After 28 hrs travelling and 2 hrs (at most) of sleep, our guide picked us up at Cusco airport ankd asked if we would like to stop at Chinchero village to see women demonstrating weaving on our way to Ollaytantambo, the ancient “stone village” in the Sacred Valley. We couldn’t refuse but, at 12,343 ft. altitude, I found the short walk up stone steps to a Spanish church built on Inca foundations quite difficult (Tony seemed fine). It was a wonderful vantage point, however, to view the beautiful green and patchwork countryside around us and to begin our education in the history of the region. Here was our first glimpse into the destruction of one civilization by a colonial power.
At the women’s workshop they demonstrated how sheep, llama, and alpaca wool is dyed by boiling a variety of local plants in combination to produce the vivid shades so distinctive in Peruvian apparel. Unsurprisingly, they were selling their creations and I was overwhelmed by the selection – all quite beautiful and, especially the alpaca woolens, so incredibly soft. Unfortunately being just day 1 of a 31 day trip, I had to curb my enthusiasm and just bought a beautiful alpaca sweater jacket for my grandson. In retrospect, I wish I had bought more for gifts and simply sent them home by mail because the prices in that workshop were very reasonable in comparison to what we saw elsewhere.