Monday (12/20/2010) dawned with the promise of biking and hiking. Carlos the guide was late yet again, so we were late leaving for our downhill biking as we made our way to the town of Pisac and eventually to the town of Ollantaytambo. As we were going to start the Inca trail on Tuesday, we had to pack for the trail. This should have been a simple task, we were to be given porter bags for our clothes and sleeping bags and the total weight of what we could bring was to be no more than 8 kilos or 15 pounds. Well, getting that message to us proved to be very difficult and confusion reigned for more than an hour before we got all packed and ready. The porter bags were late, Carlos did not convey to us what it was that we were to do in a way that made sense to any of the 12 of us, so we basically unpacked, repacked, unpacked and repacked until we got it right. He kind of forgot to tell us about the weight limit and that the remainder of our stuff would stay in the hotel storage. Arrgghhh.
Downhill biking from outside of Cusco was fine, I was able to fly down b/c it doesn't require effort. Still had a hard time breathing, but kept thinking I'd feel better any moment. We biked down to Pisac. In Pisac, we wandered around yet another open air market, with people selling the same stuff they did in Cusco. Carlos did get us into the back of a jewelry store to see how they make silver stuff, which was kind of neat, but kind of weird. We saw our first cooked cuy as well as some live ones in their little cages. Guess it makes sense to eat Guinea pigs, they are small, they don't eat much and multiply like crazy. Still, seeing a skinned and cooked one did not make we want to eat it.
We waited until 2 pm before lunch was handed out, and then another 20 minutes before we got to eat it. We had breakfast at 7:30 am. Hunger is not something I expected on a guided trip. Our comfort level with Carlos the guide was fading fast. After lunch, some chicken-vegetable-potatoe mix, we hiked up to some ruins, the name escapes me. The hike was harder than it should have been, and again, I should have been paying my lack of breathing a bit more mind, but I thought it would all be ok. So, I was the last person up to the ruins, and gasping for breathe and dizzy. Oh well. The ruins were impressive, the terraces for crops, the buildings were all still standing and in good shape. Amazing that people who could build such things did not have a written lanuage!
We toured the ruins and then hiked downhill back to the bus, much easier for me downhill. We then continued for about 2 hours to Ollaytaytambo, where most people stay before starting the Inca trail. As we drove, it started raining. Not a good sign. The town was ok, our hostal (which is really a small hotel) was clean, but sparse and we walked around the town a bit before having our dinner at an italianish restaurant next to our hostal. The food, well, I got pesto pasta and have never seen such pesto, and not in a good way. Lots and lots of it, and it was not paste-like, but sauce like. Not the worst thing to eat, but not the best.
Our porter bags could not go with us on the bus, because it was too small. They finally arrived at 9pm, when we were all ready for bed. Again, the group was kind of becoming leery of the professionalism of the trip.