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Posts Tagged ‘New Year’

Ollantaytambo to Huancahuasi

What an incredible couple of days I’ve had!  Following the ‘unique’ New Year experience Lou and I got up early at about 6.30 and caught a taxi up the valley to a little village called Patacancha.  From there the plan was to walk to Lares, a trip that we heard could be done in two or three days; slightly concerning, given that we were due to have a business meeting in three.

Ollantaytambo to Huancahuasi

The road up to Patachanca was spectacular, with Andinos running in family groups the other way down the valley road to get to a big parade for the municipal major, in their colourful traditional clothing.  Arriving in Patacancha, we strapped on our bags and set off through the base of the valley, skirting alongside the fast flowing river, swollen with rain.  Following directions from locals as the trail was fairly difficult to pick out, we passed field after field of potato crops, turning eventually up a steep climb and into a higher valley that opened out into a jaw dropping view.

Ollantaytambo to Huancahuasi

Passing through the valley we saw adobe and straw huts surrounded by livestock, and very little other signs of life.  At one point a group of Peruvian mountain bikers passed us, descending from the mountain pass at 4500m to which we eventually climbed, our minds slightly boggled as we descended on the other side at the climb which they must have done to reach altitude.

Huancahuasi

Descending on the other side of the pass, our feet eventually led us to Huancahuasi, a sleepy village dispersed along the river that flowed down from the snow peaks above us.  We decided to stay there for the night, accosting a home owner and paying him a bit of money to get some food and a space to sleep, playing with his kids until nightfall.  Initially slightly wary, they family warmed to us eventually, but we were slightly embarrassed to realise that the couple had given up their bed for our benefit, sleeping on the floor in the upstairs section of the two room house despite our strongest protestations.

Huancahuasi

It was very, very cold during the night, and neither of us slept well.  The house, a dark and cramped little adobe number with an outside drop-toilet, was an eye-opener; a far cry from the comfortable surroundings in which we passed christmas.  Despite the discomfort of staying the night, it was well worth the effort, starting the year with with a strong reality check and a perspective on how many people in rural Peru live.

Lares thermal baths

Leaving fairly stiff the next day, a two hour brisk walk took us through the mists of the valley down into Lares, where we checked into a hostel for the followin night and payed a well earned visit to the local thermal baths, dunking ourselves in bubbling hot water to soothe tired legs.  A fine end to a new beginning, and a surefire reminder that there are better things to do on New Year’s day than lie in bed moaning with a hangover…

Lares, Peru
3rd January 2010

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New year in Ollantaytambo

Well, I hope you all had a good start to 2010; mine was certainly unique!  Getting out of the madness in Cusco for somewhere a little more tranquillo, Lou and I ended up in Ollantaytambo, one of the few remaining example of Incan town planning that the Spanish didn’t smash up, some way down the sacred valley towards Machu Picchu.

It was here that, after a day of pottering around the ruins, we encountered two likely characters in our bare-bones hostel; a couple composed of a Californian and a Russian (whose accent when speaking English was textbook) who were travelling around with the intention of sneaking into tourist sites for free.  The Russian, who was a freelance jornalist would then, in his own words, “Send article about sneakink to bullshit middle class Ruski newspaperrrrr”.

New year in Ollantaytambo

Somewhat enamoured with the both of them, we allowed ourselves to be talked into climbing over a two metre wall made (by the smell of it) of cowshit and dropping into the site under cover of darkness.  The rain was coming down heavily, but we didn’t care; protected by newly purchased thick ponchos and carrying boxes of ‘Gato Negro’ red wine and tic-tacs (?) we climbed the impressive stairways through the looming ruins to the top of the site, where upon the stroke of midnight the town below us erupted with fireworks set off by determined locals, drenched by the rain.

New year in Ollantaytambo

Not content with our current altitude, the couple decided to climb as high as possible, me following willingly in their wake.  Lou wisely decided to stay put with a box of wine for company as we scrambled up steep wet rocks in the dark, slightly off balance from the booze.  Eventually we arrived at the top of a large wall looking down over a dizzying sheer drop of about 60 feet, upon which the Russian installed himself, screaming communist slogans at the top of his voice in his mother tongue and swaying with a bottle in hand.  Despite my concerns, no disasters happened and Lou and I were not required to scrape bits of Russian off the ruins to welcome in the new year.

Ollantaytambo, Peru
1st January 2010

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