After we arrived in the sacred valley of the Inkas from Machu Picchu yesterday night, we stayed in a boutique hotel in the Spanish colonial villages Ollantaytambo overnight.
Breakfast was at 9:00. We did not see this last night because we had arrived just before midnight, this morning from the hallway opposite of our room the boutique hotel had a fantasic view into the valley.
The breakfast was very nice too. There were a few guests, but the breakfast seemed to be prepared individually for each guest. The highlights were a maize cob with huge grains, around four times the size of maize we know, and some nice müsli. The hotel had a lot of artifacts among them a large number of men or gods with expose penises. Maye i should start collecting those.
I consulted the guidebook. Ollantaytambo, this is the place where in 1536 the Inkas defeated a force of the Spanish Conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro’s younger brother in a decisive battle, arrows, spears and slingshots from thousands of men on foot against a few handful of soldiers on horses with amour and swords. The Spaniards were eventually routed after the Inkas used their irrigation system to flood the valley floor, bogging down the horses of the Spaniards. I could sort of imagine how this might have worked out.
After the settling of the bill, with 90 US$ not really inexpensive, we packed our gear and wanted to leave. Miriam was somehow gone. Not for very long though, she appeared with a new fanclub, three dogs.
The ruins were supposedly just around the corner. We passed an arena, in which several men and horses where assembling for whatever purpose, and then reached a market place with lots of tents with souvenirs for sale. And indeed, on our left hand side there was pretty well preserved Inka temple or fortress with many agricultural terraces.
I was desperately low on cash so we could not buy the tickets yet. I needed to find an ATM first. Luckily there seemed to be one at every corner in the old part of town, so that problem was solved quickly.
We bought out tickets and started touring the site. As usual there was a short way and a long way.
After Machu Picchu yesterday and still feeling short of breath, dizzy and weak, i decided to do the shortest possible tour. Decisions are one thing. We ended up doing the longest, which brought us all the way up the mountain to some antique viewpoint. It was probably from here where the Inkas saw the Spaniards approach up the valley from Cusco before delivering them a defeating blow.
We walked up the stairways, climbing several terraces, which i think served double purpose. Growing crops and for defense. Still altitude sick we rested every second terrace, enjoying a more spectacular view over the town and valley with every increase in altitude. It turned out that this weekend was a three day town fiesta, some religious event mixing catholic and Inka traditions. There were not just one, but many groups in folklore costumes and marching bands marching around town from house to house chasing ghosts away that were living under the roofs. We could hear the music and see some of the colorful processions well from up here.
We reached the first top, which had several sacrilege buildings. Some of them were still under construction when the place was abandoned. There was one huge stone with what appeared as a sawing trace, a guide said until now it is not clear what sort of tools were used for shaping the stones.
Looking down we saw the Urubamba River. The stones for the Inka town had been mined in a stone quarry in the mountains on the opposite side of the valley, transported down by hundreds of people, and then, because of a lack of feasible boats to carry them across the river, piled up on the river bank. Then the Inkas just re-routed the river so that it would pass the stones on the other side, and then continue with the land transport of the stones. Fascinating.
We reached the highest point of the ruins, with a gate followed by a pathway ledig up to the guardhouse on the top of the mountain. Ok. Lets do this. So we continued the climb, meeting only a handful of tourists on the way. The view from the guard house was even more spectacular.
The walk back down was easy, and it was still early in the day. We had some snacks in a restaurant at the center of town and then Miriam and Mavic decided to also climb up to the old Inka granary. Martin preferred to walk around the town and explore the old part a bit more.
Having enough of the exploring, Martin found a nice french bakery at the market place with great view on the dances performed by always changing groups. They were supposed to scare the ghosts away, a nice thing to watch over a ice cold Peruvian beer.
Miriam and Mavic joined after a while, and we watched the dances for a bit more and then hiked back to the train station to find transport back to Cusco. A taxi driver was waiting at the station, he had obviously missed to get a passenger from the train and was very happy to offer us the ride.
Back in Cusco we freshened up a bit and then went to grab a pizza just around the corner of the road where our AIRBNB apartment was located.