Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Take Me Down to Ollantaytambo

Before I went to Peru, I knew next to nothing about Pre-Columbian civilizations. I don't think I realized how much of the ruins still stand, and I certainly didn't know that the language of the Inca, Quechua, was still spoken. Now that I have been exposed to these things a bit more, I find them extremely interesting. I'd say that is a large impediment to the speed of my posts on this blog. I start to research a place I went, get sidetracked into Google Books reading about battles between the Inca and the Spanish, then look at the clock an hour later and realize I haven't written anything! I am very grateful to live in the age of the internet. So much awesome information is available at a whim. Anyway, onward!

Speaking of information, useful or otherwise, I read in a travel guide that Huttese, spoken by the big fat Huts in the Star Wars movies, is largely based on Quechua. I'm sure the Peruvians think that's swell. It's probably best that I didn't learn that until I left the country.

After a very eventful day on the PeruRail train and then exploring the wonders of Machu Picchu, we had a much needed sleep. This next day might have been even longer than the one before it.

While on our way to check out of the hotel Angelica noticed this parrot chilling out in an open area at the center of the building. Parrots in the US are always pets or jailed in zoos, so it was cool to see such a nice bird wild.

We got to the train station a bit early, so there was a bit of time for us to explore. We played a bit more of my favorite game: White guy picka souvenir from a distance and latin girlfriend buya souvenir at much lower thana white guy price while white guy isa hiding. I'm still working on the name but you get the idea. Here are a couple of little things that I bought in Peru.

A lovely Inca Kola t-shirt. The guy at the airport metal detector referred to me as Inca Kola, so Angelica and I thought that was pretty funny. I might need a new hat. This one has been just about adventured to death.

This might turn out to be one of those things that looked super cool in Peru but back at my house it looks stupid. I'm not sure what I am going to do with this and the other one I bought. It's made from alpaca fur, though, which is kinda interesting.

Just next to the fancy tourist train station was the line for the local train.

The train ride back was much less fancy than the previous one. We got these little lunch boxes instead of the fancy breakfast with silverware from before. I opted for the coca tea this time. Everyone said it was supposed to help with altitude sickness.

At one stop of the train I saw this old woman out the window. Her motions to the passengers were hilarious.

First was "oh I'm surprised to see you" from the woman standing right next to the train tracks to the people on a train that likely comes by the same time every day.

Then it was "oh I'm too embarrassed to have pictures taken of me".

Next was "well I'd be a little less embarrassed if you all put coins into this hat I happen to have here with me".

And finally "wow, those coins really did the trick. my shyness is cured!"

The train was pretty calm until he showed up. I didn't catch his name, but he was like a dancing mix between a clown and a terrorist. Obviously I took some video of the performance.

Sorry about the letterbox thing going on here. The iPhone's video and YouTube aren't the best of friends.

In the video there's a man just to the right of me looking at his laptop and roundly ignoring the odd performance. Well, he was watching several episodes of himself on his travel show. It was none other than...

Oliver Steeds! He's best known for his work on the Travel Channel's Mark & Olly: Living with the Tribes.

Well I was worried Mr. Steeds might have not welcomed an intrusion to his intent watching of himself, but he seemed pleasantly surprised when we asked him for a picture. Honestly I wouldn't have even known who he was if he hadn't been watching his own show, so maybe we're even.

Here's Olly and his co-host being forced to adopt a baby monkey after the tribe eats its mother. I laughed and laughed. (Not really. I'm a good person).

Eventually the train stopped and we had to say goodbye to our new famous friends. But we didn't just ride back to where we came from. That's for quitters. Our train ride ended in the Peruvian town and Inca ruin site of Ollantaytambo (yeah, it's a long name, but recall Bangkok's name in Thai?). The city is notable for being a temporary capital for the Inca resistance during Spanish conquest. Very cool. More on the city later!

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