Friday, February 26, 2010

Michael Meets Peru, Part III

After last night's guinea-pig detour, I owe you an update on the second half of Michael's visit. It's been a busy week!

On Wednesday, we took full advantage of our boleto turistico, a mega-ticket that allows access to most of the sites around Cusco. (Bonus: During February, it's half price.) We started at Sacsayhuaman, an Inca fortress/temple with impressive zig-zag walls and a great view of the city. Then, after lunch, we took a taxi out to Tambomachay (pictured), the ruins of ceremonial Inca baths. This was a small site, but it was peaceful, and I liked listening to the flow of water through streams and still-working Inca aqueducts.

When we left Tambomachay, we hit a small snag -- not a taxi, bus or combi in sight, and no way to get back to Cusco. So, Michael got to experience Peruvian hitch-hiking: Just wait for the next bus or combi to drive by, and flag it down. We easily caught a bus to our next destination, Q'enko, a cave containing a ceremonial Inca altar.

After a full day of "ruining," it was time for my regular Wednesday evening activity, the Projects Abroad pub quiz in Urubamba. Oh, how I love the pub quiz! My team won last week, so this week Henry and I were in charge of writing the questions. Michael jumped right in and helped lead his team to victory, answering questions about movies, sports and even Shakespeare. He also tried Inca Kola, a popular local soda, and said it tastes like cream soda. (Maybe, but I can't stand it.)

On Thursday, we went a bit farther afield to Moray, a unique Inca site featuring concentric circular terraces. Each terrace has a unique atmosphere, so historians theorize that Moray served as a sort of agriculture research lab for the Incas. It's also reported to have a unique "energy," but we hiked most of the way down, and I can't report any unusual vibes.

We also visited Salinas, a collection of open-air salt mines that cascade down the valley like a giant wedding cake. The mines have been in use since Inca times, and each plot is passed down from generation to generation. We didn't see anyone working, but the mines themselves are an awesome sight. We bought some salt, too, so we'll have to see whether it tastes any different.

Last night, as you know, we celebrated Michael's last Cusco dinner with traditional guinea pig. (I had paella instead.) Today, however, we only had time for breakfast, packing and a quick lunch before sending Michael on his way home.

On one hand, it was hard to see Michael go, and it will be difficult to adjust back to my normal Peruvian life. On the other hand, I'm now beginning the final leg of my journey -- one week of traveling with other volunteers and three weeks of teaching in local schools. The first two-thirds of the trip have gone so quickly, and in the blink of an eye I'll be packing my bags for home.

1 comment:

  1. Ashley

    It sounds like you're having a wonderful time and you aren't missing any of the fascinating archaeological ruins in the area. My wife and I (who were there less than a year ago) thrill to your adventures.

    Any chance you can pop in a say hi to a friend in Pisac? She lost her job due to recent devastating rains. Let me know (

    Vicente Mahoney

    p.s. I think Inka Cola tastes more like liquid bubble gum than cream soda. haha