We had a great time spending a week in Cusco with my parents. We visited several museums, went into plenty of gift shops, ate a lot of Peruvian food, and had a great day trip out of the city.
The week started out with a hiccup. The place we had rented from AirBnB ended up not being up to standards. On Monday morning Daisy and I did a hotel search. After so many days on the road, we had the routine down. We found a great place that included breakfast, was clean and had hot water, and was reasonably priced. As an added bonus, we found out that we could order dinner as well! Each night we chose a different Peruvian dish with suggestions from the chef. Yum.
We went to several different museums related to the history of the Incas (Quechua) people and their predecessors. We stumbled into a cool gallery of Peruvian-modern-art weavings, and even a tiny medicinal plants “museum.” It was a pleasure just to walk the city streets. There are plenty of colonial buildings, old rock walls, gift shops, and markets. It always entertains me to walk past the rows of raw meat sitting on the counter. I also got my hair cut for less than 2 USD, and in about 5 minutes.
On Friday, at the end of the week, we took our last full day and left the big city. We hired a taxi driver to shuttle us around to a few tourist sites. The first stop was Salinas, a place that has been used for many, many years to collect salt. There is a natural salty spring that comes out of the mountain. The locals collect the water in small ponds to let it dry into salt crystals. The town nearby used to be very rich, but now that salt costs only 10 US cents per kilo in Peru they mostly make their living off of tourism.
The next stop was the archeological site of Moray. The site was a laboratory used by the Incas (Quechua) people to test and acclimatize different strains of plants. The terraces built into a natural hillside each have their own microclimate, and the temperature between terraces can vary up to 5 degrees. In this way, they could test different strains of corn, potatoes, beans, and other crops before sending out the seeds to be planted at higher or lower altitudes. It was striking to see the terraces in concentric circles, as opposed to lines on a mountainside.
Our final stop was an overlook of the town of Chinchero and the ruin site there. We didn’t know until we turned around, but the real attraction was a weaving cooperative where we received a demo of cleaning and dying wool. Daisy and I got a refresher from our demo in Oaxaca, Mexico, but it was still fun and impressive to see. I love how bold the colors are, all from natural dyes. We also had a chance to see cuy (guinea pig) up close and personal!
At the end of the week we helped send of my parents in a taxi to the airport. (Thanks for a great week!) Daisy and I stayed in Cusco one more night to put the finishing touches on our new bike setup. Since the roads in Peru are very steep and mountainous, we decided to go a bit lighter. We removed our front racks and bags, and replaced them with water bottle cages (for Jason) and “anything cages” (for Daisy), and I now have a triangle frame bag. After a few days of riding, I can report that the new setup is a success!