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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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