Thursday, June 30, 2016

Peru Trip: Cusco Part II

The night I arrived back to Cusco from Macchu Picchu, I met up with my sister and brother in law who had been acclimating in Cusco for a day. We made plans for the next day to go to Pisac which is another Incan ruin about thirty minutes out of town. After my experience at Macchu Picchu the day before, I figured off the beaten path may be a good thing.

We met up that next morning, got in a collectivo and headed over. The ride there wasn't quite as picturesque as the one to Ollyantaytambo but it also wasn't as long especially as this driver seemed to accelerate around each turn.

A thing to note about collectivos to Pisac. They drop you off at the town which is about five miles away from the ruins. We found out later you can hike up to them but we instead took a taxi (21 sole) to them. As we approached the gate I nervously saw another huge line like the one for the bus up to Macchu Picchu but luckily this was just for the unlucky souls who hadn't already purchased the boleto touristico (tourist ticket). Our taxi brought us right past them all and dropped us by the entrance.

Pisac is cool because, in addition to the agricultural terraces on the steep hills(which increased the amount of growing than would have otherwise been available to them), it is thought to have served as the southern fortress guarding the sacred valley. Ollantaytambo was the northern fortress so it was interesting to see how the two utilized their natural environments to create protection.

Pisac while not as big as Macchu picchu also didn't have its crowds and it was nice for the three of us to explore without being whistled at for going the wrong way. In all it was definitely worth it. And that was before we discovered the trail back down to town.

As I said I am somewhat glad my brother Matt didn't come because of the bees and heights and this was another instance of that. The trail tapered so that it was probably only a foot or two wide with a big drop at one side. Having Marilyn there was nerve wracking as I kept a hyperviligent eye on her.
Yes. I know I am going to be a helicopter parent. So what?

The other nerve wracking aspect was that we weren't sure this trail went anywhere. So as we descended we became more and more aware of how steep the high back up would be if it just ended.
Despite these fears, we couldn't help but be in awe of our surroundings. The mountains alone were spectacular and we soon came along some of the hillside terraces, which you cannot really appreciate until you are alongside them and realize just how big they are. In fact it took us a while to realize we were even walking down them for a while until we looked back and saw what we had been traversing.
We eventually made it down successfully and got plopped right in the midst of a market. After some browsing, and a frosty beverage we took a taxi to our next stop on our way back to Cusco:Tambomachay.

Tambomachay was the first in a series of four ruins that can all be seen in a 8k hike to Cusco. You get dropped off at the furthest, Tambomachay, and hike back into town hitting all four.

That was originally our plan for the day but we lumped in Pisac too. Which was certainly worthwhile as it was amazing but it definitely made it and the next one Pukapukara, a little underwhelming.  It was still nice to see them but just did not compare to Pisac. So much so that we decided to skip Saqsayhuaman to save it for another day.

All told we probably walked close to 10 miles between all the ruins we explored.

But our day was not yet done!

A good thing about being in Peace Corps is that your siblings all treat you as the vagrant in the family and refuse to let you pay for anything. I know I should have some pride and refuse this but frankly it is nice. At least on vacation. So even though Matt couldn't come he still paid for my train to/from Macchu Pichu and the entry. He also tried paying for my hotel but I drew the line there. Now Marilyn and her Matt were treating me to dinner. And this was not like the 7 sole lunches I had been having. In fact, we went to a very highly starred restaurant in which I had probably the best meal I have had in the last year. Amazing. So much so that Marilyn has four little holes in her hand from where my tines hit when she tried taking a bite of my meal. That may or may not be true. A great bottle of Peruvian wine topped off probably my best day on the whole trip.

We did end up going to Saqsayhuaman another day but I will save that for another blog.

Until next time,


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