A Sacred Valley tour and hotel for ONE

Sunday, January 08, 2012
Yucay, Cusco, Peru
Another day in paradise? As dawn revealed itself, light rain was falling outside. Perhaps it is rainy season after all?

I googled the weather and yes, for Cusco thunderstorms are forecast for the next few days and 18C.

Meet at 8 am by Condor Travel and Yes I was on the all day tour of Sacred Valley in a group of just ….. ME! Yashira the guide said with the morning rain the temperature normally drops a few degrees. I think the locals are saying be prepared for all 4 seasons. Yesterday around town I was wearing just a short sleeve lightweight merino top and that was enough for me, Meanwhile the locals had on several layers including their pile jackets etc. Am I sick or?

The light rain had stopped when we reached a craft shop setup with the llama and Vicunga - alpaca. Was shown the weaving and dying process using natural plants and minerals like Alumbre and Qolpa for colouring. The insect who grow on the cactus, the name is Cochinilla / Cochimilla. From Cochinilla / Cochimilla and they can get 26 different types of reds. Then the amazing thing at the market later on, the actual colours that appeared after mixing it with a bit water is totally different to that of the powder colour. A good magic or party trick!

I was tempted to buy a really soft alpaca top but would I wear it back home? The Vicunga is even more softer (and expensive!). I’ll stick to my merino.

Pisac, a stopover market town and sure enough the similar type of set up as Otavalo but smaller and Peruvian style. Sunday was also it's main market day.

Here I was shown the difference between genuine alpaca, a 70:30 blend and synthetic quality. Yes, a noticeable difference through weight (natural being heavier) and texture but one can be very easily caught out.

The tree in the middle of the market place is a Coral tree = Pisonay.

The Serpentine stone figure has 3 animals representing Andean Trilogy:
Snake = the undertime (past)
Puma = Present time and
Condor = Future time.
Photo to be added later.

The silver making demonstration again reveal the need to be careful with 95% and 92.5% silver. The other percentage is copper that is added in. Even with a stamp on the back, it could be a false %.

The silver pendant represents the Andean Cross. The name in Quechua language is Chakana.
It has 3 levels in life:
Past, present and future.
Four cardinals points to east, south, north and west.
The hole in the middle represents Cusco which was the centre of the (Inca) empire.
It is two sided pendant with one side being the sun face and the other side the Andean Trilogy.
The blue colour = lapiz lazuli stone
Orange colour = Sea Shell Spondillus and the
Green Colour = Pervuvian Turquoise.
Photo to be added later.

The picture with at the bottom are 2 bulls = toritos de Pukara.
The Cross with a ladder in the middle and on either side is a chicha’s boils (bowl) and a rooster.

A stupendous buffet lunch spread, lunch is the Pervian’s main meal, and yes, I tried the rice pudding made with the purple corn plus had the popular local Chicha Morada non alcoholic drink also made from the purple corn.

Then it was onwards to the day’s main attraction being the Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo.

Yashira was wonderful in her detailed explanation of the history and why this was built here at the concurrence of two rivers and just before Machu Pichu. You can google it. A lovely outcome to a Inca style Romeo and Juliette love story.

Soon the tour was over and to my hotel in readiness for tomorrow next major highlight … the train and then up to Machu Pichu.

I swear that I am the only person at the La Casona de Yucay hotel tonight.
Imagine an empty hotel dining room and deciding which table able to sit at!

Alpaca Medallions in Pisco Sauce will be it S/.36: Grilled Alpaca tenderloin in a creamy pisco sauce with quinoa and zucchini taboule with a juice for S/.6 plus those lovely 10% service and 18% Igv tax! (SS/. 42 or about US$15 or NZ$20)

Was this the right decision to stay here in the valley or like many tourists return to Cusco but endure a 4 am wake up call for their pickup for the 90 minute winding road trip to Ollantaytambo train station? My wake up is 5.30 am, breakfast and then a 6 am pick up as it is only 20 minutes to Ollantaytambo for the 7 am Vistadrome train departure.

I knew there was no TV here, not that I understand Spanish TV, so perhaps an early night after writing up the last few days blog.

PS No, I was not the only guest here. Another party arrived very late and left before 6 am to no doubt catch the Expedition Class train which left before me.

Sorry - when uploading the photos, they got horribly out of order again.

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