I’ve got to admit that I was unaware of just what was in store today, although I knew we had selected to go in Group 1 and that included time to ‘shop’. We departed the resort around 8:30am with blue skies and a day that promised warm sunshine.
About an hour away, we started to climb abruptly. Inca ruins lace the mountainside high above the town of Pisac. Extensive terraces were used for growing maze, but also to prevent erosion, as a defensive wall and for aesthetic reasons. Buses can only go so far up and we can walk the rest of the way. Our guide describes the way the Incas used the terraces to environmentally adjust crops to grow at higher altitudes. This process took up to 100 years but now the top terraces are able to grow corn and other cereal crops.
We didn’t make it to the very top of the site but made it to 3,800 meters, over 10,000 feet. What a view of the sacred valley! Our guide, David, describes why there are so many holes in the hills across from where we stand. These holes were tombs of mummified forefathers – over 5,000 of them. They had been bound in a fetal position. We hadn’t gained that much altitude but noticed the rarefied air and the lack of oxygen. By moving slowly, and resting often, we can get by.
I couldn’t help but mention to our guide how good he is, today. His sentence structure is so good for someone who ‘learnt English on the streets of Cusco’. The information is very informative and well put making the experience and adventure in the Sacred Valley well worthwhile. Scenic contract a local travel guiding company but before the individual can guide Scenic Groups, they have to sit a special Scenic guiding Test and then must be in the top 10% of those in the company. Many say that Scenic are too expensive. Let me say that what we pay Scenic is well worth it. The care we receive, the meals, the accommodation, the local guides, the destinations, the little concerts we get from the local people, are all top-notch and we couldn’t wish for more.
At the bottom of the descent is one of the all day markets with many, many stalls. David takes us to a shop where the shopkeeper explains how to tell genuine alpaca garments from the fake ones before the ladies are ‘set loose’ in the shop and also the silverware jewellery shop next door. We made a few choice purchases and make it back to the bus discussing the fact that we need to purchase another suitcase, if you know what I mean.
Lunch got held up due to the late departure from the market but was worth waiting for. On our arrival back at the resort, Eric had been waiting an hour for us so he could bring out some trollies for the ladies to carry their purchases to the room. He is a funny guy and has made many of us laugh on many an occasion during the trip.
Tonight, our Tour Director, Roberta, described what baggage we are allowed for the next 48 hours. The rest will be shipped direct to our accommodation for the 3 nights we have in Cuzco. Tomorrow we climb the famous Machu Piichu.