Moving on to Calca

This morning when I asked for breakfast, Pierina told me that it wasn’t included in the price of the room, which I had understood it to be. Consequently, I had a slight disagreement with her as I felt that she was already charging excessively. I had heard her mother telling someone yesterday that the single room price was 30 soles and the double 50. I was paying the equivalent of 80 soles through Airbnb. According to her, I got extra services for the price, these being a blanket and a bar of soap! I might not have been quite so annoyed if I had not just stayed around the corner for the same price and had a private bathroom, probably the best breakfast I had so far had in Peru, and wifi, none of which were included here. It is a lot of extra to pay for the privilege of staying in an old Inca room!

View from my balcony in Calca
View from my balcony in Calca

I packed up and left without breakfast. I was lucky enough to get a collectivo headed for Urubamba straight away and then a bus to Calca that was just pulling out from the collectivo station. Consequently, I arrived in Calca by 11am. Once there, I hoisted my far too heavy pack and walked up to David and Mabel’s house, where I had booked a room, buying a croissant and bread along the way.

On arrival, I was shown to my accommodation and then sat and chatted to them in their very attractive and private garden for quite some while. He is American and she Peruvian and they have two small children, who are younger than his grandchildren back in the States.

The garden in Calca
The garden in Calca

They were going to lunch at a cafe down the road and Mabel invited me to join them, which I did, and had a very delicious ceviche. After lunch, I trailed after them to the plaza where we all had ice cream and then I left them in peace. I had to go to the ‘supermarket’ (mini store with 2 small isles) for the basics of wine, water, milk and cereal, and then the fruit, vegetable and everything else market for avocados. The market was thronging, it being Sunday, and there was not another gringo in sight!

Calca people, so far, have been very friendly, almost going out of their way to try and catch my eye to say ‘Buenos Dias/Tardes’, which makes a very pleasant change. I think I have got a bit travel weary lately and fed up with being regarded as a cash cow.

The gardens in Plaza de Armas
The gardens in Plaza de Armas
The street from the house to the main plaza in Calca
The street from the house to the main plaza in Calca

Back at the house, I attempted to connect to the internet before giving up and joining the others in watching Peru lose to Brazil in the Copa America. (No, not rugby, but soccer!) The others were Tim and Jill from the Netherlands, Bill from the States, (all guests), a couple of David and Mabel’s Peruvian friends and 3 small children, who got a little excited, so it was all quite cosmopolitan.

Once the game was finished, I retired to my room, having declined to watch the X Men!

Lazier and lazier

I had a somewhat spartan breakfast of bread, jam and instant coffee with a late offering of some sweet bread. Afterwards, I sat on the deck reading until I had finished the book, by which time Lauren and Jason had appeared, so I spent a bit more time chatting to them. It appears they have a few mental health issues in their respective families with one bi-polar mother, who provided an entertaining childhood, and one schizophrenic brother who caused many problems.

One of the main streets in Ollantaytambo
One of the main streets in Ollantaytambo

When they went to work at 2 o’clock, I decided it was about time I motivated myself to do some thing so went for lunch at the 8 soles cafe. It wasn’t brilliant but perfectly reasonable for the price. Whilst I was eating, one of the local guides came in for lunch and proceeded to tell me about his tours, in a mixture of Spanish and English, to some of the Andean communities in the area. A 4 hour car tour was $90 so I politely declined! It seems to me that the locals in this area certainly know how to exploit the tourists.

Traffic in Ollantaytambo
Traffic in Ollantaytambo

After lunch I visited the Choco Museum where Lauren and Jason were working. To be fair, I only went to taste the chocolates and have coffee and a brownie. The museum, such as it was, didn’t really feature on my agenda! I also tried to use the wifi but, as per usual, it was very slow.

Table set up for a birthday party in the Sacred Heart cafe
Table set up for a birthday party in the Sacred Heart cafe

Next stop was for another coffee but this time at the Sacred Heart, where they know how to make it without drowning it in milk. I wasted time there for a while before having a short wander, visit to the market and then back to the room. It was a decidedly lazy and uninspiring day!

Nothing like a good book!

Some extremely loud Americans woke me up this morning. My room is on the ground floor next to the reception area and I have now heard a lot of American children but have never actually sighted them. Apparently, they were all off to Machu Picchu today, hence the early start.

I had wanted to stay an extra night or two in Ollantaytambo but, unfortunately, this guest house was full, so I had booked another Airbnb place. Consequently, I had to pack up and move this morning. My new room is in the old Inca part of town, where the buildings are all made of stone and there are narrow, pedestrian streets, most of which have channels of water, built by the Incas, running down them.

The courtyard of my accommodation
The courtyard of my accommodation

My room is very pleasant and Pierina had put candles in the niches that the Incas used for ornaments and there were 2 Peruvian chocolates on the pillow. The bathroom is outside and fairly basic, so, for the same price that I had been paying, I was getting a lot less. I found out afterwards, that had I not booked through Airbnb I would have paid about 1/3rd of the price and, if I was Peruvian, even less. I was not impressed!

My reading corner on the verandah
My reading corner on the verandah
Cacti growing out of the roof?
Cacti growing out of the roof?

My lack of motivation to do anything continued so I sat on the balcony and read for a while until an English couple, Jason and Lauren, returned from their work at the Chocolate Museum and I had a long chat to them. They were pleased to exchange the book I had finished for one of theirs. I realised I had already read it when I was about a quarter of the way through but, by that time, was well into the story and kept reading.

I eventually went out again at about 3pm, sat in the Sacred Heart Cafe (some of whose profits go towards one of the projects assisting women and children) and had a sandwich whilst applying for more housesits. Afterwards, I went for a walk down to the railway station, hoping that I could do a loop around the town, but it was a dead end street so I had to turn around and come back again, accompanied by scores of buses and mini vans who were dropping off and picking up tourists from the station.

Then it was back to the room for a bit more reading before going out for a drink in the early evening. The bar was too noisy for me though so I didn’t stay long before returning to my room, where I continued with the book until bedtime. There is nothing like a good book!!