Daily Archives: January 26, 2011

Cusco Day 11 – Sacred Valley Tour

Jan 16th 2011

After a good night sleep, and some good dreams, I am feeling almost fully recovered, which is good because of the long day ahead. I have booked the Sacred Valley Tour, a cost of 30 soles (about $10 US), pick up is at 8.30am and we expect to be back only after 6pm. Yesterday at Sacsaywaman I had picked up the big ticket for 130 soles ($47 US), you need one of these to get into the monuments.

Pisaq and Market
The tour would cover around 200km and finally pulled out of Cusco at 9.30am. There were some spectacular views along the way and I was amazed at how the people farmed on terraces on the sides of the mountains with only minimal erosion. Our guide Paul explained that a lot of the terraces were still from Inca times.

Our first stop was Pisaq, a picturesque town with a fantastic market. I picked up a few things after some tough bargaining and then bought some maize (not sweet corn) on the cob from a street vendor, delicious especially with the chunk of andean cheese to go with it. The ruins were 3 miles away up a steep hill and our driver stopped for 2 young lasses from America who had been hiking up after their taxi left them at the bottom. They were very cool, one from Seattle the other from Eugene. Paul, our guide, invited them to join the first part of the tour for no charge, and we chatted merrily about their volunteer work in Ollantaytambo. I gave them my contact info as the one was very interested in visiting me in Ecuador. Unfortunately I never heard from them and am not sure if I wrote something down wrong (blame the altitude) or if they lost it. I never got their info.

Paul sat and chatted to me about the region and its history and about the flowers amongst other things. I still could not make it up the ruins and stairs made me quite flustered. So sitting and enjoying the view was the next best thing. And what a view.

Next stop was Urubamba for lunch, 20 soles ($5 US) for a buffet lunch. I had brought some sandwiches and knew I wasn’t hungry enough to spend 20 soles and hardly eat, blame the altitude. I grabbed some water and a coke (suggestion of Paul’s) and found a table. According to Paul the tabs I was taking for altitude sickness changes the pH of my body and creates and interesting reaction to coke. Woo hoo it wasa party on my tongue, the bubbles are intensified. Due to lots of tourists and limited tables I offered to share mine with a couple. They turned out to be from Brazil and she worked for a South African co. By the end of lunch we had exchanged information in case either of us headed to the others country.

This has to be one of my favorite stops. This beautiful town has preserved its Inca urban planning and many still live in original Inca houses. There is a wonderful charm about the place and the ruins are spectacular, at least from the bottom as I once again opted for breathing rather than the view. Paul loaned me a book on flowers along the Inca Trail and I sat in a corner and was amazed at the variety.

Paul pointed out the old Inca grain storage, high on the hill. they used the altitude to keep the grain fresh, removing doors to prevent humidity and therefor molding and also adding a special menthol herb to keep insects out. Quite ingenious.

Chinchero and an Approaching Storm
Our final stop was something completely different. Also the highest altitude in the tour, almost 3800m (12467ft). Here you will find many colonial buildings built on top of Inca ones, including a beautiful old church with Inca foundations and stunning artwork.

We arrived just as the skies began to darken and a few wayward drops fell. It looked as if the heavens were about to open, but luckily we seemed to have just missed it. The storm must have been chasing us all along and now returning back to Cusco, we circumnavigated it.

Introduction to Anis Liquor and Lasagne
On the bus trip home we had someone giving us a run down on Anis Liquor, made from anis seeds it had a wonderful licorice flavor and if they had smaller bottles or I wasn’t flying I may have taken one.

Back in Cusco, I went in search of a Korean place I had seen but it was closed. So I headed back to my old faithful, Nuna Raymi’s and decided on Lasagne. It was officially the best I have ever had, layer after layer of meat and cheese sause, I think there may have even been a noodle somewhere. And fresh Andean cheese to grate over. Spectacular.

Relax with me tomorrow as I play catch up and try avoid the Canadian.

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Posted by on January 26, 2011 in RTW, Travel, Uncategorized


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Cusco Day 10 – Saqsaywaman

Jan 15th 2011

Saqsaywaman (pronounced sexy woman)
One mile from Cusco, on the top of a hill, the remains and foundations of a colossal structure are found. Saqsaywaman or Sacsaywaman means “Satiate Falcon”. It was built over 77yrs (1431-1508) under the rule of the Inca. The Spaniards used the site as a quarry to build a cathedral, a number of temples and house and ended up dismantling most of the temple. The stones are cut and positioned with razor sharp precision and the largest weighs about 70tons.

We decided to take a taxi up and the guy seemed to give us a great deal, only 10 soles. As we drove up he said that he would wait for us for an hour and a half if we paid 20 soles. Absolutely, this guy was great…

The view was spectacular, Mark tried to get close to some Alpacas and came very close to being spat at. Due to breathing I wasn’t able to climb to the top and so just relaxed in the sun and took a nap, until a local tour guide decided to come and chat (most likely fishing for work). But it was pleasant enough. The boys ran around all over the temple and also went up the hill to where a replica of the Rio Christ overlooked the city. They were as happy as pigs in mud.

Scammed and Sick!
We finally met up again and found our taxi driver. And headed back down the hill. When we got to the plaza, our driver announced his deception “20 soles…per perosn”. I was really mad but was feeling really crappy so tried to argue and then gave up. Next time I need to remember to ask is that the total, before getting in. The boys chose a place to eat overlooking the main square and promptly ordered beer and burgers. I went to the bathroom and promptly threw up all my breakfast. It appears as if the sun combined with the altitude was a very bad combination. I drank some water said my farewells and good luck (they had the start of the Inca trail the next day), and staggered back home.

Sent to bed
When I walked in the door, Wilson the hostel manager, took one look at me and sent me straight to bed. I managed to have a quick shower and proceeded to pass out into oblivion. I believe at one point someone new came into the room and at another point I heard Wilson go “Kate?” (what he called me) and I replied with a weak “Si”, he walked off saying something like “ok you still alive”. Oh what an afternoon.

The Spaniard!!!
After about 3hrs of pure exhaustion, I started to feel a wee bit better and sat up to check email on my little netbook. My new neighbor walked in and asked how I was. His name was Guillamo (William) from Spain, he was on vacation from studying physical education. Tomorrow morning he was leaving for the Inca Trail, then Puno and Lake Titicaca and then onto the salt flats in Bolivia. We fell into an immediate comfortable discussion and after a few topics he said “With your travel lifestyle it must be hard to find a husband or boyfriend”, I stuttered a little and tried to explain and he help up his hands and said it was ok. About 10minutes later he stopped again and said “Maybe you will find your prince on this trip”… I think I swooned! He was cute, polite and there was an ease about talking with him.

When he got frustrated with trying to shove all his stuff in his bag, I came over and with a few adjustments managed to get everything in easily. He had to head out and drop off his stuff with the tour agency and I went to scavenge for left over bread in the kitchen. I met Logan, our American roommate, he was hoping to head off and do the Inca trail alone and had some fascinating stories of where he had been already. I found bread and strawberry jam and he produced some peanut butter for the makings of a feast. We saved some for Guillamo and when he got back chose a movie and relaxed. Logan was busy downstairs on the computer so Guillamo and I watched Fight Club. we were super comfortable on the couch and the personal bubble space didn’t seem to cause any issues. At one point we were both lying with our heads almost touching. There was definately some attraction, but no time to explore.

At bed time he asked to set my alarm as well just in case and we chatted a bit before he got up to switch off the light (wearing only a pair of Calvin Kline white undies). In the morning as he headed out, I woke up and said cheers, as he left he said “I hope you find your prince” and then he was gone, no photo no info, I know I swooned this time and had good dreams when I fell asleep again.

Coming up next is an intense tour day around the Sacred Valley.

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Posted by on January 26, 2011 in RTW, Travel, Uncategorized


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