Sacred Valley of the Incas

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
Trip End Dec 03, 2009

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Flag of Peru  , Cusco,
Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our group decided to take a private tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas on the way to Ollantaytambo where we start the Inca Trail from.

From Cusco we passed a large Inca ruins site called Saqsayhuaman (pronounced funnily enough as "sexy woman"), we didn't stop, but could see it from the road and we took some pictures. Then we took a detour up to a GAP local community project where GAP sponsors and helps a community called Ccaccaccollo where the women take alpaca wool and weave clothing and items to sell and GAP hires the men from the village to work as porters on the Inca trail. It was interesting to see the process from shearing the alpacas to dyeing and spinning the wool to weaving and creating the garments. We also had a fun time playing soccer with the small boys in the village while we were waiting for some of our group to bargain and buy some items from the women.

Then we headed to the town of Pisaq where we saw another Inca ruin site and we walked around there for an hour or so learning about how the Incas lived and how they were farmers and very religious, and performed their sacrifices of animals and humans also when the weather was bad or not normal for the season. The site was pretty amazing and our guide was great at explaining how the site was used when the Incas lived there. In the town of Pisaq we had lunch in a local restaurant where we enjoyed some local dishes such as quinoa soup (the Andean grain) and trout and a local drink made from barley. The Sacred Valley is a prime agriculture site where they grow barley (for Cusquena beer!) and many varieties of corn and potatoes. In Pisaq they also have a large handicrafts market where Dave and I bought some presents for family (you’ll have to wait to find out!)….

From Pisaq we visited a local cuy (guinea pig) breeder, who breeds them for eating. Cuy is a local delicacy. We picked up a couple of guinea pigs to bring with us on the Inca Trail so that our cook could prepare them and we could all try some… sounds disgusting, but when in Rome…

We also tried a local beverage that they make here from corn maize, called chichya. It wasn’t delicious, but it wasn’t bad… a lot of people here drink it as a daily drink and a remedy for internal health problems (such as kidney stones and lung problems).

Our last stop was in Ollantaytambo, where we were spending the night. We visited the large Inca agricultural site that is right in the town and is built up the side of a mountain. It was mostly used for agriculture, which is known by the terraces along the mountain-side where they grew corn and potatoes. What was also interesting about this site is that it wasn’t ever finished by the Incas before the Spanish invaded, so there are huge slabs of rock that the Incas carried from a quarry about 4 kms away and up the side of the mountain that are still in the places where they just dropped them and ran to the other Inca sites further away where they hid from the Spanish. It is amazing to see the size of these rocks that they were in the middle of cutting and carrying and then installing into a temple site.

After visiting this site our tour guide for the day, Carlos, left us and we headed to our hotel for our last night in a comfy hotel with a bed and hot shower before the Inca Trail the next morning!
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