After spending a few days in Cusco acclimatizing to the high altitude, I wanted to stretch my legs and see some more of the Scared Valley before starting the Inca trail. (In other words: “Honey, I need some space. Love you!”)
The small town of Pisac, only 35km from Cusco offered the best opportunity to do so – it has some great trails and Inca ruins high above the town. (And lots of “space”)
Public transportation in Peru is either non-existent or very limited and in this instance the best option was to take a privately operated bus called a colectivo. Locals use these to get around within and between towns quickly and at low cost. These depart from different locations across the city based on the destination. There are no timetables and money is collected when getting off the bus. Personal space is limited!
Before I even reached the ‘bus stop’, I was fortunate enough to be spotted by a colectivo driver that pulled over to see where i was going (being the only gringo in this part of town has its advantages it seems). I gladly accepted the only empty seat available and forty five minutes later, I was exiting the minivan in Pisac town and kissing the ground like the Pope on a world tour. It was well worth the stress for only $1.50 though!
The Inca ruins are located on the mountainside high above the town so I decided to follow conventional wisdom and take a taxi up (8km) and then hike back down by myself. (My decision was put to shame when I noticed some local women from the town below gliding up the steep mountain steps carrying water bottles and fruits to sell to tourists.)
The scenery at the top was spectacular, not just the ruins and agricultural terraces but the surrounding mountains and valleys below. In comparison to other sites, it felt like I had the place to myself.
Finally upon reaching the main square, it was time to snack and prepare for the relaxing trip back to Cusco and to see the girl waiting impatiently and longingly for my arrival. And perhaps I would see Alina too.
Colectivo Driving Test
1) You are approaching a speed bump on a main road. Do you:
a) Slow down and gently navigate over the bump
b) Swerve to avoid the bump (unless the shoulder is blocked with strategically placed boulders)
c) Speed up and launch yourself over the bump thus passing the slower cars doing a) or b)
2) You are approaching a bend and being slowed down by a bigger bus ahead of you. Do you:
a) Slow down and wait for the next straight road to pass
b) Honk your horn and swerve constantly until you can pass
c) Imagine you are driving a Formula 1 racing car on a one way street and immediately attempt to pass