On the road to Yucay

Trip Start Aug 05, 2005
Trip End Aug 21, 2005

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I get everything out the door on time and head down for breakfast. There's not too many folks at this hour after the mobs other mornings. It's been hard to find a chair. I end up checking the big bag plus the large back pack. It's really tough to be cut back on clothes when this is supposedly when we will want the most layers. The sun is very bright as usual but the air is very cool. I'm bundled up to start the day.

We drive along- past villages all in chocolate adobe with their little icon groups on the the roof. The hills show terracing at impossible heights and angles.

Our first stop is outside Pisac where we can see first hand the great terraces. This was once an Inkan village- remnants of the residential area are still standing. The majority of the group head off for a 1.5 hours trek. Some sick ones stay in the bus. The trek is described as involving "precipices" so I back out. About 4 of us do our own mini-tour- staying in the residential ruins. A young man dressed in the colorful Inkan gear entertains us with a solo concert on panpipes. The surrounding hills act as a natural amphitheater, echoing his haunting music. At first we're not even sure where he is but then we spot him on the trail below. Eventually our hour is up and we return- through the vendors- to the bus. We're able to buy a CD from the flutist, so now I have two.

The bus takes us to the lower parking lot- filled with vendors- where the hikers catch up with us. Then its a quick drive into Pisac market for a potty stop- and of course shopping. I pick up 2 more CD's. We stop for lunch at a hacienda converted to tourist lunch stop. It's a beautiful building- very high ceilings- and a collection of art and pottery. The garden is beautiful- set up the hill so the view of the lovely river valley is displayed. We're entertained during lunch by several cages of parakeets. Afterward, Linda frolics in the courtyard with 2 puppies- so she and Tom feel right at home!

Then it's on to Ollantaytambo- the staring point for the Inkan trail hike- and the spectacular Inkan building into the hillside. It's about 200 steps up per the book. And these are not nice even steps. So I contemplate again not joining the group, but in the end I do- telling myself I can turn around at any time (sure!)

It's after 4 and the sun is behind the hill. The wind picks up and it's gotten pretty cool- and I've left my fleece on the bus, so I'm quit chilled. And up and up I go. We reach one level where a temple was going to be built but was never finished. It's right at the edge of the hill and the wind is really whipping around. I make it all the way across the face and then begin the very slow process of coming down- one step at a time. I feel quite elated- but exhausted- when I finally reach the bottom and look back up the stairway. We manage quite a cheer for ourselves when we all finally reach the bottom.

Back to the bus- running the gamut through a market place filled with vendors. But out day isn't done yet. We stop at a local establishment to try "chafe" (?) the Inkan beer made from corn. The hostess pours out 3 goblets- very large size- with foamy tops. We pass around 2 while Jose finishes off the third by himself. It's very sour- like an apple cider starting to turn- but I could probably develop a taste for it. Jose says the Peruvians have a problem with alcoholism so I guess they've developed a taste for it. It seemed like quit a few houses had the flag pole and red "flower" posted above the doorway that advertises a fresh brew ready to drink. After checking out the guinea pig "farm" and playing the local coin toss game, we're back on the bus in the dark to head for the hotel. There's a beautiful full moon out tonight.

We arrive at the hotel which is something like a compound of buildings including shops, restaurant and chapel. The road outside is lined with vendors in full regalia. More pipe music enjoyed over our ritual Pisco sours- and I buy another CD. A bit of a novelty for dinner- alpaca. Seemed a little tough to me. And hard to forget the cute alpacas we saw today.

I forgot to mention the visit to the llama/alpaca ranch. We had lots of fun hand feeding them all. They had several women in full regalia- carding, spinning, dying and weaving. And a terrific store loaded with rugs, sweaters, etc. I buy a cute little bear covered with a deep layer of fluffy baby alpaca fur- he can snuggle with me to keep me warm. He's very soft and cuddly- reminds me of Beau- my Maine Coon back home.

Very late morning tomorrow so I can sleep in late. The room is like a rustic cabin. And a bit on the chilly side....
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