We headed to Urubamba in the sacred valley to take a break from the cold in Cusco. Els and Gerret came with us so we were able to spend a few more days together.
Unfortunately Urubamba does not have many places to camp that accommodate vehicles. We tried several options with no success. The first night as it was getting late, we went to a site that another over lander had mentioned.
The place looked like it was once a hostel, but no one was there. We decided to stay and wait for someone to arrive to request permission. Several hours later a girl did arrive however she was a tenant and could not commit to giving us permission. In the morning we found out that she had called the owner and he had given permission, and even said we could camp free for the night. However we left money with the tenant to pay for our stay.
The next day, after several more attempts to find a place in town we abandoned the idea and headed to the Salinas, above Urubamba, to explore and to find a campsite for the night.
The Salinas are salt pans cut into the mountainside of a valley above Urubamba. They are still in use after more than 400 years.
We found an incredible campsite overlooking Urubamba near the Salinas, where we stayed for 2 nights. We just hung out, shared meals, I studied Spanish, and Mike and Keira explored the surrounding wheat fields. Els and Gerret are such a pleasure to spend time. with.
One of our main goals of heading to Urubamba was to study Spanish in a warm and relaxed environment. It took a lot of organizing to make it happen, but finally we able to secure 3 days of 2-hour lessons for Mike and I, and 1 hour for Keira. We were able to camp in the garden area of the hostel associated with the school, which was great.
The lessons went well, and we were able to practice with the staff and teachers after hours. Keira’s confidence and ability to speak Spanish improved even in a few days. Mike and I did learn more grammar and also learnt how much we do not know.
I decided then to do more lessons in Cusco the following week. With that in mind we decided to head back to Cusco but decided to go via Pisac to visit the market.
We had met 2 American ladies, Megan and Gina at a coffee shop in Urubamba a few days before. Megan and her husband Eric run a hostel out of their home in Urubamba. We were interested in seeing their place and talking to them about their experiences living in Peru. So we organized to visit their home La Casa de Tres Osos, (the home of 3 bears) for a coffee and a chat.
Megan and Eric have created a very relaxed and homely environment. We all instantly hit it off and talked for a few hours. We felt so at home that we decided to splurge and stay a night in a real bed. Keira played in the garden and with their dogs, creating a marriage ceremony for the 2 dogs that everyone had to participate in. We had a delicious meal that night, made by Eric and shared by the household.
The next day we headed off with plans to return with our Scottish friends Lesley and Phil.
Pisac market, like everything else we have come across in Bolivia and Peru, has increased 10 fold in size since our last visit. It is an amazing market with a variety of textiles, clothing, bags and a few pieces of pottery. It is geared towards tourists but is still a cool place, and relatively cheap, if you barter.
We held off on making purchases waiting until our next visit with Lesley and Phil.
We returned to Cusco and Quinta Lala campsite. A few of our friends were still there, and it was like coming home to somewhere familiar. We were able to secure a campsite in an area that gets the morning sun and is about 2 degrees warmer than our previous location.
We spent the mornings at the campsite and Keira and I completed Spanish classes in the afternoons. The teachers were surprised about how many words Keira already knew. She has benefited greatly from the lessons, and is now responding in Spanish during basic conversations with local people. I gained a lot from the lessons too, but I need to do daily Spanish study myself to move to the next level. I am determined to do this! I will let you know how I get along.
HIGHLIGHTS/CHALLENGES OF THIS AREA:
MOST VALUED POSSESION: my Spanish notebook from our lessons 18 years ago
BEST EXPERIENCE: Mike- camping above Urubamba ; Keira- playing with Hermana the little girl at the Spanish school; Riss- camping above Urubamba/studying spanish
MOST CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE: Mike-learning spanish; Keira- making the dogs sit still during the wedding ceremony; Riss- learning Spanish past tenses
BEST FOOD DISCOVERY: Mike- freshly plucked whole chickens in the market in Urubamba, Keira- a chocolate mouse; Riss- gluten free bread in Urubamba
BEST CAMPING SPOT: above Urubamba with Els and Gerret
Just a place to keep our mates informed on where we are at, and what we are up to.