Previous post on the series is here..
Day 3 started with Sacred Valley and Pisaq and after the lunch at Tunupa restaurant, we went on to Ollantaytambo. It was a long drive and the scenery on the way was just amazing. There were little waterfalls everywhere from the mountain sides. The Andes are really beautiful.
Once we stopped at Ollantaytambo, which literally means the place where Ollantay parked his ass, (rest stop apparently), our tourguide Jason, who was now practically family (we couldn't do diddly squat without him, so he was family.. he spoke English, Spanish and Qechua which is the local language and the name of the local people.. turns out the King is called Inca, the people are Qechua) guide our group yet again!
We finally figured out why half the group was not returning. Apparently the train station to Machu Picchu was at this place. So most folks simply avoided the 2+ hour return drive back to Cusco and continued on from here.. we had no idea or we would have opted for it!
We went through some narrow streets which were beautiful and had a neat drainage system and folks were using this to cool drinks to sell to the tourists!
after we went through these "gallis" we were just awestruck by the view of the site! One minute you are looking into shops in narrow lanes and suddenly you are in a valley and you see a majestic terrace and settlement with temples on the hill tops including a giant face carved on the mountain!
Did I mention that by now we had a "group" and we knew some family histories? We met a couple from Mexico with a baby and the kids loved the baby! We met a Journalism major from Lima who was making a trip with his cancer survivor mom as a treat for surviving! We met a Kiwi student who decided to show up on her own in-spite of her new hubby being sick with altitude.. two ladies from Taiwan, three students from Lima.. an interesting bunch with us thrown in the mix!
The view of Ollantaytambo from the entrance..
This thing was huge and everything was made very bigly! We were told by Jason that we had exactly 40 minutes to hike to the top of the Sun Temple and back and he would come with us. A few folks including the little one came up halfway and said they were going to sit there.. I was disappointed and kept moving.. then at the next stop, she made my day! She walked it all alone! Given how much she was suffering from altitude sickness, it was big of her to climb!
We got a "family picture" by giving the camera to Jason's assistant.. He didn't know how to zoom is my guess. You can tell that it is our family!
Finally we made it up to the Sun Temple. This thing was biglier! Each stone which was part of this thing was 200 tons or so and was taking from an adjoining mountain! They rolled it down with wood and stone rollers and hoisted it up 1500 feet using stacking. Apparently done by a 1000 folks who were an average 4 1/2 feet tall. Just amazing! Wonder what it would have been like to watch these stones go up! There were three Jaguars, condors and snakes on them to represent the sky, earth and underground.. they are mostly chipped off by the invaders.. same sad story again! You can see the outlines of some of the animals on the walls..
Got some shots of the whole place.. Here they are!
It was difficult to hold the camera steady as there was a heavy wind.
The building that looks like it has windows carved in is actually a granary. Apparently there are three mountains that meet in this area and the wind channels through the valleys and hits this mountain face all the time. So it has a natural air conditioning effect. So they put the granary there!
Also they would keep their meat stored there as it would be dry and cool. They carved a large face to thank the person who taught them how to do all this. His name was Tunupa.. turns out the restaurant we visited earlier was named for him.
Tunupa's face and granary, up close and personal!
we got gorgeous views of the valley and the settlement below (which is modern.. the old settlement was on the plateau) with some farmers and out of towners living below..
and before you knew it, our 40 minutes was up and we were back to the shops again..
We were walking back towards the bus when San saw these cute kids dressed in local gear. She had that same look the kids have, when we go to buy fish food at the local Petco and they eye a puppy or kitten. It is a look that says "can I please bring that dog or cat home?!".. I was worried San was going to make a request like that with one of these kids!
So I did my usual, "okay... let me take some photos of these kids to make you happy!" and the minute I turn my camera on them, they all open their hands and go "uno sol!". Gave them what we had in my pockets and took a few shots!
They did do a good job of posing still when requested! It was already dark in the alleyway and I had no flash.
There was a fifth boy who came late to pose and we were moving on. He started crying.. so gave him a sol. His smile was priceless.. (okay, it was uno sol) but my camera was already off and everyone had moved on.. so that picture will stay in my head!
Off we moved to our next stop.. Chinchero!