a matter of altitude AND SOME SKETCHY PILLS
It was another early morning in order to enjoy the lovely buffet breakfast at the hotel. Just guessing, but I would say that Peruvians are not morning people as they move quite slowly in the morning and most especially when they are pouring coffee. This particular morning my head was pounding and I was afraid I had fallen victim to altitude sickness. I was hoping after coffee the headache would subside, but sadly it didn't help. There was a young man on the trip who was also having a rough morning so we decided we would be miserable together. Neither of us had chewed the traditional Coca leaves but we both had consumed the coca leaf teas which are supposedly good for altitude sickness. Hmmmph!
Our first stop of the day was in the mid-morning sun at a very busy market at Pisaq town. Aside from snapping the photo above, I wasn't even in the mood to look around. Having had enough of feeling bad, I decided I wanted to see if there was a pharmacy nearby to see if there was anything that we could do to mitigate our symptoms.The kid and I found our tour guide and into the pharmacy we went along with Michael and the kid's father.
The pharmacist immediately understood what we needed and for about $2 sold us some pills. We tried to ascertain what was in these giant pink pills but after a few frustrating moments of trying to google the ingredients, we decided to pop one into our mouth and get it over with.
Soon afterwards, Michael found the name of the pill along with the Spanish translation and learned that we were mostly taking aspirin and caffeine. About an hour later, both Josh (the kid) and I felt better. Whoulda guessed?
Cowboys and Incans
For lunch we dined outside on the terrace at a wonderful Peruvian barbeque restaurant at Wayra Ranch just outside of the town of Urubamba. The outdoor brick ovens produced flavorful Peruvian delights including saltillos, empanadas, and chicken soltenas. The fresh air and ambiance was wonderful after sitting on the bus for several hours and again the food was amazing. We saw the Cuzqueñan cowboys performed a Paso Horse Demonstration where one could see the obvious Spanish influence in managing the horses, the costumes and dancing.
There are little ceramic bulls, called Toritos de Pucara, on most all of the rooftops in the Sacred Valley. It is typical from the Andes of Peru and Bolivia. Bulls are usually placed on the roof of the houses for good luck, fertility (of crops and livestock) and to bring prosperity. They are also given as presents, as good luck charms. Many roofs also had a religious cross between the bulls.
Ollantaytambo was magnificent in its archaeological beauty and it is best known as the beginning of the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. All but a few of us climbed to the top to look down at the Sacred Valley. It was a bit strenuous but definitely doable. (I sort of considered it Machu Picchu light.)
o' SOLO MIO
I'm starting to sound like a broken record but we arrived back at the hotel thoroughly exhausted and needing to rest before the big day tomorrow that would start early in the morning. However, our guide learned from the hotel two opera singers would be performing during dinner in the hotel's restaurant, El Tupay, that evening and he wanted to know if we wanted to go. YES! What are you kidding?
We hastily got dressed for dinner in this beautiful alcove of a restaurant just off the courtyard. Dinner was delicious but the real stars of the show were the female soprano and male tenor who were stationed on either side of the restaurant who sang throughout the meal. The convent's acoustics were perfect for the concert and this was an experience not soon forgotten.
Michael and I travel mostly because we like learning and experiencing new things, seeing new places and learning about different cultures and food that only comes from getting out and about in the world.