As part of our program, we were all given tourist tickets that include entrance into several site and museums in and around Cusco. Unfortunately, the tickets only last for ten days. Therefore, we were desperate to get our monies worth and visit a few more sites that weren’t included as part of the study abroad calendar.
Usually I think that my weekends are jam packed with activities. However, that week I was kept busy with school field trips and self planned trips with my friends.
Perks of Being a Teacher's Pet
Working with our professor, we managed to squeeze two more field trips in during our 7:30 AM – 9:30 AM time slot.
The first one was Thursday morning to the archeological sight: Sexi-Woman. [Cough, Cough] Excuse me, I mean: Saqsaywaman. (It’s literally pronounced the same way though.)
The archeological site is massive and displays some of the greatest marvels of Incan architecture. Not to sound like a complete nerd, but it was super cool!
The site also has naturally occurring … Rock slides!
And yes, you can in fact slide down them. To say there were a little hard on our knees is a bit of an understatement, however, it was well worth the soreness.
Good Thing We Speak (Basic) Spanish!
Thursday afternoon and a few friends and I were looking for another adventure. We had to plan our trip during the week since we’re always away for the weekends.
We caught a cab in Cusco and asked if the driver would be willing to take us out of the city and North to the archeological site of Moray and the small city of Maras. He agree, after some slight haggled, for the price of less than $10 a person!
Wonders of the Incan World
We zipped along the curvy, winding roads of the Urubamba Valley and took photos of the Andes out of the windows. It was a blast!
Over and hour and a half later and we arrived at the first stop: Moray. The ancient site was used for agriculture.
The Incas dung deep terraces in a unique circular shape. The depths and way the terraces were carved into the mountain create several distinct microclimates. Archeologists have theorized that Moray was used for agricultural experimentation with crop growth at different temperatures. Yeah, the Incans were that smart.
Asthma and Altitude
Moray was spectacular. Truly breathtaking, quite literally as we ran to the bottom of the site and took dozens of photos before dashing back to the top. My chest hasn’t hurt that much since I was a child. My asthma is well control … But not so much at 11,000 feet above sea level where every breath is already as struggle without adding in tall stairs and a time crunch.
Fortunately, I brought multiple inhalers with me to Peru and always make sure to have one (or three) on my person. Still, it reminded me that I always have to keep in mind my limits and be sure not to cross them because I could find myself a hundred miles from the nearest hospital.
Salt, Not Snow
Next, our personal driver took us to the small city of Maras were we visited the salt ponds. It was amazing! The salt ponds went on for miles connected by very narrow pathways. I’m talking centimeters wide.
The ponds are harvested by locals and some of the salt is sold on site for incredibly cheap. Naturally, I bought a couple (four) bags of different kinds of salt. I can’t wait to go home and cook with them!
Tourism a Better Way
As we drove the long way home, we were treated to the beautiful site of Cusco after dark, when, especially high above the city, the lights fill the valley and resemble multi-colored stars.
Our afternoon adventure cost less than $20 for the entire trip including souvenirs. It would have been at least twice that if we had gone to Maras and Moray with a tour group. We also would have had to deal with a bunch of tourists at both sites because the tours would have been earlier in the day. Instead, we conducted our own private tours right before closing and were treated to almost empty sites rich with history, local culture and overall tranquility in which to enjoy the gorgeous views.
No Rest for the Restless
Friday morning my class met again for another field trip, this time to the Regional History Museum. The hardest part about this trip was catching the taxi from our neighborhood to the plaza during the morning rush. Not only did it take twenty minutes to hail a cab and forever to actually arrive at the museum, the drive charged us double. Granted, double was just over three bucks… But it’s the principal of the matter!
Next: My weekend in Puno exploring Lake Titicaca!