Tonight I went to a very nice traditional Peruvian Restaurant named Incanto. This is what I had for dinner along with a lovely glass of wine. It was all very good and the service was great.:
Quinoa chowder, traditional chowder (not in Maine) made with quinoa, fava beans, olluco, soft fried egg and Andean cheese
Cuy (Guinea pig, just like the one that kept getting loose when you were a kid)), marinated and roasted to crispy served with and huacatay (black mint) sauce, rustic coriander and yellow mashed potatoes and an arugula, andean roasted corn and water crest salad.
There are 5 major archeology sites near cusco. That is why it is called the Sacred Valley (this was the center of Inca culture at it’s height), including The Throne of the Inca (or king). There are many, many tours you can hook up with or arrange your own private tour to these amazing pieces and places of history. Most (read normal) people do this by group bus, van or car. Well, I decided to get a ride to the furthest point and hike the 5 (it turned out to be 8.54 (GPS watch – very cool) oh well) miles visiting each of these sites and then back to Cusco. Now there is a trail -on which I did not see a soul on it for many miles. Arriving at each archeological site the parking lots are full of busses and vans and all the usually suspects.
Oh ya guns and fences: So on the way from one site to another I saw something off the trail that caught my eye so I went to investigate, turned out to be just a small ruin. To paraphrase the movie masterpiece that is Apocalypse Now, “Never get off the trail”. Well in trying to get back on the trail, I got lost (don’t tell my wife) and spent the next 30+ minutes bushwhacking very carefully down an incredibly steep terraced farm with some large bushes that I did not know and some coca plants mixed in for local tea use only (you can tell by the quality and not being hidden and oh ya no guns).
Before I left, my father told me not to do anything stupid – well that would be no fun at all.
The last and most significant site of the 5 is Sacsayhuaman, an amazing temple and burial place for priests of the sun god. I walked around for awhile being constantly amazed by how the Inca built with massive stones and no mortar but perfect joints. I could not stay long however. I wanted to walk the whole way back to Cusco and with a thunder and lighting storm rolling in I did not want is place, no matter how beautiful, to become the burial place of this priest of the Son God ( get it sun/Son).
In my last post, in January, I let those who have so much spare time that they read this blob, know that I was going to Peru for a 5 day trek to Machu Picchu.
As Priscilla was driving me to the train station, for the second time Monday (the first time we got there and I had left my phone at home) to catch the train to the airport she asked me a funny question. “Why Peru, and why climb for 5 days to Machu Picchu?” Well the question wasn’t funny, it was just funny it took her this long to ask. My answer was short and sweet – “because it is a place that has fascinated me since I was a kid.” That is the truth, but not the whole truth. The first part – the Peru piece is easy, that’s where the ancient ruins of the last great strong hold of the Inca peoples are. What Yale archeologist and the inspiration for the movie character Indiana Jones, Hiram Bingham called “the Lost City of the Incas.” So basically because – it is there.
The fuller answer is, as always a little more complicated, it is that I have always had a part of me that loved adventure but was afraid to act on it. Afraid of shirking my responsibilities as a husband and father, afraid to spending money that could/should be spent elsewhere and possibly a little afraid of failure (not my comfort zone). Well things have changed, the kids are grow (most days), I have discovered the shocking truth that Priscilla does just fine on her own and in fact she keeps a list of movies that I don’t want to watch and as for finance, you only live once and let me tell you I am not getting any younger. As for failing, I now know that the truth is in the adventure not the “summit” and my walk in Spain last year taught me that I am capable of some things that even surprise me and I expect that you are as well.
So here I am sitting in the courtyard of a very cool little hotel in Cusco, Peru at just over 10,000 feet acclimatizing for the next three days before we begin our climb. A climb that will reach nearly 16,000 feet on the second day.
I love to travel, I love to walk, I love to experience new and very different places but most of all I love having a wife who understands me, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer blah blah blah…..
Here are a few picture from the journey so far and I’ll write some more in a day or two before I am in that rarest of all place – a WIFI free zone.