Cusco, Ollantayambo and Pisaq - Peru

Trip Start Jun 30, 2008
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22
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Trip End Dec 31, 2009


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Sunday, October 19, 2008

We have enjoyed exploring Cusco, the most visited city in South America.

On Tuesday we walked to a local market on Avenida Ejercito. Just as we entered the market area Sabrina was spit on by someone on top of a store awning.  We busied ourselves cleaning her up and wondering why someone would do such a thing.  As we carried on down the street Raymond asked who had the camera because it was missing from the case on Sabrina's hip.   Realizing what had just happened we hurried back to where Sabrina was spit on but there were no clues as to who organized the whole robbery.  A security lady called the police for us and gave us a little lecture about being careful.  Sabrina felt excruciatingly bad about the whole thing; thinking it was her fault. It could have happened to anyone, but she was probably an easy target, it was a good wake-up call for us.  We got to ride in the police truck to the station where we gave a report, which is pretty much all you can do.  The policeman said it's not high tourist season right no so these kind of robberies happen about 3x per week.  Roland, the police officer taking our details was very nice and offered to take us to the market when Raymond mentioned he wanted to replace the camera right away.  We wanted to replace the camera ASAP so we didn't miss any photo opportunities as well as take some pressure of Sabrina's guilt.  It turned out that Raymond got the same camera we had but newer model for a very good price.

We were glad to have bought a new camera right away as this is the most picturesque area.  The following day we hiked up to Sacsayhuman, Inca ruins where there is also this humongous statue of Jesus.  It is quite a vigorous hike but worth every step when you see the view of Cusco from the top.

 The kids and I are taking Spanish lessons in the mornings.  The kids have a teacher named Veronica who is very gentle with them while encouraging them to speak Spanish. 

One of the many things we love about Peru is that we can afford to eat out (a lot).  We had stuck mainly to the pollo (chicken) restaurants that seem so popular, but finally we became a little tired of the same old thing.  After walking all over Cusco looking for something new we discovered a wonderful Peruvian restaurant right next door to our apartment.  They only serve one dish (soup & main course) for lunch and a different one for dinner but the price is always 4 soles or $1.33 and it's always tasty.

Saturday there are no Spanish lessons so we thought we would attempt a day trip to Ollantaytambo (lets hear you pronounce that!), home of some interesting Inca ruins and located in the beautiful Sacred Valley.  Getting there is a bit of an exercise in endurance as the road to Urubamba (the change bus point) is very windy.  It doesn't matter if you take a bus, van or car the switchbacks eventually get to you - best not to depart without a barf bag and travel tabs.  Fortunately for us, not one was sick but James & Monique were white as sheets by the time we got back to Cusco.

The town of Ollantaytambo is charming, surrounded by the steep slopes of the Andes, agricultural land and Inca ruins carved into the hillside.  The town itself is a good example of Inca city planning, with narrow cobblestone streets that have been continuously inhabited since the 13 century. We spent most of our time climbing up a very narrow path to the 'unpopular' ruins (with no fee to enter).  The kids loved playing in these ruins.  Monique was pretending to cook for James in one of the houses and she would have been happy to stay all day.  Later we wondered through the town and stumbled upon an Inca kitchen filled to the max with guinea pigs. The kind man gave the kids some long grass to feed them which created quite the frenzy in this kitchen.  We will never look at these little animals as just pets again.

Sunday we decided to do another day trip to the Sacred Valley, only this time to the small town of Pisaq. Their weekly market is held on Sunday and it seemed to encompass the entire town.  Monique and Sophia bought finger puppets to add to their growing collection; fortunately they are light and small for packing.  The hilltop Inca citadel lies high above the village on a triangular plateau with a plunging gorge on either side. It is an impressive structure; amazing how the Inca´s could build on the side and tops of steep mountains.  We started up the 6 km stairway and realized Monique was not going to make it and was not having fun.  As we rested on the stairway talking to some tourists we confirmed it would be too long and arduous to trek up to the ruins.  We decided to turn back and walk down in search of lunch.  I told Sabrina I would consider coming back next weekend with her and hiking the whole thing (hope I haven't bit off more than I can chew).

Sabrina has an adventurous streak that leaves us scrambling to catch up.  Monique's favourite things are all the animals we encounter; llamas, alpacas, puppies, kittens, lambs, guinea pigs, rabbits and so much more.  The restaurant where we had lunch in Ollantaytambo had an adorable little rabbit running around, I didn't have the heart to tell Monique this would likely be next week's lunch special.  I have given up on the "no touching the kittens" rule and hope the hand sanitizer will get rid of whatever needs getting rid of.  James' fav's are definitely in the food department.  He loves his daily Turbo Popsicle and chicken.  Sophia loves to shop and her food of choice is pappas fritas (French fries) remember potatoes are one of the main crops in Peru.  We are so glad that we are able to experience the world together and see their reactions to all the things that are so different than 'home'.  They take everything in stride and now travel as though this is a completely normal event.

Did you know:
- According to the Police officer that helped us when we were robbed, 40% of the officers are tour guides on their days off.  Our undercover officer works 24 hour shifts every other day.  The average officer of 10 years makes the equivalent of $67/month!!
- Last week the Peruvian Prime Minister and his entire cabinet were forced to resign over corruption charges.  Makes President Bush look  ?????
- In Central and South America a toilet seat is a luxury not a given.  Enjoy them if you can!!

hasta luego!!
 
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Comments

lesleypeter
lesleypeter on

Hello again!
The pics are great! It is fun to see you on video too, perhaps Monique can be a tour guide herself. Emma loves to watch the videos, stay warm and safe!
Love the Vaisanen's

lazyblueskies
lazyblueskies on

Happens but shouldnt
Hi team

Such a shame about the robbery. We find that even at security level 10 you are still at risk. We now are very firm with anyone who does anything even slightly out of the norm. The ketchup on the bag trick is the worst one!

We love hearing the stories from a different perspective to ours. Also you use the word 'hike' when we use the word 'taxi'.

It was a pleasure to meet you all. New blog from us soon too, eating Flamingo and Llama in Bolivia!!!

Hugs and happy travels

slimwille
slimwille on

And On You Go!
Not missing a beat! The best way to travel. Sorry to hear of your camera loss but a learning experience in the making. Thanks for sharing it!
I am as usual amazed and jealous from the accounts of your journey. Keep them coming!
Bill from the states

slimwille
slimwille on

Bush Wacked!
By the Way! The very same thing should have happened to Bush and the rest of the banditos! We are hoping for a turn around starting next Tuesday. Thanks for your patience!

stevehaley
stevehaley on

Glad you loved Peru!!
Hola Maaske family
I have just been catching up on your travels and have seen you visited the amazing places ive been to in Peru!! I fell in love with Arequipa and Ollantaytambo and the sacred valley are simply out of this world!!
I told you Peru was cheap on food and hope the kids love the Inca cola??
Sorry to hear about the illnesses and camera being stolen but it happens to us all im affraid.
Right now i am in Panama city with Dengue fever?
Less than 2 weeks left here before i fly to Cuba for my final two weeks?? Home on 22nd December?
Ok guys take care and enjoy NZ
Steve

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