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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

16 June 2011

Ollantaytambo

13th June 2011

I was awoken by the sound of the Dance of the Drunken Men, being played by a brass band as they passed by our hotel. It made me smile (despite the hour). It was just as the hotel owner had said: this festival goes on all day and all night for an entire week.

So we got up and wandered out to explore the old town, which still has the original Inca layout and various walls remaining. We could hear a band playing somewhere, but couldn’t place where the music was coming from. From here we hiked up a steep hillside covered in flowering plants and cactuses to the ruined Inca granaries high above… and discovered the band. They were serenading the whole town from a hundred metres above it, although as we got there they turned to serenade a bunch of American kids who had also made the climb. Glorious morning.

As we descended, a series of titanic explosions rocked the valley, echoing three distinct times as the sound bounced back and forth. I’ve no idea what they were setting off, but they happened at intervals through the day. By the time we got to the town square, a crowd had gathered again and the dances we were watching yesterday had started up once more with new bands. Great fun – watching them is what we spent much of the day doing, and didn’t see many other tourists doing the same (except for when a passing tour coach reversed back into the square and a horde of eager orientals disembarked for a five minute photo-op).

We wandered around the back streets later and discovered what the revellers do when they’re not performing in the square. They drink a lot of beer, and drift from one party to another still mostly in costume and accompanied by their musicians. There is a great deal of dancing and beer involved. Did I say beer twice?

Yes, of course we were too bashful to attempt to join in uninvited. Besides which, my dancing causes mortal torment in Maureen.

Dinner was nondescript. The one thing we haven’t found in Ollantaytambo is good food. Scenery, check. Interesting ruins, check. Satisfying old town, check. Great local festival, check. Friendly hotel, check. Warm weather, check. Good food, blech.


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