Caminar Falso in Pisaq, Peru

17 Sep
Pisaq, Peru Terraces Ruins

Pisaq Terraces

Sorry for not updating, I have been so busy volunteering in Cusco. Last Sunday, I went to a little town outside of Cusco, called Pisaq. I went with Stefanie and two girls from our volunteer house. We weren’t really sure of our game plan once we got there. An ex-housemate of ours had said there was a nice hike where you could see some old ruins without having to pay to get inside the official area. There is also a large handicraft market in Pisaq that we wanted to check out at the end.

Once we arrived into Pisaq, we trotted along ‘taxi alley’ to see how much it would cost to take us to the start of the hike. The unanimous answer: 5 soles each ($2) plus another 40 soles just to get into the ruins. There was no such thing as this ‘free hike’ besides walking along the side of the road and catching a glimpse of the Inca terraces, which were used for agriculture. Basically, we’d miss all the fun stuff if we didn’t enter the official ruins.

We kindly said ‘no thank you’ to the taxi driver and walked away trying to think of a new plan. About 2 minutes later, the driver pulled up near us and claimed it was possible he could get us pass the control point without paying. Now, before you all freak out, it was much less dangerous than it seems. Essentially, the taxi driver took us up the road and asked if one of the local children could show us the way. Unfortunately, none of them did but they did point us in the right direction – a man named Ciro.

Pisaq, Peru Terraces Ruins

hiking with Ciro

Ciro is a ‘licensed’ tour guide, who happens to take people on a ‘caminar falso’ on the side (illegal hike). He sneaks you through people’s farms so you pass the control office that checks tourist cards. Once you pass the office and reach the other side of the road, Ciro collects a small tip and your taxi driver picks you back up and drives you the rest of the way. Well, something got lost in translation and our taxi driver wasn’t there, so Ciro offered to take us the whole way – walking of course!

The hike was pretty tough, but so worthwhile! When we finally reached the top, an amazing Temple of the Sun, built by Incas thousands of years ago, stood strong amongst the mountains. The Pisaq ruins are one of the most complete Inca ruins in South America. There were temples, houses, farms, a running water system, hospital, jail, etc. It turns out that Ciro, our smuggler, was actually quite knowledgeable in everything Inca! He told us so many stories about each structure and even how the village was built as a mirror image of the constellations in the sky. He even confessed that some people in his village are calling him a shaman because he can read the stars, almost like the Incas had. What a guy!!

Pisaq, Peru  Ruins

Pisaq Ruins

After we finished our ´tour´, Ciro left us with these kind words…. “Be Shadows”. haha. Basically, we had to pass another control point on the way out, who may or may not want to double check our tickets. So, we just had to keep our mouths close, eyes down and essentially, act like shadows. We tipped Ciro, thanked him and braved the trek down. We slipped by the control point, trying our best not to attract any unnecessary attention and alas, we made it out and with a truly awesome story to boot! We’re such rebels.

Feeling much more relaxed, we browsed the large market bartering for alpaca gloves, blankets and silver jewelery. I bought a nice alpaca scarf and hat, as well as two pairs of silver earrings with precious stones — all for the bargain price of 45 soles…about 18 CAD dollars. Not bad, eh?

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