After my Week 3 adventures, I spent my final week taking it easy. A fellow volunteer (who was about to spend 3 months living in Cusco) came with me on my mini-tour to Pisaq and Ollantaytambo, two picturesque towns nestled in the heart of the Sacred Valley.
We jumped in a combi for 8 soles, which speedily made it’s way through the long and winding roads up first to Ollantaytambo. Driving into the town you first noticed the incredibly rocky road, and second the beautiful Incan terraces that dominated the hillsides. We decided first to find something the eat before tackling the ruins, and found ourselves a quiet little restaurant with a balcony overlooking the plaza. One Inca Kola and a
deadly scary encounter with a persistent wasp later, we made our way up the giant steps to the ruins. As an ancient historian you might expect I’d have more to say about ruins, but sadly in my experience ruins are just ruins at the end of the day. They were pretty cool and the view at the top was especially beautiful after it was painted with a rainbow, but I suppose they just weren’t old enough for me to feel mesmerised by them.
We ended our visit in a charity-run cafe that served a mean vegetarian lasagne and donated money to a cool charity that helped education and preservation in local villages. Our journey home was scary; we were unsure where on earth to catch the combi, or when it was due to arrive, and found ourselves hurried onto a random minibus outside of an indoor market. I kept my cool but I was actually freaking terrified. My whole trip I thought something bad had to happen to me, but I suppose Karma had given me a bad enough time on my trek so of course I was fine. The next day we made a similar journey to Pisaq, and town famous for its artisan market, and the perfect place for me to buy my family their souvenirs. Driving into the town was stunning; it was tucked in a steep valley, and the houses were painted all colours of the rainbow. On our way up to the ruins we past by an art student’s workshop, and were entertained by his adorable (and heavily pregnant) kitty. A mixture of exhaustion from the week behind me and undiagnosed chronic anaemia meant I was knackered and found the endless steps of Pisaq’s ruins an impossible complete feat. So I sat half way up and soaked in the views whilst my fellow volunteer made her way to the top. I have no regrets. We ended the day eating avacado y queso sandwiches and buying treats for our families. Had I spent more time in Peru, I would have definitely liked to have paid more attention to these parts of the Sacred Valley. They were just lovely and were a nice break from the bustling city centre.
The morning before I left the volunteers and I had a farewell lunch in an Israeli Cafe behind the Plaza de Armas. I was sad, but ready to head back east and see my family and friends.