Chincheros, the Sacred Valley, and a very special day in Ollantaytambo

We woke up a little late and quickly got our packs ready to head out for a full day traveling and exploring communities in the Sacred Valley, starting with Chincheros. After Shirley spent some time organizing our transportation, we had a plan and met our driver. The cost for the entire trip 120 soles, which is around 40 US. By coincidence or fate, our driver was from Chincheros, so he had an intimate knowledge of the community and the Alpaca industry. Shirley spoke to him about Chincheros and translated to me as we enjoyed the drive, which was approximately an hour.

Chincheros is a small Andean Indian village located high up on the windswept plains of the Andes at 3765m, about 30km from Cusco. The wall and many other ruins and agricultural terraces (which are still in use) are attributed to Inca Tupac Yupanqui, who possibly used Chinchero as a country resort.

Upon arriving in Chincheros, we saw many Alpaca and a small, close-knit community centered on raising Alpaca and producing goods. Our driver explained he could take us the back way into the nearby ruins on the Urquillos Trek and see from a different perspective. Shirley and I decided to take the hike with our driver being the guide. The ruins were incredible, and the way the rocks were carved almost looked cast into form. At the end of the hike, we came upon a church built on Inca Ruins in the 1600’s “Iglesia Colonial de Chinchero” kinda disrespectful. Still, I must say the church was incredible and felt like something out of Indiana Jones. No photos are allowed inside, and a guard follows you around inside, but the floral and religious paintings throughout are breathtaking. I went up to the altar and said a prayer for mom and grandma with tears in my eyes. I thanked them for the experience. At that moment, feeling so close to my heart as We left the church with Shirley comforting me as we came upon a plaza filled with women selling every variety of alpaca goods in a wide array of colors using mostly natural dies. It is familiar with some products like rugs and bags mixed with wool and are less expensive but need to be aware of or may pay for full Alpaca and get 50% wool. We looked around as our driver/guide. The women of the Andes mountains have been making these goods from Alpaca that go back in the same tradition for hundreds of years. After Shirley covered with the women, we decided to buy a rug and bag made with natural dyes by hand from 100% alpaca for a reasonable price as samples of things we are looking to have made for our business Alpaca Trueke. We headed toward the car and decided to continue to the Sacred Valley and Urubamba. The drive is fantastic, with incredible views of the Andes mountains and valleys. Open arriving in Urubamba, we decided to stop at a local place and drink some Chicha and play Sapo’s game. After enjoying the company of the owner of the establishment and her dog, we continued to Ollantaytambo and the ancient Inca Ruins.

Once we arrived in Ollantaytambo, the gateway to the Inca trail, we could see and hear a celebration going on and a lot of music and dancing. So we decided to go to the main square to check it out. Festivals in Peru are always a lot of fun, and the people have a great passion for celebration. After enjoying the festivities, we decided to hike up to the Ancient Inca Ruins of Pinkuylluna, which is free compared to Ollantaytambo Fortress, which is $70. Still, very impressive worth it if you have never experienced it. But I had already experienced the fortress on my previous trip to Peru, and so had Shirley. So we started our hike through the cobbled streets of the ancient city and last stronghold of Marcos Inca as he resisted the conquistador’s eventual takeover. Little did Shirley know, but this was a very special day as I had purchased an engagement ring to propose to her at the summit of the mountain and arrival at the Pinkuylluna Ruins.

To find your way to the trailhead is not marked, but we found after asking a local gentleman. The hike up to the ruins is breathtaking at an altitude of over 9,160 ft. The trail is not well maintained and very dangerous in places if not a skilled hiker. We took our time and made sure we kept three points of contact in some areas. We saw few people on the trail instead of the fortress ruins on the opposing mountain, which was crowded. after a few hours, we reached the ruins, and I kneeled and proposed to Shirley. I took her completely off guard, and she became very emotional, as too was I. She accepted. We kissed and embraced for some time before both are turning around and enjoying the fantastic views and each other’s company, knowing we would be together one way or another. I am a fortunate man to have such an intelligent, kind-hearted, and supportive women like Shirley in my life. She never ceases to amaze me how down to earth she is and full of love for life. After exploring the ruins together like little kids on a playground, we decided to hike down as it would be getting dark. Hiking down was a challenge. We were both hungry for dinner and a Cerveza to celebrate our engagement. Once we returned to the town, we found a restaurant. We had dinner at the main square watching the celebration together before returning to our driver and traveling back to Cusco through the night along with a few passengers we picked up along the way.

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