a family from many countries and what they have in their cupboards. Of course the USA family had tons of boxes and cans and sodas and so on. Some families had next to nothing. It was a very eye opening book. But what I remembered was the picture of a grilled guinea pig on a stick from Peru. My family thought it was just the oddest looking thing and couldn't imagine eating it. As of yet I have not, but I plan on trying it while here. Mom, Dad, I will let you know what I think. But, back to the Pisac market place. The one stall had baskets of all different kinds of potatoes. This was not the glamorous Central Market Hall of Budapest, nor La Boquaria in Barcelona. This was a working person’s market place. The meat, chicken and seafood were simply stacked on the tables with no cooling or ice. They did have a ton of flies, but I don’t think that was in their favor. The good news is that I was able to purchase some jewelry for the people who had asked me to. The sterling is from the Pisac region and the jewelry is handmade in Cusco.

Our next stop was for lunch. When asked if I wanted to add the lunch buffet to the day, I said yes out loud, but my inside voice was saying “oh heck no.” Ok, so it was saying a different word, but this is a respectable blog and I don’t want to use that language here. Wow, was I ever wrong. Although this restaurant caters to the tour groups, they have very good food with a nice presentation. There was a quinoa salad that I loved and plan on using at work. Of course I have already added a different dressing and made a few other changes to it in my mind, but it will still be the salad I had in Peru. I was also able to have Alpaca without having to commit to a full Alpaca dinner. Not surprisingly, it was very good and very tender. Shockingly, I am not going to say that it tasted like chicken. Yeah, I know. Everything different we try is described as tasting like chicken. It was a nice lunch and gave me time to talk with some of the others in the group. It is fun to hear how they chose Peru, where they want to go next and where they have been. Each person was well traveled and knowledgeable of our world. What a pleasure to hear their tales.

We spent a great deal of time at the Inca Citadel at Ollantaytambo, a large site of ruins with fine masonry, terraces, canals, granaries, fortress walls, and the Temple of the Sun. After climbing up 247 uneven stone steps, we were at the Temple of the Sun and the Wall of the Six Monoliths. This is a wall of huge stones fitted together perfectly, as are most of the stones here. I have a passion for ruins, so this place was right up my alley. It was fun to imagine what various places were used for and to stand quietly, alone in a stone room and just be there. Unfortunately, we had to head back down the 247 steps and head on to our next stop.

The drive to Chinchero was so beautiful. We went up through a mountain while surrounded by
Sacks of PotatoesSacks of PotatoesSacks of Potatoes

Pisco Market
larger mountains. It is amazing how the Incas were able to terrace and farm this land. As we were standing there, some ladies came by with their donkeys and sheep. I had noticed a lot of donkeys here, so took a picture of them, thinking I would title today’s blog something like “Nice Ass” but my better judgment prevailed and I chose to go with my original title. One of the ladies offered to take us to see how she colored the sheep and alpaca wool. It was a fun process. I won a contest and was allowed to take the lady of my choice home with me, but when push came to shove, she reneged. Darn. I did get my picture taken while wearing a Peruvian hat and holding the alpaca. I was pleased and think it was a better deal. I also bought a beautiful scarf. Yes, this seems to be a theme in my travels. For some reason I always end up buying a scarf. One would think I lived in Alaska or Minnesota instead of California.

It was a long, quiet ride back to Cusco. We were dropped off at Plaza de Aramas, so I was only 3 blocks from the hotel. I dropped my things and went to Jacks, a restaurant at the corner someone told me about when I was in the Lima airport. Being alone, there was no table for me, so the hostess seated me with 3 charming ladies getting ready to hike the Inca trail tomorrow. I have seen much discussion over the benefits of traveling alone or with someone and I still feel that traveling alone is the best for me. I met some truly incredible people today, shared stories, laughed and felt part of a larger group. It may not work for everyone, but I do enjoy it. Anyhow, I need to pack a duffel bag for my overnight trip to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. I may not take my laptop (shudder) so if you don’t hear from me, or I don’t blog, please know that I am fine and just off the grid for a bit. Until then, Ciao


Additional photos below
Photos: 25, Displayed: 25


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Ceviche StationCeviche Station
Ceviche Station

And man was it good!
247 step to the top247 step to the top
247 step to the top

And terraces beside the steps.
On the Way upOn the Way up
On the Way up

Loved the colors on the rocks
OhioOhio
Ohio

And what is odd is that there is a color discoloration right around where I grew up.
Wall of the 6 MonolithsWall of the 6 Monoliths
Wall of the 6 Monoliths

Close shot to show the craftsmanship.
AlpacaAlpaca
Alpaca

Yes, this is the one I was touching in the first picture.


7th March 2013

Isn't it great when the Diamox starts working?
Great photos! So many memories are flooding back. The sacred valley is beautiful. The Pisac market is very famous. I'm not a big fan of rodents so I didn't care a thing about the guinea pigs...for some reason some people find them cute and you seem to be one. Yuck, makes my skin crawl. Glad it brought back some pleasant memories for you. I remember when we walked into a local home and there were nearly a hundred of them running around. Needless to say I got out of that house quickly. Next time we get together we will have to open a bottle of wine and share rodent stories. I had a small taste of it in a stew while we were there but honestly the piece I consumed was microscopic. You can wear the scarf when you go back to Ohio to visit. Thanks for the heads up that you will be off the grid. We will not call the Peruvian government to search for you! Happy travels.
7th March 2013

I'll Bet You Like Mickey Mouse and He Is A Rodent
Thanks for the message. I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the Sacred Valley. I am glad the Diamox is working, but for a while thought I was having a stroke when my hands and feet wouldn't quit tingling. Duh, read the side effects BEFORE taking the med Brendan. Wine and rodent stories is a deal. It sounds great! And yes, I thought I should put that in there since I worried some people when I stopped blogging in BA and had my melt down.
7th March 2013

Dave here....man... you've got it going now!!
You're just getting started in a most beautiful country. Believe it or not....there's more beauty on the horizon. Peru is just amazing.....as you undoubtedly know.
7th March 2013

Thanks Dave
I am so looking forward to seeing other parts of this country.
7th March 2013

Great views!
Hi B, Glad to hear you are back on your feet and ready to travel. The pictures so far have been amazing. The one with you in the hat with the alpaca made me think of you helping on the farm. Wait.....you didn't help on the farm, Ha Ha! Can't believe how pretty it looks there and I share your love of ruins. As an added bonus you even ate at a buffet, now, thats my kind of trip! Keep the pics and blog coming and I will try to get mom and dad down this weekend to catch up on it. Later T
7th March 2013

Oh Ted, You Kidder
Not only was I ready to work on the farm yesterday with the alpaca, but I was ready to do it in style. lol. I have been very impressed with how beautiful it is here. Today was a travel day with lots of rain. I am at an internet cafe now on a public computer, but all is well. Thanks for the comment.
7th March 2013

I'm glad to read that the food has been delicious so far -- ceviche, yummmm! Can't wait to hear your opinion on guinea pigs (you've kind of locked yourself into this now, I hope you realize) and am loving your Peruvian hat -- can't wait to see you in dressed in an entire Peruvian getup. :)
7th March 2013

Ceviched
Thanks Michelle. I thought I was rocking the Peruvian look. I am not sure I will have time to get some guinea pig. I thought it was common all over Peru, but was told it is more local. Will keep an eye out for the tasty grilled rodent! The ceviche was awesome. I know I will be eating more of that.
8th March 2013
Ceviche Station

Try these places...
If you are trying to find the best ceviche places in Cusco, try "Machitos," "Cangrejos de Piura," or "Muelle del Toño"
8th March 2013

Yay!
Glad cranky Brandan has been put in his place and adventurous Brandan is running amock! Wish I was there!
8th March 2013

Thank you Jackie
I am glad cranky Brendan was put away as well. I spoke of you yesterday when someone had forgotten her camera, so I took pictures of she and her husband and promised to email so nice ones. I love traveling like this and meeting wonderful people such as yourself. Wish you were here too.
8th March 2013

Thanks for the amazing photos
You are making me want to shake off my comfort zone and dip my foot into Peru! Can't wait to see which Brendan will enlighten us next:)
8th March 2013

Thank you KAshmere
I love that you just made me laugh out loud for real in an internet storefront here in Aguas Calientes. Travel Brendan was in charge today, and when I looked at the mountain he made me climb, I was amazed that we did it. Pics and blog to follow tonight! Thank you for the comment.
8th March 2013

Fine adventures!
How great that you've adjusted to the altitude and are having adventures with great people! Wise to get out of Cusco and into the countryside with the alpacas and guinea pigs--your photos are very evacative! And you are an adventurous eater if you'll eat those adorable little guineas--I'm going for the purple potatoes. See you on Saturday--I'm off to Copacabana this afternoon.
8th March 2013

Still haven´d tried the guinea pig yet Tara
I did stop and get some alpaca skewers last night from a woman grilling them on the street. I don´t normally eat street food, but I watched how she grilled and felt safe. They were awesome. Still hunting for the guinea pig. Can´t wait to see you tomorrow.
8th March 2013

I just wanted you to know that I\'m very happy to be following you on another adventure with your touring! I have always enjoyed the blogs along with the pictures and can\'t wait to read them daily. Enjoy the beauty of the world around you and continue to share many smiles for all to see! Thanks
9th March 2013

I thought that was you back there
Hi Sharon, thanks for your comment. I thought I saw someone following me. I will keep loading pictures and writing my story. Thank you for following!
9th March 2013

Loved your pictures
Couldn't have done better myself. I remembered to take the camera to a rainy Machu Picchu. Tought about you when woke up the next day and it was sunny. It rained the entire time we were there. However I feel greatfull that I got to see it
9th March 2013

Thank you Sue
I haven't been in a place to forward your pictures yet, but I have your email in my money pouch. I have to say that I thought of you on that rainy Thursday. I'm sorry the weather was so bad for you, but as you say, it was still great to be there. If you would like any of the MP photos, please message me. When I have good internet and time I can send those as well.

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