Sunday, July 5, 2009

Day Eleven - June 20th, 2009 - Horsies/Cusco/Pisac

Today we've scheduled a horseback tour of various Inca ruins above Cusco - the second thing we booked with the travel agent the other night.  We are delivered by taxi out of Cusco and to the stable, where we saddle up.  Terry has trained & shown horses since being a teenager, and is our go-to expert.  The horses are a bit sad, but she says they're ok (not great).  

My horse farts constantly.  Allison says this is only fitting.  I can't argue.  We ride for about an hour, arriving at our first ruins, the Temple of the Sun and Moon.  There is a guide there to show us around and explain what is known of the place.  We spend about 40 minutes here. Pretty cool place.  

We saddle up, heading back in the direction of the stable, and before we know it, we are there.  We're a bit confused.  The tour map that the travel agent showed us had A LOT more ruins on it, 8, in fact.  We question the horse wranglers, and they say no, that was the whole tour.  Some students that have been on the ride with us agree that they were supposed to see much more.  

The horse guys genuinely seem to not know anything about this, so begrudgingly we head back to Cusco in the taxi.  It was a nice way to see some beautiful mountain scenery, and we did see the one ruin, but feel a bit ripped off.

We head down to our travel agent's office to complain.  We are starving, but Allison wants to get this over with, and I contend that it will be better to get this out of the way while our blood sugar is low, as we'll be nastier.  Not only did we not get what we were sold, but there were ruins on the map that we could've gone to by car and foot, but we won't have time in our trip now.  We'd paid 15 bucks a person, for a total of 60, and we're gunning to get half of it back.  We lodge our complaint, and the agent talks in circles for awhile.  Her english speaking counterpart that was here the other night isn't here now.  Shortly after this process starts a woman shows up who is clearly the owner, her boss, so now our agent is really trying to put the blame on us, saying that we misunderstood.  After much arguing, she offers 3 bucks each - 12 dollars.  I say this is loco (my favorite part of the argument).  We go in circles again for awhile, and she offers 20.  Allison isn't giving in, though, and finally, after much escalating and simmering down and arguing in circles, we get our 30.  Go team.  We are starving, and in the interest of having something that we know will be good, we head back to 2 Nations for lunch.  Since I'm in Peru, and interested in trying native cuisine, I have the Aussie Burger.  It is a massive burger with an egg, bacon, sliced beets, and a bunch of other stuff.  It's great.

We wander about for a bit, then say goodbye 

to our lovely Hotel Corihuasi, hopping a van to our next destination.  After a beautiful 40 minute drive through the mountains, we descend into the Urubamba river valley, the Sacred Valley, to the charming town of Pisac.  On the way Jamie notices that the hotel Allison claims to have booked for the night is not in the Lonely Planet.   Allison starts to worry that the hotel that she's booked for us in Pisac is not, in fact, in Pisac, but rather is IN CUSCO!  We arrive, however, to find that there is, indeed a Pisac Inn, right on the square in Pisac, and it's beautiful.  Allison just needed to have something to worry about as things were going too smoothly!

Pisac has some excellent Incan ruins on a mountainside

above town, and an enormous, fabulous market in the square on Sunday (tomorrow).  When we arrive, an abbreviated version of the market is already open, although starting to close down.   We wander the booths for a bit, and almost wish we'd not bought anything yet on the trip.  The selection here is incredible, and tomorrow's market will eclipse this one entirely.  We have another excellent dinner at a restaurant overlooking the square.  The activity of the folks in the square is frenetic.  It's like watching bees at work.  Booths are being taken down, and merchandise packed away, while others are being put up for tomorrow.  People are coming in and out of the square from every street, on 3-wheeled bikes piled high with merchandise, tables, and parts for their booths.

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