Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Our Last Days in the Andes

I left out the end of our journey to Machu Picchu in my last post for impact. I mean why distract from the mysticism of our trek and the climax in Machu Picchu? After having enough of the rain, we left on a bus down the mountain to end up in the most touristic town in all of Peru: Aguas Calientes. Our packs from the trek have been dropped off at a restaurant's second floor and we rush upstairs to get changed into dry clothes.

While eating lunch, a band comes by and they set up stage and start playing. The most awesome part? the one guy who's playing the ukelele is simultaneously playing the Peruvian flute and he looks like Mick Jagger! I wish we still had money to grab a copy of their CD.

Aguas Calientes is still up in the mountain so we're on our way to head back to Ollaytaytambo. We're scheduled to return to our hotel in Cusco so we still have a ways to go. We take a train to Ollataytambo and then hop on a bus back to Cusco. The bus ride is surreal in its own right because we're in the Andes Mountains and we're driving through during sunset--it's just stunning. No pictures do this justice.

After we return and thank our two wonderful tour guides, we head to our rooms to get cleaned up. The plan is to head out on the town with everyone to grab dinner and have our last evening together before we each part for the remainder of our own journeys. A few of us are on a month long trip backpacking it around South America and others are ending their journey to head home. It's been a memorable 4 days.


August 26, 2012

We get one more day in Cusco. Today, we finally get to explore Cusco on our own time. I'm determined to find something that I have been thinking about, since I arrived: the toritos de Pucara

(photo courtesy of Lonely Planet)

These religious relics are a fusion on Incan and Spanish tradition. They decorate rooftops as a pair and it’s said that these bulls bring good luck, keep the house safe and ensure health and wealth for the family that lives there. The bulls also face the mountain gods. You can read more about these interesting items in the link above.

While we didn't learn about these ceramic bulls by our guides, the moment I saw them on rooftops, I knew I had seen them somewhere. When I was little (we're talking over two decades ago), my uncle returned from his own trip to South America and gifted my family one of these cows and it has since sat in our living room in a corner, hidden. I was determined to find one to "return the favour".

Today, our plan is to head out to the main market find and eat the remaining local delicacies and check out some of the churches and just walk around to take in the Incan capital.

Our first stop is the market, where I would compare it loosely to Toronto's St Lawrence Market. Vendors sell fresh food, cooked food, sweets, crafts, clothing... you could probably find anything here. But what is this? a street food vendor area!

I'm holding a grilled skewer of anticuchos topped with a peruvian potato.


Next on the list? Chicharrons. The lady hands us a plate full of fried pork belly rinds, potato, mint leaves, giant corn kernals (they're the size of quarters!) and onion slivers. We stop and she looks at us and goes to a grab us forks from... a bucket filled with liquid and dirty utensils. *face palm* oh well. C'est la vie. We sit with Quechua speaking peruvians in the square and dine with them.

Another one checked off our list.

Then we head off to the market to search for my bulls and other souvenirs. But guess what? we still have food items on our list! Caldo de gallina accompanied with the effervescent yellow Inca Cola and some more (you guessed it) ceviche.

Different kinds of ceviche line their food vendor's countertops in large platters. We order a plate and devour it. The only thing we forgot to try is cuy, again. Cusco is known for their cuy.

We stroll the streets....

And after relaxing in the plaza with the other citizens, we head for higher ground to get a panoramic view of the plaza de armes of Cusco.

Dinner isn't too big since we already ate so much food during the day... we get ready and pack up for our next stop: Puerto Maldonaldo.


  1. love that video! so cool that you included it with the photos :-)

    1. thanks! it gives a better impression of the city, right? it brings back all these wonderful memories!