Saturday, May 18, 2013

Watch Out, They Spit!


We went to Machu Picchu on Thursday and it was absolutely spectacular.  It was as awesome as everyone says it is and I didn't want to leave.  But I'm not going to write about it now since I would probably write "It was so cool!" and other synonymous phrases over and over again and no one wants to read that.
 
Machu Picchu, check!
 On most days our tour company offers an optional tour for about $50.  We've been on two and they were well worth the money.  We were in Cusco yesterday and the optional tour was $65 per person so we were less excited about spending that much money.  And most of the sites they were going to see were close to town so we decided to save some money and find them on our own.  Our first stop was the Temple of the Sun where my mom and I hired our own guide for $13 to explain things to us.  She was very knowledgeable, but her English was so bad that I frequently had to repeat what she'd said so my mother who is unaccustomed to hearing non-native speakers would know what was going on.  The guide would just throw in random Spanish words when she didn't know the English word and occasionally would just speak entirely in Spanish.


While were there we ran into Armin and Shiloh, a young married couple in our group from Canada.  The four of us decided to share a cab up to Sacsayhuamán (sounds like "sexy woman").  I had never heard of it until the previous night when Barb mentioned that it was really cool.  When I asked her what it was she said it was an old Inca wall with stones so close together that not even a piece of paper can fit between them.  We've already seen a lot of walls so it didn't sound too exciting, but we decided to go anyway.
It's a wall!
We saw a llama there (which turned out to be an alpaca) and Shiloh wanted a picture by it, but she was scared that it would bite her so she'd inch closer and then it would move and she'd get scared and jump away.  This happened a number of times with us and Armin assuring her that it wouldn't bite her.  

Armin: Don't worry, honey, it won't bite you.
Shiloh: It's making funny noises!
Me: *laughter*
The lady who takes care of the alpaca walked over and held the alpaca's rope and we all got a picture with it. 
See, it doesn't bite
We then went to enter the Sacsayhuamán archaeological site.  When we got to the ticket office we learned that the entrance fee was about $30 per person.  My jaw figuratively dropped to the ground in shock.  Apparently the ticket to a lot of the sites we'd been to includes the entrance to Sacsayhuamán.  We didn't have those tickets because our tour guide never gave them to us and in spite of a bit of arguing in Spanish from me we were not let into the site.  We were also told that the site was huge (much more than just a wall) and included a ziz-zaggy wall and some tunnels.  Even though I'd only heard about it the night before I suddenly really, really wanted to go inside, but I was way too cheap to pay that much money.  While we were fretting about the cost and trying to figure out what to do a man walked up to us and offered to take us horseback riding for about $13 and promised to take us to an archaeological site as well as a great view.  We decided to be spontaneous and go.

As we were following this guy to the stables we saw another alpaca and took pictures with it, too.  Shiloh was nervous again, but pretended to kiss it.  My mom, not nervous at all, strolled right up to the alpaca and pretended to kiss it.  It then surprised us all and spit on her.  I randomly got a picture of it on my mom's phone (that we unfortunately can't figure out how to get onto my computer) and we all burst into raucous laughter.  Mom just laughed it off and we cleaned off the gift from the alpaca without any problem. 

Sergio, Paola, and I
We kept following the man up a small trail through some trees and I realized that we were breaking the first rule of international travel: don't follow strangers to a different location, especially into the woods.  Let me just say that I've never done anything so reckless before while traveling.  However, for some reason I felt totally okay about it and I was glad when we arrived at the stables instead of being kidnapped and turned into slaves or had our organs harvested.  My mom was the first to get on a horse and her bag got in the way so our guide Sergio said he'd hold it.  Usually I wouldn't have allowed this because her iPad and money were in it.  But once again, my gut told me it was okay.  My mom's horse was named Bonito, Shiloh's was named Benito (like me!), I don't remember the name of Armin's horse, and mine was named Paola.  I led the pack because my horse was the fastest and I had to continually pull the reins back so that she would stop and the others could catch up.  The ride was incredibly fun and I kept thinking to myself, how did we end up here?  It was a blast.

Mom, Bonito, Shiloh, and Benito
We didn't go in this one
As we were riding it started raining and it got pretty cold and windy.  We left the horses by the highway and Sergio had us climb up a little hill with him.  He barely speaks English so he would explain things in Spanish and I'd translate for everyone else.  He had us go through a short cave (my mom had to crawl) and then showed us some Inca altars.  He also pointed out the entrance of a cave that takes two days to walk through and leads to a place called the Devil's Balcony.  We didn't go in there.  We then went into a cave called the Temple of the Moon.  It seriously felt like we were in a scene from Indiana Jones.  The cave was tall, but thin and there were some holes in the roof that allowed some light in. The only thing missing was torches.  He showed us an altar that the moon shines directly on from midnight to one.  It was very cool.  He talked in whispers out of respect (I'm assuming) and left a coca leaf as an offering to the moon. 

Here we are pretending to hitchhike
We then went back to the horses and it was still raining and Sergio could see that we were cold.  He said that we could take a bus back to town instead of riding the horses back if we wanted.  We were very cold (especially mom and Shiloh) so we took a bus back.  While we were waiting for the bus mom and Shiloh crowded next to me because I blocked the wind.  When we got back to Cusco it was 3:00 pm and none of us had eaten lunch and we were very hungry so we bought some delicious empanadas.  Right after we ate them mom very apologetically told me that she felt like she might vomit and wanted to take a taxi back to the hotel immediately.  Shiloh also wanted to go home so that's what we did.  While we were in the taxi I told Shiloh that she had been worried about getting spit on by an alpaca and now she might get puked on by an American woman.

Me and mom on the bus
Mom is fine and didn't puke at all, even on Shiloh.  Our day ended up much differently than I had imagined it and it was way cheaper than a tour.  Spontaneity usually pays off.  

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey that sounds awesome. This is one of your students from tyee last year by the way. Just was looking through my desk and found the card you hand wrote for each an every one of us. From what the post said it seems like you have been good. Also, I'm not forgetting the promise you made to us about walking the Camino with us. Keep on being Mormon!
-Some kid in Washinton

Joleen Rees said...

Fun! I have one of those blankets that is wrapped around that Peruvian woman's shoulder. My dad brought back a bunch of them from when he served his mission in Peru. He wanted to give one to each of his children. He brought back something like 10 and he had 8 children, so plenty to go around! :)