After several days of acclimating to the altitude and touring the sites in and around Cusco with us, Sharon and Bernie set off to do a little exploring on their own. You simply cannot come all the way to Peru without seeing Machu Picchu, and since Mike and I hadn’t been patient enough to wait and see it with them they were forced to go it alone. We sent them on their merry way and made plans to pick them up in Cusco the next night.

When Sharon and Bernie got to Aguas Calientes, however, they were unable to buy return train tickets to Cusco. We emailed back and forth a few times and came up with an alternative plan: we would meet them in Ollantaytambo, another town on the train’s route.

This seemed straightforward enough.

Mike and I figured we could take a bus to Ollantaytambo, book a hotel for the 4 of us, and meet Sharon and Bernie at the train station after their eventful day of M.P. sightseeing.

Easier said than done.

You see, Bernie told Mike that the train would get in to Ollantaytambo “around 11:00 pm,” assuming that Mike would double-check the time for more specific information. Mike interpreted the statement to mean something more like “show up around 11:01 so that you can pick us up after we’ve exited the train and gathered our belongings.”

So, the next night as Mike and I are sitting in our hotel room (about 10 blocks down the same street as the train station) at 10:45 I notice a lot of street noise. I look out the window to see several taxis and a few tourists with backpacks or wheel-y suitcases rumble by. Hmmm…. “Mike, what time did you say the train gets in?”

We decided it was about time for us to walk on down to the train station, so we set off a few minutes later. By the time we got to the station, it was pitch dark…and locked. Hmmm…. We sort of stood there not knowing what to do for a moment, and then I started my worried tirade:

“Oh no! We’ve missed them! What do you think happened? Shit, shit, shit. They probably thought we’d abandoned them. How could they think that? Of course we’d come get them. Shit. They probably waited for, like, 5 minutes and gave up on us. Do you think they would have gotten a taxi? I think I might have seen your Dad through the window of that last one that went by. Wouldn’t they have seen us? Shit! So you s’pose they would just try to find their own hotel for tonight? How will we ever find them again? What a mess! I mean, I guess we could meet them back at our Cusco hotel, but do you think they would be able to make it back there? Their Spanish isn’t the greatest. Shit! They must have been freaking out, getting off the train and not being able to find us. What do you think they would do? How will we contact them? Now what?”

(There may have been even more expletives in my actual speech, but I think it’s best to leave out all the gritty details.)

So after about 5 minutes of standing outside the locked train station freaking out, I noticed a security guard walking our way. “Buscan sus padres?” (Are you looking for your parents?) How did he know? Turns out he knew because he managed to piece together the near-frantic older couple who’d gotten off the train with the near-frantic younger couple outside the locked gates. Genius. He unlocked the gates and led us to where Sharon and Bernie were trying their best to communicate their predicament to some locals.

Ah, relief.

By now I’m sure you’ve figured out that the “around 11:00 pm” train actually arrived quite a bit earlier. Sharon and Bernie got off at the stop and patiently waited for Mike and I to collect them. Slowly, all of the other passengers trickled out of the station, with no sign of Mike and me. The remaining taxi drivers tried to shuffle Sharon and Bernie into their cabs, explaining that there would be no more cabs that night. They wisely resisted. Once the station was completely abandoned, Sharon and Bernie busted out their English-Spanish dictionary and tried to ask for help/advice. I think they were pretty frustrated and worried, especially since very little progress was being made with the language barrier. I’m pretty sure all 4 of us were quite relieved when we were finally reunited.

Luckily, we had a pretty swanky place for the night, so we all slept well after that escapade.

The next day we explored Ollantaytambo — the town and the ruins. There really isn’t a whole lot to say about them (you’ve already seen so many photos of ruins), so I’ll just go ahead and post some pictures:

Look! Torritos on an actual Peruvian house. (Do you remember the photo of the bulls we put up on the archway of our house in Mesa?)

Another set-up.

Translating is hard!

Corn drying on a rooftop.

The Ollantaytambo firemen were out hosing down the streets for some reason or another.

After our day in Ollantaytambo we returned to Cusco, stayed another night, and finally set off for Lake Titicaca — but more on that in the next post…

On a side note, I encourage you to watch this week’s episode of MTV’s Exiled. It takes place in Ollantaytambo, Peru — or at least the countryside near there. Exiledis a show in which bratty, spoiled, rich kids are sent to live with a family in some third-world country for a week. It should be at least mildly entertaining, and you might get a better idea of what we saw and experienced when we were in Peru. The show airs on Monday nights, so check your local listings for the time!

2 Responses to “Ollantaytambo”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice. I wondered WHO Sharon & Bernie were – now I know & now I see a resemblance!!! As always, enjoy your post. antkathy

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for not making us look too stupid!It was quite the fiasco!Forgot about those firefighters. Such fun to see the pics & you remember more than we do.

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