Thursday, August 28, 2014

Urubamba and Ollantaytambo

Magnificent scenery continued as we headed toward Ollantaytambo where we would catch our train to Macchu Picchu.  We stopped in the town of Urubamba and ate a buffet-style Peruvian lunch.  (I had no idea that a poinsettia plant could grow so big!)  The popular tourist restaurant was quite good but even better was the opportunity to get better acquainted with our new friends, the Moody's.  Javier had arranged for our two families to tour together this day and it turned out to be such a blessing.  The Moody's are from St. George, Utah, and had a daughter return from a different Lima mission a couple of weeks previous.  Another daughter had just graduated from high school and so their parents were taking the two of them on this visit to Peru.  It was as if we had know each other forever!  Our extensive travels with them over the course of this day and the next was one of the highlights of our trip, and I am certain we will remain friends.  The crazy thing is that entirely by chance, their returned missionary ended up in a religion class with Michael this summer at BYU!  How fun is that?!

Forty-eight miles from Cusco we arrived at the well-organized Inca town of Ollantaytambo.  The urban layout of houses, streets, waterways, fortresses, temples and hillside terraces and walls make this an interesting place to visit.  It was once a military, religious, administrative and farming complex built on top of two mountains.  Look for the Inca warrior profiles found on sides of the mountains. (Did you catch the one to the left of the grainery?)  A large grainery on the mountainside was used to store food for the inhabitants of this valley.  The vegetation on the side of the mountains was very unusual.  But the "tuna", or prickley pear as we know it, was not only beautiful but edible.  It was a commonly served fruit at our breakfast buffets.

A two-and-a-half hour train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Callientes was next on our agenda.  We had a great time visiting with the Moody Family and a young lady from Russia as we rode along the tracks and tried to capture a good photo of the mighty Andes mountains.

 Machu Picchu here we come!

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