Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ancient History, Volume XIV

In case you missed the last installment, it covered Puno and an awkward homestay on Lake Titicaca.

The morning after we returned from the homestay, we got up to discover that there was no hot water in the hotel because the hot water heater had burst. Shortly thereafter, the water was turned off full stop. At least we were still able to brush our teeth due to the need to use bottled water for such things!

So it wasn't a particularly enjoyable six and a half hour bus ride, particularly when there was only one stop (and therefore one toilet break!) on the entire drive. Upon arrival in Cusco, it was pretty much a sprint to the showers. Although not before Nessa and I discovered that, unlike the rest of our group, our room was a dungeon with some kind of medieval padlock on the door. It was impossible to get open in a hurry, and once you eventually got the lock undone, you had to go down about three stairs to actually get into the room:

That evening, we had our briefing for the Inca Trail, and met the four people who were joining our group. There were two couples, who were quite a bit older than the rest of the group: one couple were sweet and hilarious and in their 40s. The other couple? Were a millionty years old, and very VERY annoying. Okay, technically it was just HER that was annoying. She was loud, unfit, and got everyone's names wrong right up until the end of the tour. After about 10 minutes in her company, I mentioned quietly to various members of the group that she was going to annoy the living shit out of me. I was promptly told to not be so judgemental and to give her a chance.

Within 24 hours, almost every member of the group had come up to me to say that yes, I was right and she was the most annoying person on earth. Needless to say, I got ever so slightly I-told-you-so-y. We decided that we needed a safe word so that we knew to suddenly stop talking if they came up and we were bitching about them. After a day or so, the safe word became synonymous with their names, and we just called them Mr and Mrs Watermelon instead... (Not to their faces, obviously!)

The following day started with a trip to Saqsayhuaman. Our guide for the day promptly informed us that it's pronounced "sexy woman". It's super awesome and historic and HOW THE HELL DID THEY MOVE THESE ENORMOUS STONES?!?!?!
Yet another unflattering photo of me for scale

Minus me so you can appreciate the awesomeness
More of the site

It would be even more awesome if the people of Cusco hadn't used it as a quarry up until the mid-20th century... ANYWAY. You also get a pretty spectacular view of downtown Cusco from Saqsayhuaman:

By the time we'd finished there, my inner archaeologist was flailing with excitement (Lor: this is kind of like when Ana's inner goddess does a samba, only much more awkward and nerdy. And not over a creepy stalker weirdo). We then headed up to Tambomachay, which was some kind of Incan spa or shrine to the water gods. Or both. Jeez, archaeologists. Make up your minds...

From Tambomachay, we went out to the Sacred Valley, which is pretty spectacular:

...and then to a llama/alpaca/vicuña education centre. Which basically ended up being "OMFG Mrs Watermelon is making us all stabby. Thank God there are baby animals here that we get to feed":
It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!! 

Eventually, we were dragged away from the babies left the education centre, and drove into Pisac where we were set free on the market and had empanadas for lunch. Om nom nom nom nom. Lunch was followed by a trip to a chicha brewery. We were given samples of chicha, which is completely and utterly vile, and - if I remember correctly - slightly chewy... Call me weird, but fermented beverages should not be chewy... There was also strawberry flavoured chicha, which was equally disgusting. The chicha brewery also had a room full of tasty snacks/adorable pets:
They're guinea pigs, in case you can't tell...

Our final stop of the day was Ollantaytambo, which was a royal Incan estate, and is super dooper awesome and amazeballs. Especially if you have an inner archaeologist:
Those are Incan storehouses about half way up the mountain. SUPER PRACTICAL!

After a couple of hours of me flailing around like an excited idiot and the rest of the group going "Hey, that's kind of old and nifty", we headed back into Cusco. Our tour leader issued us with our bags, sleeping mats and walking sticks for the Inca Trail (eek!!) and we spent a delightful evening packing by torchlight, because the hotel conveniently had a blackout. It was excellent preparation for the next four days. Or something...

Next up: The Inca Trail, on which Mrs Watermelon gets even more crazy and annoying, and on which I think I'm going to die.

K xx


  1. One flight of steps at Sexy Woman being challenging for Mrs Watermelon = alarm bells going off as to her physical ability to complete the Inca Trail.

    Impending irony of me continually bitching about how it's okay for young, healthy people to attempt the trail with little preparation but not old ones with apparent cardiovascular conditions = priceless.

    Also?? INKA GRILL!!! :) :) :)

    1. I'd forgotten that she could barely cope with the stairs at Saqsayhuaman!!! I'm still amazed we made it through without strangling her...

      And Inka Grill was *after* the Inca Trail - all in good time!!

  2. Why must the baby animals and bundle o' guinea pigs be so cute? They're distracting me from the awesomeness of the Incan ruins.

    1. Yeah, the baby animals were pretty stinkin' cute. But it's pretty much impossible to distract me from the awesomeness of Incan ruins. Because I'm a nerd like that!

  3. Alpacas, SQUEEEE!!

    Loooooove me some alpacas!
    Too freakin' cute.

    So Mrs Watermelon was the lamest lameass that ever lamed? Can't wait to hear more, heh heh.

    Love the pictures and how many adventures you've had in South America in general...lucky!


    1. She was a total nightmare!! There is so very much more to come about her. So. Much. More.

      There were also a multitude of adult alpacas/llamas/vicuñas. But they weren't nearly as cute, so I didn't waste space with their pictures. Because I'm mean like that! ;)

    2. FYI, alpacas are cute AND delicious. If you ever get the opportunity to eat an alpaca steak, do it!


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