First published 27th June 2008 on

Yesterday morning Lisa and I rose at the frankly insane hour of 5am to get the bus to Ollyantaytambo and from thence the train to Macchu Piccu pueblo (Once called Aguas Calientes as it was famous enough in its own right for its hot springs, until the tourist board suddenly noticed a huge ancient inca citadel on a mountain behind the town).

The bus rose through the early morning clouds of Cusco, past makeshift houses made from adobe mud bricks and huge families of feral dogs (judging by the three types of dogs you get in Cusco (big black and lairy, sandy coloured and lairy, small and fluffy and lairy) there’s three dogs in Cusco that are just fucking anything vaguely canine) and into the back of beyond on the way to the sacred valley, with the views of snowy topped mountains getting more and more beguiling. Ollyantaytambo looks like a lovely town, almost alpine. You’d expect Heidi to be skipping down the streets if it wasn’t for the constant convoy of buses dragging tourists to the quaint train station there.

Ollyantaytambo Station: "Oh the Inca TRAIL... I thought you said the Inca TRAIN!"


The trip to Macchu Piccu pueblo was wonderful, possibly because it was about half as fast as the bus. Opposite us a spoilt looking American teenage princess sulked behind enormous shades as her embarrassed mum tried to chat to a Quechuan guide. I don’t think the kid cracked a smile all journey – rather sad when you consider the kids I taught were chuffed beyond belief to get half a cake each from me on Thursday. The train drew to its destination, and somehow, despite all the conflicting information we were given at Cusco, we managed to find the right bus and then our guide, a charming Quechuan lady called Ana Cecilia, who kept apologising for our English, despite the back it was heaps better than our Spanish and light years ahead of our Quechuan. All I can say about Macchu Piccu is – believe the hype – and go there yourself if you can. It is absolutely stunning and confounds all expectations.

Classic Macchu Piccu pose with Ana Cecilia our Quechuan guide

After a fantastic 2 hour tour in which we learned loads of interesting things including the Quechuan word for “duality” (jananta?), we got to stroll around, and despite the fact it’s a tourist destination, you get loads of space to explore and see things (including the friendly lizards and strange rabbity creatures (“bitsicas” in Quechuan I think) and the badass llamas), and got whistled at for trying to eat one of our empanadas (courtesy of our very smily local baker) by a guard in a funny hat.

All in all it was fantastic, and we sort of got home in one piece too, after a mad Canadian lady giving us a huge sales spiel on some cure all fruit juice from the Phillipines she’s marketing which apparently cures everything from gum disease to tumours (she gave us free samples – they tasted weird and probably had crack in them), some crazy bus seats being nicked shenanigans and having to follow round the bloke from the bus company (Bus Lucy) as he grabbed our tickets and buggered off.

After a relaxing mojito and my first taste of guinea pig (a wing?) – it tastes a bit like chicken of course, we crashed for the night. My only gripe was that Teresa (the lady of the guest house) had pressganged us into letting her book the trip for us saying it would be cheaper than anywhere else, but when we saw the tickets for everything about 40 US dollars was unaccounted for – I know everyone is trying to get by – but I guess it would have been nice to have been told of her markup beforehand (and perhaps for her to not have made such a fuss about my dollars having a slight crease in them when I was having a rough night), but it’s probably best just to chalk it down to experience, not say anything and forget it – after all I have 2 more weeks staying in her guesthouse – and she’s welcome to the cash – especially after such an amazing experience. So it’s forgotten! If I go again – after all I have to take Mr Hazel  (missing him loads at the mo) – I’d book it all myself and stay in Ollyantaytambo, and wake at 6am to go herding goats (or eating them for breakfast – not sure which).

Lazy day today, buying pressies for people and watching Spain beat Germany. Was disappointed that we were the only English people supporting Spain in the bar, but it made the result even sweeter. If Spain can break a 44 year curse, then maybe next world cup”. Nah I’m not even going there!

Starting at the tough school tomorrow. Wish me luck.