June 19, 2012
It is hard to believe that we have already been in Peru for a week! It is clear that our time in Calca this summer is going to go by quickly. As excited as I am about our projects (which are off to a great start…more details to come in my next post), this week has been an awesome introduction to life in the Sacred Valley.
Sunday was our first day free to explore the region and its culture. All of us headed to Pisac, a thirty-minute bus ride from Calca to see its famous Sunday market and Incan ruins. The market was filled with colorful textiles and tourists galore. Calca is the opposite of touristy (perhaps because it’s described by Lonely Planet as a “large-ish, uninteresting town,” but you won’t hear us complaining), so it was interesting to find ourselves in a town that caters to tourists. Still, it was fun to wander the stalls and check out the astounding number of uses for alpaca wool.
My Peruvian exploration dreams came true in the afternoon when Chris, Katie, and I took a taxi up to the Incan ruins that rest on the mountains high above the city. We spent three hours climbing into hidden nooks of old Incan houses and military barracks, astounded by the maze of buildings and the engineering feats required to run an empire from Andean peaks (running water in their bathrooms!). Without a tour guide we perhaps missed out on some crucial facts about the terraced farms and tombs hidden in the hillside, but the feeling of independent discovery and adventure as we hiked through the site was unforgettable. And the views weren’t too bad either. We worked our way through the site before beginning the steep descent back into Pisac.
Our day of Sacred Valley adventure ended with a watia hosted by Lucho and Maritza, the wonderful couple who have opened their family home to us. It was also Father’s Day in Peru, and we had to celebrate their son Jamil’s 12th birthday! Their whole family came together at the house to eat potatoes and enjoy each other’s company—We were lucky to be a part of it! First Lucho built an earthen adobe oven and heated it up before dropping the potatoes inside and collapsing the oven around them. The potatoes cooked for half an hour before we fished them out in the ultimate game of hot potato. It was a delicious and fun to be included in a Peruvian family’s own celebrations. ~Caitlin Casey