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Day 269 Pisac, Peru: Pisac Carnaval.

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The route from Cusco to Olly takes you through what is called The Valle Sagrado or Sacred Valley of the Rio Urubamba. In laymans view, it is a gorgeous valley that has to be one of the most plant/farming enriched land that I have ever seen. Everything is solid green from the mountain tops down to the wide valleys with the large Rio Urubamba winding through it. I have some good shots of it, but the ride back through the whole thing really was an eye opening experience.

One of the major attractions to the Sacred Valley is the city of Pisac. Pisac lies 32km northeast of Cusco and consists of a somnolent rural colonial village alongside the river, and an Inca site dramatically located on a mountain spur 600M above. The city comes alive on Sunday mornings, when the famous weekly market swamps its center with every craft imagineable, from llama finger puppets to panpipes practically as tall as the makers. The market is world renown for its local crafts, but still is geared to the locals as well with a quarter of the area cordoned off for produce and consumeables.

I thought that since I was in the area, and the timing was perfect, I would stop over in Pisac for the night, catch some R&R, and catch the Sunday market the next day. I did the reverse order of buses to get to Pisac. Even on Saturday, the market was fairly large. I got there mid-day, and sauntered through the market. Your usual colorful stuff, but just a lot of stuff that I didn’t need. I met a couple of hippie types who clued me in on a good cheap place since the hotels on the square were pricing themselves as such. On the way I ran into a hostel owner who said the magic words “$10S”, so I had my home for the night. He was a real nice guy who was extremely helpful. He clued me in on the fact that it was a great time to be there since the next day was the biggest event of the year for the town, Carnaval. It would last a couple of weeks, but that Sunday was the biggest day. I had hit it just perfect. He also clued me in on the fact that the Inca site above the city was also one of the $70S ticket places, but as long as I toured the place before 9am when the tourist showed up, there would be nobody up there to bother me. The only other thing he did mention was the fact that the place was pretty big and the tours of it usually lasted about five hours. You could see from the city the many outposts that looked liked castle tops dotting the mountian right above the city. It was a long way up, but I couldn’t imagine it taking five hours.

The rest of the day was spent dodging water fights, looking for places to eat, napping, and just taking a breather. I hung out with the hippie guys a bit, walked up to the site entrance to scout out other entry points, and watched the processions in the plaza. As it got later, the procession grew into a full out parade with all the different local Indian groups coming dressed up in their cultural clothes and dancing to different music. The last part of the night involved the participants forming a circle around a tree in the square. As the music played, a couple would come into the center, dance around a bit, and then take a couple of whacks at the tree in the center with a gussied up axe. They would then hand off the axe to another couple and it would go on from there. I felt kind of bad for the tree. In the trees branches, they had tied a bunch of balloons inter-mixed with a bunch of novelty gifts. I imagine it is kind of like the Mexican Pinatas. When the tree comes down, the people would make a mad dash for the gifts. Unfortunately, I got bored and wandered off to find food. Soon after, an icy cold rain came through and pounded the place. I went back to the hotel to go to bed, but I could still hear the music playing. The rain had stopped, so I threw on my dry Teddy bear pants and headed out. The tree was down alright and the people were still dancing about in a few little circles. Up on the main stage the kids were practicing their dancing for the event the next day. That was very interesting because they were doing the local dances which involved a lot of twirling and such. I watched that for a while and called it a night. I hadn’t decided on what to do about the ruins the next day since I had originally planned on just doing the market thing and using the day as a recovery day.



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