We left out in the morning on a bus bound for Awanakancha llama farm, Pisaq, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo, and finally Chinchero before heading back to Cusco for the night.
We drove for about an hour on winding roads through little villages made out of clay bricks before we reached Awanakancha, our first destination. On the ride, I remember thinking what it would be like to live and work in one of these villages. When we drove by a little Spanish church perched high on the hill, I thought of what it must be like to hike up the grassy hill to listen to Mass every Sunday in the church that must smell rich like the Earth.
Alas, Awanakancha was hidden like a pearl in a clam shell from behind one of the hills. We stopped here with insufficient time--the downfall of group trips. Before I knew it, and before I really got to befriend any of the camelids (I speak camelidae, you know).
On the bus to Pisaq it was! This was where huge mountains started sprouting from the ground before our very eyes. It was like a giant's burial ground with all the mounds touching the sky. We drove up more winding roads with no seatbelts on until we approached the Pisaq archeological site. Again, we had just enough time to climb up one of the trails before having to descend and board the bus again.
After pisaq, we drove to Urumamba to enjoy a "traditional" Peruvian buffet. I'm using scare quotes because buffets are for tourists. Nevertheless, it was good! I had a Cusqueña (Cusco beer) with my meal, and I sipped it down by the river like any good Southerner.
|The back of Tunapa Restaurant|
Soon after one of the study abroad chaperones told me to hurry and get on the bus while I was clearly walking to the bus (and I wasn't even the last one in), we left for Ollantaytambo.
Ollantaytambo's another famous archeological site. It would have been the site of a large temple for the sun god, but it went unfinished. There are huge terraces with ruins of storage facilities. When the Incan subjects payed their taxes, they'd pay using food instead of money. This food went into the storage facilitied on the sides of the mountains where it would freeze dry and keep for years.
It seemed like I had a lot more time at Ollantaytambo to go off on my own and explore. I felt like I was in a dream among all the stones and terraces. I imagined what it must have taken to build it and how the Spanish might have reacted when happening upon this site. The Incans where better architects than any of the Spanish. I came down from the mountain, literally and figuratively, and then waited to board for Chinchero.
The sun was getting lower and lower in the sky as we drove through countryside to the small village of Chinchero to see how Alpaca knits were made.
It was cold, so we all huddled together clutching to the clay mugs filled with steaming coca mate that they served us. We watched the demonstration and then descended upon the little market to buy hand knit goods. Then, the day became cloaked in night, and we boarded the buses again to reach Cusco, eat some dinner, and go to sleep.