20 September 2007

Cuzco, Pisac, and yet more Ceviche

Today I woke up early and managed to change hotels by noon. While waiting, I had a nice long chat with a young Irish woman (ironically an epileptic) and an older Canadian woman about the merits of both San Pedro and the more recommended Ayahuasca. She (the Canadian) said she's an initiated shaman of Machu Picchu and suggested I talk to another shaman, Koosh (like the ball!) to learn more. She was gracious, informative, and chain-smoked the whole time.

I had a noon appointment with the American guy--Robert--that I met yesterday at the SAE, but was a bit late getting to the Plaza de Armas (even ran into Dave and Pedro from the Colca Canyon on the way). I quickly called his cell phone on the second barely functioning pay phone I could find and managed to catch up with him at the collective taxi stop. Together, we went down to the Sacred Valley and the market town of Pisac. From there, we browsed through the colorful market and then ascended the steep Inca trail to the fortress above the town. This was my first encounter with proper Inca ruins, and they were quite spectacular, as were the views. I couldn't believe the engineering feat of the terraced farming--and they don't use it today! Robert turned out to be recently retired from the Army, and I took the opportunity to ask him tons of questions about it, which he politely and comprehensively answered. He likes Mitt Romney. On the way back, we were offered a taxi ride back to Cuzco for fares ranging from $6 to $13. Instead, we exercised the 60 cent, standing room only, bus option (for less than an hour, why not?).

Back at the South American Explorers Club, I attended a lesson on how to make ceviche. It was a bit hard to follow because it was in Spanish (with translation, but it's a complicated recipe), but after the lesson we had all the lime juice-marinated raw fish we could eat! I once again used my travel chopsticks (thanks, Ryoko!). One female participant was heard to say, "That's cool."

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