On our way to Machu Picchu, we spent the night at another Incan town with ruins called Ollantaytambo. It's a fun name to say. We left most of our stuff at Bill's and took only what we needed for the next two days. This was a huge convenience. We walked to a different bus stop in Cusco for transportation to this town. The same rules applied for getting a ride as Pisac, but the bus was more like a large van since the distance is further and less people seem to go daily. We also waited much longer to leave because we just missed the last departure. This trip was more expensive too - 10 soles per person or about 4 dollars for the four of us.
The trip out of Cusco gave us a pretty good view of the poverty level. Houses were dilapidated. There were far more stray dogs and garbage filled many parts of the roadside. About thirty minutes later I began to worry more about our safety. Our driver was crazily navigating his way along the road. Apparently that's the reputation they have along this route, but I found that out after the trip. I seriously almost yelled in Spanish, "I want to live." He passed so many cars on blind turns, it was ridiculous.
We happily survived the two hour ride to this lovely, quaint town. The roads were unpaved and more like cobblestone. The town has the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America. Some, however, were altered.
The town is surrounded by a hill with more impressive terraces and ruins. While the ruins were called a fortress, they actually contained a religious temple. These ruins were included on our previously purchased ticket, but we didn't have time that day to explore them. We could see much of it from town so we decided to explore the local sites after lunch.
Even though this is a small town, it took us a while to find our hostel. It was very basic. The people running it are volunteers and work for a charity called My Little Help. They help local children and their families in Peru and also in Nepal. It was founded by Leander Hollings who we had the privilege of meeting along with Mayra who coordinated our stay. We were able to witness some of the benefits of their efforts during our stay. There were some young children visiting the hostel while we were there. Two girls were close to Liam's age. They said they had never seen a gringo boy before and they thought he was beautiful. It was fun to see them become silly around him; a behavior that trancends cultures.
We had lunch at a great place that also supports local charities. Their food was organic and there were many vegetarian options. While we were eating we heard pound marching band-like music. We went to the window and saw this demonstration or parade of locals. There has been an election process in Peru. We've seen signs and billboards advertising the candidates and their positions all over Peru. In this area they painted candidate names on walls and posted pictures of how they wanted you to vote. Bill told us that the visual illustrations were for the benefit of the illiterate citizens of Peru. The election was two days away and apparently things ramped up with an increase of people partying. I hoped it would be a quieter night since it was a Sunday.
Back at the hostel we met Leander's baby daughter. Maeve and Liam were sources of entertainment for her. Well, I think the feeling was mutual.
After exploring and getting settled, we decided to turn in early. We had an early start in the morning.....Machu Picchu!