Day 6, October 29th:
When we finally make it to Casa San Blas that Wednesday night (thank you, Bernie & Lynn!), I get P into one of the beds in our upstairs loft and then take in the lights sparkling up the hillside. Finally, I think, we are in Cusco, the city of gold, the elegant town I’d been reading about earlier on the train while P was basically passed out from illness. Poor thing. He couldn’t even admire or appreciate this stylized view from our French doors.
Up early on Thursday, we check out and connect with Jeannie & Gang at Terra Andina, leave our bags and head off to Peru Treks, with whom Jeannie has arranged our next leg of travel. We catch mere glimpses of the city ~ Andeans at market with fruit or vegetables laid carefully on handwoven blankets on the ground ~ and I can’t help but feel sad we haven’t been able to explore this area more.
Our home stay is in motion once we meet Adrian, mayor/president/patriarch of the community in which we will all stay in the Andean mountain village of Amaru, high above the Spanish/Incan city of Cusco. We toddle off in 2 taxis to find a mini-bus (P with plastic bag in hand and coca leaves rolled into his gums, still nursing severe nausea), where the boys meet and bottle feed a week and a half old lamb. The pet of choice in Cusco appears to be baby lambs, either for the amusement of the owner or as a money-making photo opportunity.
Shuttling at what seems to be dangerously high speeds around the mountainous switchbacks from Cusco to Pisac, I try to keep my focus on Jeannie’s upbeat conversation. My stomach in my throat; the mini-bus driver is one of the fastest Cusco to Pisac transports we’ve experienced since arriving on Saturday. The other 3 passengers, all natives, seem unfazed by the erratic driving; the one next to P, who has been perusing a foodie magazine, has gone so far as to fall asleep with his head bouncing precariously close to P’s left shoulder. When we finally transfer to 2 other taxis and head by foot back to the Pisac mercado, I am relieved beyond belief that we have made it alive.
Adrian takes us to an adorable 2nd floor restaurant with a balcony overlooking the market, a place where friends of his work. Cafe Mulla, with its sweeping range of international global fare from pad thai to alpaca burgers, ranks high on the list of non-hotel meals P and I eat, although my pad thai is super spicy, something that I will later regret in the “rustic atmosphere” of our home stay. Jeannie and Robb plunge into work mode, he snapping photos in and around the cafe, heading into the kitchen, she jotting notes about the menu, asking Adrian about life in Amaru, the boys also bustling about shooting snaps.
Jeannie and I hit the market with Jeb and tool around a bit. She agrees with me that the market is a bit too tourist-y, a bit too redundant. She, in her fairly flawless Spanish with Jeb to smooth out any rough spots, purchases fruit for the Amaru village families hosting our stay.
We fall in love with these striped nectarine-like fruits, but forget the name.
We take off, again in 2 taxis, and head up the somewhat tortuous twisting roadway to Amaru, where we are greeted by Adrian’s wife, Rosalina, who literally showers each of us with fragrant wild rose petals upon our heads.
The Home Stay has begun!