Today the fun starts. We are off to Cuzco to start our Machu Pichu trek; however some stops along the way -Awanakancha Living Museum, Pisac Village and then our destination hotel (Sonesta Posadas Del Inca) in the Sacred Valley. We woke up at 445 am, official wake up time was 500 am, however we wanted to get up a little earlier. Our luggage needed to be outside our room by 530 am. The bellman were picking up our luggage and delivering them to the lobby and keeping in one place until our departure.
We ate breakfast, hot breakfast, one more time before departing our nice hotel, Novotel. Breakfast was at 530am sharp. As in the past couple of days, the breakfast was super good.
Our tour group needed to meet in the lobby at 610 am, departure to the airport is at 615 am. We departed the hotel at 615am sharp and off to the airport. We left early enough to avoid the traffic. The tour guide said the traffic is so bad you will sit in it for hours.
We arrived at the airport in 45 minutes time. The airport was super super busy, however it is Monday morning too and lots of tourists are here. We entered the airport, domestic departures, as a group and
claimed our luggage so we could check with our luggage. One thing we noticed is that several people were having their luggage wrapped. I have seen this in the US, however it is not used much because of TSA inspections. Our wait in line was not long and we were able to check in with the group check in. Our bags were checked and given our boarding passes. We headed to security and noticed several things that were much different and similar to airport security. You are able take liquids through security, including large bottles of water. We did not need to take off our shoes. Similarities include taking out your laptop, emptying your pockets, and removing jewelry. The security is more relaxed and people are much nicer than the US TSA.
After going through security, we walked to our gate. Very interesting observation, I noticed there was a Dunkin Donuts outside and inside of security. I have seen more Dunkin Donuts in Lima than there are in Houston, what the heck. I need to have a coffee here before heading home.
We were 15 minutes late boarding our plane. Cindy and I sat
across from each other. Our flight was on a LAN flight. I have never flown on LAN, however it is a member of the OneWorld Alliance, one that American Airlines is a member of. Our flight ended up having a ground delay for about another 30 minutes so our arrival into Cuzco is 45 minutes late. During the flight Cindy and I both fell asleep. However I did wake up in time for our snack. It was a box arrangement with local dry foods. Sadly I did not take a photo of the meal. It is so interesting that on the US flights there are no free snacks, but when you travel on international airlines domestically we always get a snack.
While landing in Cuzco, it was a little misty; however you could see the mountains surrounding the airport. Absolutely incredible scenery. When the plane door opened, you could feel the altitude, however not a big deal. We had to exit our plane, an airbus, by stairs.
We entered the airport quickly and headed to baggage claim. We waited until porters retrieved all our bags from the luggage belt and then put it in
an area where everyone could identify our baggage. Once we identified our bags the porters took our bags to the bus outside in a special parking area.
Within 15 minutes our bags were loaded on the bus and we were off driving on the bus. We drove for about 30 minutes and stopped at an overlook area. From here we could the city of Cuzco in the valley. This area was called Saqsaywaman. Quite impressive. There people with donkey’s walking around. You could pose with them and pay 1 solis. We only spent 15 minutes here.
Awanakancha Living Museum
After our quick stop, we reboarded the bus and drove for one hour and ended up Awanakancha Living Museum. This museum covered two parts; various animals and then clothing or items made from the animals. The main focus was weaving, “different types of indigenous camelids from which the most traditional weavings draw their wool. These are the llama, the vicuña, the guanaco (though it is danger of extinction currently). They also show the varieties of the domesticated camelids: the two varieties of llama–the woolly ones and the short hair ones, as well as the suri and huacayo alpacas.”
We had the chance to feed the animals with grasses they provided. This was a ton of fun. There are several photos attached to the blog.
After spending time with the various indigenous camelids, we had time for shopping in the village and purchasing food. The tour guide told us that we should try cocoa tea. Todd the adventurous one decided to try the tea. It was prepared using hot water, cocoa leaves, and cocoa tea bag. I added a little sugar. It tasted very good. Prior to arriving, the tour guide told us the items to buy here are alpacas. The most expensive weaving is baby alpaca. Alpaca meat is also very good food. Cindy and I did not purchase anything, but there sure were some beautiful finds.
Following the shopping we reboarded our tour bus. The driver and tour guide provided us bag lunches. I have not been very good about documenting what we were eating, however I did this meal. Our lunch bag included a sweet roll ham and cheese sandwich, pasta/veggie chicken salad, fruit drink, vanilla crackers, bananas, and a small candy.
We continued our drive and
journey through the Andes Mountains. The mountains were absolutely incredible to watch. We have never seen anything like it before. The mountains go on forever. We stopped at another overlook area, overlooking the Pisac Village. I don’t recall the name of the overlook area, but the views were speculator. I included a few of these photos. The Pisac Village is where we will stop for a quick visit and shopping.
This stop was for 15 minutes and then we reboarded the bus again. We drove down to the Pisac Village and parked our bus. This was a very quaint village. There were various shops, however the highlight of this village visit was the tree decorated in the middle of the village. Here is a brief description of what the tree is about. “The Humisha tree tradition is a central activity of the Carnival celebrations in Iquitos. On the last night of Carnival, people dance around the Humisha tree with their arms linked, and spectators douse them with buckets of water and often with paint. Later, only the young, unmarried couples dance, arm in arm, and the men taking turns chopping the trunk of the tree with an
axe. When the tree finally falls, children flock around the gifts that were hung on the tree, taking whatever gift they can grab. “Traditionally, they hung things such as food, including chickens, turtles and local fruits as gifts,” Dr. Sotil stated. “But today with a more modern society, they primarily hang things like plastics toys.”” The tour guide also told us about the following “The Iquitos adaptation of the Carnival season starts with water-balloon fights and concludes in the locally unique tradition of dancing around the Humisha tree on the final night. As early as a four weeks before Carnival you will encounter young people in the streets tossing buckets of water or water balloons at passing cars and motorcycles. These “water wars” are really a battle of the sexes, with groups of males throwing water at groups of females and visa versa. In addition to water, they can incorporate flour, talcum powder, achiote (a natural dye), paint, or oil, and you can never be quite sure what exactly was in that balloon! Although these activities are officially against the law, the law is generally ignored by officials.”
One of the passengers on our tour got lost;
she was not on the bus. Thankfully she had a cell phone and the tour director’s cell phone number; we were able to connect with her.
Sonesta Posadas Del Inca
From this village, we headed to our hotel, Sonesta Posadas Del Inca. Our drive was only 20 minutes. While driving to the hotel, we could see the Chicon Glacier in the background. Our hotel was in a town called Yucay, another village. When we drove into the village, the buildings were rundown and the front of the hotel was not too exciting. I was a bit nervous. However when you walk through the gate, all I can say is WOW. Our quick walk to the reception area was like walking in area where movies were filmed or maybe a scene from the bachelor (Todd does not watch the bachelor). Our hotel had lush gardens, beautifully appointed inca and Spanish style buildings. The lobby was open to the fresh air. The hotel had lots of open space with water and flower gardens. The backdrop, on all four sides, was the Andes Mountains. Our evaluation at the hotel is 9300 ft.
After we signed our registration card and gave them
our passports, we went to our room to drop off our carryon luggage and waited for our bags. Our room was incredible. The entry door was solid wood and the entry key was old time skelton key and the room had high beamed vaulted ceiling. The walls were plaster and the floors were orange tile (later saw the floor color on the bottom of my socks. The room did not have central heat or air condition rather a floor heater. The only other time I have seen this is when Michael, Cindy’s dad, and I were traveling in Ayers Rock, Australia.
After our bags arrived, we went to the rear of the hotel property to watch a weaving demonstration. I added some photos to the blog so you can see this fascinating work of art in progress. Some of the weaved pieces can take up to 3-4 months. To better explain the processes the weavers go through, here is a great website of the Peruvian process. http://threadsofperu.com/weaving/
Following our weaving demonstration, we had a small amount of free time so Todd went to the outdoor café and purchased an Americano, American coffee with hot
milk (not cream). We walked around the grounds of the hotel just marveling the absolute beauty of the property. We also quickly and individually Skyped the kids showing them the hotel property. They would love this hotel.
Our group had a meeting in the chapel located on the hotel grounds. A beautiful small chapel, Spanish influence. In our meeting we discussed food options for dinner this evening. Interesting way of figuring out who wanted what food this evening. Our tour guide read over the appetizer and dinner options and then ask our group to raise their hands to select their choices. It took a few times to get it right, but it worked. We also discussed our schedule for tomorrow. Tomorrow we are visiting the highlight of our trip, Machu Pichu.
Following our meeting, we had a little more free time and then we joined our group for dinner in the only restaurant on the property. We met a super nice couple from Hawaii at our table. For dinner, Todd tried a Peruvian special, Alpaca, a type of camel here in Peru. We saw this animal earlier today while on our tour. It was
super tasty and would love to eat it again.
Today was a super fun day and we learned more in-depth information about the culture and people of Peru. We were in bed early since we had to be up early on Tuesday. Like I mentioned earlier, we are heading to Machu Pichu tomorrow.
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