It’s a rainy Christmas Eve in Cusco. The last week took Cameron and I for a few day adventure through the Sacred Valley as we awaited the arrival of our first visitor- my 15 year-old cousin Dustin. We went to Pisac, a small new age community with a touristy Sunday market and beautiful Inca ruins overlooking the valley.
We spent Sunday night in Chinchero, another set of ruins contrasted against a beautiful colonial church. Chinchero turned out to be the peak of our adventure. I say peak instead of highlight, because although it’s funny to look back on it, it wasn’t all laughs at the time. The Peru Lonely Planet we have been traveling with is a bit outdated, but has worked great for the most part, supplemented when possible with handwritten notes from fellow travelers. Supposedly Chinchero had a nice simple hotel with a cafe overlooking the plaza. After getting in a heated discussion with the tourist guards over whether or not we had to pay to walk up the hill to the plaza, (we even tried a back road and the poor guard came chasing after us up the hill), we discovered that he had been right- there was no hotel at the plaza, and yes, we were supposed to pay to enter. We apologized and wandered back toward the highway looking for a place to stay. It soon became evident that there was no hotel, per se, but we did get directions to inquire at the corner shop about a room. I should add that because Sunday is the big market day, Sunday afternoon, after the market winds down, is the equivalent to our Friday night happy hour. The streets were lined with market vendors in their traditional dress, sloshing beer around the sidewalk. Walking into the corner store involved finding our way around 5 local men camped out in the tiny store doorway sharing their 1.1 liter
bottles of beer. (Yes, 1.1 liters in one bottle. Cameron was very excited.) We made our way to the lady in charge and after considering for a moment, she decided that yes, she did have a room available. We followed her up some very dark and smelly stairs in the back on the store to the top floor where we waited as she changed the sheets in the room. The bathroom lacked running water, but what can you really expect for $5 dollars/night. As we soon learned, what you can expect are spiders. Lots of them. Oh, and another minor detail- being the smart cookie that I am, I forgot to bring my wonderful life saving antidepressant pills on the trip with us- so I was 2 days into withdrawal. poor poor Cameron. Not only having to be in charge of killing gigantic spiders invading our room, but also having to deal with a moody and anxious girlfriend curled up on th bed! He deserved that 1.1 liters of beer after that night. Unfortunately, it didn’t help him sleep much and he woke up all night long frantically brushing imaginary spiders off his head. Needless to say we were excited to leave Chinchero the next morning.
We finished off the trip with a visit to Moray, the awesome Inca amphitheater style terracing, and a hike through the mountains to see the salt mines of Salinas. It’s theorized that Moray was built into this deep terraced hole in order to plant test crops- to figure out at what altitude certain crops grew best. The photos don’t even come close to doing the depth of this site justice.
Then Dustin arrived! Dustin is my very awesome 15 year old cousin from Boulder, CO who was given this chance to make his first Latin America trip and come spend Christmas with us. We were so excited to have him- there is nothing like sharing our passion for Latin America and helping someone fall in love with this amazing place. And Dustin is so open to it all- it’s been such a treat to have him here. (Plus he brought us gifts of gluten free christmas treats!) We’ve spent the last couple days exploring Cusco, visiting the surrounding ruins, and today we had a very special Christmas Eve of Zip Lining through the valley after scaling a mountain on the Via Ferrata. Via Ferrata is a set of ladder like iron steps stuck into the mountain. It originates from Europe where it was used during wars for armies to climb cliffs and come up with sneak attacks. Now it’s used as a sport. We scaled 1300 feet up the cliff side- amazing and scary!
Now we are off to a rainy Cusco plaza to wander town and enjoy a traditional Peruvian dinner treat. Whole roasted guinea pig (Cuy) with some Inka Cola and Pisco Sour on the side. mmmmmmm.
Merry Christmas to everyone. We miss you all, especially on this rainy Christmas Eve. Thank you for staying in touch and for everyone’s support and love. We can feel it all the way down here.
Amor y Paz de Peru!!!!!!