Today we rode 1.5 hrs from Cusco to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. I won’t bore you again with descriptions of the magnificent natural beauty of this valley – the mountains, the river, the valley itself, let me tell you only that this kind of a place would be made a national park in the States, but not here.
Today was an alpaca day: we visited an alpaca farm, shopped at the market in Pisac for alpaca products, and had alpaca for lunch. At the market, we bought some radioactive corn – each kernel was the size of a large grape, and then some baby alpaca scarves. Baby alpaca wool products are about a third of what they would cost in the States. They also sell another fine wool here of the animal called vicuna. This animal gets shorn only twice in his lifetime, and only wool from the belly is used. You can imagine how expensive it is. Or can not. We saw some scarves locked in a case in a high-end shop, and the price was $1,000. And that was here. If the proportion is the same as with alpaca, the scarves would cost $3,000 in the US.
Jason bought a musical string instrument which had part of its body made of armadillo. Hopefully, he can smuggle it in the US (a note from the US later: he did not. I think, it’s a scam: they sell the same instrument, take it away at the customs while scaring the hell out of a bearer, and return it to the market to sell again to other unsuspecting tourists). We then visited the town of Ollantaytambo, founded in the 15th century and completed in the 17th. There, we climbed a steep hill to the Inca temple on the top and enjoyed an incredible view once again. From the ruins, we drove to the ceramics studio of the local artist Seminario http://www.ceramicaseminario.com/gallery/index.html, and bought some gorgeous cups in which I hope to serve you coffee or tea one day.
Back in Cusco, we had dinner at a restaurant called Fallen Angel housed in one of Pizarro´s homes. The guy would turned in his grave had he known what happened to his place in the 21st century. The tables were made of old fashioned bathtubs that were filled with water and live fish and covered with clear glass. The sitting was brass beds with heart-shaped red pillows and little red puffs, and the walls were decorated with all kinds of erotica. It was so bizarre that bordered on artsy.
Tomorrow, the guys are taking a train to Machu Picchu, and Lisa and I are hanging out in Cusco waiting to join our team of 11 on the Inca Trail. Lisa had a crazy idea to go paragliding over the Sacred Valley, and I was crazy enough to agree to go along. One has to overcome the very basic primal instinct of not jumping off a cliff to do that. So if you don’t hear from me tomorrow, it means I am MIA. Or the Internet at the hotel isn’t working.