The South American Adventure - Day 4!!

Day 4 - Llamas and Sexy Women

The first night of hard sleep was great.  Even better, the shower.  And the flat iron.  The combo of the three items made for an excellent morning.  Then the breakfast.  I love their breakfast.  Since we haven't really been eating a lunch, I loaded up this morning.  Had 2 pieces of this pound cake thing.

I'm still concerned about this whole altitude sickness thing, but so far, I really haven't been affected.  It's more of a low grade headache.  So I keep hydrated, drink Coca Tea, and keep full.  Plus a preemptive measure of 2 Aleve pills.  I know they're not good for me long-term, but there are only 12 days to go.

Ponder that little nugget.  Still 12 days before I get home.  It's just insane to even think about. Insane!!

Today, we spent the morning frolicking with the llamas.  On Samantha Brown's Cusco episode, she went to this llama sanctuary called Awana Kancha.  Llamas and their cousins hang out in a semi-enclosed area, while artisans use the llama fur to make beautiful pieces.  We knew early on that we were going to Awana Kancha.  And it didn't disappoint.

The llamas and alpacas were as cute as we thought they would be.  They were eating and sunning themselves and just hanging out.  A few got loose and the handlers had to run after them to get them back towards where they were supposed to be.  Cute!!  Unless you were the handler.  Or you got trampled by a llama.


We also watched as the llama fur got dyed and then woven by women who didn't have to use a pattern.  The design was all in their heads.  It took them 45 days to make one wall hanging/table runner.  And the price made up for it.

I won't deny, I was ready to drop money on this place.  I wanted a blanket an a scarf and a stuffed llama (which I actually got yesterday).  But I will also say, I had serious sticker shock.  I'm at the point in the trip where I have a hard time parting with my money.  Especially since I know I need to get some cash soon.  So when I saw some of the stuff, I went into shut down mode (which is sadly typical for me even at home).  But I will also say that while the stuff there was nice, it was not my style.  I did pick up a new wallet (Elias will be so proud!!) and a few gifts for people.  So I gave back a little to the sanctuary.  So that's something.

We hired a driver today.  Germand.  He spoke no English, so Adele was on tap for translation duty.  He could not have been a better driver.  We started the day getting our bus tickets to Machu Picchu, then went to Awana Kancha.  But along the way, he asked if we wanted to stop for photos.  We saw stuff we would have never seen on our own.  We saw the Christo Blanco, overlooking Cusco.  We saw an area where people make mud bricks.  We saw a Wild Hog (not the movie starring Tim Allen).  It was fantastic to have the driver just there and explaining what we were seeing (or explaining to Adele who explained to me).

Our last stop was Saqsayhuaman.  Liz and Joe both raved about this place.  It was thought to be a military complex during Inca times (re: Fodors) as it is situated high above Cusco.  It is considered the most important Inca monument after Machu Picchu.  And the running joke is that it is called Sexy Woman.  Crazy people...


Saqsayhuaman was very interesting.  Kind of like a preview of Sunday's visit to Machu Picchu.  It was amazing to see the stones and how they were fitted together.  Our driver was great with showing us what was going on with some of these ruins.  It was also humbling to realize that the Incas (and the Peruvians) could climb these three levels without being winded in any way.  Adele and I were exhausted after one "flight". I blame the altitude sickness.  Wait.  I said I haven't had altitude sickness yet.  Well then...I blame Craig.  It's all his fault.  Cause it can't be that I am out of shape.  No.  Not at all.

We returned to the hotel this afternoon and sacked out for a bit of time on the beds.  My vacations tend to be very kamikaze and all GOGOGOGOGOGO at all times.  We really do need to build in more of this rest time.  Or at least time to sit and ponder life and stuff.  

Now we have realized that our pattern is Hotel Breakfast, no lunch, big dinner.  I don't think Weight Watchers would approve, but it's something.  And so far it has worked.  We meandered towards Cusco downtown early this afternoon.  We were at the point where we were about to eat our own limbs, so we ended up at Inka Grill for dinner.  This was a bit of TripAdvisor planning plus hearing recommendations from others in the hotel.  It really didn't disappoint in any way.

We decided to go balls-out for dinner.  Glass of wine, yes!!  Appetizer, sure (Andean Sampler...it was a bit meh...).  Two entrees, why not??  And dessert.  Gotta have dessert!!

There were two things on the menu that we got that we weren't sure about. 

#1 - Alpaca.  Now I'd seen the alpacas at the sanctuary this morning.  I'm already wigged out about meat these days (if only it wasn't so tasty!!), but to look into the eyes of the llamas and alpacas this morning and to eat a cousin this evening.  Not cool.  But it was a part of the sampler.  As for the taste...it tasted like it smelled.  Not a bad thing, it was just different.  And I thought it was overcooked.  Adele thought it was fine, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.  Which brings me to...

#2 - Cuy (Guinea Pig).  
We'd been hearing about cuy for a while.  "You have to try it!!"  Both Bourdain and Samantha Brown did (though I don't think either cared for it...if I recall, Bourdain was drunk or hung over when he tried it), so we knew it had to happen once.  The problem is..cuy was expensive.  So we had to choke down the price.  The food itself...amazing.  I can't rave enough about it.  It was kind of oily, but the meat was tender, the flavor was different and the sauce was complimentary.  The worst part about the cut was that this is probably the only time ever I'll get a chance to eat cuy.  Sad.  So very sad. When we got back to the hotel, tow guys were caving for the Inka Grill. Adele ran after them and said, "You have to try the cuy!!". The looks she got was proof that they weren't going to try. Wussies.

So now, we pack for tomorrow.  We are leaving our luggage at this hotel while we go to Aguas Calientes tomorrow night.  So it's all about what will fit in the duffle bag.  What do we desperately need to bring.  Ugh...I'm beginning to hate packing.  The worst part is that it will keep happening over and over during the next 12 days.  12 Days??  Seriously??  Wait...what day is it today??

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