I took a tour of four ruins – Sacsaywaman, Q’enqo, Pukapukara, and Tambomachay – right outside of Cusco on Tuesday. I did not really want to take the tour, though I did want to see the ruins.
For weeks I had been hoping to find some fellow Spanish school student with whom I could visit the ruins according to the plan set out in my guidebook. According to the guidebook, the best way to see these particular ruins, which are located all in a row on a road outside of Cusco, is to take a bus to the farthest one and then walk the eight kilometers back to Cusco, stopping at each ruin and exploring at will along the way. Tragically enough, I could not find anyone to accompany me. All of the students who have been here for a while, like myself, had either already visited some or all of the particular ruins, had no interest, or could or would not make time on a Saturday morning to go along. The newer students either had made plans to tour the ruins as part of some grand tour of Cusco or had no intention of seeing them. So, I was stuck, since I figured it would be both unwise and rather lonely for me to walk from one ruin to another by myself.
Finally, last weekend I determined I either had to sign myself up for a tour or I would never go to the ruins, in which case I would be shirking my duty as a good tourist. On Monday after a considerable argument with myself, I managed to tear myself away from happily reading The Count of Monte Cristo while flopped across my bed basking in the afternoon sun to go book the tour. I headed to a certain, narrow street off the Plaza de Armas, where Lonely Planet told me was located a reputable tour agency. I could not find it. While I paused for a moment to stare at and ponder entering a random tour agency on the same street, a lady from said agency noticed me and beckoned me to please come in, as I was obviously looking for a Machu Picchu tour. Whereas I would normally have immediately rejected her proposal and walked away from her off-putting, annoyingly presumptuous salesmanship, I apathetically accepted her invitation and entered the office. Twenty or so minutes later I had surrendered S/40 in exchange for a “City Tour” for Tuesday afternoon, which had nothing to do with the city and everything to do with the ruins outside it, and a trip to Maras, Moray, and Salinas on Saturday. Admittedly, I felt slightly guilty for not comparing prices with other agencies, but I had feared that if I left the tour agency to check elsewhere, I might lose the thin shreds of motivation I had and not end up with a tour at all.
As it turned out, my tour of the ruins just outside of Cusco was just to my liking. It lasted from 2:00 until 6:00 on Tuesday afternoon. There were no more than 15 of us on the tour. We spent 45 minutes at the most and 20 minutes at the least at each of the ruins and our very nice guide gave all the explanations in Spanish. In fact, I was the only Westerner on the whole tour. Everyone else was a Latin American tourist, and I liked it that way. On the last tour I took – on my trip to Lake Titicaca – the guide tediously explained everything in both Spanish and English since some people on the tour only spoke English and others only spoke Spanish. It quickly became frustratingly boring for me because I could perfectly understand everything he said in Spanish but then was forced to listen to it again in his painful, nearly incomprehensible, accented English. Sufficed to say, I was relieved that there was only one language used on my tour of the ruins outside of Cusco. Furthermore, the amount of time we spent at each location was both perfectly adequate and perfectly brief, as I have never been one to spend massive quantities of time at historical sites of any kind (ask my mother about civil war battlefields sometime; or, better yet, don’t). ‘Twas a good tour. I am looking forward to Saturday’s.
|From Claire's Peru Panoramas|