Tuesday, October 18, 2016

15 in the Peruvian Andes – delicious, magical Pisaq

Though Ollantaytambo was a clear favourite of ours, the sleepy town of Písac (Pisaq in Quechua) came in a close second! Although, technically, we didn't stay in the town of Písac itself, but in a nearby (10 minutes by car) sort of hippie commune? It was a curious place, there was a Buddhist temple, and the houses had a curious dome – or Peruvian hat – shape? Though the habib may have found the setting and lodgings a little bit too basic, I thought it was a very welcome relief after our days in Aguas Calientes.

Anyhow, as soon as we dropped our stuff, we caught a van to town and began exploring charming Písac and it's impossibly colourful and interesting market!

Of course, there was also cuy to be had. But after our Ollanta experience, we were in no mood for trying it again. Ever. But at least these cuys looked way less unappetizing than the one we had at Ollanta. Whatever, yuck. But the furnace at the place that sold them – a bread furnace, the cuys were cooked on a grill – had a curious figure we had seen elsewhere, including at Ollanta: two bulls guarding a cross and a ladder, plus a number of other symbols. From what we were told in Ollanta, this was meant as magical/spiritual protection.

Back at the market, and around Písac in general, it was hard not to take pictures of women in their colourful traditional attire, or of the market itself. It was such an amazing place! The sun shone bright, it was a peaceful day despite it being the Sunday Market day (most tourists are bussed in and given very little time to do some shopping before leaving for some other tourist spot), and we were basically happy...

We had to have lunch, too. We had read that eating at the market was the best we could do. So we sat at this caldo de gallina (hen broth) stand and had the best hen broth ever! Except the owner had run out of hen, which was excellent for us since hen meat can be very chewy, and offered us instead plenty of cured veggies, which gave the soup a very peculiar but nevertheless delicious taste! Nom nom! 

And then back to walking around the market for more scenes...

And then a break at a balcony with views of the square and market and locals, with a wheat Cusqueña beer... So relaxing, so nice, so peaceful, so interesting!

But we had to leave. We had been told that vans would start running very infrequently after sundown, so we headed to the highway. But, just before leaving town, we found a woman selling Peruvian tamales! Couldn't resist and bought a sweet one and a salty one for dinner!

Once back at our hippy-like Airbnb, we got to enjoy the sunset at the foot of the Pachatusan mountains. Beautiful.

And at night? The best Milky Way show ever! The Milky Way was in such a position at the sky that it stretched from one side of the valley to the other, in an impressive luminous arc. And something else: back in Cusco I had seen a painting representing how the Inca saw the Milky Way. It seems they saw not just figures in the starts, like everybody else, but they also saw figures in the dark spaces within the Milky Way (these are caused by interstellar dust). Of course, I hadn't memorized the painting and thus couldn't quite see the precise figures. But it was really cool to be able to admire the galaxy from the valley and to also to be able to appreciate it in more detail and depth by noticing not only its bright path, but the dark spaces throughout.

I didn't have the camera nor the skills to produce a decent picture. But just imagine how the sky must have looked like if unprofessional me with a normal camera managed to get this photo.

We had one more full day in Písac. Then a morning. And then one last day in Cusco... This story is soon wrapping up!

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