17 June 2014

Peru: Day 8: The Sacred Valley

We've decided that today is the day our vacation truly began. It was, from top to bottom, excellent! An 8am pickup at our hotel had us on the road out of Cusco into the Sacred Valley, a long valley full of ancient Incan temples and very fertile soil.
We made a couple of short stops at an Incan checkpoint and a lookout, but the real first stop was at a site designed to show, from animal to gift shop, how the beautiful Incan weavings are made. We met all kinds of cameloids, saw their wool being colored, watched the wool being woven into textiles, and watched the textiles being sold to us. Except for the exit-through-the-gift-shop ending, it was really neat. We didn't buy anything, but we left a nice tip.
From then, down into the valley, up the other side, to an ancient Incan village called Pisac. Pisac, like most Incan communities, is perched high on a mountain side, lined with terraced agriculture and filled with ancient buildings. Our guide for the day Janet walked with us through a number of the structures, through watchtowers, across the terraces, and through the temples. The walk was longer than we expected, but it was stunning.
After the visit to ancient Pisac, we went down in the valley to modern Pisac, a cute town with colonial Spanish roots at the mouth of the Sacred Valley. We did a little shopping, had a snack (banana empanadas!), and headed north through the valley to lunch.
Lunch was weird. We are at an outdoor restaurant attached to a hotel. The food was dynamite, including some of the best pork I've ever had, and while we ate, there was an odd dressage show. Yes, with horses. No, the Romneys weren't involved (at least, I hope not).
From lunch, we headed further north to Ollantaytambo, which is a mountainside temple. S didn't climb it (tired, not much sleep), but J and I went to the top. Along the way, J talked about how the Incans moved large rocks from distant mountains and crafted the temple. The Incans had no written language, and shortly after the Spanish arrived, most of the Incan royalty were put to the sword. So, most of what we know now about the Incans features a not insignificant amount of guesswork. But one thing we do know is that this mountainside, which faces Ollantaytambo, has a man's face carved into it, and that carving is entirely man made.
As the sun set behind the mountains, our driver took us to our fancy hotel, where we took a swim in the heated pool as we looked at the southern stars, had a quick bite in the hotel, and then retired early.
Machu Picchu is tomorrow!

1 comment:

Sarah Olivieri said...

Gazing up at the Southern Cross & Centaurus from the heated pool tonight... Unforgettable.