Ollantaytambo is another small ancient town. It’s surrounded by hills terraced
well over a 1000 years ago to prevent land slides. Most interesting though is
that most streets have a water channel on the side, which delivers water
throughout the town. This basic system has been in place for hundreds of years,
and was also on display at the local ruins, where we took another guided tour.
The site here was primarily religious, which means fancier stonework. Some of
the work here was more advanced than at Machu Picchu, where most rocks were
made roughly rectangular before use. Here the original shape of the rock was
preserved more, which gives the walls a very distinctive look.
Also at this site they had started using a new technique where you make a small
channel in adjoining stones, and then melt bronze into it to hold them
together. All the stones here came from a quarry 7 kilometers away, on a hill
on the other side of the river.
Finally, we were shown the princess’s fountain, which emits water collected
from a glacier some 40 kilometers away. This system does require upkeep, but
has been in place for 500 years. There’s another set of ruins on the other side
of town, but we decided to take the afternoon off.
The next day we took a collectivo to Pisac, which is a quiet little town with
all the amenities a tourist might want, centered around a semi-permanent
souvenir market on the main square. Ulrike’s, just off that square, serves a
smoked-trout bagel that’s so good that I ate it for consecutive meals. If
you’re into that kind of thing, spiritual experiences (mostly involving
ayahuasca) are advertised throughout.
But we just visited the local Inca ruins, which were a place where regular
people lived. As such, there’s an interesting combination of building styles.
People lived here long before the Incas and most buildings were built then. But
the Incas did maintainance and made some improvements using their own
techniques, which makes for an interesting mixture to see.
We were getting kind of over 2-hour tours, so we got a shorter one, and then
walked back to Pisac by ourselves. It was wonderful to be out in nature by
ourselves for a short while. Back in Pisac, we collected our stuff and took the
next collectivo to Cusco, which we hadn’t taken the time to see anything in the