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.
This 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.
We 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.
Not 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.
And 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.
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.
It 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.
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.
Before 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.