Exploring The Ruins of Pisac and Ollantaytambo
We had arranged our Cusco/Sacred Valley travels with Sofia Barreda. She was quick to respond to my e-mails and took our preferences and suggested a good itinerary including a guide and a driver. We set off the next morning with David Ramos whom we had requested as he has been highly praised on tripadvisor. We spent the morning at Pisac exploring the ruins first. There was a good amount of walking in the bright, hot sun making this a good warm-up for the days to come.
David took us to a local restaurant for lunch where I had the traditional lomo saltado and Sherri some vegetarian dish. It wasn’t crowded there so I don’t think all the big tourist buses stop there. It must be obligatory for someone to play a big-ass harp while you eat. Of course it is good etiquette (or karma) to tip. Afterwards, we perused the Pisac market. It wasn’t very crowded since it was a Tuesday (Sunday is THE day to go there). Sherri was able to buy some nice replica Moche pottery pieces that she had been coveting.
Next stop was Ollantaytambo. The sheer size of the stones was magnificent. It boggles the mind how well much effort was spent moving these gigantic stones from a distant mountain and assembling them to such a perfect fit. Unfortunately, the Incans never finished this fort and the Spanish dismantled some of it to build a church. After sucking air on our way to the top, we got a great view of the setting sun casting shadows on the opposing mountain.
David then took us into a traditional Peruvian home in the town. One item hanging from the ceiling immediately caught my attention—the dried llama fetus. Somehow I don’t think they sell those at my local Walmart. I thought about trying to procure one as a souvenir, but I think it would be an issue getting through customs. There were also a bunch of guinea pigs freely roaming around the house. If only they knew their ultimate fate, they’d make a break for the open door.
We made it back to Cusco for our Llama Path briefing for the Inca Trail. Since this was peak season, we were surprised to hear that there would be only 5 people in our trekking group. Three had already dropped out for various reasons. Our guide was Raulito (Raul), a twenty-something year-old former porter already with 7 years of experience as a guide. We also were joined by single-mother Jackie from Miami and Amy and Steve, a couple who had quit their software sales jobs to travel the world for a year. After the meeting, we wanted to grab a quick bite for dinner as it was already late and we had to pack. There was no street food in the main tourist areas and all the restaurants were full service seating. With great reluctance and embarrassment, we ended up at McDonald’s. It was sad to see the place packed with so many tourists. I just don’t understand why people travel so far and eat the same junk food that you can find at home. Maybe they had to pack too.