Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Peru, Day 6: Ollantaytambo

At the beginning of the sixth day, we took our last little hike - down to the town of Ollantaytambo. Nestled in a valley, this is the first stop for many visitors taking the traditional Inca trail, although for us it was our last stop because we took an alternative route. 

As you can see here, the town is full of ruins and ancient sites. 

In many places, they have planted crops in the raised terraces to show how farming would have taken place in the olden days.

Disnarda took Dave and Lindsay up this fun little mountainside path that gives you a good view of the town and archeological ruins, but I was all out of patience for vertical hikes at this point, and I was also tired. So I sat and knitted and looked at this:

The ruins at Ollantaytambo are supposed to be in the shape of a llama, which is maybe a little easier to see in an image like this. The rocks for Ollantaytambo came from the quarry we had visited the day prior, otherwise known as "the place I ruined my quads for life." A lot of it is unfinished, particularly the temple of the sun, which should have had more slabs.

Of course, there is an Incan door! Love it!

We went up the terraces, then up and around and down the other terraces, all of which prevented erosion and allowed farming on terrain that was otherwise unused. Pretty cool!

And speaking of agriculture, I met some llama friends, which hang out in the field in front of the ruins and eat the grass, so we think of them as Peruvian groundskeepers. 

At one point, a big black one came over for a big drink of water from a fountain. I said he was hanging out on the job, and Disnarda said, "well he works here, he needs a water break!"

I love their shaggy little heads. They are a glorious combination of regal and ridiculous.

In fact, on our way out, we saw another glorious llama scene, with one grazing fellow and some terraces behind him. I asked Disnarda, and those are potatoes.

We got to visit a little arts and crafts area at Ollantaytambo; Dave and I bought some fabrics, as well as some backpacks for the children of our friends who were watching the bunny while we were away. I got to use my Spanish skills to ask how much things were. At one point, I grabbed a backpack from up on high, where a local would have had to grab it with a hook on a pole. I said, "Soy alta!" and she said, "Si, si!"

At that point, we had to grab our bags and head down to the train station for a ride to Aguas Calientes - the last stop before Machu Picchu. Most people who go to Machu Picchu stop for a night in this strange little resort town, which somehow felt more like Katmandu than any Peruvian city we had visited.

For dinner that night in town, we got to sample "chifa," which is a blend of Chinese and Peruvian cuisine. Interestingly, you cannot see the ruins of Machu Picchu from the town of Aguas Calientes, although the next day at Machu Picchu, we could see the town from the path between the ruins and the Sun Gate. You can tell definitely see how the Spanish never found it!

Tomorrow is the big day!  

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