Yesterday was the ultimate day for Carnival in Pisac. The whole town goes up to the terrace ruins and has a giant party while watching groups of traditional dancers from the entire Sacred Valley vie for the title of first place. The caretaker of our house, a local Peruvian, said that for sure, yesterday would be a free day. This sounds familiar . . . I’ve heard this story before . . . just last week . . . and was told by the guards that it wasn’t true.
“No matter that Turistico Control told me that there are no free days, ever?” I asked.
He reassured me that the day in question would indeed be a free day. I was still skeptical. I went to the local bakery for my daily Coca-Cola in a glass bottle and carne empanada fix. Conception, the girl who works there and knows me as a regular customer, asked me why I wasn’t up at the ruins. “It’s free today,” she said, “because of Carnival.”
So, Heather and Maria and I decided to splurge the US $3.00 for cab fare up to the top of the ruins since it was already well past noon. On the way up, I decided to ask our driver about it.
“No,” he said. “There are no free days. If you are Peruvian, it’s free. Don’t you have a ticket?”
We explained that we did not. Then our cab driver did something unexpected, fun and truly adventurous. “OK,” he said, “Hide your faces and your hair.” He spoke in fast Spanish. I could only understand the gist of what he was saying, but I got the idea that he was going to help us sneak in.
He stopped the car when we got close to the control station. He motioned for us to put the hoods of our raincoats on and duck down together in the backseat. He gave me a newspaper and motioned for me to put it over my face and hair. Then he hit the gas. We went a little way and then he said, “OK!”
We made it! He snuck us past Turistico Control! He then explained that if we walked down the other side of the mountain toward the market after exploring the ruins that the guards at the other gate would stop us and ask for our tickets. So, he offered (for an additional fee, of course) to wait two hours for us at the top of the mountain and then take us back down into town. The total fee would for the three of us for this scheme would be the same as one regular ticket, so we said yes and thanked our driver graciously.
There are alternate ways to get to the top of this mountain after all!
The verdict is still out as to whether Turistico Control really was open and checking tickets or not. We wouldn’t know, because we were hiding in the backseat of the cab. But I really don’t care.