Here’s a quick update from Peru.
We are currently in Ollantaytambo, a small town located in the Sacred Valley, between Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Originally we planned to stay in Cuzco but decided in the last minute to live in Ollantaytambo instead, because it is lower height (less risk of altitude sickness) and closer to Machu Picchu (thus allowing a day trip).
It turned out to be a great choice. Ollantaytambo is such a beautiful town it would have been worth a visit on it’s own! This is one of the few towns retaining it’s original Inca houses, town structure, and water channeling system.
During the first few days here we’ve had a great time climbing around and exploring the impressive ruins from Inca forts and storehouses surrounding the town. A good warm-up for Machu Picchu. Walking around the older sections of the town feels like going back 500 years in time, with many of the original Inca streets, walls and doorways still intact and in use today!
During the evenings we’ve been reading “The Last Days of the Incas” and talking about the history of Peru. As we read about how the emperor Manco Inca defended himself against the conquistadors by hurling spears and boulders from a cliff-top fort, and how he re-routed a river to flood the Spaniards in the valley, we look out of our window and see that very fort, and look down from our balcony and see that very river! The next day we climb up and explore the fort, look down upon the old Inca town and discuss Spanish 16th century imperialiism. Can’t think of a more inspiring setting to learn history!
Today we were supposed to visit Machu Picchu, the secret mountain-top city that the Spaniards never found. But the trains were cancelled all day because of an avalanche, and train is the only way to get to Aguas Callientes, the town that provides access to Machu Picchu. So we will go tomorrow instead.
Wish us luck!