Hiram Bingham and back to Cusco - Peru Instalment Six

I really have dragged out this 10-day Peruvian adventure into months of hanging on the edge, haven’t I? It’s a ploy to keep you interested. Is it working?

It’s very strange this whole blogosphere thing. You are having a one-sided, essentially silent conversation with trillions of people (okay, three people, Hi to VanessaM again).

I digress.

After mounting that swearword of a mountain and completing our stay at Inkaterra, we boarded the luxury train to return to Cusco. This time we had a table for two (last trip was a foursome) which would have been lovely and romantic had the effects of the husband’s evening explosions followed by a mountain hike not completely drained him of energy. As the kind and empathetic wife that I am, I was scoring his company out of 10. For that train trip, he managed a 2. Dozing, not eating the gourmet meal set in front of him (this is significant given this man has the nickname “Gourmet Nick”), not managing a Pisco Sour (free, included in the trip), barely standing as we watched the onboard band, unable to converse or even stare into his wife’s eyes. 

Me, staring lovingly out the window

Me, staring lovingly out the window

There was a rowdy English tour group on board that I couldn’t quite decide if they were exceptionally irritating, or if I was just jealous they were drunk and having so much fun.

I started to feel a little queasy myself as the train rocked through the night along the tracks back to Cusco. Disappointed we were unable to make the most of this luxury train experience, which we’d be unlikely to ever repeat, I tried downing a wine or two as Gourmet Nick dozed. Then I scrolled through photos on my phone, first of us climbing the Putukusi beast, then back through Machu Picchu. Eventually I was sliding into the dangerous territory of photos of the kids. That was the one time I really missed them. Playing videos of them talking and laughing was the colossal downfall - then the tears started.

A pep talk to myself about how this was the trip of a lifetime, how they were having a ball at home with the grandparents, and how it would be all over and back to groundhog day before I knew it, were enough to buoy the spirits. I was also interrupted by a guest we’d stayed with at one of the hotels, who had ignored us through every breakfast and dinner but somehow recognised us on the train.

He was from California. His face was pulled back tight and had a shiny appearance to it. His body belittled his face – an elderly walk mismatched his youthful surgery.

He stopped to chat – mostly about himself. Some Americans I’ve met in my travels intrigue me. When asked, “Where are you from?” they answer with the town and state they live in – “San Antonia, Texas” “Los Angeles, California”. I find this arrogant. They make an assumption that everyone should know that firstly, they are American, and secondly, that the rest of the world has studied all the states of America. I don’t answer “Melbourne”, I say “Australia”. If someone then goes on to ask where in the country specifically, I offer more details. I never hear a British person saying they’re from West Kensington, or a German saying they’re from Hesse.

Anyway, Mr California told me he’s a property developer who moves between LA and New York. He mostly plays golf and travels (and seems to have a lot of “work” done but don’t tell him I told you). Nice job if you can get it. I contemplated sucking up to him to see if I could someday come and visit him in New York but then realised I couldn’t stand spending more than ten minutes with him. That, and the fact it would be very rude to self-invite particularly when I’ve just bagged an entire race for being arrogant in their introductions.

We were collected at Cusco by the lovely Maria who drove us to our final hotel, the amazing Hotel Monasterio.

Hotel Monasterio Courtyard

Hotel Monasterio Courtyard


The Sacred Valley, Peru (Instalment Three)

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.

Room with a view. Rio Sagrado, Sacred Valley.

Room with a view. Rio Sagrado, Sacred Valley.


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!

Source: http://www.kylieorr.com/blog/