Cusco y El Valle Sagrado

As most of you probably noticed via social media, Kieran and I spent about a week longer in Cucsco and the Sacred Valley than Robin and Caleb. Back in Costa Rica, I was suffering from the heat and starting to feel really nervous about the time we had planned in Puerto Maldonado, volunteering in the rainforest (too hot, too wet and humid, way too many bugs). I kept it to myself for a couple days, thinking that I just need to find a way to suck it up, until I realized how much it was affecting my mood and how I was feeling about the trip and I talked to Robin about it. We made an easy decision to explore the possibility of splitting up for this week and giving the boys the option to choose what they would like to do. It turned out to be an easy decision for them too. Caleb was very keen to go ahead with the volunteer work and Kieran was as reluctant about it as I was and relieved to be presented with another option. I’m really happy that we can be flexible about our plans and adjust as needed and also that we are comfortable spending time apart when it means that we can all find a way to enjoy what we’re doing without being obligated to participated in every activity.

Kieran and I spent the first 4 nights of our time apart in Urubamba in the Sacred Valley, staying with a couple in their home. I wanted to find a unique place to stay that would allow us to spend some time with locals, learn a bit more about Peru and the Sacred Valley and to immerse Kieran in real life where we were staying, rather than just hanging out in an apartment by ourselves. It turned out to be a wonderful experience! Our hosts, Juan and Dew, were so nice and welcoming. We felt like friends from the moment we arrived at their home. The room we stayed in was really large and had a lovely balcony and we had the perfect mix of privacy and the opportunity to connect and spend time with our hosts. They prepared all our meals for us, helped arrange a few little trips for us and welcomed us to spend time watching movies with them, chatting and playing with their dog (Kintu) and cat (Wichi). Kieran wasn’t feeling keen on doing a lot of things while we were there so we mostly hung out in the house.

We took a trip to Pisac to visit the market on Sunday (despite Kieran’s protests that he wanted to stay home). The market was busy and filled with vendors, locals and tourists. There were people in traditional Peruvian dress with alpacas who were looking for tourists to stop and hold or pet their alpacas and take pictures with, for a tip of course. One girl saw Kieran and before he could protest, shoved her baby alpaca into his arms and posed for a picture. He wasn’t very happy about it, but I obliged and took his picture and gave her a small tip. On the way back to Urubamba we made a stop the Museo Inkariy – a great little museum where I was able to learn more about the the groups of people that came before the Incas – Caral, Chavin, Paracas, Mochica, Nazca, Wari, Chimu Lambayeque, and finally, the Incas. It was fascinating and far more information than I’ve ever seen before about the history of the Incas. Kieran opted out and stayed in the car the whole time – I let him.

The following day I convinced Kieran to go out for a walk for a few hours to explore Urubamba and visit the Plaza des Armes. We got ice cream, which always makes him happy, and walked around a while, taking in the local scene. Being the rainy season, there aren’t too many tourists around the Sacred Valley right now but the Plaza des Armes is busy enough that you can kind of blend in to the hustle and bustle.

On the second to last day, our hosts arranged for us to visit Ollantaytambo. It was a shorter drive than the one to Pisac, so Kieran was less reluctant. We went there with the intention of visiting the ruins for a while and then stopping at the chocolate museum for a tour and demonstration. We went first to the ruins and we were both so taken with them that we hired a guide and spent an hour and a half exploring and learning all about the temple site. It was well worth hiring the guide and I feel now that when we visit Machu Picchu later next week with Robin and Caleb, it will provide some valuable context and contrast. In the end, we didn’t have time for the chocolate museum but we did stop for a nice lunch at a local restaurant.

On our way to Ollantaytambo, our driver pointed out a hotel on the side of the mountain. She stopped the car so that we could crane our necks to look waaaaay up (and at the people scaling the side of the mountain to get to it!!!) and take a picture. I’m all for interesting accommodations but ya, that’s a hard no from me.

We left behind our cozy house and new friends in Urubamba and headed for Cusco a few days ago. It has been very uneventful since arriving and we’ve spent almost all our time in our hostel. It’s a fun little rooftop room + living space + bathroom + kitchen and we have it all to ourselves. We only need to go down to the main kitchen to get breakfast in the morning, which has suited us fine. On our first afternoon is Cusco we explored around a little, stopped by the Correo Central (post office) to pick up Robin’s yellow fever vaccination card (thank you Tina!!!), visit the Plaza des Armes and get some food. Kieran took a little turn for the worse overnight and neither of us got much sleep so we spent the whole next day hanging out, watching movies, reading, and cuddling. He’s feeling better today but it’s pouring rain and only 11 degrees so we’re huddled up again – neither of us is complaining though. We are looking forward to seeing Robin and Caleb tomorrow, to some better weather and getting back to adventuring and exploring. I’m grateful for our adaptability, willingness to compromise for each other and most of all, for the time we are getting to spend together whether we’re making memories or just enjoying each other’s love and company.

Top row (left to right): a boy and his cupcake; Cusco Plaza des Armes (in the sun!). Bottom row (left to right): sunny, daytime view from our rooftop room; nighttime view; rooftop living space; me all bundled up from the rain and cold.

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