My first morning to awaken in Ollantaytambo, everything was calm and bright outside my window. It was Sunday morning. The day before there had been a constant jingling of music with frequent exultations across the road from my lodgings where building works were underway.
Today it certainly was quiet, until I put my foot to the rustic wooden floorboards. I was sure I had woken the neighbours in the next building along with everyone below me. Thankfully I managed the electric shower outside my room, guessing that the sign in Spanish meant that I had 3 minutes of hot water. I was hoping that the exposed wiring overhead would not bring an abrupt end to my time in Peru or on the Planet in general. I studied it for a while before I made up my mind to use it. Morning was cool but a blue sunny sky promised warmth as the day would follow.
I had spent from 5am in my room learning ‘Spanish for Gringo’s’ (a book provided by my hosts). Also I composed a long and detailed email for my family back home which I intended to send later that evening once I had WiFi (which most restaurants provided).
I was without my luggage for a second day and seemed I might have to wait until Monday. A word of advice to fellow travellers….all luggage arriving in Peru must go through security and custom checks in Lima airport (if that is your first port of arrival). So despite my American Airline check-in person assuring me that my bags would go all the way through from Dublin to Cuzco, this never happens! The official in Cuzco airport informed me patiently, that many people make this mistake.
After dressing, I ventured to the kitchen in the hope of meeting Qeta who had promised to show me the bakery where the round pans of bread are made each day. Thankfully Maximo (my pit-bull friend) remembered me from the day before and seemed more interested in how to get outside as he tried to draw my attention towards the closed and gated doorway.
I sat in silence at the table in the small living room waiting for someone to come. Eventually a young woman came and greeted me in Spanish, with lots of hugs and kisses, before sitting opposite me. Her name was Stephanie. We sat there for almost 20 minutes making attempts at conversation. Stephanie was from a different part of South America, Argentina if I remember correctly.
I wasn’t sure I was being understood or understanding everything but eventually I exhausted all my mornings ‘Spanish for Gringo’s’ memory along with the months of on-line practice I had put in place in Ireland. It was all hap-hazard and clumsy. But eventually I got it through that I was expecting to visit the bakery. Stephanie bundled up in her coat and scarf and beckoned me to follow her. Maximo was disappointed I’m sure as he had to wait a while longer to be released by his owner.
It was so bright outside I felt I had been living in a cave until now. My eye’s both flinched and delighted at this new effect. And as I caught my first sight of that stunning mountain glacier Veronica, in its perfect position outside the door of Qusiqoller, with its dazzling white cap against the azure blue, I knew at once that I was certainly alive. A new excitement filled me each and every morning when it greeted me.
Stephanie brought me to a local shop on the corner of the square and showed me the sack of bread pans that were still warm. One Sol bought us 5 which was enough for the morning. By the time I returned Qeta was already pottering in the kitchen. I received a ‘Peruvian’ family welcome as I had when I first arrived. I offered her the bread and she prepared for me the coca tea to help me with my altitude adjustment. All was well. I was heading into the most important learning experience of my life, letting life unfold and being patient because here I certainly had no other choice and thankfully no other measuring stick to compare against.
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