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Published: February 21st 2009
From the hotel rooftop, I have observed specks of people who walked up to these ruins. They are free to see
Yesterday I decided to climb up the mountain behind the town to where you can visit Inca ruins for free. The clouds were undecided about the weather for the day, so I took jacket and short-sleeved top for rain or sunshine. I need to get rid of this ´farmers tan´that I got when I went up MachuPicchu in a t-shirt. I was curious to see the view from above. When walking through Ollantaytambo, you see walls and doors and not the houses and courtyards. I was about to get a bird´s eye view of this Inca town and peek inside the walls.
The ruins are opposite the ones that have the hefty tourist ticket charge. These ones are free to view as long as you are healthy enough for the steep hike. After breakfast, I packed my backpack and headed towards the mountain. The trail is rough because it is not kept up by Peru Tourism. The perks are that you do not get the crowds from the tour buses or the market people stopping you to try to sell trinkets. The downfalls, pardon the pun, is that the pathway is steep, thin and can be treacherous after heavy rains.
People still live in buildings built by Incas.
When I started up, the town of Ollantaytambo was rocking with music. There was a band playing in the main plaza and from time to time I could hear people´s names being drawn, as if from a hat for a prize. The music made the hike more fun.
I met three guys on their way back down, otherwise I was along on the slopes going up. The first building seemed to be an animal shelter judging by the size of the only door. When I got to the town I stopped to rest. It was fun to look across at the tiny tourists on the slopes of the ruins that you have to pay to enter. If I carried on, I would be higher.
As I watched the sky, the clouds parted and two peaks emerged. Could it be? Using my zoom on the camera.....yes, it looked like Macchu Picchu across the way. Amazing. Was this the reason why this mountain-side town was built?
Later, I decided to continue up the path. At times I had to lean into the slope because it was so steep. Coming down was going to be a problem, I realized.
At first ruin site I could look down into the town
When I finally got to the top, the building was a shell filled with rocks. I wondered if an earthquake caused the damage.....and then I began to worried what I would do if there was a tremor. There was nothing to hold on, except the ancient Inca walls that stood the test of time.
Meanwhile, the town festival ended and so did the cheerful music. I realized the wind was picking up, and it was time to head down. From the ledges of this tiny building, it was difficult to figure out where the path began. The cliffs were steep near the back, and mistakenly I tried to avoid them and go down the other way. Big mistake!!! I found myself hanging on to rocks in the wall and then shrubs by the time I realized that this was not the regular path. Panic set in, and I had to talk myself into a semi-calm....focus on one foothold at a time. Somehow, I made it back up to the building´s ledge. There, full panic set in. I could not stand up. How was I going to try to get back down when fear was running through me? No one
Here are the steps to the trail
knew I was up here, I was too high to call out for help and even if I did who would understand the English words for ´panic attack´or ´vertigo´.? I envisioned spending a cold night up here.
I drank some water and plugged the ipod into my ears and blasted rock music. I needed to get my nerve back. Thank god for ´Santana´......those songs always make me want to dance. I stood up, and keeping my eyes on the building (and not down) I danced to a few tunes. Yes, I was going to be o.k.
Summing all the courage I could muster, I looked for the path and started down. I thought of those t.v. shows like ´fear factor´. At least those people had safety ropes on them when they confronted their fears of mountain slopes.
It is funny what you think about when you manouver out of a dangerous situation. Things like: will they find my body soon? or will they send my digital camera back home with the body or will someone here keep it? ha ha Humour is a great thing when you are scared. Rock music is, too. The path was steep
Flower photo.....aka time to catch breath
and sometimes I sat down and lowered myself down the incline. Foot by foot, I was getting down.
When I got near the hill town, I was so happy to see other tourists. I picked up speed and when I got to them I told them about my panic attack. Then we changed topics and compared places to visit. After ten minutes of chatter, I felt almost back to normal. The final descent wasn´t too bad. For the second time this week, I was desparately happy to be in Ollantaytambo town.
Today I have a wicked sunburn, and these great photos. Would I do the trek over again? Yes, but I would take someone up with me. I´m going to stick to flatter trails for a few days. There is enough in this village to amuse me.
Tot: 2.049s; Tpl: 0.062s; cc: 15; qc: 63; dbt: 0.0356s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
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