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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sacred Valley

We woke up early again this morning, but not quite as early. Vani had breakfast ready for us when we came downstairs, a simple spread of bread and meats. She then walked us to the bus station and sent us into town.

Once we arrived in Cuzco, we headed towards the Plaza de Armas where we waited for Urias's friend who had booked our trip for us. She showed up fifteen minutes past eight o'clock, and walked us to the next bus, which she had asked to wait for us. As soon as we boarded we were on our way.

Our first stop on our way through the Sacred Valley was Pisaq. There we wandered through the market, and found a hill that looked out over the small town. After taking a few pictures there we hurried back to the bus.

After the town of Pisaq, we drove up the mountain side to the ruins of Pisaq, where we took pictures of the ancient Incan terraces. Our guide explained that all that is left of the Inca empire is the temples and the places where the rulers lived. Their caste system dictated where they could live, the upper classes living higher on the mountain, the lower in the valleys.

From there we drove through the rain, through a green Yosemite, to our lunch destination. We were split up into smaller groups to eat lunch at various restaurants. Carlos and I were sent to a buffet that offered typical Peruvian dishes such as yucca, anticuchos, ceviche, and papas fritas. We were also offered pisco sour, the national beverage of Peru.

After an hour for lunch, and several trips to the buffet, we met back up with our group and headed on to our final destination for the day, Ollantaytambo. At least, that's where we think we are. The truth is we don't even know. Carlos has asked several people where we are, and we can't understand anyone when they try and tell us. But we're here, wherever here is, somewhere in the Sacred Valley. Here, we climbed the ruins in this small town, which our guide described as a living piece of the Inca empire, and were amazed by the scenery, refreshed by the rain, and warmed by the sun.

Around 4:00 our bus left us here, and the plan had been to take the train to Aguas Calientes tonight at 7:00. But that's not the way things work for Carlos and I. That is, they never go quite according to plan. We got a call from Urias, who told us that something had gone wrong with our train tickets, or that the system had backed up, and we wouldn't be able to leave until tomorrow morning at 5:00 am at the earliest. So, as our bus pulled out of town, we began looking for a hostel for the night.

We were lucky to find one quickly. We're staying just off the main square, in a room with two beds, hot water, free internet, and all for S/. 50, which translates into English to about $20. Considering the other few places we looked were asking three times that, we're doing pretty good.

Tomorrow, if all goes according to our new plan, we'll leave wherever it is we are and head to Machu Picchu. Words can't express how excited we are.

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