As we were staying in Cusco for a few days to acclimatise, we decided to go on some of the tours around the town. We wouldn’t normally go for tourist tours, but they seemed good value, and meant we didn’t need to worry about how to get around.
One day we got a “city tour” which took us to Sacsayhuaman, which is a large zig-zag wall with views of Cusco. The guide explained the history of it – from the air, Cusco is set out in the shape of a Puma, and Sacsayhuaman is its fringe. I’m afraid that’s as informative as it gets – information normally goes in one ear and out the other! The guide then said, “you have 30 minutes – look around, take photos, or cry internally”. This made me laugh (externally) 🙂
We enjoyed the scenery and saw some Llamas, and various people in traditional dress.
The tour also took us to Q’enqo (a labyrinth) and Tambomachay (a spring that makes you eternally young). At the latter place, someone watched me get on the bus and then helpfully said to my boyfriend, “Your mother is already on the bus” – meaning me! So somehow I managed to visit a spring of eternal youth and be mistaken for someone 20 years my senior. Although apparently if you drink the spring of eternal youth, you will probably get eternal diarrhoea (OK I added the “eternal” out of spite).
Another tour took us to the Sacred Valley – namely Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Chinchero. We looked around Pisac, which is a small town with markets. We were then bussed up to the ruins which are perched on top of mountains over the town. The views were stunning and I remember thinking “Machu Picchu will have to be pretty amazing to be better than this!”. The path to the ruins was pretty hair-raising though, with a sheer drop to one side (and obviously no handrail!) so some people with vertigo found it difficult. It was fine however if you stuck to the side of the path furthest from the edge. There were more ruins in Ollantayambo and a church at Chinchero, along with the obligatory market stalls selling traditional hats, crafts, etc. As was customary, the children tried to sell their wares by finding out which country you are from (England) and then reciting the names of previous British Prime Ministers, as far back as Margaret Thatcher. It was impressive!
Although tourist tours aren’t normally my thing, I enjoyed the fact that I could relax – normally I’m a bit like Professor Moody in Harry Potter, with CONSTANT VIGILANCE!! Especially on holiday where if your camera is nicked you lose all your beloved holiday photos, and if your passport is nicked you have to live there forever. Or, contact your embassy. Whichever. But I always keep an eye out for pick-pocketers. However on the tour I wasn’t worried as everyone had a camera, most of them much better than ours. And because I wasn’t planning the trip, I didn’t need to think about where to get the bus from, and what time, and how much, and how do we get back, etc. So I relaxed. And fell asleep on the bus back 🙂
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