We have been taking it easy to try to reserve some energy for our Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu trip in a couple of days and have just been hanging out and about in Cusco.
We went back and visited Parque Urpicha (the fun park) situation in the middle of Cusco and this time we weren't the only foreigners there. We stumbled upon some fellow Australians and Litlte Miss 8 even made some friends with some of the local school girls and vanished for a bit as she headed to the slides with a gang of girls in school uniform. While she felt a bit awkward with the language barrier - she still had a great time and the girls were very nice to take her into their fold.
After our other museum trips, were were keen to find one which featured more Incan history, so we decided to visit Museo Inka which we thought surpassed the other museums and galleries we had visited to date.
It was more interesting to see the remnants discovered in some of the places we had visited over the past couple of weeks and to read up on the history of the Incans and the Spanish conquests which took place.
Of special note were the mummies inside - we loved these but Little Miss 8 was so horrified and was in tears after the event as she thought they were just horrible. Master 3 commented they were scary but he was just taking bits of information from his sister as he really had no idea what to make of them at all!
The tears however were not long-lived as we entered the Plaza De Armas for a rest and by the time we got home the event was long forgotten.
Today was Peru's Independence Day. While there were no big parades happening in Plaza De Armas (much to our surprise), there were plenty of parades happening in the street next to our hostel.
Each time we heard the music, we ran out to see the dancers and the entertainers perform in their lively fashion - they as well as the onlookers were having a fun time (and again plenty of beer was being consumed by all!).
Little Miss 8 loved the colourful costumes, in particular the boots the girls wore (she did think the skirts on the outfits were a little short - thank goodness!).
Master 3 hated the fire crackers and we had to cover his ears each time they went off but he is coming around to the fact that they go off on these special events.
Today we visited the restaurant Aldea Yanapay. They are actually a social project located in Cusco dedicated to providing alternative education to children adolescents and adults; but they also have a restaurant which helps fund their project.
I had read about it online and had practically walked past it every day on the way to Plaza De Armas but today we decided to pop in to see what it was all about.
We were pleasantly surprised. The decoration was fun and the kids loved dressing up in the hats on the hat rack and playing with the cuddly toys.
And the food was awesome. While the kids dined on chicken nuggets, I had a delicious felafel sandwich. And while we didn't try the desserts, they certainly sounded yummy! Little Miss 8 commented that she would like to come back again or at least every week so that is a good sign!
If we decide to stay long-term in Cusco, we will look into volunteering at Aldea Yanapay as they only require a one week commitment. It looks to be a great project to be involved in.
Today we explored the Moras, Moray area and took a side trip to Salinas, the salt fields. Both trips were interesting in themselves.
Moray was a little town seemingly in the middle of nowhere - until we went to Moray which was just a few houses and some sheep scattered remotely in the mountains. Here we found the Incan agricultural terraces which were a sight to behold.
The roads to travel to these destinations were narrow and involved winding around some very tall mountains. The vehicles had to constantly honk and reverse so they had a safe place to overtake - but in my opinion none of the roads were very safe to overtake.
We spent a couple of quiet days just hanging around the city as I unfortunately hurt my back. Not wanting to lie down and do nothing, I forced myself to see some of the more local ruins, visit the markets and spend some quiet time at the local museums.
We visited Sacsayhuaman which was very interesting although because of my back, I was unable to climb to the top to admire the view. We also stopped at Quenqo, Puca Pucara and Tambo Machay and again I stayed on ground level to take it all in while the others did all the climbing on my behalf.
We visited the local markets and stocked up on some dvds when the kids got bored. $2 for 3 dvds works well in my books.
Regardless of our plans for the day, at some point we find ourselves in the Plaza De Armas. It is a great place to sit and people watch and catch a few rays (if possible).
We may be lucky enough to hear some music, see some dancing or just relax and tell the people selling their fake Raybans, peruvian jewellery, toy alpacas and those wanting to shine our shoes that we are just not interested.
And of course not far from the plaza there are many great stores to browse and wonderful places to grab a bite to eat and drink.
It really is the hub of the town with foreigners and locals taking time out of their day to sit and watch life go by - even if only for a brief moment.
We are having a blast shopping the markets. It is not so much that we are buying a heap of stuff, it is just fun having a look at the goodies which are available so we know what we can buy in future.
Of course saying that we have picked up a few things here and there as in reality, things are pretty cheap in the artisan markets both in and around Cusco. The kids got fancy new hats today and Little Miss 8 finally found the pair of feather earrings she had been waiting for "her whole life".
I got my lovely pink alpaca adorned bedsocks and Little Miss 8 got some leg warmers but other than that we have been keeping an eye on our money and only buying things as and when we need.
It was only while googling Cusco did I discover the Choco Museo and wonder why no one had told us about it. And has we had nothing better to do, off we went to sample it for ourselves.
They do have 2 hour chocolate making classes in which we could make our own but for us it was enough to sample a few treats (well more than a few) while enjoying some coffee and balcony views.
A nice way to spend an hour or so.
While we didn't spend a lot of time in Pisac for the festival, it was a nice introduction to a lovely little town and it gave us an insight into how the locals celebrate the Virgin Del Carmen Fiesta.
We were told the festivities kicked off around 10am but in actual fact it started just after midday but by 1pm the kids were tired and had seen enough so we headed home.
The dancers were drinking beer in preparation for their performances so I can imagine that as the day went on, the audience would be in for quite a treat.
Little Master 3 didn't like the firecrackers they let off during the dances so was happy to put some distance in between himself and those on stage. But all in all we were glad we went.
Well we enjoyed our first visit to the Blue Llama in Pisac that we decided to go back. As Awana Kancha was only about 8 miles outside of Pisac, we stood outside and waited for a bus with a few seats spare to take us into town. After about 20 minutes - we finally found our ride and headed straight for our destination.
On our first visit we dined on banana cake and our second visit involved some more banana cake, chocolate brownies, delicious egg and avocado sandwiches and some chicken noodle soup. Quite a mixture but it didn't last long.
Little Miss 8 enjoyed seeing the photos of the Blue Llama himself being drawn in various countries around the world and we had fun trying to work out what country he was in while we waited for our food to arrive.
Pisac is a nice little town and after our lunch we wandered the nearby market although it was purely window shopping as we were saving ourselves for the bigger markets in Cusco to buy our warm socks and leg warmers that we had our eye on.
Michelle - traveller, writer, mother, lover and friend.