El Valle Sagrado

Before the Machu Picchu expeditions we had talked about some R and R. We had driven through Ollantaytambo- known as Ollanta by the locals and visitors- in the Sacred Valley whilst following the beautiful Rio Urubamba river to the Trail Head. Jan had read the Guide Book and had taken the MP train which also runs along the Valley. So Ollanta it was.
Took a taxi this time. About 2 hours for 60 dollars; expensive but worth it. Stopped for pics before arriving at our upmarket hostel. Lovely little place, friendly English speaking owner and a kitchen we could use.
Why Ollanta? Small place 700 pop. Height 2800m. AND the most fantastic massive Inca Ruins. AND another surprise. Pretty well all the village was laid out on a grid system, again from the Inca time. Stone houses, narrow cobblestone streets with clear irrigation channels running down most. Medieval or what? The back streets were mainly as they were….it felt that we had stepped back in time.
Around mid day numbers of Trekkers and MP visitors stopped for a coffee and snacks before heading off up the valley.
For the rest of the day it was clear of tourists! and so early the second day we walked across from the main and only square and over a bridge and straight into the fortress. It’s huge and steep terraces towered above Ollanta. It was one of the few places where the Conquistadors lost a battle. Arrows, rocks and boulders stopped the initial attacks and the brilliant coup de grace was when the Inca Chief flooded the plain and the Spanish horses were undone. Retreat,and then rout.
Short lived however as the Spanish returned with a huge force and the Incas retreated to another stronghold. It was also a temple with a superb ceremonial centre at the top. The stones were massive..logs were used to move them and rivers diverted to get them “across”. The terraces were wide and long and used for crop growing. Irrigation channels still impressive.
After a long walk up around and down the site, back to the square for the usual very average coffee. As we sat down we noticed a pile of full riot shields piled up, against the wall. Gulp are the Spanish back? More serious I’m afraid…
Only sat down for a minute when cops appeared from all over the town, grabbed the shields and helmets and piled into two buses..so there must have been 80+..After a while they left.
About a week or so later,we meet a German Girl on Lake Titikaka. She had been trekking to MP by another route when they had been chased by some villagers. She also said she had heard that the Inca Trail had been closed for a day or two because of similar troubles. The reason was the villagers were complaining that the tourist money was going to the usual few or Lima. Probably very likely and a justifiable complaint. However we never obtained any confirming evidence of this. It’s local election time and we saw lots of noisy fun electioneering going on…mainly from the backs of trucks. We have also seen signs of men getting together for ?? and in Copacabana we saw a brief blockade of the road.
Lovely time here and lots of interest.

Kettle boil, paint dry or internet load! It’s around but so slow. Must go back in time or to the moon, but we’re back so look out! More pics to follow.

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