We discovered them by walking further back into the village, away from the main square. The streets were tiny and the buildings were made of the huge Inca stones that fitted together so firmly and tightly that you couldn't slip a knife between them.
Every once in a while, a house would have a pole that stuck out of it, with a red plastic bag wrapped around the end. We peeked into the first one we found and saw a group of people, men and women sitting around a table.
"That's the chicha that they're drinking." Jessie said.
Chicha is a fermented drink that I was already familiar with. As an undergrad at UCSB I worked with a grad student named Justin Jennings on a project to make Chicha. We made it out of the maguey plant, which is similar to agave, which is what you make tequila out of, assuming you are, of course in Tequila.
Jessie and I continued to wander the grid of Ollantaytambo. Happy, dirty stray dogs would run between the houses and beautiful, purple cheeked children played football in the streets. At some point we realized that we were not going to find the post office. Jessie turned to me and said, "Let's get a drink."
Hey Marianne + Jeremy,
Here's a postcard from a strange shop in Ollantaytambo. They sold honey and seeds and alpaca cloth but it was a benefit shop to encourage local people to keep doing what they've been doing for thousands of years. So it was a little more expensive than the other tourist shops, but I felt compelled to support them.
See you soon!
We had seen quite a few of these homes that served chicha, but we decided to go to the first one because it had lots of people in it.
It was a two or three steps down into the main room of the house, accessible from the street. An uneven wooden table was to one side, with chairs all around it. All the chairs were taken but one and a small crate. I sat on the crate and Jessie took the chair. A tiny Quechua woman said
In response to Jessie's "¿cuánto para una taza?"
We only had one 5o cent piece between us, it was either that or a 100 sole bill which we reasoned she would not have the change for, so we got one cup.
We sat down with our new companions and introduced ourselves.