DAY 2: Heading to Pisac for the artesenal market and the ruins

Day 1:
Relaxing at Aranwa, a spa wellness resort snuggled in between the mountains, our room balcony overlooking a babbling brook with the peaks in the background.

I am kicking myself that I didn’t pack my USB cable so that I could download pix. The place is stunningly beautiful.

The wellness compound and Hamay Spa have been built around a 17th century chapel (see below).

What an amazing trip so far and that is just Day 1! I had a deep Swedish massage (courtesy for the room) and then we took a meditative oxygen therapy with mint flavoring! You really kind of need it with the high altitude here. Plus, I’m full-on nursing the beginning ~ and I’m praying ending ~ of  bronchial congestion, sore throat, etc. I sound so sexy though. Ha!

Day 2:
Morning from our balcony. Trying to get an early start. They say to hit the mercado in Pisac at least by 9.

We work out a deal for a driver to wait for us at the ruins, take us to the market and wait another hour or so, for a sum of 175 soles, or something like $35. The taxi gathers us around 10, then promptly deposits us with one of his friends. My Spanish is so bad and I’m confused we’re being taken advantage of, but it turns out he’s putting us in the hands of someone who speaks English. Our new driver of the day, Sabino, gives us the schpiel,  sometimes in Spanish, a few words in Quechua, but mostly in English, as we drive the hour long winding roads from Sacred Valley to Pisac. He points of the mountain range of Sacksayhuaman (confused by Spanish and Quechaen accents, I think he and other drivers are saying “Sexy Woman” until the end of the trip, when we pass by with Jeannie, Robb and the boys) and its ruins, and the fact that Peru grows like 800 different kinds of potatoes.  P & I are consumed with shooting pictures from the windows of the moving car. The sights are irresistible, even if they are going to be mostly blurs.

I’m not even too scared by the drop offs on the valley sides of the mountain roads. Visual overstimulation. Sabino explains that the terraces of these ruins, part of the ruins of Pisac, are second only to the Machu Picchu city ruins. They end up giving us a good high altitude hiking test drive.

Sabino offers to take us to the cemetery but we opt to walk the ruins alone. Thunder and then lightening threaten across the peaks and finally a little bit of rain spits down upon us. The height and narrowness of some of the paths kicks in and there is a moment I think I won’t be able to get down to where the car is safely parked. Vertigo! My boots may have seemed like inappropriate fashion, but they truly allow me to dig in,  mountain goat style, to the gravely dirt of the paths.

These ruins look easy and the paths look flat, but it’s a little deceptive as you veer onto the areas at left.

We do make it to the Pisac mercado, touted as one of the best Sunday markets by all the guides and our little guide book. But my illness is kicking in full force and when it starts to rain, I make P duck into a little cafe with me. My throat is raw, my head beyond pounding, my patience non-existent. P’s concerned because I obviously don’t even feel like shopping the market. And anyone who knows me, knows that means something is wrong with me. I keep telling him the market seems redundant.

We wait for what seems forever for “dietico pollo” soup, with a rag tag band of three who have pleaded with the waitress to perform in out of the rain, but when the fresh hot soup comes, with a mug of coca leaf tea, I already feel better. After lunch we wander in and out of a couple more booths, stalls that increasingly look like they carry the same touristico tchtotkes up and down the hilly market area. I panic that I’ve bought nothing and make P cut a deal on a group of earrings, indigenous stones from the Machu Picchu range, so the saleslady tells us in Spanish. And like that, I’ve got Peruvian prezzies for my girlies back home.

We head back to Aranwa and crawl into a bath and then bed before ordering chicken noodle consumé via room service. Tomorrow is a huge day, the day we board the Hiram Bingham train to Aguas Calientes, the village at the base of Machu Picchu. And I want to feel excited.

And I do. To an extent. I pop some altitude sickness pills, some motrin and an Exedrin Migraine and revel in the fact that I can’t believe this is my birthday surprise, my fabulous 50, half a century old present! Philippo rocks. In fact, he is the rock star of my heart. And, man, can he keep a secret. No easy feat with me around….

More as I can…..

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