Lush green and endless flowers: bonuses of rainy season

I’ll be honest, it actually is quite rainy in February – the supposed peak of the rainy season in the Peruvian Andes. In December we had a string of rainy days, and January was really pretty docile weather-wise, but February’s been full on soggy, aside from a few brilliantly sunny days thrown in for good measure. Usually there’s a break in the clouds to help preserve my sanity, but it takes some mental exercise to find the bright side of all this ‘liquid blessing from the heavens’. That is, until you take a walk in the hills above Cusco – or especially in the Sacred Valley.
My mother is in town this week (yes, I warned her February was going to be rainy), so we headed out to the Valley on one of the traditional Inca sites/market tours on Sunday. I really enjoyed this tour, and was amazed by the dynamic beauty of the landscape when I made my first visit in late November – but three months of alternating rain and shine have really done wonders for the lushness of the place!
Hillsides that had short grasses and a scattering of cacti are now literally cascading with tumbling tall grasses, aloe plants and prickly pear cacti larger than most mid-size sedans, and blossoms of every size, color, and shape imaginable.
Our trails through the incredible ancient Inca cities and terraced mountainsides were lined with every kind of flower from the giant bushes of indigo blue lupine to tiny pink flowers growing from the crevasses in the rocks. On the valley floor it was impossible to look anywhere without seeing a pink, white, or yellow bell-shaped blossom hanging from the dark shiny leaves along the road. As I’m used to seeing various shades of white and gray every February for the past few decades, it was enough to make me a little ‘color tipsy’.
A couple of days later on the hike from Moray to Maras, the fruit trees were decorated with red and green pears and apples, avocados, and figs. All of which attracted iridescent green hummingbirds, Andean flickers, and other small colorful birds darting back and forth in their private Eden.
When the skies cleared to reveal Mt. Chicon and the rest of the Urubamba range coated in a sparkling coat of fresh white, I felt pretty confident saying that Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and the rest of the Peruvian Andes qualify as my version of paradise – even in rainy season.