Ever since we started planning this trip, we all agreed that a trip to a great artisan market was most definitely a priority. We picked one of the biggest in the Sacred Valley, in Pisac, about an hour from Urubamba. The drive there took us through various towns including one famous for their guinea pigs or “cuy”, the roasted kind. There are statues dedicated to this specialty and we passed by many vendors holding up whole roasted guinea pigs on sticks. We resisted the temptation to try it, although I felt like we probably should have… thoughts of my childhood pet strengthened the case to skip the experience.
Despite wanting just a full on market day, our driver made the steep winding drive up to the ruins of Pisac and we are glad he did. The views were spectacular and we enjoyed about an hour soaking in the atmosphere and views before heading back down to the town for the main event.
When we got back to town, we fueled up with a quick Pisco Sour and an empanada and then got down to the serious business of shopping. After about 3 hours of bargaining and spending, we collapsed exhausted into the bus, cramming our goods on laps and every spare square inch of the van. There are plans for the purchase of extra bags to carry it all home.
It was also Lucas’s birthday! We started with drinks on the terrace and gave Lucas his gifts, the group one being a poncho that he now rarely takes off. We can’t wait to see him wearing it out and about in Old Towne Petersburg… A surprise presentation of aprons and thank you cards also took place by a teary eyed Silvia for Cindy, Heather and I, for organizing the details of the trip.
Heather had done some research into restaurants and picked a terrific one. For starters, our ride there was hysterically funny and at times death defying. The restaurant was only a mile from the villa however it took us half an hour to get there! Our driver is quite stubborn and aggressive and when we came across another van coming in the other direction of the single lane dirt road that leads from our villa to the town he, as usual, stood his ground and wouldn’t move. The stand-off resulted in Cindy, ever the organizer and problem solver, jumping out of the van and directing the other to reverse to a safe place and while doing so, causing us to have hysterics. Once successfully on our way (yay Cindy!), we began the next drama of trying to find the restaurant. At one point we reversed down a one way street with a car following us driving the right way, to include reversing over crossroads without stopping to see if anything was coming. Luckily we were somewhat relaxed from our predinner cocktails so it became quite the comedy of errors.
When we finally arrived at the restaurant, upon entering through the wooden gates that didn’t seem to indicate what was on the other side, we found ourselves in a lovely, beautifully lit garden and were directed to our terrace table complete with comfy cushioned furniture with a lower than normal table. After ordering Pisco Sours and beers we looked at the fabulous menu and began the difficult process of trying to decide what to order. For me, the Alpaca Carpaccio was a no brainer as an appetizer. One of the best appetizers I’ve ever had. Topped with a citrus sauce with sesame seeds and fried wonton strips. So so delicious. Unfortunately, having ordered the trout, it never came. Our server, already overwhelmed looking after our party of 10, was visibly upset but I assured her all was well and a small plate was produced and I passed it round so ultimately had a tasting plate of everyone’s entrees, a win-win! It was fun to taste everything and we now know why El Huacatay is considered Urubamba’s best restaurant, if not the best in the Sacred Valley. A truly delightful and fabulous experience.