Thursday, April 6, 2017

Sacred Valley, 1

There were some competing explanations about why it's called the Sacred Valley, or why the Incas called it the Sacred Valley (if they did). Since it's close to Passover, we'll let that pass. It's the valley of the Urubumba, next valley over from Cusco, a bit higher, too, and a good bit less settled than Cusco. Some of the terraces go quite high on the mountains, and there are ruins here and there of older cultures. In any case, the Sacred Valley is one of the major day trips out of Cusco, with archaeological stops at Pisac and Ollantaytambo, and other stops for the non-archaeologically-inclined, and we signed up with Llama Path for this trip too (although we got shifted to another, aggregated tour, which was fine). This was our Incan denouement, and it included several special moments for me. Not least of which is that denouements generally come at the end, right?

Special moment #1 was about language and pronunciation, which our guide was happy to help us with. Cusco is properly pronounced "Costco" (seriously; the t is silent; Vicki can attest to this). The original spelling was "Qosqo." Machu Picchu: the double c in Picchu makes it sound like "piss-chu." Seriously. The guide was a native speaker of Quechua and proud of it. Lastly, quinoa is pronounced "kwin-no-ah." I observed that this is not how it's pronounced in Middle California, and the guide wisely asked how many native speakers of Quechua live in this Middle California. Point taken. But now whenever I order "kwin-no-ah" in Middle California, the server will take me for a Rube. Which he/she probably does anyway. A special moment nonetheless. I've lost the guide's name, but the driver for much of the tour, until the bus broke down, was named Rudolfo..."The Contessa and the Chauffeur"..."Hold me, touch me." Look it up. We gave him a generous tip.
We were back in Cusco Saturday evening and spent Sunday
mostly recovering from our Inca Trail experience; but also
taking in a couple forgettable churches and church museums;
and comparing Inca vs. Spanish walls

And having one more pretty good meal; above, Vicki's triple
steak lomo (I had the trout)
Next day, heading past more ruins up and over the ridge into
the Sacred Valley
Sacred...well, green, and well over 11,000 feet
Looking up at Pisac site

High, disused terraces across the valley

Entrance to Pisac, an Incan fortress dating from the mid-15th

Huge terraces

First day of school (our guide said)--it's early autumn in Peru--
and this, we judged, was the high school convocation

Holy water?

Dry highlands

Moving on, past an unusual lawn ornnament

Now in a silver factory in the modern town of Pisac

Making jewelry

Old communal oven at the Pisac market

Down the road, at the convocation of an elementary school;
parents attend too

Turbuss buffet at a nice ex-hacienda

Beautifully landscaped

Moving right along, having changed buses and bid Rudolfo
farewell, we are in Ollantaytambo, another Incan fortress,
looking up at the storehouses

Two towers

Streets of old Ollantaytambo

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