Day 1: Pisac Ruins and the sacred valley

So now I’m finally going to stop babbling and get to the real reason I’m writing this–so I remember later on. 🙂

We got picked up at the airport and after another brief stop to buy more coca cough drops and Kleenex, we were off to the sacred valley.

First stop Písac Incan ruins.


You can look up the history and all that in the link to the wiki page but holy shit those agricultural terraces are crazy interesting. Our guide Arturo mentioned today that–at least at the ones we saw today–that the Incans were doing agricultural experimentation and that modern day scientist discovered over 50 different kinds of plants from around the region in just one terrace. They were experimenting with growing different crops at different altitudes and trying to adapt them (even if they came from the Amazon basin). Really interesting stuff.

Inca Písac is pretty cool. I mean the market is like any other market in any other tourist place except obviously with locally produced goods–so lots of alpaca themed toys, polished stones from the mountain turned into jewelry, llama and alpaca clothing and scarves, kids charging you money to take pictures of them and their baby goats. You know the usual. 

After a lot of walking, a bunch of insane driving, and around 500 pictures–we went to  lunch at some crazy fancy buffet which was completely empty except for us, our guide, and the servers. It was eerie because the place could hold like 300 people easy and had linen table cloths and napkins. It was late like maybe 3:30 so I get the in-between lunch dinner crowd but they had the whole spread set up like ten 8 foot tables full of food with servers in nice outfits rushing to open things for you. It was crazy and so not our scene. However the food was good. 

Kris now makes me take photos of our meals for the blog (I’ve never generally been a food fetishist but I understand the sentiment). 

Our lunch (squash soup, chicken with corn sauce, beef with mushrooms, three different types of potatoes, maize, trout stew, pork, and a dried plantain):


The squash soup–excellent and local, the chicken with corn sauce–OK, pretty basic but also local, beef with mushrooms seemed to be a generic recipe, three different types of potatoes (all of which have their own merits and will write another blog about the joys of Peruvian potatoes later), maize–oh my god this shit is god awful boiled this way, trout stew–excellent and local, pork–I had one bite and it seemed flavorful but super dry, and a dried plantain–left that one for Kris).

We ate and went to go see the hotel.

The hotel was not what I was expecting–it is way bougier than I ever imagined. I booked the hotels through a local travel agent and was like “let’s keep this as cheap as possible but at least look for 2 or 3 stars (out of 5).” Mostly due to some lovely horrifying experiences in India in crappy scary hotels. So I wasn’t expecting much in the way of accommodations but holy shit is this place crazy nice:

Our bathroom vanity:


They even have a spa. Although their spa is a little odd in different cultural contexts I do see that it is a grade A spa. You can rent time in a jacuzzi room or a sauna or get a massage. We were so damn cold last night that we booked the jacuzzi for 45 minutes at 30 American dollars (we made a deal not to go too crazy with the spending but it was 40 degrees and we were sore from both travel and hiking).  The jacuzzi room was beautiful but the jacuzzi was lukewarm/cold and it had no real jets. So after about 10 minutes of us trying to deal and be gracious I went up to the lady working the desk and asked if they had a sauna. The next 10 minutes were a hilarious pantomime between her and I about something more caliente while I’m in a robe 4 sizes too small and a dripping wet swimsuit in 40 degrees (the spa was mostly outside with bamboo walls and a thatched roof). She was so nice and we were both trying so hard but in the end she grabbed my hand and showed me the sauna. I still love this woman. We spent 25 glorious minutes getting the chill out in a lovely little sauna built for three.

The restaurant is another story. We were again alone, but this time in a medium sized room that looked like my uncle’s living room. All glass and wood and cozy knick-knacks. Our waiter was adorable and muy caliente. Super chatty, giving us great recommendations on foods to eat and foods to avoid, what to try and where, what restaurants to avoid (buffets), info on altitude sickness and ways to combat it. He lived in the Florida Keys for a few years and then Fort Lauderdale. He was a wealth of information and a super pleasant person but also left us alone when we ate–which I also truly appreciated. His only fatal flaw–which I see as an attribute–was his hyperbolic nature and his thrice referencing murder. The first time was when we went to the restaurant early (apparently restaurants don’t open for dinner until 7 pm here–we showed up at 6pm) he said that he would cook for us but would end up killing us, as he is not a chef. The second time was when I went to the washroom before showing up to the restaurant and he told me that Kris said that I would kill her if I didn’t choose where we sat (she did not say that). The third time was when we were leaving and he was going off about killing his coworker who didn’t show up for work despite the fact we were the only people in the restaurant–I may have joked that it seemed like they were about to experience a mad rush and he blushed adorably. When we left Kris and I both immediately discussed our love of this man for easily the next 15 minutes.

So while I would never choose a hotel/place like this…I am definitely happy we happened upon it.

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