September 27th (Day 8), Hotel Taypikala Cusco
We woke up in the morning with no apparent symptoms of altitude sickness. Our guide was waiting for us - by the time we had wrapped up our breakfast - and then she did it to us. I wonder how we did not see it coming. All tourist guides have some kind of an arrangement with a semi-entertainment-semi-commercial establishments where they "take" you sometime during the day. It happened to us right at the beginning and come to think of it, was not too bad.
The cottage industry showed us the difference between Alpacas and Llamas, allowed us to feed and ride the Alpacas, got us to get our hands dirty dying wool and showed the knitting skills of native women. It gave us some fabulous photo opportunities and we escaped without buying anything. So I guess, we took them.
Cusco is often looked at as a mere launching pad to Machu Picchu as people are too eager to get on that train. I strongly suggest you spend a minimum of two days here. We opted for the Pisac ruins especially since it is Thursday today.
A serpentine road along Rio Urubamba is laced with mountains wearing ancient agricultural terraces - an ingenious way to create flat plantable land out of otherwise tumbling slopes. Pisac is definitely not a fortress. Terraces for growing food, citadel, an astronomical site for measuring season, a cemetery in the cliff side, at most this is a fall back place in times of a siege. The Pisac ruins are firmly entrenched in my mind for a totally different reason. As we walked the trails, we were followed by a native selling Peruvian flutes. For the duration of our stay there, he stayed within an earshot, invisible, playing a haunting melody. The music added a dimension to the place.
This is Tantana Marka. The holes in the cliff is where Inka have buried their dead in the hills. This is the largest cemetery in Peru and has not been excavated at all.
The cemetery is on a different hill and requires quite a hike to reach. We skipped it. For another day.
We then headed to the Pisac village