After visiting Machu Picchu we got the train out of Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo. There were plenty of taxi touts seeking fares for taking people to Cuzco at the station gate so we knew that we would’t get stuck there. Our initial impressions were that we might not have much luck on the accommodation front – no touts at the station and the first place we asked in charged 90 Soles per room (about 45 NZ), that’s almost double the most we have paid in Peru so far and for that much we’d head back to Cuzco. But we headed to the town plaza, Marie was deposited there with the big rucksacks and Emma went to ask somewhere else and landed a 30 Soles a night in a slightly rustic building on a quiet road but central and views of the Inca ruins surrounding the town.
We were just getting settled into our room when the old man that owns it comes and insists that we both go outside with him. At first we thought that he was a rude old git but actually he took us onto the balcony and had got a book about the ruins and proceeded to show us a natural face in the rock, how one set of ruins is shaped like a llama and a condors beak (that we couldn’t actually make out). All in Spanish. At solstice the sun hits the face (which is on one side of the valley) and the light then hits the llama’s eye on the other and carries on over to hit the top of a pyramid made by fields behind, pretty cool!. He was really sweet.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the small town, which is supposed to be the best example of Inca town planning there is, as it has been inhabited ever since the Incas built it. We really like the place even if during the day it was full of tourists and tour buses visiting the ruins (we didn’t actually visit them, too expensive, we were happy to just look at them from the town). We also found the market which is the cheapest yet in Peru, so got plenty of supplies now that antibiotics have nuked the tummy problems we’ve been having since central Bolivia.
The next morning we bought bread for lunch off our favourite aka oldest, street bread seller and got a collectivo to Urumbamba 30 minutes away. We were surprised to find ourselves the only gringos on it. From Urumbamba we got a bus to Pisac which is at the start of the Sacred Valley. We ditched our rucksacks with a hostel tout who when we declined somewhere to sleep promptly offered us bag storage and spent a couple of hours exploring the town. It was pleasant but absolutely jammed with tourists visiting the ruins overlooking the town. The tour buses could hardly fit down the narrow streets and the town square has been turned into a handicraft market. Marie purchased a belt off a woman in a side street, but it wasn’t our kind of place so we hopped on a bus back to Cuzco. The views of Pisac on the road out as it climbs up the mountain were far better than the place itself. Marie then spent the next hour sound asleep like the man next to her whilst Emma giggled when she couldn’t wake her up and the two of them kept butting heads while they were asleep.
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