Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tour of the Sacred Valley

FROM From October 25th!
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For the second part of the Boleto, the full tour of the Sacred Valley, I did a tour with a local tour company here in Cusco. Recovering from the Halloween party the night before, I had to wake up early for the 8:30 am departure. Once we were all on the bus we headed out for the first site in the valley, Pisac. On the way we stopped at a little market basically to encourage us to buy from these local artisans, they also had llama’s and alpaca’s at the market who were being fed by the most adorable young girl, who I took a picture with- also on facebook. We arrived in Pisac at the market, which only occurs on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. The market was gigantic, and with only a 30 minute stop I couldn’t see nearly all of it, but the handicrafts, especially the jewelry, clothing, and blankets! After the market we headed to the Pisac archaeological site which was overwhelming. I had no idea it was going to be so expansive. The only way to explain it is with the pictures, but even they don’t do it justice. I heard some call it a “mini- Machu Picchu”, we hiked for about 20 minutes to the temple of the sun and religious sector of the ruins, and had some time on our own to explore there before heading back. Pisac is said to be set up in the shape of a Puma, like the city of Cusco. After Pisac we stopped in Urubamba (actually it was outside of the town) for lunch at a very expensive buffet, which was not included in the tour. So two others on the tour and I decided to make the most of the 45 minutes we had there and rush into town on motor-bikes, find a nice cheap menu place to eat in the actual town, and actually have a few minutes to walk around and see the main plaza and surrounding area of this sacred valley town.

After Urubamba we ventured on to Ollantaytambo at the edge of the sacred valley. As you climb up the ruins there you get a fantastic view of the town of Ollantaytambo, and also the king carved into the mountain. There is what very much resembles a man’s face carved into the mountain with a crown on his head. Of course it could very well be a coincidence except that they say it was supposed to represent the God of the Sun, and every single year at the winter solstice the sun shines directly on his face, which our guide explains is why they carved it in that spot. Legend has it that the white bearded god Viracocha entered the town, and blessed the people, and they honored him by carving his profile into the nearby mountains.

On our way back to Cusco we stopped at sunset at the small site of Chinchero, where we saw a small but beautiful church, and I had a few minutes finally to purchase some local handicrafts. Chinchero means town of the rainbows in Quechua and got it’s name because it is the fabled birthplace of the rainbow. We arrived back in Cusco at around 7:30 pm, just in time for me to watch the Sunday night football game at a sweet British bar.☺.

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