Eating Ralph

Today was a glorious sleep in day.  There was no one to rouse us at 5.30 or even 3.30 in the morning.  Today we were  able to sleep until 7 am before we headed downstairs to meet the gang for breakfast.  We have both decided we wake up earlier more often on vacation than we do at home for work.

After breakfast we headed through a still sleeping market to the train station where we would ride back the way we had just hiked towards Ollantaytambo.  It was a pleasant two hour train ride featuring free tea, coffee, and a choice of a bland piece of bread or a knockoff pop-tart. We discussed all manner of things while admiring the views and the raging river next to the train tracks.

On the train. Choo choo.
On the train. Choo choo.
The raging river next to the train tracks.  Apparently you can raft down it. No thank you.
The raging river next to the train tracks. Apparently you can raft down it. No thank you.
Jennie chose the fake pop-tart.
Jennie chose the fake pop-tart.
Doug was sleepy.
Doug was sleepy.
The train rushing by the bridge where we began our Inca Trail.
The train rushing by the bridge where we began our Inca Trail.
A country house.  This is one of the larger ones.
A country house. This is one of the larger ones.
A clear mountain stream joining the muddy, gross river.
A clear mountain stream joining the muddy, gross river.

Having arrived as far as the train would take us we got off and were immediately met with a wave of sloppily dressed up tax drivers offering rides the rest of the way to Cusco.  Our original plan had been to catch the public bus, but after overhearing the prices for a minibus we decided to go with one of those instead since it was cheaper and faster.  We were ushered to a bus where we sat for ten minutes, collecting a few locals also headed to Cusco, before we headed out.

The minibus wove through town with the driver constantly shouting “Cusco!” out the window at anyone he thought might need a ride. No one obliged and so we made our way out of town back towards Cusco. The minibus would occasionally stop for no reason that any of us could discern, including once it looked like so people could watch a youth soccer game for five minutes.  Other times it was to defecate on the side of the road. The soundtrack of our ride was a small girl singing Let It Go in Spanish along with a Minnie Mouse toy that would repeat the same two lines over and over again. Accompanying her were two small children who sang backup by alternately crying.

The views though could not be spoiled by this certainly unlicensed rendition of the Frozen soundtrack.  The fields were bright green, the sky bright blue, and wildflowers grew everywhere. As we made our way back into Cusco we entered the neighborhoods of half completed terracotta houses that we had become familiar with and we slowly descended to the city center.

Amazing views from the mini-bus.
Amazing views from the mini-bus.

Our minibus dropped us off at one of the main plazas in town and we headed back to our hostel by way of the SAS office where we tried and failed to exchange some of our awkwardly sized free Inca Trail shirts. Back at our hostel, Lynn and I checked into our room and let the others change and pack their stuff before we headed off to lunch.  There was one thing the gang had yet to try in Peru, cuy (roasted guinea pig) and we had a lead on a good restaurant in town from several food blogs.

We celebrated our last meal together by ordering way too much food, most of which turned out to be different preparations of potatoes, and topped it off with our cuy.  The waiter brought it out, whole, with the legs, head, and guts all still present. The little guinea pig even wore a hat made out of a tomato slice and sprig of parsley as if he were impersonating an Incan king.  Thankfully, after pictures, it was taken to the backroom again and cut up into something that looked less like Lynn’s childhood pet Ralph. When it was brought back out we all took a little bit and ate it as instructed by our waiter with some of the cilantro sauce.  I don’t recall anyone particularly caring for it and the little bones were a bit annoying.  Lynn never really made it passed thinking about the poor guinea pig and didn’t really enjoy the experience.  The rest of lunch was all quite delicious though and a good end to a great week with friends.

Appetizers. Two types of potatoes.
Appetizers. Which turned out to be two types of potatoes.
I know this looks the exact same, but this time the potatoes had alpaca meat (the far one) and chicken (the close one).
I know this looks the exact same, but this time the potatoes had alpaca meat (the far one) and chicken (the close one).
This guinea pig looks ready for a party...in my belly.
This guinea pig looks ready for a party…in my belly.
The guinea pig did come with delicious sides: tamales, and this fried, stuffed dough thing.
The guinea pig did come with delicious sides: tamales, and this fried, stuffed dough thing.

After the late lunch we headed back to the hostel and wished our friends goodbye as they headed to the airport.  Lynn and I spent the rest of the evening planning our upcoming Bolivia trip, with me getting increasingly frustrated at the our lack of ability to book anything over the internet.  Eventually we could take no more and called it a night.

On the way back to the hostel from lunch, Jennie tried her hand at haggling while she purchased some llama keychains for friends back home.
On the way back to the hostel from lunch, Jennie tried her hand at haggling while she purchased some llama keychains for friends back home.

Daily Walking Miles: 6 miles

Fun Facts:

  • Cuy al horno, or roast guinea pig, is a delicacy in Peru and normally reserved for special occasions.
  • The train that we took back sometimes has its tracks washed away by the river next to it after particularly bad wet seasons.  Why they didn’t build the track up higher no one seems to know.
  • In Bolivia, everything is booked upon arrival.  No one has websites.  You apparently just show up in town, go to the tour office and hope there are spots free for the next day.  We do not care for this.

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