We said goodbye to the host families in San Jeronimo, Huacarpay and Lucre and prepared for the last leg of our adventure in the Andes — an exploration of the Sacred Valley.  We began in Pisac, touring the vast archaeological site high above the valley.  Then we hiked down, down, down to the main plaza in the center of town to check out the Sunday market.  It’s the rainy season and we were due for a good rain.  And hail too?  We got soaked on our way down the mountain!

The next day we awoke to sunshine and spent the whole day exploring Ollantaytambo.  We began on the seldom-visited “colca” side of the valley.  This is where the Incas stored surplus products such as dried potatoes, grains, cloth and items for trade.  Then we visited the home of a friend of our guide, Oswaldo, a house that has been inhabited for more than 500 years.  A variety of odd and interesting items were on display there.  Afterwards we climbed up to the top of the fortress to appreciate the fine stonework and take in the impressive view of the valley below.  And at day’s end we boarded a train … for Machu Picchu.