First published 5th July 2009 on

Pretty good weekend, Lisa and I took a tour of the various ruins surrounding Cusco on the Saturday, and pondered the earthquake proofness of Incan architecture (sadly not people proof, as after the 1960 earthquake in Cusco, the locals, who’s houses had all fallen down, rushed up the hill and nicked every stone they could carry from Sacsahuaman).

On the "throne" at Qenko

Sunday we took buses out to the lovely Ollyantaytambo, and I made the mistake of befriending everyone on the bus by passing out mini empanadas (well it worked on Saturday as the woman next to us gave us loads of sweeties back), as this bloke I chatted to in stilted Spanish (lets face it I’d probably accepted a proposal) insisted on following us around offering useless travel advice (I don’t think he wanted paying for being a guide, he just seemed a bit mad) and when we finally said goodbye he tried to launch a full on face eating kiss on me (which I fortunately avoided most of apart from the dribble – ugh!). Talking of dribble, the bus back was cosy and went all the way through the sacred valley – adding an extra few very picturesque hours to the journey. All very nice apart from the woman behind me coughing and sneezing on to my head intermittently (there wasn’t any room to move out of the way – and given the fact the police had already stopped our overcrowded bus cos one of the lights wasn’t working, and we’d had a couple of near misses on the dark mountain roads, a little bit of snot really didn’t bother me at the time – of course now I’m coughing and sneezing myself – pah!).

Ron and a friendly non-rabid stray at Ollyantaytambo. The dog's playing Guatemala Watch.

We had another volunteer stay over last night. She’s doing 4 weeks but doesn’t seem to know where. She’s a nice enough girl from Wales, either 19 or 20 years old, but given she’s been travelling round the world (Hong Kong, New Zealand, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil etc.) since January and is going home in September and only worked for 4 weeks in a hostel in New zealand, at the risk of sounding bitter etc, I have to ask the youth of today, how comes you can afford it? I guess staying with mum and dad and not paying rent whilst you save has to help, but blimey – there must be some rich (or recently impoverished) and generous parents out there, as there’s no way I could afford a gap year back in the 90s!  I blame Thatcher! etc etc.

This morning I joked to Lisa that the school would probably be closed again for teachers day, and what do you know, after the 6am cold shower and walk in – the doors were locked and it took a small child to explain to us that it was indeed still teachers day. Nice of the teachers to tell us on Friday. Still it meant we could take a scary bus ride about 1hr out of Cusco to a little place called Andehuaylillas (try saying that on a skinful), which looked unpreposessing from the roadside, but had a gorgeous church, decorated with medieval paintings and referred to (a tad optimistically) as the Sistine of the Andes.

The Sistine of the Andes.

Next to the church was a museum full of deformed skulls straight out of the latest (disappointing) Indiana Jones film, and a few doors up was the unfriendliest cafe ever. We managed two watery coffees, but dammit they didn’t even have CAKE! They did have pan y queso, but the way it was said made it sound too austere to contemplate. This place sounds worse than the new cafe that opened near here last week, with no sign. We felt sorry for them so went in and asked what they had. “Pollo” came the stern reply (despite there being no sign of any chicken in the place). We decided to skip it and next day they had a new sign that didn’t quite fit the shop, declaring “Pollo y nada mas” (chicken and nothing more). That’s us told then!

Pollos y Nada Mas. And little sign of pollos.

Anyhow it’s nearly time for lunch, where the 2 Aussies will probably discuss possums and whether they are cute and fluffy or evil vermin again, in between me and Lisa playing “Guatamala watch” or counting how many times Carole sighs. The nights just fly by here I tell you!