Our next stop was the town of Ollantaytambo (Ollantay Tampu in Quechua, and Ollanta for short). My dad visited Peru many years ago and he had been very insistent on us spending a few days what is known as the Inca – or Sacred – Valley. So I planned for a stay in one of the towns (Ollanta) on the way to Machu Picchu, and in a different one (Písac) on the way back from Machu Picchu to Cusco.
But first, we had to get to Ollanta. I had read you could take a bus, or a minivan. And that this was a simple process. Well, it's not that it was complicated, and the trip is a short hour or hour and a half. But the place our hotel sent us was no bus station, but just a street from where the minivans left and where buses would make a stop! It was so chaotic! And we had a swarm of people around us offering their services to us! Of course, the catch was that minivans would only leave when full, so instead of choosing and boarding one, we waited until one of the drivers started yelling they just had two places, and voilà!
Though a bit cramped (we were adamant our luggage not travel on the roof), the scenery was simply amazing. Of course, the other people in the van, as locals, were not interested in the mountains around, but in talking on the phone, playing with their smartphones, taking a nap... LOL. Us, well, we kept trying to capture the wonderful views from a moving van!
Personally, I got not only the amazing views, but also a very intense taste of the local accent! As an amateur linguist, I couldn't but pay close attention any time someone in the van talked. They way they pronounced Spanish, like the L, the LL, the RR, how sometimes adjectives didn't match in gender and number with the preceding nouns... It was fun! So, nature and linguistics, in a single trip. Nice, right?
But our experience in Ollanta was so much more impressive...