A quick flight to Cusco and we landed in the tiny airport surrounded by mountains. Met by Maria and Queoma, we were driven an hour and a half to the next hotel Rio Sagrado in the Sacred Valley.
A stop off at Pisac Market gave us an opportunity to walk the cobblestoned roads and be accosted (in a friendly way!) by vendors selling their wares: weavings, carvings, scarfs and hats were some of the many gift opportunities on offer.
We ate at a local restaurant; the husband tried Alpaca Steak and a local beer, whilst I gave the Cilantro Lamb a red-hot go. Delicious! Back into the car for some more chauffeuring, I watched in amusement as my husband suffered narcolepsy – his physical inability to stay awake was quite hilarious - he claims it was a combination of jetlag, altitude sickness and a midday beer. Unfortunately he missed the guide’s many facts and stories about the areas we were driving through, including spotting the vibrant and abundant quinoa crops.
As the car slowed amongst mud brick shacks (“Adobes”) I was a little dubious about this hotel. A dirt road with a fancy sign was all I could see. Behind a mudbrick fence there was however, an oasis beyond. Collected from reception by a friendly man driving a golf cart, we were escorted to our room. The view was spectacular and the grounds immaculate.
We had an afternoon’s rest before dinner in the hotel, where the husband again braved some local fare and had guinea pig – one of Peru’s delicacies. As much as I’d like to say I was brave and adventurous, the thought of eating an animal my children have requested as a pet was too much. I ordered the bog standard chicken and rice, with a Pisco Sour flavoured with mango. Better than the Caesar salad the Americans next to us ordered (with dressing on the side – oh please!). They weren’t even trying!
The next day was a trip to Ollantaytambo: a place I will never be able to pronounce yet never forget. A fascinating Inca town 60kms from Cusco, with rocks bigger than Gibraltar, the history of the archaeological site made it all the more amazing. The sheer size of the walls was mammoth enough but knowing the Quechuan people moved these without machinery is phenomenal.
Lunch was at a tourist catered rest spot where truckloads of buses arrive with loud, white folk who all pile their plates high with food they recognise. Although I was happy to see some food without eggs, I was a little disappointed to see how Westernised the catering was. There was even “American Coffee” on the drinks list!
Back to the hotel for an afternoon of cooking lessons (for him) and massages (for me). It was hard, but I managed.
Tomorrow: Machu Picchu!