I didn’t want to start writing about my trip to Peru with the boring flight from SF to Lima, but the flight itself was a bit of an adventure. My friend Amelia and I left SF at about 1:00 am. I (we) slept most of the way to El Salvador, luckily our overstay at the Salvador airport didn’t last more than 45 minutes. Once in Lima, we spent the night at a hotel literally across from the Lima airport. We had to get up at 4 am the next morning in order to get our flight that would take us to Cusco, our last destination, well, almost our last, because our final destination was the Town of Pisac, which takes about 45 minutes to get there. Well, back to Lima, and next day, we got our sorry selves up at 3:45 in the morning to get ready to take our next flight to Cusco. After having breakfast, we dragged our luggage (and ourselves) to the airport just to find out that our flight was going to be delayed until 10 am! Grrrrrrrrr! I was furious and soooo tired! We grabbed our luggage (once again) and went back to the hotel. They where so nice to give us our room back , and I was so happy to have it back too. Of course, all that I was thinking about was going back to bed. Well, let me tell ya, waking up again was the hardest thing to do. Finally we went back (again ) to the airport. The flight from Lima to Cusco takes about an hour and the views are breathtaking.
I felt more reinvigorated once we got to Cusco, although I could feel the 11,200 feet of altitude right away.
We got an expensive tourist priced taxi to get to the Town of Pisac. I realized right there that in that area every taxi driver will give you a different price, but If you are a tourist, they nail you with high prices. We didn’t have much of an option, because we were dragging a bit of luggage with us, and frankly we were very tired too, so we didn’t bargained at all. Plus I was getting a little bit of a headache from the altitude. Nonetheless, I was very happy and excited to be there. On our way to Pisac we passed herds of sheep and alpacas grazing at the edge of the road. I was so excited to see them in their native land, grazing freely along the highway. From time to time the taxi driver had to stop to let the cows cross the road.
The Town of Pisac is located at a lower altitude than Cusco, so I could feel that my headache was going away. Pisac is famous for its market on Sundays, but it is easy to find the locals selling their crafts on the streets every single day. The cobblestone and narrow streets are fun and wonderful to explore and a great place to find all sorts of crafts. Of course I was more attracted towards the knitted and woven items for sale, but everything seemed very interesting. People, crafts, life and even the smells played a great roll like a kaleidoscope of colors and forms moving and changing constantly before my eyes.
The next day we got into a local taxi that charged us about 3 soles which is the equivalent of $1.50, and went back to Cusco. We had a wonderful day exploring every single store in the San Blas area. The place has a uniqueness of its own. Narrow streets, interesting shops, and has a boho, easy-going feeling. I spotted a woman working on embroidering a hand knitted chullo. After buying something from her I asked her if I could take a picture and she agreed.
This hat was probably knitted with nothing else but wires. Later on during a trip I visited a museum with a great exhibition of garments from different villages of the area and I saw a hat in progress like this one being knitted with thin wires.
We walked towards the Plaza de Armas which means the Army Square (Huacaypata in Quechua) and enjoyed the view of the magnificent Cathedral.
While walking the San Blas area I stumbled upon this girl and her alpaca pet and probably was waiting for tourists to take pictures of her for a few soles. I asked her if I could take a picture of her and she did this gracious pose for me .
After I took the picture, I gave her a dollar and I noticed that she was disappointed. I asked her why and she said that she wanted two soles, not a dollar. I tried to explain to her that a dollar was more money than the two soles, but she didn’t want the dollar. She was only happy after I gave her the two soles that she was requesting. One dollar is the equivalent of 2.80 soles approximately. They were other tourists there containing their laugh about the funny situation I was getting into. I suspected they probably got into the same situation a few minutes earlier than me and were waiting for another unaware tourist (like me) to come and observe the situation. After talking to them, my suspicion proved right.
Cusco is a magnet for artists from all over the world. These people have made of Cusco their home and their source of inspiration. One store that drew my attention for the uniqueness of the designs was Hilo owned by a designer for Ireland whose name I don’t recall. The style of their designs has a steampunk flavor. The hand made clothing combines different textures and colors made with lace, hardware and leather, arranged in a way that doesn’t seem out of line at all.
I wish I had met the designer but it was nice to talk to the girl in charge of running the store.
Back to Pisac I took pictures from my bedroom of the surrounding mountains. Above the house from my window I could see the Pisac Ruinst that I was going to visit the next day.
We got up early in the morning and we headed towards downtown. The locals where selling food and I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying their famous Choclo which is nothing but an oversized corn on the cob on steroids. I think I have never seen corn this big before.
I had my corn with the chicha morada which is a traditional drink made of corn. They also have a version of a fermented chicha, but I didn’t dare to try before climbing the ruins.
The size of the kernels are half the size of my thumb. Eating one of these makes a whole meal. After eating my Choclo we started our way up to the ruins. We claimbed very slow because of the altitude. I would take my time going up the stairs, but it was well worth the effort. The view of the town and mountains was beautiful. The temperature also dropped a bit once we reached the top.
This last picture shows the terraces used (yes still in use) by the locals to grow food. They were created by the Inca by hauling top soil from the lower lands (Wikipedia) probably on top of their backs.
This tale will continue probably tomorrow…
“It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone and come back, I’ll find it at home.”