So the Hotel Tampymayu turned out to be a wonderful if somewhat bizarre place. It's situated in a tight valley along the river that runs down to Nazca. The drive through the valley, which most people take at night on the bus to Cusco, is one of the most beautiful I have ever experienced. The best thing about it is that there is virtually no other traffic on the road. For once you feel like you can relax and enjoy the scenery while driving. The biggest threats are the cows, goats, sheep, burros and llamas that occasionally wander into the highway, refusing to move for anyone or anything - a pleasant alternative to the smoggy trucks, careening buses and berserk combis that clog most other roads in Peru.
The Hotel Tampymayu is actually a compound of independent bungalows, all bright, clean and entirely empty. There were no other guests at the hotel that night. Between the bungalows lie open grassy spaces, beautiful gardens, and what is perhaps the largest private zoo in all of Peru.
The zoo begins the minute you arrive. At the front gate a pack of super-friendly dogs greets you with an invitation to join their never ending game of dog pile. Near the reception area a family of peacocks preen and peck for grubs in the gravel paths running to the bungalows. Behind the restaurant a pony and a couple of edgy vicunas chew on native grasses and left-over sweet potato peals. Next to them is a pond filled with swirling trout hoping you order the lomo saltado for dinner. In the trees above, an intensely green parrot squawks while gnawing on an enormous cob of choclo (sin queso). He speaks neither Spanish nor English. In a pen on the opposite side of the compound a hairy mountain goat with a huge rack paces the fence line in defense of the two female goats he's locked up with. After four weeks on the road with my 70+ year old parents, I guess he saw me as a credible threat. Some geese and goslings share the space but not their food with the goats. Farther on, at the rear of the compound, an old aviary houses dozens of unusually shaped and colored chickens. Some are locked up, others are free range: it's unclear what distinguishes between the two groups. Finally, in one of the smaller bungalows, a lonely Swiss engineer passes his time while not working on a power plant development project in the high-altitude plains above the valley.
I slept like a rock that night after two fat pisco sours. The next morning we woke up to the news that Obama had capped Osama. It was an unexpected blast of reality from the human world outside, but it couldn't mar the wonderfully strange vibe of the Hotel Tampymayu.