The bus picked us up at the door of our hotel. We stopped at several other hotels to pick up more people, and at each stop there were vendors trying to sell us drinks, snacks, film, and gifts. Children and adults in traditional costume pose for photos in exchange for some money.
The scenery of the countryside as we left Cuzco was beautiful. It was so green and there was no visible evidence of pollution.
The bus wound slowly up the mountain ridges and made its first stop to overlook a valley. We were allowed to get out to take photos, and shop with the vendors if we wished. Many of the children were selling cocoa leaves to chew on and samples of different corn kernels.
The bus stopped several times along the way. One of the first stops was at a small market where you could buy crafts, jewelry, and other souvenirs. This was one of our "rest stops". For a half a sol (about 10 cents) a lady would hand you toilet paper and let you into a room with a small hole in the floor. I am writing this to remind myself not to have anything to drink in the morning if I ever go by this place again.
We made another stop at the Pisac Market, which was one of your two major stops. The market is a good example of a market where people buy food. We saw lots of livestock being cooked and people would buy a piece of the meat to bring home. There were many other booths where they sell crafts, antiquities, clothing, rugs, and jewelry. We spent about an hour at the market and spent uncountable amounts of money. I found these beautiful butterflies in frames to take home. We tried to buy different things from different vendors rather than giving one vendor all the business to be fair. As fair warning, let it be noted that the vendors are really aggressive sellers!
The bus stopped in a town along the way and dropped different people off at one of the four different restaurants in the town. They may do this to be fair to each of the businesses.
We were dropped off at the Best Western. I do a lot of travel, and have stayed at Best Westerns before, but never had I stayed at one that was so decorated with flowers! The gardens were beautiful. I spent a whole roll of film on the flowers alone.
Visiting the People
When we reached the town that lay under the Fortress of Ollantaytambo, the tour guide gave us a special treat. We went up into the town to visit a family inside their home. The home had a courtyard in the middle where a donkey, a mother duck and ducklings, roosters, and guinea pigs roamed.
We met a couple who were the grandparents in the household. The woman was 98 and the husband was 100. At least that is how the story goes. They were very healthy and very happy. We got to go into their kitchen and see where they cooked. Guinea pigs (a basic food in this culture) ran in all directions to hide from the flashes of the cameras.
The ruins of Ollantaytambo rise above the village that we just visited. You enter the ruins at the base, and have to climb up many steps to get to the top or to other sections. There are also trails that lead down the side of the cliff where ruins and wildflowers intermix.
We did not spend a lot of time at this stop, but the sun was setting so the trip had to end.
The Ride Home
The trip home was very quiet. I took a million photographs of the countryside while the rest of the people on the bus slept, including the tour guide. This was a long day.
If you ever get to Peru and do this trip, I hope you get Roland as a tour guide - he was so knowledgeable, kind, and had a good sense of humor. He is one of the people we will always remember when we think of Peru.