Pristine & Picturesque Pisaq

Though I use the word ‘pristine’, watch where you step in Pisaq. There are many stray dogs, and they pooped on the streets. Luckily, street cleaners come along most nights to help the mess on the sidewalks and gutters. Pisaq’s beauty is more from the people of the town. (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

I’m living in Pisaq, Peru right now. It can be spelled Pisac too, but I prefer to use the Quechua spelling. I mean, this place was the home of the Incas. Pisaq is at a higher elevation and slightly more north than Cusco.

It is about a half a hour drive to the Big C (Cusco or Qosqo). It is smallish town known for its famous markets, quant living, and impressive ruins comparable to the fabled, heavily visited Machu Picchu.

Arriving in this little town was not an easy endeavor. As a result of some slow baggage claim, I had to bring the bag I was going to check through security and attempt to have it checked on a flight that was already boarding. Dehydrated, tired, and very stressed, I rushed through the airport, went to the wrong gate, and then proceeded to push my way to the LANPeru check-in desk through a crowd of passengers.

After an hour and a half flight, I arrived in Cusco and was promptly picked up by a volunteer. After a mini-tour of the city, I was driven to the remote town of Pisaq. Passing ruins, dromedaries, and local artisans, I arrived at my home for the next three weeks.

After some water and a six hour nap, I was introduced to my family and watched the Brasil v. Colombia fútbol game in my host family’s store/bar. After being told I will not be able to speak Quechua nor do I speak Spanish by a drunken gentleman, my host mother, who speaks both, gave me a tour of the essential areas of Pisaq. I visited the pharmacy/ laundry mat, the Internet cafes, and places where I can buy food and other knick-knacks.

As usual, I got a few looks being the only chino in town, but nothing I wasn’t used to. My tour ended with a little praying in the main cathedral of Pisaq. Having absolutely no background in Catholicism, I just stood and sat when told by the priest. It was surprisingly busy for a Friday. I think? Again, I am not versed in the teachings of the church.

As we walked, my new host mother told me in Spanish of what I may see while in the streets of Pisaq. Some people drink a little more than they should here, as stated before, but it isn’t a huge issue in this municipality. Hippies are a problem though. My host mother told me that people from all over come to Pisaq and other small towns to sell handcrafted goods and merchandise.

They learn German, Portuguese, English, and French to barter with everyone that passes by. They aren’t really Peruvian, but are here to make some money. They seem a little icky to me. However, they are nice. My housemate from France and I have played foosball with them, and they even payed for us.

Pisaq is also surprisingly filled with tourists. People come here from Europe and the United States to see the ruins and experience the small town vibe. There are multiple internet cafes filled to the brim with non-natives, which

I should’t complain about since I am in one as I type this. Even in Cusco, there are tourists from all over, and this includes places in Peru as well. Everyone wants to come to the Sacred Valley.

In Pisaq, there are many shops selling artisan goods ranging from alpaca knitted ponchos to wood carvings. Pisaq also has huge markets every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday in the main square next to the church. This sadly results in things being very expensive since tourists will buy literally anything.

Overall, it’s a charming small town. It is calm, even tranquil, as my host mother puts it. Only about a hour drive through the mountains from Cusco, and you can reach this wonderful gem of the Sacred Valley. I’m excited to live here.

It is smaller than I expected, but small is good. It also has some local ruins up along its hills, so I will definitely be making a trip up there. I hear it is free if you go early.

More to come about ruins, how to shop in Pisaq, and Quechua. Stay tuned!