Saturday morning was our first group trip. We visited several archeological sites, learned a lot from locals and have an all around wonderful day!
Our first stop was an alpaca and llama farm were I made many new friends, mostly by feeding them.
At the farm we learned about the history of my furry llama friends. They came from North America and made strange, new furry babies with the locals (alpacas). We did get to see some of the wild vicuña, however, they’re kept far away from the tourists because they’re apparently mean!
The first archeological site we visited was: Písac. It was a bit (lot) of a hike because of the altitude. If there were more oxygen in the air, it would have been quite present. With the lack of air it made every step a bit more of a challenge, but totally worth it to walk in the footsteps of the Incas. Also, the views were spectacular.
Next, we stopped at a wonderful restaurant buffet and chowed down on Peruvian cuisine. I even got to try alpaca! It’s a very tender meat and super yummy.
The restaurant complex also have a llama and alpaca farm that also included several other species that we’d learned about that morning. I also got to stand face to face with a vicuña!
Five second after my friend took this photo he tried to spit at us. I was so proud.
After lunch we toured Ollantaytambo where the Incan Temple of the Sun sits high atop a mountain. We climbed said mountain. Fortunately, our guide has years of experience and stopped every three terraces for us to catch our breath.
Again, the view from the top was worth every sore muscle and both puffs from my rescue inhaler.
We drove for a long time after leaving Ollantaytambo. But it wasn’t a boring drive. Rather, the winding roads revealed spectacular views of the Andes Mountains. As we drove higher we could see miles and miles of the snow-topped peaks.
Chinchero was our final destination for the evening. There we entered one of the oldest churches in Latin America as dusk.
I put the knowledge I gained from my ISU Colonization of Latin America history class to good use within the church as I explained that while the Spaniards forced the indigenous to convert to Catholicism, many retained certain beliefs that combined with Catholicism to form religion in Latin America. This is literally illustrated on the walls of the church when images of vines and flowers are painted near pictures of baby Jesus.
Pictures may or may not have been allow within the church but I also may or may not have been able to resist just one.
Afterward we were able to explore the grounds in the twilight.
Our final activity before returning to Cusco was to sit in on an alpaca weaving demonstration. Several women showed us how they clean the alpaca wool, spin it while multitasking, dye it with natural products, and finally how they weave it into spectacular patterns. Incredibly, the main presenter worked the entire time with a fussy baby strapped to her back as her five year old ran around being helpful. We learned that five is the age when the women first learn how to spin the wool. It was clear that if she grows up to be anything like her mother, the five year old will have quite a bright future ahead of her.
The stunning demonstration was a fantastic way to end a truly spectacular day.
Next Post: My adventure hiking the Incan Trail!