Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Saludos from Ollantaytambo

This blog is written by student Kathleen Pait from Little Rock, AR.

Monday, July 20th

After waking up at 8 o’clock to the cool, dry mountain air, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of bread and jam, fruit, coffee, and pineapple juice. We then headed over to a local museum to learn about the history of Ollantaytambo and the Inca ruins that overlook the Sacred Valley like protective guardians. They seem to sprout out of the surrounding mountains like weeds from a garden. We left the museum to walk the streets of the town, taking peeks into local houses, conversing with the indigenous peoples, and taking our first true samples of the culture.

Our group leaders then sent us on a scavenger hunt around town. We split up into groups of three or four and hustled around to gather the items we had been assigned to find. For lunch we ate at a small local, non-profit café. All proceeds the café makes go to helping the children and women in small highland communities of the Sacred Valley. Some group members donated warm clothing and children´s books to the NGO director. We were touched by her gratitude for such small donations.

After lunch, we divided up into our On Assignments groups to learn about our projects and get an idea of what we would be doing for the next few weeks. We also had some time to explore the town on our own, practice our Spanish with the locals, and browse through the markets before dinner, which was also at a small local restaurant. To wrap up the night, the group gathered together for a short pow-wow back at the hostal before watching a National Geographic movie about the archaeological excavations we visited on our first day in Lima. It was a full first day in Ollanta!

Photos below by
student, Felix Jordan from Cologne, Germany.

View of Ollanta´s famous ruins from the roof of the CATCO museum

Traditionally dressed local women pose in Ollanta´s Inca-era streets

A collection of artifacts inside a local home

Finding exotic fruits during our scavenger hunt at the local market

working in On Assignment groups on photography focus techniques