Cusco, Peru

Sacred Valley

I woke up today feeling like a bad hangover has hit my head. I was just hoping this headache's caused by having not slept well last night (my mistake: I drank coca tea after dinner). Not even the marvellous view I get of Cusco as I pull the curtain of my room's window could lessen the pain.

After being served a hearty breakfast included in my $20 room rate, I waited for the pick-up service to join the Sacred Valley tour. I met the American couple Derick and Liz who were also joining the tour. I told them of my misery since arrival and when they told me that they've got some symptoms themselves, I felt at least some sense of relief that I'm not alone. I'm just afraid that my headaches won't disappear as the Inca trail trek starts tomorrow!

Sunday market in Pisac

Corn varieties at the market

Our tour brought us first to Pisac and its famous Sunday market where the Quechua people bring in their produce for everyone else to buy - whether it's coca leaves or handwoven Alpaca sweater. It's a very lively market made all the more colorful by men and women in traditional clothing who come down from mountain villages not just to buy their provisions but to attend Sunday mass as well. Thankfully, as the elevation here at Pisac (2972 meters above sea level) - and pretty much of the whole Sacred Valley area - is remarkably lower than Cusco, my nagging headache disappeared. I have this sudden feeling of wellness after two days. As I wasn't really into shopping mode (not that I forgot my friend's parting pleas before I left New York:"bring something"), I got myself a pair of mittens and chullo which I will need for the trek.

Local kids

We had buffet lunch at a huge Peruvian restaurant overlooking the Urubamba river. Obviously, many tour companies wind up here for meals as I found other tour buses parked in front of the restaurant. The long buffet table was laden with so much food and so much hungry tourists swarming around it. With my headache gone, I also felt like wanting to eat more. It was if I haven't eaten for days!

Fortress of Ollantaytambo

Our tour of the Sacred Valley resumed with a visit to the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo, 68 kilometers from Cusco. Inca Pachacutec was the leader credited with its construction. Its location is quite stunning as the fortress is hemmed in by mountains. As we clambered up a set of steep staircases alongside the terraces, the old village of Ollantaytambo unfolded before us down below. The village is a fine example of Inca urban planning where houses are arranged in enclosed blocks through grid-like streets. Atop the stairs was the unfinished Temple of the Sun. Massive stones that would have been used lie scattered in the area.


On our return to Cusco, we passed by Chincero, a village on a high plateau overlooking the Sacred Valley and is several hundred meters higher than Cusco. My headaches returned (ouch!) but that didn't deter me from observing the colorful Sunday market just next to an impressive 17th century church with very beautiful frescoes. The Spanish conquistadores actually built this church on the foundations of an Inca temple similar to what they did at Coricancha in Cusco.

As soon as we reached Cusco, I went to Andean Life's office again, this time to meet my guide and the group of other trekkers I will be joining with. Even with my headaches, I felt emboldened with the trek as I see that the oldest member of our group is a 72-year-old Swede! Luis introduced himself as our main guide with Manuel assisting him. We were given our sacks where we will put our personal stuff for our porters to carry in the next 4 days. There are 15 of us trekkers (Americans, British, Swedes, Russians and a Pinoy) with 2 guides, 1 cook and 20 porters, all in all a sizable team for the trek that starts tomorrow. Headache or no headache, I'm ready!

La Compania de Jesus

I passed by the Plaza de Armas on my way back to Hostal Amaru and even at night, this area is full of people. You know right away that Cusco is a trekker's homebase: there are plenty of trekking agencies within the plaza's perimeter vying for attention. Fashion in this part of the world is not dictated by Prada and Louis Vuitton; rather the gringos are clad in North Face jackets and Gore-Tex boots ambling down the plaza still muddied from the day's trek. Tonight, the two churches fringing the plaza looks pretty, standing tall like sentinels on a night duty, guarding the not-so-sleepy Plaza de Armas.

1 comment:

  1. The picture of La Compania de Jesus reminded me of the church in Vigan

    Baye Maniago @Travellingchic.com


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...