Claudia needed to make a phone call and my brother and John needed to sleep, so Jessie and I took to the streets of Ollantaytambo to find a post office, where I could by some stamps for my painstakingly written postcards:
Hi Matt + Kat!
This postcard is a picture of the main square in the city of Cusco (on the way to Machu Pichu). We got attacked by small children with water balloons and raspberry flavored foam. It was funny at the time but sucked later when we had to sit and eat dinner soaking wet.
I'm going to try and stay longer, but John will be back on the 25th.
Ollantaytambo is in the Sacred Valley of the Incas and has a huge fortress at one end. We had spent the morning wandering around the fortress in very strange weather. Blustery winds would blow one moment and then you'd turn a corner into hot sun and sprinkling rain. Behind the main fortress was a long trail that lead us along the side of the mountain and gave us a good view of the valley and all the subsistence farms that were dotted along the road, complete with plows pulled by oxen and Quechua farmers with sun leathered skin and work roughened hands.
By the time we had got to the very top of the mountain and found another ruin, seemingly separate from the fortress, the weather had taken a turn for the worse. John had neglected to put on any rain gear and I was getting a little hungry for more than just the Oreo cookies and plantana chips that we had packed. Also Claudia had to make that phone call. So we went back down along the mountain trail, pointing at the other hills and trying to decipher all the words that people had scraped into the hillside as well as remarking on all the other ruins we could see. There were striations across the other mountains, evenly spaced lines running across the whole mountain, looking almost like stretch marks that had occurred as the mountain had pushed itself forth from the ground.
Hi Miss Margeauxbee!
We are on a bus home from Machu Pichu. It was unbelievably breathtaking, it made me realize a lot about a lot of things. Nothing like sitting in a room built by someone thousands of years ago to make you feel both insignificant and yet unbelievably happy. Hope you and David are well. Squeezes and tickles to Freddy + Santi. Miss you!
At the main fortress after the hike, we rested and then decided to continue along a different path, other than the one we had used to climb up, to get down to the bottom. It was a stone path with a wall between you and the side of the mountain although every once in awhile there was a window that came all the way to the ground and you could stand there and think about leaping through and flying across the hillside, all the way back to town.
We followed this stone path until we came to a thatched house, sort of stuck inside of the mountain. The path lead above the roof and then steps went down next to it and along the front where there were two openings to the inside. It had clearly been used as a toilet by any number of stray dogs and stray people.
There was a path that lead the rest of the way down the hill, but it was marked very clearly in Spanish:
It seemed safe from where we could see, standing on the side of the hill. The steps back up to the top seemed so steep and after as many steps as we had taken that day and the day before, the path peligrosa down the hill seemed so invitingly downhill. Jessie went first, followed by John. Jessie disappeared a little as she found exactly where the path became so peligrosa, a sheer drop with only a few footholds in the rock between us and the next portion of the path. John forged ahead, finding it less difficult than it looked. We all followed suit and soon we were hiking again on a nice solid path for a little while, until it became treacherous again. John and I were in the lead at this point and we discovered that once you climbed down a short little way, you came upon two very long, very smooth rocks, one set on the other at a right angle. These gave way to another very smooth, but much larger rock that sat under the other two like a giant lip sticking out. Once at the end of this rock, a few stones lay and then the green, grassy ground.
John stepped carefully down, clutching onto his blue bag that he bought in Colombia, containing his small five dollar guitar and not much else. I decided that sliding down would be much more fun, seeing as the smooth long rock looked so very much like a slide.
Claudia's voice came from around the hedges that hid all of this from view:
"Is it safe?"
We called back:
"Yeah, it's really easy from here."
"Great. You know, this really wasn't that bad at all. Although I can see why they wouldn't want people going this way."
She and her maroon jacket appeared around the hedge, just after Jessie. She was wearing an orange scarf that she had bought in the market in Cusco tied around her hair, leaving her bangs at the front and the ends hanging down her back, coming from underneath the rest of her hair. Jessie and I had both admired and envied the scarf, Jessie trying it on and me buying my own, but in green.
We are in a coca leaf shop drinking tea. The walls on the front of this card were built by the Incas and then built on top of by the Spanish (you can see what a crappy job the Spanish did, the Inca rocks can't fit a knife between them!). I may stay longer, I don't know, it's really easy to be here away from everything.
My brother came last, by the time he rounded the hedge, I had already begun sliding down the big rock underneath the right angled ones. John was already at the bottom. The others followed suit with the sliding. My brother tore the seat out of his trousers.