Americans, men dressed in red and yet more ruins

Local lady resting her load in Ollantaytambo
Local lady resting her load in Ollantaytambo

I got up fairly late and had the best breakfast I have had for some time. Henry even made proper coffee and not the normal Peruvian variety, which is a thick, strong syrup to which hot water and evaporated milk is added. I had to have two! Whilst eating, I started talking to an American lady on another table. She was travelling with her 16 year old granddaughter. Apparently, as her husband didn’t like travelling, she had taken her 7 grandchildren on trips of their choice when they turned 16. Consequently, she had visited places, such as Ghana and Peru, that she would never have chosen herself.

Looking down on part of the Ollantaytambo ruins
Looking down on part of the Ollantaytambo ruins

Her granddaughter eventually appeared and I had a long conversation with her as well, after the grandmother had returned to their room. From this, I learned a lot about growing up in Utah as a non Mormon (you don’t have many friends!), about Utah itself (very varied scenery and excellent for outdoor activities) and about her plans for the future (Double Major in Psychology and Sociology, followed by a Masters in Maths and a career as a Psycho Pharmacologist, studying the effects of drugs on children with such conditions as ADHD.) I was impressed with how well she had planned out her life. She was also a homebody but wanted to travel, which was a little paradoxical.

My tourist ticket for the sights of Cusco and the Sacred Valley expired today so my first port of call had to be the ruins of Ollantaytambo. These had the usual terraces, water fountains and a view up the valley in both directions. I made the mistake of passing a comment to a Peruvian/American who seemed to be struggling to climb the steps. He was short, fat, on his own, retired and dressed entirely in red. He became familiar very quickly, pointed out his shiny new car in the car park far below and seemed to think that, as I was on my own as well, I would welcome the opportunity to walk around with him. Needless to say, I didn’t and made my escape.

View from the main Ollantaytambo ruins
View from the main Ollantaytambo ruins
View of Ollantaytambo and the valley from the ruins
View of Ollantaytambo and the valley from the ruins

However, having wandered around the ruins, sat on top and admired the view, I then encountered him again at the bottom. Consequently, I was forced to climb another mountain in order to avoid lunch with him. (Note to self: do not make flippant comments to strange men, dressed in red and sitting on Inca terraces, unless they are Father Christmas!)

Terraces at Ollantaytambo
Terraces at Ollantaytambo
Roof construction is very different here
Roof construction is very different here
Old Inca walls in the old part of town
Old Inca walls in the old part of town

I strolled around the old Inca part of Ollantaytambo until I found the steps up to the ruins on the opposite side of the valley. I had studied the track from the main ruins but was still unprepared for the steepness and narrowness of it.

Normally, I do not suffer too much from vertigo but definitely prefer to have more than a foot wide path between me and a sheer drop! It was not a comfortable climb. However, I reached the top and the ruins appeared to cling to the mountain side very precariously. I kept well back from the edge.

The ruins clinging to the side of the mountain that are reached by a vertical path
The ruins clinging to the side of the mountain that are reached by a vertical path

Having arrived, I immediately forgot my previous note to self and made a comment to another strange man who appeared. However, he wasn’t dressed all in red and did have a wife with him. They turned out to be Australians, although he was of Polish extraction. His father had been the Polish Ambassador in Mexico and Cuba when he was a child and consequently he was fluent in Spanish. And French (half French mother). And Russian (learned in school). And English. And, of course, Polish. How I envy people that can speak multiple languages but I don’t think that is ever likely to happen for me now. I had a very interesting conversation with them and ended up with an invitation to stay at their home, 100kms north of Sydney, whenever I liked. Of course, the invitation was reciprocated.

Ruins blending well into the rocks
Ruins blending well into the rocks

I sat and admired the view for a while and summoned up the courage to descend. There was a turn off to another part of the ruins, which I hoped would be easier. It was, marginally, in places, but I was still very relieved to be back on the flat. I don’t know how those Incas built where they did but you would think that if they had such good building skills they could have made better access tracks!

It was nearly 4pm by this time and I was starving. I found another restaurant that, while not as cheap as last night’s, was still good value and I had a 3 course lunch and freshly made lemonade with a view of the ruins. There seemed to be many more people clambering over the steps now so I was glad that I had gone this morning. Afterwards, I went to another cafe for a coffee before wandering back to my room to try and use the internet. This is diabolical, particularly on my ipad for some reason, and, as I wanted to apply for more housesits and book accommodation, I went to a bar, which, of course had Happy Hour, and had a couple of pisco sours whilst waiting for the web pages to load. Ollantaytambo has very bad internet in the whole town.

I didn’t bother with dinner this evening as I had had such a late lunch so, after my drinks, I returned to my room and read for a while before bed.

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