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Published: March 7th 2013
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
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
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