Claire had wanted to go to Machu Picchu since she was a small girl.  When she had a business trip to Brazil, she took the opportunity to take the long way home, and asked Sachi to meet her for a wonderful vacation in Peru.  Sachi flew down from San Diego to meet Claire in the bustling airport in Lima, and (after a sleepless night around a table waiting for their early-morning plane) they flew to Cusco.

Machu Picchu is well known, but it is only part of a string of striking Incan ruins.  The Inca culture had its center in the “Sacred Valley” of the Rio Urubamba, with a capital in Cusco.  Ollantaytambo was fairly close to Machu Picchu and was close to many Incan sites itself, so we chose it as our stop.  We were not disappointed!  The town was a delight.

Ollantaytambo is nestled next to two steep peaks, with the Rio Urubamba flowing on the other side.  On one peak is the “Fortress,” which is an Inca ruin that was probably not originally designed for military use.  However, when the Spaniards came, it was put to good use to repel their attacks for quite some time before the Incas had to retreat.  On the other peak are simpler Inca ruins, which apparently were used as storage for grain and potatoes.  It’s amazing; the Incas truly felt bound to the high steep places, and were perfectly at home using the heights to their advantage.

The Sacred Valley