Peru, Part II

The Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, May 15-19

We took a flight from Lima to Cusco, then a taxi to Huaran, a tiny hamlet in the Sacred Valley. Our accommodations were at the Green House, the best B&B I have ever stayed in. http://www.thegreenhouseperu.com Hosts Bryan (from Liverpool) and Gabriel (Buenos Aires) are funny, friendly, and gracious. Just one of many examples of their helpfulness: For our day trip to Machu Picchu, we had to catch a very early train. No time for breakfast. Bryan was up to see us off–with a bag containing a picnic breakfast of sandwiches, fruit, and cookies for us to eat on the train!

Julia and I are both dog lovers, so we were delighted by the three house dogs Paco (aka Puppy), Yana, and Laika. Laika takes special responsibility for the guests, cuddling whenever invited to, and taking them for a lovely walk to a nearby waterfall.

You can opt to have dinner at the Green House, cooked by Gabriel, and we did this three out of the four nights. Our menus:

Wednesday:
–sweet potato soup
–Green House beef stew over mashed potatoes
–apple crumble with ice cream

Thursday
–individual broccoli quiches
–Green House spinach cannelloni
–chilled lemon mousse

Saturday
–guacamole with tequenos (crisp rolled pastries stuffed with cheese)
–trout over a potato mille-feuille topped with salad
–chocolate brownie and ice cream

Nothing too fancy–home food instead of restaurant food–and every dish was delicious.

2013-05-15_15-17-10_71

The stunning view from our room at the Green House. Only four rooms total. The village of Huaran consists of a school and three tiny shops. (If you want shopping and night life, this is *definitely* not the place for you.)

Regular visitors to this blog know that I don’t usually spend this much time describing my accommodations. But the Green House is special. I don’t expect I’ll ever stay in a more peaceful and pleasant place anywhere in the world.

Laika leads the way…

2013-05-18_17-05-46_507

…past the rainbow…

2013-05-18_16-27-44_248

…to the waterfall…

2013-05-18_17-02-01_773

2013-05-18_18-14-20_721

Julia gets into the Green House groove.

Friday, May 17: Machu Picchu

Okay, so everyone takes millions of photos at Machu Picchu–you can’t help it. But even the best photos cannot convey the essence of the place. Those below are just to prove that We Were There.

8770648548_9c2fb71168

8770740328_daaba40209

8766070775_6b3c0d52af_n

8770735586_48370d6be9_n

8766082739_6d001e57d2

8770660074_f93958f6e3_n

Except for a few brief breaks in the cloud cover, it rained almost the entire time we were in Machu Picchu. Didn’t matter. In the morning there were a couple thousand other people there. Didn’t matter. The high altitude and hundreds of stairs had me puffing so hard I almost saw stars. None of it mattered: Machu Picchu is truly wondrous in a way that’s impossible to put into words, even for someone like me who likes to put almost everything into words. We stayed until late in the afternoon, when the place emptied out almost completely, and it was even more magical then.

2013-05-17_12-34-38_144

There’s still more to our trip (including a really fun horseback ride and a perfect final meal in Lima), but enough for now. I’ve been home for twenty-four hours and am still smiling.