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Published: February 22nd 2009
Watching people in all fashions go by.
I lost my watch along the way and really do not need it here. I´m not sure what day of the week it is, and I view this as a good thing. Life is slow here, for those of us who visit. Today I wore a hat and long sleeves to protect my sunburned skin, and walked to nearby village.
This series of photos will show some of my day. I get up and shower and enjoy the view. Then I step out to the street and walk around the corner to the restaurant. Typically I get the Continental de la Casa breakfast and chose cocoa tea (thirty leaves or so in hot water), three toppings on an omelette and some type of fresh fruit juice.
Then I walk up the street to get laundry or post cards. I come back and plan the day...hike up mountain...walk to next village...get bus to nearby town..... During some portion of the day, either blistering hot outside or rain, I come to the Internet cafe to create blog or catch up with friends. Then I spend time on rooftop, watching sun go down, or read, and then it is time for a five-star supper
It costs five soles per kilo at the local laundry place.
in lively restaurant. Sometimes other travelers join me for a meal and we exchange views on tourist attractions. I´ve narrowed my list of what to see with imput from people traveling through the area.
As each day passes, I get to know the locals more, and they me. Today the lady who does my laundry asked where I was from, and we spoke about the nice weather. ´spoke´....she talked in Spanish and I in English and we both used body language. She told me the jeans were not quite dry and I reassured her that I had a place to hang them. I needed a new purse because the one I bought at the tourist shop in Cusco was falling apart. I looked around her store and bought an orange one that seems a lot hardier for about the same price as the broken one.
Next day: It is Saturday so I had pancakes and maple syrup at the outside tables and watched tourists go by with heavy backpacks. Local kids were throwing water balloons at each other and passing cars. A car came to deliver groceries for the restaurant. I bet there is a grocery store at Urubamba
and I should go there today. I am low on hair conditioner. There is a trail to pre-Inca ruins that follows the river and takes about two hours. Maybe I will do that tomorrow. Then there is the Moray Inca site that is suppose to be unbelievable (according to travelers that I have met).
It is interesting to watch the daily activities of Ollantaytambo. Tourism seems to be dominent industry but not in an annoying way. The kids and adults who dress in colourful costumes usually have modern clothes underneath them. People drive expensive cars. Many market ladies in traditional dress use cell phones throughout the day. There are more people not in costume going about their days. There seems to be a layer of peasants who farm and live in mud-floor houses, but I noticed a t.v. hanging in the main room in one of these homes.
The infrastructure of the community is very interesting. The main streets in the plaza are annoying with their traditional cobbled streets. The stones are uneven and it is difficult to walk over them wearing thongs. Many buildings date from the Inca period. Others seem like modern stucco houses with tiled
Garden in Sunlight
Nope, I do not miss the snow
rooves. The roads are narrow and each day the traffic police usher huge vans down the one-lane street going towards the train station or tourist site. It can be dry and dusty on the roads.
In a way, it is like living in a hollywood set, or a tourist village like Sherbrook in Nova Scotia. Some people wear costumes, many do not. The sets are lovely, especially the noble Inca ruins above. The scenery is outstanding. Every time the clouds change, the mountains look different.
The surprising thing is that when you walk outside the town limits you discover a very modern paved road. Why doesn´t the government extend this modern road through the village or build a ring road around it to preserve the traditional infrastructure? Why is the large tour bus parking lot on one side of the town, while the poorer, local bus parking lot on the other? I suspect the government is trying to maintain Ollantaytambo as quaint and picture-perfect for tourists. A modern paved road through the town, connecting highways to train station and tourist attraction would kill that Peruvian village ambiance. I wonder what the townspeople want? a dusty tourist attraction or
Door to street
My exit to the village
modern town streets for their very big cars? At what point in time will modern facilities become available to all? Some things are necessary. I noticed a sign at the hostel saying that it no longer arranges river rafting tours because there is too much human sewage in the river. There comes a time when tourism and modern infrastructure must meet in the middle to give the community the best quality of life.
Aah, well, enough urban geography musing....the sun is shining and I have got to get on with the day. At some point I need to think about moving on to the next place. I have to go back to Cusco to fly back to Lima or get the bus to Lake Titicaca. Seems like way too much work at the moment. I am quite content to live in a Peruvian village (even if it is a layer within a modern communty).
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