Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ancient Aliens: Pisac and Ollantaytambo



What do Rome, Athens, Siem Reap, Ayutthaya, Bacolod and Ollantaytambo all have in common?

Ruins. These dilapidated (ex)important structures drives tourist to enjoy their ancient magnificence.

Peru is filled with ruins. The most important and prominent being Machu Picchu. But I’ll eventually get to that. For now, I’ll show you the ruins left by aliens in Pisac and Ollantaytambo.

Yes aliens. That’s according to the “Ancient Aliens” documentary. (Now I know that not all docus are true, but just play with me here). 

The flight from Lima was smooth. I landed in Cuzco and almost froze. I spent some time unearthing my jacket from my luggage before finding my driver - Eduardo. I requested my hostel to send up a car to pick me up from Cuzco airport to take me to Ollantaytambo. We will be exploring the Pisac ruins along the way.

Shining sky, cold air.

Hiring a car was a pricey decision costing $80 for the first four hours and $10 for a succeeding hour. You can haggle for as low as $25 for a direct ride to Ollan (no tour) but I was feeling donya. Actually, more like scared. I’ve conquered destinations alone but I was a bit iffy about Peru (purely instinct, not scientific).
 
The weather cooperated. The skies were blue and clear. I just had to suck it in and endure the cold breeze when it came along.

Buenas dias Cuzco! I will leave you for now.


Eduardo had limited English. I could felt his enthusiasm through his Spanish. He wanted to share more about Peru, Cuzco and Ollantaytambo, but he was hampered by his English skills. I was the first Filipino he met. I “told” him I somewhat know Spanish (I can count and tell the time) because the Philippines was also conquered by Spain for almost 400 years.That gave us some common ground for a conversation.

So I had some Spanish lessons on our way to Pisac Ruins. Mostly nouns.

Ovejas = sheep
Burro =Donkey
Perro = Dog

Burro


Ovejas

After an hour, I had a couple of words added to my Spanish vocabulary. We stopped by the ticket office near Pisac to get the General Touristic Ticket (130 soles) which covers the entrance fees to other monuments in Cuzco. I also bought 2.5L of water (5 soles) to replenish my already depleted stock from Lima. 

General Touristic Ticket of Cuzco

Eduardo parked the car in the parking lot. He’ll stay there until I come back. 

 

I showed my ticket upon entering the Pisac ruins. I waved off the tour guide peddling his services. 

After seeing the beauty of the after the entrance. I was lost. I had no plan and the grounds were vast. 

I don't know where to head next

I went back to find the guide. Haggled. We closed at 60 soles for 2 hours. I read that you could get it down to 50 soles but there were no other guides around that early in the morning so I agreed with 60 soles.

I guess Pisac and Pisaq are acceptable

Well, I forgot the name of my guide. He was very nice. He is a local of a nearby town (I forgot what) and speaks Quechua, Spanish and pretty good English, even with his accent.

I had information overload about the history of Pisac.

The tour came with tidbits about the wild plants, harvesting season and local customs. I’m not gonna spoil that for you so I won’t share it here (And I cannot remember everything too, wehehe!)



I still think the Aliens Theory has its merits. Yes, yes, of course the Incas did this. But maybe they were governed by a “supreme being”.

Some water for a cleansing ritual






From afar



With a complex structure built like this in the ancient days, you'd wonder how strong and intelligent the people were back then. I told my guide about the alien docu. He laughed.



Those agricultural steps are planted with Quinoa. A pricey health food. You can pick up a box of Quinoa in maarte health stores.

I spent two hours with my guide. I would say he was worth those 60 soles. The grounds were vast. I was alone and someone had to take my photo. And as touristy as it is, I like someone pointing out stuff and telling me about it. The guidebooks are not cutting it.

And because I was alone, I get to ask silly questions. Like what does he think about this Ancient Aliens theory?

I got back to Eduardo at the parking area. He drove me to Pisac market.


Priorities first: Food. I was famished.After a quick look around the Pisac town, I settled for a restaurant with English menu I know, lame! It had the reliable Tripadvisor sticker in it.

With the basic need filled, I scouted the markets of Pisac for finds.



I did not find anything. I resulted in talking myself out of buying anything in there. This is just my first stop in Peru and I had a lot of ground to cover.

Streets around Pisac market

I did ask around about their “final price” because haggling here is a sport. I don’t like haggling.

It was a short ride to the quaint town of Ollantaytambo. I knew we were near when the car started to enter the cobblestoned town.

Eduardo carried my luggage through these streets. I hope your luggage is sturdy enough for this.

I had short rest in my hostel: Hostal Iskay. 



At 3:30PM, I gathered my energy to get up from my cozy bed to explore Ollantaytambo. I was feeling a bit weathered at this point, due to jet lag and overwhelming joy and excitement. I had 1.5 hours before the ruins are closed. The place was just a 5-minute walk from Hostal Iskay. I showed my General Touristic Ticket and they let me in.



Taking a photo was a challenge.



Even with a monopod.

I have no skills for using a monopod
Here's another attempt. Better?

The breeze gives you that so-high-in-the-clouds feeling. Feel na feel.

Sarap mag muni-muni.

There were still tour groups that started to enter the place even if it was the final hour.



The sun created some shadows that didn’t look good in the photos. The place, albeit being another ruin, still showed its spectacular-ness.

A deal made with another tourist. A photo for a photo.


Llama all the way. Excuse the random butt of the tourist immortalized in this photo.

Encircle the llama!

I didn’t bother to explore all the sections as I found some a tad scary to explore solo.



Don’t let the sun fool you. It was chilly.


Awesome.


I lacked time to explore the entire place but my interest was satiated. These ruins gave a good introduction on what to expect in Machu Picchu.

So, aliens, anyone? 

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