Well, this post isn’t really about sneaking into the ruins, so much as it’s about going on a free day, so I’ve decided to post this entry along with the Sneaking Into The Pisac Ruins saga. So, this week is Carnival here in Pisac. I’ve heard through the local grapevine that the ruins are free today. Perfect timing as my friend Heather has just arrived today for a two-week visit.

There are two legitimate entrances to the ruins. One is just off the square in the middle of town at the foot of the mountain. From there, the walk up is about one and a half hours. The second entrance is via taxi about 9 kilometers out of town on the road. We all decided to head up to the entrance to the ruins at the bottom of the mountain in town. I wasn’t even sure if Heather, who just landed in Peru after traveling for two days, could make it up to the top because of altitude issues. Turns out that altitude would not be the issue.

We honestly believed that today was a free day because of Carnival – that’s what everyone in town has been saying. So, we were surprised when we got stopped at Turistico Control office and the guard asked for our tickets. “But I thought today was a free day at the ruins because of Carnival!” I said.

¨It’s free to come to the market in Pisac,” the guard said. “But there are never any free days at the ruins! Never!” he yelled.

I was confused by his comment because every day is free to go to the open-air market in the town square. But, Heather and the rest of us were winded from our short hike anyway, so we just went to Ulreke’s and had a few beers. We ran into a couple of other longer-term tourist friends there and asked them what they’d been doing all day.

“Well,” Jake replied, “We got caught up at the ruins without a ticket because we thought today was a free day and they threatened to take us to jail.”

¨What?” I asked. (I don’t even think there is a jail in Pisac.)

“Yeah,” said Sienna, Jake’s girlfriend, “We didn’t have any money on us and we told them that, so they made us give something for collateral and come back with money later. I tried to give them my necklace, but they wouldn’t take it. They wanted my fancy water bottle instead. Eventually, we returned and they let us pay two for the price of one.”

Aha! So, there are no free days, but you can barter with them . . .