Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cusco Trip- Day 1: Chinchero & Ollantaytambo

The first week in Peru was spent traveling in the southern part of the Andes mountain range including visits to two hot spots of Peru: Machu Picchu and Cusco. However, the first day of our trip was spent in the town of Chinchero and Ollantaytambo. At Chinchero, we watched how a group of ladies make the famous woven goods of the Andes from alpacha, sheep, and llama hair. They showed us how they dye the thread using natural products, for example extracting the color from purple corn or squishing live snails. Finally, I bought alpacha leg warmers that are super cute. :D

The second city, Ollantaytambo, is a small town, but is famous for being the last and only Incan town left in the world. The reason for this is because all the houses and buildings date back to the Incan empire, but are still lived in today. It is a slow moving town, and people are always walking around trying to sell small items, but that practice is everywhere in the Andes. Cui farms are common, which are Guinea Pig farms. Guinea Pig is a dish native to the Peruvian Andes, and I had some in Cusco, but that is another story! There are also ruins there that show some of the unique agricultural and architectural practices of the Incans. (Such as they built into the mountains, built in shapes of trapezoids, and used the small stones at the base and the big stones at the top. Also, they grew plants in levels up the mountain to help them accustom the altitude)

Speaking of accustoming to the altitude, I was hit with altitude sickness the first day. It felt like I wasn't actually breathing oxygen, and I was dizzy and nauseous after just walking a flight of stairs. The remedy for me was drinking my favorite Andean drink: Mate de Coca! It is tea made with the same leaf that makes cocaine; the leaf is steeped in hot water for a wonderful tea (see my picture!)


  1. Fascinating! I loved reading this, Megs!! Ollantaytambo sounds amazing (and yeah, I had to look up at your blog post to see how to spell it correctly haha:). Love ya and glad you got over that altitude sickness!

  2. I love that you ate guinea pig...well not that you ate it. More so, I just love the mental picture I get thinking of you eating a guinea pig. It makes me giggle. Almost as much as thinking about 'dead puppies'.
    Looooove you :)