Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ollantaytambo, Peru - Day 3 of our G Adventures Machu Picchu Tour

Saturday, October 5th, dawned sunny and bright especially very early in the morning in Cusco.  We were up, breakfast eaten (well sort of, as the meal didn't look all that appetizing and we didn't know we could ask for eggs until our return), and luggage downstairs by 7:30am for our private bus departure to a small Inka town farther up in the mountains, Ollantaytambo.

Views along the  way:

Many homes have "weather vanes" to bring them good luck.

Still building using the mud/straw adobe method.

On the way, we made a first stop at an animal rescue project. We have so enjoyed several visits along our journey to these fabulous causes!! This one was not a dog & cat typical rescuer. We're talking turtle, maribo stork, macaws, puma, llama, alpaca, vicuña, guanaco, AND condor!! Yup, 4 huge condors!!

Peruvian hairless dog that has a 104F body temperature! Touch him and he's very warm!

Alpaca & Llama


Vicuña, the most valuable wool in the world and they are not domesticated at all. 
Puma, mountain lion, cougar, whatever you want to call them.

A little close for comfort!
A delightful tour through and the grand finale was the flights of the condor right over our heads!! OMG, having seen a wild condor in the Grand Canyon, up close and personal, last year, this was really special and so exciting!! Bernice had one fly right over her head while she was trying to film the flight and almost fell to the ground to avoid it because it came so close!!

Our next stop was at a village, Caccaccollo, tucked up in the hills on a steep dirt road (actually reminded me of some of our roads back home) where there is a womaen's project taking place, Planeterra Project. The project is for women to band together and start a business for selling their beautiful hand woven goods of scarves, shawls, hats, socks, leggings, etc. this allows them to become independent but to help with family expenses with their husbands. It creates more self worth for themselves and a feeling of contribution to the family.

Picking up our guide, who met us on the side of the road on our way up to the village.
This will be a hostel to increase their "at home" stay visits for those that want to live in the village.


Wall hangings that are exquisite!

Memorial statue in the center square.

Their looms are all handmade in the village.

An observation along the way... for the first time in our journey in all of the countries visited, we saw new construction everywhere in the "traditional" way of mud and straw thus adobe rather than modern cosmopolitan construction. Actually, very refreshing!  Nice to see traditions carried on rather than adopting "western" newness. 

Again, it's sooooo hard for us not to buy the beautiful handicrafts of these wonderful people!! Actually, we did buy birthday and thank you gifts for a few back home that we mailed when we flew through FL on our way to Nicaragua. Just saying but boy we wanted to buy for us!!

Demonstrating how they clean the wool using a root shampoo.

Showing how they dye using beetles, plants, etc. and adding salt & water to make the different colors.

Our next venture was to the Pisac Inka ruins.  Our drive there was stunning!  Once there, we toured the ruins and enjoyed the mountain sights.  This is where the largest Inka burial grounds have been discovered with thousands of bodies.  Looters had claimed most of the treasurers but, if you look close to the pictures, you can see skulls at the entry to some of the graves.



Our next stop was lunch where we got a good view of a glacier while enjoying the gardens of our restaurant and beautiful warm sunny weather!

We arrived in Ollantaytambo mid afternoon to bright sunny skies. The altitude here is 2,700 meters or 8,858'. Our bus ride into this town was spectacular!! The town is set deep into the Andes mountains with jutting mountains all around. The bus had to even back into the lane of our Hostal, Inka's Garden, because it was so narrow. And, all of the streets, wide and narrow, have the original Inka irrigation and water troughs running right next to them, so there's running water everywhere all of the time and you must be careful where you walk. Everywhere you looked, the mountains just soared out of the landscape!


The views from our room.

View from our room!
Once checked in, Mike and I were able to get enough internet connection to call his Cousin Denise and Don in CA for a video call on Skype. We had gotten word earlier in the day that Mike's Uncle Donald had passed away the Thursday before at only days shy of his 96th birthday. A fabulous life but we will miss him sorely!! A very fine man that we love very deeply!

The group then headed up to town with our guide, Jose, to explore town and the Inka ruins right on the edge of town. Only when I saw the steepness of them, I decided not to partake of this climb. I hadn't slept hardly at all the night before and I was exhausted. Decided to "save" myself for the next few days hiking that I knew was ahead.

Our lane.

Still utilizing the Inka water system.

Every land or street has the water ditch catching the rain water & the mountain runoff. 

Inka ruins right at the edge of town.

Inka Ruin pictures:

The polished block rocks, pictured here, was quarried at the top of a mountain completely across the huge valley and was then transported back up the mountain to this site!! These boulders weigh TONS!! At the other sites, most of the rock was quarried on site.  This site was never completed due to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.

I did go into the ruin area and enjoy the wonderment of what was at ground level and bask my sights on the climb that the group was making. Following them up and up visually until they reached the top then I did a bit of "window" shopping through the vendor stalls but finally settled on having a glass of wine while I waited for the group to finish. A win/win for all of us!!

The group had no problem finding me on their way back. As dinner was less than an hour later, we all headed back to the Hostal and a few minutes to try and catch up on emails, etc. We all gathered again and made our way up to the town square and up a short distance on a very narrow pedestrian only street to a nice pizza casual spot where we all had a grand time!

On our way back, the square had come alive with locals playing organized volleyball in the street even having team shirts. Don't think I'd be lunging for a ball on the cobble stone streets!  They were quite good and we enjoyed watching them for a bit. It was Saturday night and families, children, and lovers were everywhere living their lives while we observed and witnessed in snips and snatches.

Time to pack it in for us/me, as I was dead tired!  I was certainly hoping for a better mattress experience than the night before so I could feel more rested for the next day's discoveries!

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