Peru 2005 Day Seven: Ollantaytambo & the Sacred Valley

by Kara on July 28, 2005

Inkaterra took our luggage to the airport at 4:30 a.m. Thursday and checked us in while we ate breakfast at our leisure. They picked us up at the hotel at 5:30 a.m. and by the time we arrived at the airport, we were simply walk through security and get on the plane. They really took good care of us. Security at the Puerto Maldonado airport was a hoot. No one ever looked at our passports/ID. The x-ray machine was not turned on (broken, I assume), so they just gave each bag a couple of squeezes, then pushed them through the disabled x-ray machine for someone on the other side to catch. This gave me a huge boost of confidence.

We actually managed to make it to Cusco, and Elmer from Explorandes met us at the airport. We dropped our bags at the Hotel Tikawasi, and headed straight to the bus for our overnight trip to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. While driving around to other hotels to pick up people for the tour, our bus driver hit another bus and the other bus’s side mirror smashed through one of our windows. I was surprised that this was the only accident we were in while visiting Peru, as people drive like maniacs there.

At the Pisac Market, we found a few of the many women and children in traditional clothing who will pose for pictures for cash in Peru.

At the Pisac Market, we found a few of the many women and children in traditional clothing who will pose for pictures for cash in Peru.

We had a wonderful guide – Jorge – for the tour. He had a large depth of knowledge about the area and he was clearly passionate about the subject. We stopped at the Pisac Market and Stephen finally decided to take a picture of one of the many people in traditional clothing who want you to pay them to take their picture. A lot of them are little girls holding baby sheep, goats or dogs. I suspect practically everyone who has traveled to Peru has a picture or two like this.

We bought a few gifts there and I bought one of the few things that I got for myself on this trip. A woman had big bowls of brightly colored powdered pigments, and I bought a set of the pigments just because they looked so beautiful in the bowls. Don’t know if I’ll actually get around to painting with them – but they just appealed to me. It was 10 soles (about $3US), and including that, I only spent 37 soles ($11.38US) the whole day, so I wasn’t really a big spender. I did get a beautiful little watercolor painting that I am going to have framed for our living room. I wanted a bigger one, but I just didn’t think I could get anything bigger home safely. One guy was haggling on the price of a painting that was about 10 soles, and honestly, I thought it was a little insulting to the artist. Thankfully, she didn’t budge on the price (he didn’t buy it). How can anyone be that cheap? He was haggling over 2 soles (about 61 cents).

These are some of the bowls of beautiful pigments I saw at Pisac Market.

These are some of the bowls of beautiful pigments I saw at Pisac Market.

Next, we had lunch in Urubamba and Stephen was feeling miserable. It was too hot on the bus and he felt pretty nauseated. He sat at our table while I had the buffet for lunch and the fresh air soon perked him up. There was a band playing Peruvian music at the restaurant, and they were quite good, so we bought their CD.

We really enjoyed Peruvian music and we bought this band's CD.

We really enjoyed Peruvian music and we bought this band's CD.

After lunch, we headed up to the ruins at Ollantaytambo. We got pretty winded walking up all the stairs, but it was an amazing view from the top. The Inca construction (not just at Ollantaytambo, but everywhere) is astounding.

We're really going to climb up there?

We're really going to climb up there?

We stayed at the Hotel San Agustin in Urubamba, which was nice and quiet. We had a little trouble communicating with the guy at the desk though. I asked him if we had any messages because we were waiting to hear back about our river rafting trip the next day, and he said he would get back to me in about 20 minutes. After waiting nearly an hour, I finally went back downstairs to the desk. He saw me and said, “it’s $30/hour”. I was pretty confused until I realized he thought I asked for a massage instead of a message. About a half hour after that we got the information regarding our rafting trip.

Check out more of Stephen’s pictures of Peru.

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