Saturday, May 23: We’re still in the Sacred Valley of the Incas at our luxurious hotel and becoming accustomed to the high elevation more or less in preparation for the 8,000 feet above sea level we’ll face in Machu Pichu on Monday. Hopefully by the time we get back to Cuzco on Tuesday, we’ll be ready for the more than 11,000 feet elevation since we’re staying two nights there. Taking it by degrees the way to go!
It’s Saturday, and I still can’t help thinking of it as shopping day, as it was when I was a little girl and we lived so far out in the boonies that Saturday was the only free day we had the time to do what little shopping we did.Therefore it’s perfectly fitting, isn’t it, that after breakfast today we’ll take off on an excursion to the village of Pisac, where we’ll take time to do a little shopping. Founded during the reign of Viceroy Francisco de Toledo, the town has both Western and native features that make it an original and typical town of the region.
Modern Pisac is a typical picturesque Andean village located on the eastern end of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, about a twenty minute drive from here. There’s a huge, spreading pisonary tree dominating the central square as shown in this photo from Andry Basten’s Peruvian Photojournal. I’m presuming that’s where the market’s name came from. In the tourist section you can buy a wide variety of handicrafts, and on certain days villagers from miles around gather to barter and sell their produce.
Our lunch stop will be Urubamba. Valley of the Incas and Urubamba are used inter-changeably to describe the valley that runs from east of Pisac to Olantaytambo, at the end of the valley where the fortress we plan to explore is located. It is a narrow and winding with spectacular snow capped peaks constantly in view. The town of Olantaytambo is a great example of Inca town planning at the end of the valley. Many of the building foundations in Olantaytambo were built by the Inca, and the majority of the Inca blocks are still intact. There are people living here in the same buildings that served as homes for the nobility of the Inca society.
Before returning to the hotel for the evening, we will visit the workshop of Pablo Seminario, a famous ceramist and former architect living here in the valley. We anticipate learning about his methods and discussing the way his industry has impacted the local economy, since the Seminarios is more than just a pottery factor. It is also a carpentry and a jeweler’s workshop–and a place for research as well as creativity.
The day promises to be a full day of exploring, learning, and shopping in grand style like all Saturday shoppers everywhere.