As noted, Puno was wonderful. I highly recommend it. I was hoping to continue the winning streak when I arrived in Cusco. It started well. Enrique picked me up at the train station and he has a smile that is so infectious it’s like his whole body lights up. He didn’t speak much English but he tried and the short ride to the hotel was a lot of fun.
Found out I wasn’t staying in Cusco for two nights as I expected so no laundry. But Robinson was at the hotel (a first!) and I had a fairly detailed itinerary mapped out as well as tickets for everything. So it sounded promising 🙂
I met David the next day. He was my favourite hands down. He was a great guide – very knowledgeable and patient with great English language skills. It was mostly random that he was talking to Enrique in Spanish about his vacation so he mentioned to me in English what they were speaking about. He had just been to Australia!
It started a really interesting conversation as I used to live in Australia and travelled extensively there so knew the landscape he had just seen. But we also discussed what it was like to travel from a country like Peru to a country like Australia. The complicated visa procedures – and the culture shock upon arrival. It has been a one-way street for so long. Tourists from developed countries venturing into developing countries and having a chance to evaluate their own culture from a different perspective. It’s exciting to see the new middle class in the emerging countries having the opportunity to travel and see the world from a new perspective.
As I’ve already noted, I was mostly winging it in Peru. Most days I just woke up and wondered what might happen. I was especially unclear what my day in the Sacred Valley was going to be about.
At first it was déja vu. I was back on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater with Alex spinning around the narrow
switchbacks at a pace that felt not entirely safe – while the Brazilians looked out the window nonchalantly and I kept searching the horizon for a guardrail! But Alex assured me over dinner that he drove that route every day and we were perfectly safe.
So this time I decided to try and act more like the Brazilians. It took me a little while. These are the Andes. Some of the roads are too narrow for two vehicles to pass without special manoeuvres and the drop off is spectacular. But that also means there are gorgeous views if you DO decide to look down, way down…
And it also meant I got to see a llama up close! Right on the road in front of us. And then we arrived at the Planeterra Women’s Weaving Co-op. It’s one of the good works that g adventures is involved in.
You have a chance to see how llamas turn into sweaters! I also learned the difference between llamas, alpacas and vicunas – both how to identify the animals and the difference in the quality of the textiles that can be made from each.
David explained the entire process and also told me about some of the crops grown in the Sacred Valley. I can’t remember exactly how many types of potatoes there are but over 3,000 I believe. It’s also the home of quinoa. I hadn’t realized how healthy it was but David convinced me so I am going to try and eat more quinoa 🙂
Of course, in order to weave cloth you need some animals so a great opportunity for more llama photos!
The women obviously had been practicing their sales skills in addition to honing their weaving. It was a little overwhelming as there were a lot of different stalls and my backpack was already full – but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to be able to buy directly from the people who had made the goods and do my little bit for the Peruvian economy. I even managed to squeeze in a purple alpaca sweater! And so many scarves you would think I was opening my own boutique…
More llama sightings ahead…