Sunday, 8 February 2009

Flags and Sardines... Pisac

It is Sunday and I think I am finally on the other side of whatever little microbe made its way into my system.  I am still coughing, and my voice is a as wobbly as an adolescent boy, but I am much better.  Unfortunately I missed most of my spanish classes during the week, so will do a restart tomorrow.

Yesterday I took a chance on a salad.  A big green lettuce and roasted veggies wonder.  Hope the tummy gods will look kindly upon me, but I did not think I could go another day without fresh vegetables, despite the warnings.  So far so good.

Today I went to a town called Pisaq with a few of the ¨kids¨from school.  I was impressed.  There were the expected ruins, and once again, stairs, stairs, stairs.   My legs managed just fine.   Didn't take me terribly long to realize my lungs weren't so understanding.  I was quite glad that this town is located at a much lower elevation than Cusco

Huffing and puffing along I kept going. The ruins at Pisaq had quite a different look to them (stairs notwithstanding), with most of the rock used in the walls of the upper fortress being red, and lots of red mud to hold them together.  Once again I was amazed at the extent of what used to be their mountain agriculture.  Terraces and canal systems that now lie fallow.  Food would be far more plentiful if they were put back to work.

We took a taxi up to the ruins, and decided to meander around on our own and not get a guide.  Plenty of choices turn wise, and having a guide might have spared us a bad choice or two.  We ended up scrambling down the terraces bordering town and I am sure there was an easier and shorter option.

Had a brief gander at the big market in town everyone talks about, but it just seemed to offer the same old, same old. I was hoping that I would be able to find more unique and handmade items, but alas, I came home empty handed. (my wallet says thanks).

Grabbed a bite to eat at a place that had a huge guinea pig fortress as it's focal point.  Interesting.

We used the public bus to get to Pisac and back, and it was quite an experience. Getting there was not a huge adventure, but coming back Pisac is just a stop on a longer route and each and every bus was packed. Or so we thought.  When each bus stopped we watched a mass of people appear, seemingly out of the blue, and shove themselves into the bus.  Most of the buses left with people still hanging out the open door.

Not something 4 touristy types were quite prepared for, but we gave it our best shot. The first 3 attempts were laughable, with the locals easily tossing us out of the way.   Fine.  We would wait for perhaps a less crowded bus that might come along?  So we stand at the side of the road, in the middle of a market (noise, dirt, general chaos), and then on cue the skies open up and it starts pouring.  Deluge pouring.  Now the day so far had been sunscreen and hats required. Hot. Very hot.  Wish we had a swimming pool hot.  So we were rather surprised to find ourselves soaked to the skin, still waiting for a bus.

When that next bus came around the corner, we made sure we were at the front of the line (my apologies to those that got in our way...).  We still had to stand the entire hour long ride, but we were in the bus and on our way.  A bus packed like... yes, sardines.  Mostly wet sadines.  I did have a good view out the windows, so I got to enjoy the incredible scenery along the way.         Not necessarily when the top heavy bus was taking hairpin curves up the cliff side of the mountains, but I tried not to dwell on that.

With a deep sigh of relief we filed off the bus and walked back to the main square in Cusco.   I made straight for my little perch on a very skinny second floor balcony at the pub overlooking the square, so I could have a small bite to eat while watching all the goings on.  Spent a bit of time contemplating the mass of tourists wandering around, and wondered what the locals must think of us all.  Taking the same pictures, asking the same questions, over and over.   An anthill of frenetic activity with no productive purpose.  Then I snapped out of my stupor and joined the masses watching the daily spectacle of soldiers lowering the flag at sunset.

Ah well, I am a tourist, no?

I am now going to haul my cough and exhaustion up the hill to my residence, have a nice cup of tea and then dive into my bed.

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