Imagine, I spent three whole days in Ollantaytambo, Peru, before I ventured in the direction of the train station. Why this is significant? Ollantaytambo lives forever in the shadow of its majestic neighbour Machu Picchu. This sacred and wonder-world attraction is often the only thing that outsiders know Peru to be famous for.
Ollantaytambo is really in the heart of the Sacred Valley of Cuzco. It is a World Heritage Site itself, having almost as many fantastic Inca ruins as Machu Picchu with an awesome setting but just not in that elevated peak setting in which Machu Picchu finds itself.
The most curious thing for me about Ollantaytambo was the fact that here you could meet people from the Nations of the Earth mingling with the people of an emerging modern Peru and the people of a more ancient Inca Peru. Peruvians and International travelers alike have one thing on their minds……get the train to Machu Picchu.
I knew all this of course, I had visited the year before and stayed only one night in this pretty town before taking that exciting train journey. Of course I was filled with anticipation of the fact that I would most likely visit a second time, but for now I couldn’t say when that trip should be made. I was saving it for later.
So, having exhausted my wanderings around other parts of the town, I made my way down that road in the direction of the train station. It was a quiet time of the day. Most people get the train very early in the morning, as early as 4am…that way they get to see Machu Picchu in its dawning glory, spend the day there and get a late train home. Otherwise, people are going later in the evening, staying over night in Aguas Calientes (sometimes also called Machu Picchu Town) and getting up at the crack of dawn to visit the ruins. Others are planning to get off the train at Kilometer 88 in order to start the Inca Trail.
It was 2pm or thereabouts so it was much quieter at that time. I tried to contain myself, so many memories came flooding back. I was filled with double feelings…my own and those of Kitty Clinch the character in my novel which was inspired by this very trip. As I stared at the tracks I envisaged Kitty queuing in the heat, both excited and nervous about her trip to this heavenly place. I remembered the anticipation I had myself….to see this magical place with my own two eyes…it was the thing on everyone’s mind that day.
And now….it was so quiet here…I could be fooling myself….I had no ticket to go there…I had no plan when to go…I sort of hoped I wouldn’t be going there alone. I guess I am romantic. It was so quiet, just the wind gathering some momento as it does here in the afternoons in July. A few independent travelers hanging about looking not half excited enough.
I sat for a while feeling a little empty, like I was missing something. Then when I had enough of that, I made my way back to the main thorough-fare of the town. No point reminiscing, a new tale was underway, a new adventure. It was still hard to believe that here I was …. I made this decision…I bought the ticket…I got on the plane. I made it happen. I needed to make the most of my time here.
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Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing Blog.