Urubamba in the Sacred Valley in Peru

I got a decent night’s sleep after our arrival in Urubamba the previous day. Was up early, as is usually the case when I am traveling. It had rained overnight, but the clouds were lifting when we awoke. They drifted between the distant mountain tops.  The orange arch of the bridge under construction over the Urubamba river also appeared in the distance.  (We had to take a detour over a temporary bridge next to this one to get into town yesterday.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Traffic was light at that time of the day.  Vehicles sped past our hotel down the wet road every once in a while, including this auto rickshaw.  Auto rickshaws (also called tuk tuks) are all over the place in Peru.  They are also called mototaxis, and the version in the picture below has doors for the passengers, unlike the auto rickshaws in India.  Auto rickshaws used to be imported from India (Bajaj!), but are now produced locally.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABreakfast in the hotel introduced us to a Peruvian grain called Kiwicha, also known as amaranth or “mini quinoa”. It was to be consumed as a cereal in puffed form.  It is considered a superfood.  Kiwicha was also available for breakfast in a health drink called Kiwigen, which kids like to drink.  (From the advertising on the bottles, they are led to believe that by drinking Kiwigen they will become strong enough to be supermen or astronauts!)

As an aside, the grain quinoa has been consumed in large quantities in Peru historically.  Only recently has it became well known internationally as a superfood.  I had some great quinoa soup on a couple of occasions during this trip.

We got to sample some local breads for breakfast.  In some places they had fresh fruit spreads to go with the bread.  The fruits that we ate with breakfast were the standard fruits that one is used to in the United States, except for the addition of papaya.  We did get mangoes in one hotel.  That did not last too long on the buffet table.

The juices that we got for breakfast during this trip were uneven in quality, but we did occasionally get something that was unique and local, and worth trying.  We did notice that these juices were not sugared up excessively as is usually the case in the US. Coffee was usually quite strong. We ended up drinking coca tea somewhat regularly with breakfast while we were in the mountains to help avoid altitude sickness.

The hotel that we were staying at was an old-fashioned place.  It had an orange tree with oranges in its front yard.  The corridors and the rooms reminded you of a time past.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe gardens were beautiful,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand behind the hotel was a big field on which some sort of grain was growing.  It could have been corn. Peru is a major producer of corn, and it is consumed in different forms at different times of the day.  There are many kinds of corn available in different colors.  The kernels are huge, and they do not look anything like what you see in the United States.

We did not explore much of the town itself because we did a few tours outside of town while we were there.  We were told that Urubamba was not that well developed for tourists, and that most of the restaurants in town were not completely safe for people like us to eat at, but the place did not really appear that intimidating. In fact, there seemed to be quite a few tourists around, especially at the hotel we were staying at.  It could have been a reasonable place to walk around and mix with the locals.   There was even a convenience store next to the local gas station!

We had to leave the hotel at an early hour for our morning tour.  The first place that we were visiting were the Maras Salt Flats.