This and That

December 25, 2010

Day 4-5 Ollantaytambo – Arequipa

On Day 4, we woke up leisurely, had breakfast and set out on the train to Ollantaytambo. We asked our hotel staff to arrange a van for us in Ollantaytambo and they did. The van was supposed to take us to Ollantaytambo ruins and drive us to the bus station in Cusco. The hotel staff tied up all our baggage in a cart and dragged it along while we walked with them on our 20 minute walk to the train station. Again, the train staff and the security in the station were very accommodating and helped us with the baggage. This train trip although a short 90 minute, had a show in-store for us along with snacks and drinks. And we were the 10 of 15 passengers in the train. So it was very exclusive. The kids had a wonderful time running around. As part of the show, one person came dressed up as Pachacamac, the creator God. Also we had a wonderful fashion parade, parading the finest of the alpaca sweaters and shawls.

Our van was waiting for us in Ollantaytambo. We somehow managed to load our boatload of baggage and ourselves in the van, and off we set towards the Ollantaytambo ruins. First we stopped a small restaurant outside of the ruins.  Had a wonderful lunch comprising of pasta and grilled veggie kebabs and rice.  Then we bought a partial ticket and hired ourselves a guide. We set off to see this wonderful ruin. The outside of the ruins is littered with souvenir shops run by the locals. Since the kids were a little tired and couple of the adults were having altitude sickness, we decided to stick to the lower area instead of climbing the terraces and upper area. Ollantaytambo was one of the royal estates of King Pachacuti.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We started with looking at the baths of the princess and the chosen girls(typically chosen for sacrifices – ouch!).  The entire water system is underground since the Incas did not want their water to be poisoned. There were lot of storage areas built in this place. Plus the mountains around has the shape of many of the typical Inca symbols. Take a look at it for yourself. The Inca God on the left of the picture. The storage unit on the right top. The Candor shape on the bottom right. Also the beautiful bath which can be stopped and started by a drawing a line and flicking water back in the water’s path. Also the operation table made on the rock was another wonder. They even had a small canal for water to flow. They mainly used it for mending the wounded soldiers. After a couple of an hour of  tour, we headed towards Cusco.
 
 
 
 
 
On the way to Cusco, we stopped in a couple of artisan markets. Since it was close to 5pm, most of them were closed or about to close. Neverthless, they were very interesting to look at. The drive back to Cusco was beautiful with its glaciers and small towns. We briefly stopped at the Cusco market, did some more shopping and were dropped off at the Cruz Del Sur bus stop at around 7:30pm for our 8pm bus which we almost missed. We had booked an overnight bus trip from Cusco to Arequipa via the internet. I was in-charge of printing the confirmation. And I gave the confirmation to the clerk and he gives me 5 tickets instead of 10. Since we can’t book 10 tickets in one shot, we had made 2 reservations of 5. I told him that and he took me to their office and they show that I have printed the same confirmation twice instead. Thus started our crazy 30 minute ordeal. we tried to explain we had 10 tickets, they tried to tell us that there is only 5 tickets and add the language barrier to the mix. The did not speak English and we did not know Spanish. A kind gentleman who had come to book tickets translated to us that we needed to get the confirmation otherwise we can’t go in the bus. He recommended that we find an internet booth. utbt and I were totally confused. We left the kids with the other adults, took a cab with the help of one of the bus clerks and with her in tow we went an witch-hunt for internet booth. After seeing most of it closed, the lady took us to her husband’s internet booth were we searched our mails for our confirmation number. The internet was so slow that we almost broke down. Finally found the confirmation number, the lady called the bus station to get our tickets ready and we hopped into the cab and ran to the bus. The bus was very nice as close to a business class flight as it can get. But it took me about an hour to get over from the anxiety. Then we had our packed theplas and retired for the night.

We reached Arequipa the next morning, our hotel staff picked us up and we arrived at our beautiful pink hotel. Again we were the only people in that small house turned into a 10 room hotel. Had a wonderful breakfast, the tropical fruit platter was the high light. After a quick rest, the 3 men and I went for a stroll to the plaza de armas and the bank. There was some demonstration going on in the plaza. The  cathedral looked lovely. We did some grocery shopping, exchanged some money at the bank and walked back. We saw some mangoes and we bought them as well. Yummy!
Arequipa is at the foothills of active volcano El Misty who is flanked by her inactive volcano husbands Chachani and Pichu Pichu. It is a beautiful city with Incan terraces at her outskirts. The bus tour took us to the various monuments in the Arequipa and also to the outskirts which included the Arequipa Founder’s house (A quaint bungalow), an ancient water mill(beautiful area, the kids were thrilled with the water mill.) used for grinding corn, a small alpaca emporium which also housed some llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, and guanacos.

After about a 3 hour tour, we returned back to the plaza. Bought some water, took a cab and returned home. We ordered in some Italian food and called it a night since we had to leave for Colca Canyon the next day.

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