This tiny frail looking lady who was well weathered and wearing traditional Peruvian dress greeted us off the mini-coach.
Strewth, for someone who was 90 years of age, her vice grip was strong as she walked us into a fenced off community compound area. We danced to the beat of the beating of drums and tune from a flute. We were dressed up in traditional woven wears as well, before we introduced ourselves – name, country of origin, age, married or single.
It was a great opportunity for Claire and I to practice our Mihi in our native tongue, Maori. We translated it into English, before it was translated into Spanish. Our group was taken to a field to help with the pulling of weeds. Who would’ve imagined getting dirt under the finger nails?
Back within the confines of the compound, we had a fantastic demonstration on the wool fibre from the Alpaca and traditional methods used to colour the different spools. As we were served lunch (potato soup and rice), the grass we danced upon was set up like a flea market in the hope we would depart with some of our ‘tourist dollars’. Perhaps a hat; cardigan; bracelet or socks. Don’t worry, if you didn’t have cash – credit card was accepted. You just had to climb a flight of stairs up onto the roof top to get the mobile eftpos machine signal. This was, halarious.
Back on the mini-coach and the next stop had us excited at the awe of the mountain range in the distance. Cautiously shuffling towards the edge of the flat ground we had parked up on, we could make out the township Urubamba deep below. We were at 3,705 metres in altitude. Referred to as ‘The Sacred Valley, it looked mystical and enchanted. We were nearing some of the finest Inca ruins in all of the Americas where the Incas built several of the empire’s greatest estates, temples, and royal palaces.
We arrived into the tongue twisting town of Ollantaytambo. Temple ruins rose up with dozens of rows of stunning steep stone terraces carved into the hillside. The architecture was both forbidding and admirably perfect. It is thought that the complex was more a citadel to the Incas versus it being a temple and was successfully defended in 1537, against the Spanish.
We did do a walkabout, but not up onto the ruins themselves. The water way construction and some doorway features fronting residences were also remnants of a by-gone era.
One in the group kept another cuisine delicacy alive and ordered up guinea pig for her dinner. There were mixed emotions about it being presented whole – head, ears and, charcoaled feet!
No, it wasn’t Claire.
But apparently, it tasted like chicken.