As I finished my bike ride a few days ago, I knew I wanted to come back to Pisac. After spending the weekend in Cusco relaxing and recuperating from the ride, I returned to Pisac this past Sunday afternoon. I took a 2 dollar van ride to arrive at this village an hour out of Cusco. The van ride was an experience in itself as I was packed in there with all the local women heading back home from the market. My backpack and there bags full of goods all tied on the roof. Well worth it for that cheap of a ride!
On arrival to Pisac, it was about a half hour before sunset, so I started to look for a place to stay. I traveled from hostel to hostel price searching, but wasn’t settling on any. The whole time random local were asking me if I needed a hostel, as I had my backpack on and clearly looked like I had just arrived. I told them all no as I didn’t trust where they would take me . Until, this one guy asked me and I figured I would give it a shot. He said the place was 20 solas a night (which is like 8 dollars), so I said I would like to see the place before saying yes. We hoped on his little moped with backpacks and all. Very comical balancing on this thing as we raced through the streets. He drove a little out of town and stopped at this place called the “La Casa de La Artista” or The Artist’s House. Located right off the river and a little out of town, I knew it would be the perfect place to have a little retreat.
The owner’s name is Jose Victor and he introduced me to his family (Gabriella and their daughter). They live downstairs and there are 4 bedrooms upstairs for guests. His wife told me she is a chef and could cook me anything I wanted. I told her I had wanted to try Cuys (which is pretty much a guinea pig) as Peru is known for this food. Normally in a restaurant, a full one with vegetables would cost 100 soles (which is like almost 38 dollars). She said she would make it for me for 60 (about 20 dollars) for lunch. I was so pumped to try this thing.
After having a wonderful night sleep in my room, I woke up and decided to take a hike to see the Incan ruins above the city. I left at 7:30am and headed up the trail. I reached the top and had the whole place to myself, except for a local guide who had hiked up right behind me. I paid him a few dollars to give me a tour and it was well worth it. I gained a wealth of knowledge about the Incan people through him and was able to connect aspects I had learned with the other guides on my bike-riding trip. One post, I hope to dedicate to just talking about the Incas as their history, intelligence, and culture is fascinating.
After the tour, I asked him if there was a town further up the mountain and he told me there we one. So, I started up towards it and ran into a local woman carrying one of the traditional bags of goods on her back. She asked me if I would help her and in return, would give me some fruit and bread when we got to her village. I jumped at the chance to get something to eat and experience how those locals carry these bags up mountains. The climb took 45 minutes and at an altitude of 12,000 feet, my lungs were puffing pretty hard. Yet, it was well worth it as I got to see her house, the village, and converse with her and neighbors. I also bought a few items from her, which she hand stitched using the wool of an animal like a llama. Now, I have an awesome new camera strap with a great story from this whole experience.
I stayed there about 40 minutes talking with them, taking pictures, and learning about how she knitted her goods and sold them in the markets. Lots of hard work, so I was thankful I was able to buy some goods from her. Part of me wanted to spend the day just hanging out, but I remembered I had lunch in a bit so I started back down. She showed me a different path down and told me to go straight. I headed down and got down in about an hour with some wrong turns that brought me to goat herds or alpaca herds who used those paths.
Finally down, I made it to where I was staying and was able to see how the whole meal was prepared. The cooks mother raises these animals in an organic way and this morning, they took out two for lunch. The clay oven they use is amazing and takes over 2 hours to cook these little animals. Actually, these animals have some of the healthiest meat to eat in the world. No cholesterol and very lean meat. These animals have been eaten since the Inca time and they actually used them to make guinea pig jerky.
We had a feast for lunch, as I the family at with me. Peru has over 1000 varieties of potatoes and this meal, I tried 4 types of them. One potato, is only harvested during this month, so I was fortunate to taste it. They all have Quechua names (which is the Incan language), so I had a hard time remembering each (as Quechua has zero similarity to Spanish). It was all so delicious! The potatoes, salad, full guinea pig, and chicha morada drink (which is made from a purple corn) made for the best meal in Peru yet. I also enjoyed very much getting to know the family and hear about their knowledge of the Incan culture, life in Pisac, or dreams of their future. We talked for a few hours about politics, life in Texas, sports, and even their view on Spain (as the Spaniards were responsible for destroying the Incan civilization and people). Very sad part of their history and being Cherokee, partially parallels the history of the North American Indians being conquered.
The following day, I had a three hour yoga session with a German yoga teacher a little up the valley. Only 3 in the class, it was a very physically and spiritually intense time. Half yoga and half meditation, I felt so refreshed afterwards. This town is definitely off the beaten path and has a very mother earth (or Pachamama in Quechua) feel to it. I felt very energized, refreshed, and at peace through my time here. I wish I could have stayed longer, but traveled to Bolivia on an overnight bus last night to catch a flight to Sao Paulo Brazil tomorrow. Next trip to Peru, I will leave myself lots of time to explore more and to be able to just see where the journey takes me.
Buenos noches y chao!
ps- my flickr photos are up to date so check them out!