Day 2: We left Lima for an early flight to Cusco, Peru, which is at 13,000 ft! Most everyone was feeling the effects the altitude had on us, some passed out (ek) and most couldn't catch a breath, just sitting on a bus! We drove to our hostel, La Casa Campesina, dropped off our bags, after we marched them up hill for four blocks, on a uneven cobble stone street, with honking vw's flying past! Drivers in Peru follow NO signs, basically the bigger car goes first and everyone yields, kind of intense! After we dropped our stuff off we left for the Urubamba Valley, which is completely surreal.
We took a 3 day, 4 night trip to the Urubamba Valley, to adjust to the altitude, the valley is around 9,000ft! On the drive we saw, snow capped moutains in the distance, llamas and alpacas grazing, and small andean villages full of people wearing brightly colored clothing. On this 3 day trip we visited the towns of Pisac, Ollyantambo, and Chinchero. All of the hotels were completely breath taking (my pictures will be uploaded when I'm back in the US), but trust me, it was an oasis! Flowers everywhere, smiling people, all in between the Andes mountains. I honestly felt like I was standing in front of green screen, because the views were sooo unbelievable. Pisac offered a wonderful market, where I learned to bargain with Soles, the national currency in Peru. I went CRAZY in this market, taking photos, bargaining with natives, and just taking it all in. I purchased some great handmade, hand dyed woven textiles, some hilarious hats (wait for the pictures, ha), and accidentally walked down the "butcher aisle", which was HORRIBLE. Those of us on the trip have gotten used to the phrase "No Gracias," almost every other second someone comes up to show you pendants, cloth dolls, artwork (IT'S FREE TO LOOK!, thats what I always hear). After Pisac, we drove to the other side of the valley to Ollyantambo, in which there are wonderful ruins, and I have beautiful photographs. The town of Ollyantambo was a PARTY town, we arrived at 6pm and everyone was out in the center dancing, drinking, and completely dressed up in these amazing outfits (pictures to come) to celebrate the festival of a saint. We were lucky to be here for this experience, we saw a procession of natives completely dressed up in masks, some looking like animals, some representing other dieties. Completely amazing.
We visited the Maras salt mines, which were blinding, but yet so beautiful, and also the Moray concentric circles.
I was looking forward to the village of Chinchero, because it is known to have the best textiles in Peru. The women in this community spin their own alpaca, dye it with natural plants around the area, and weave the pieces all by themselves. It honestly was the best and worst experience of my life! I wanted to purchase everything, BUT did not have the money! I caught sight of the most wonderful, full sized blanket, everything completely patterned in traditional imagery of Peru (the birds, mountains, puma eyes, water..etc), it was simply stunning. When I asked Cuantos Cuestas (how much) I was completely shocked, 1000 American dollars!!! Holy crap! The lady was wonderful and told me I was her "special friend" and asked me what I could offer, in which I replied "solamente dos cien!" (200 dollars)...this conversation went on for a good fifteen minutes. The director of the program came over, helped me haggle a little, but she wouldn't budge! I am completely aware of the work and time that is put into weavings of this size, this particular one took over a year! Finally, towards the end, we comprimised at 300 dollars!!!! I only had 200 on me, in which she offered to make the 45 minute drive to Cusco the following day to pick up the rest. I was completely stunned, and still am. I had buyers remorse about 2 minutes after I handed over my money, that was half of my trip budget, all I could say to myself was, Oh shit. Honestly, it was the best deal ever, the director Javier said that this would sell for thousands in the states, and I will have it forever! (I slept with it last night, hell no was it going to stay wrapped up in bag). I still can't believe I did that, but I know I will love it forever! I can't wait to show you all! AHH! haha...
We arrived in Cusco that night, went out for some pizza, and relaxed.
Today, we started exploring the city, finding spots to draw, areas to avoid, and the best hot chocolate that has ever existed! Cusco is a beautiful, busy town. Every "street" is uphill and has thousands of stairs, I can honestly say my butt hates me right now! I'll update you later in the week, we leave for the Inca trail this Friday!! Oh man!
The food is wonderful, the people are soo nice and happy, and the scenary is breathtaking. I am having the time of my life, but I wish some of you guys were with me, because I know you would have loved it too! Hopefully in the future!
Alright talk to you soon, byes!