Gringos in Chinchero

After much debate on how to spend my Mother’s last week in Peru, we all decided that a tour around the sacred valley was in order. Our first stop was pretty far off the beaten path to Chinchero.

DSC00750WThis small town is famous for its authentic Sunday market where highland people descend to trade and sell their wares. We caught a combi (or collective minivan) from Cusco and an hour later arrived on the main (only) street of Chinchero.

DSC04229WWe had read that there were only two hotels in town but had found a third on Booking.com for a good price. Apparently, it was too good as when we arrived, there was no one around and the place was all locked up. A very kind local woman offered us a matrimonial room in her brother’s house, but we politely declined and set off to find one of the “actually existing” two hotels in town.

DSC04228WNot far down the road we found one of them where we were greeted warmly by the owner. I think we were the only ones there, but we were given a massive family room with four beds. To use the shower we had to pass through an unoccupied double room and the water wasn’t always on, but it was quirky and local and the owner was very attentive.

That evening we set out to find dinner apparently much too late as almost everything was closed. We did finally stumble upon a local joint where they served “dinner”. When I asked if they had a daily menu the owner replied, “yes, we have dinner.” And then they laughed at me when I asked if they had any vegetarian options for my mother.

DSC04211WAnd so dinner was what we had, a typical meal of vegetable soup, hot tea and a main of rice, a piece of meat, some french fries and a few vegetables. It wasn’t the most complicated meal, but it was fun to really be rubbing elbows with the locals, as we hadn’t seen another tourist for the entire day.

DSC00739WWe got up early the next morning, not to miss any of the action, and after a nice breakfast at our guesthouse we headed out to the market. It was just as colorful and authentic as I had hoped.

There were still the standard tourist souvenirs but also highland people arriving to stock up on staples. I bartered with a few sellers for scarves for Erik and I and a wall hanging for my mother.

DSC04215WIt was such a great representation of traditional dress we couldn’t help but take a few pictures. Every time Erik would avoid a request for money for a picture, he would say, “Got’er!” which quickly became a theme on the trip.

DSC04218WWe also grabbed a bag of bread and avocados for lunch before we decided to head up to the ruins that rest above the town.

DSC04233aWAfter getting somewhat lost and climbing a lot of stairs at altitude, the ruins weren’t particularly impressive but quite quaint and beautiful thanks to their surroundings.

DSC04233WI think we got some great shots from the bottom looking up.

Right next to the ruins stood a beautiful church and courtyard where we lounged for awhile before heading back down.

We would have liked to go into the church to see the magnificent painted ceiling, but there was a large service or wedding going on inside.

DSC04251WBefore heading back to the guesthouse, Erik and I had to try a local specialty of corn and cheese. My mother was very correct in her recollection that the corn has very little taste but it was fun to eat due to the massive kernels, and the cheese was delicious if a bit salty.

While waiting to get on another combi to take us to Ollantaytambo, we were taken under the wing of a very cute, and very old Peruvian man. He warned us how expensive a taxi would be and how to use the local combi system. He then actually chased away a taxi driver pestering us, and told the driver of a combi when it arrived where we wanted to go and how much it should cost. It was priceless.

DSC04262WHe was very proud of the airport that was just built outside of town and asked us how different the United States was to Peru, oh and that he knew about Obama.

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