When travelling with Grand Circle tours they generally include opportunities to visit a native home. The idea is to interact with the natives with conversations about their culture and ours. Often we get to participate in the culinary culture whether they prepare an entire meal or visitors participate in the preparation of the meal, all voluntary of course. All the members of the group visited a home where we would enjoy Peruvian dishes.
Here members of our group are participating in preparing the meal. Grains are very popular in their meals and here there was a mixture of corn, quinoa, flour I think something ending up more like mashed potatoes or cuscus. The thing that most, if not all, was not accustomed to, was Cuy (guinea pig).
Cuy is generally prepared for special occasions above is our hostess bringing in the roasted cuy as part of our lunch. Of course many stuck to the basic, chicken fish, but some of us tasted the cuy. To me it tasted more like pork. As a child I was exposed to guinea pig being reared alongside rabbit in a hutch but can’t remember if we ate it. I think I might have tasted rabbit. We were joined by our hostess’s mother and twins for lunch.
They were just returning from school and did not speak English but with my limited Spanish we were able to interact. I must mention though despite some similarity, depending on where you are, the dialect is different. I speak Castilian Spanish and I soon realized that they were not speaking Spanish as I understood it but we used signs and familiar words while keeping it slow and simple. As you can see they were in uniforms a custom we are familiar with but if you notice there is an added sleeve over their sweaters which protects their clothes from chalk when writing on the blackboard. These home visit offered and arrange by OATS gives you a chance to experience daily life. This home appeared to be a moderate family living fairly comfortable in an apartment decorated with furniture that reflects features of the region such as carvings on the furniture.
I mentioned the Urubamba River before as meandering its way through Peru there are portions where the river is churning in rage and areas where it is calm flowing along. Here in the valley we had the opportunity to go on an inflated tube raft. I was hesitant at first but with a little push from our guide I went since this seemed calm for as far down the gorge as I could see. Two of the group did not go on the raft and who do you think they were?
Of course these are the two(my friends) if you guessed correctly here they are so pleased but they missed a nice experience.
I am glad I did because it was so enjoyable and gave us a different perspective than being on the bus. We got a different glimpse of the terraces created by the Inca along the hillside. Terraces here are the step like levels of vegetation ascending the hillside. We were able to participate in the rowing as directed by our captain we really enjoyed the peace, the beauty of the land and the comradeship between the members on other floats. The tube floats hold about six to eight persons.
We continued our valley visit by visiting an Inca bar where we had a demonstration of the different drinks made from a variety of corn.
We later spent a short time playing a popular game in Peru. It reminded me of the game you play on a lawn throwing horseshoes over targeted posts. In this game there is a kind of table with holes and the aim is to throw coins from a few feet and the coins should fall in the holes. This was called the Frog Game interesting name. I missed all my attempts I believe the only person that got the coins in the hole was our guide.
We headed for another site with a display of Incan handy work. Sacsayhuaman located in the outskirts of Cusco is a site where walls were built of boulders put together without using mortar. What is amazing is when you look at the size of the boulders you wonder how did these small profile people manage to do this. The site is located at 12,142 ft. above sea level
Above is a view of Cusco from a viewing point as we headed up to Sacsayhuaman sometimes referred to as sexy woman. The Cathedral is designated a UNESCO site. We also visited La Vicunita an alpaca factory where you could purchase scarves, shawls, gloves, sweaters etc. Prices ranged from reasonably cheap to expensive but that was dependent on quality and the type of merchandise. Because we got a detailed explanation of the types of wool we were better able to make informed choices based on your need.