Traveling 10,000 miles to a far-away land with a very loose plan of action could lead to chaos or cool strategy. I fell somewhere between these two stools. I was heading into my third week in Ollantaytambo town in the heart of Peru’s Sacred Valley, not so far from glorious Machu Picchu. Learning a new language, the forging of new friendships, adjustments to higher altitude and a different society, were coming gradually but with good grounding.
I knew I was getting better at the Spanish when I was hanging out the clothes one morning on the roof top and heard my landlady calling up to me from the quarter below. ‘Did I hear her right?’ I thought at first. ‘Domingo!’ I shouted back letting her know that today was Sunday. So even my new friends were now putting more faith in my understanding of their lingo.
People live in very close quarters in this town and as soon as I went to that highest part of the roof to hang my washed clothing i heard, ‘Hola Carolina!’ from two different directions. My friends from Coffee Tree (Cafe, Restaurant) were living beside and behind me and it seemed to be a day for doing the washing by the looks of it.
All around the view was breath-taking from that roof top. A ring of tall mountainous rock enclosed the immediate area, with the sacred tears of glacial Veronica at the farthest end of the valley adding a stimulus to the scene. ‘That’s the way to Machu Picchu’, I reminded myself at the time. I had already been there once the year before on a previous trip. This was different. I was on a solo journey now. I anticipated my second visit with much thought of visiting a ‘Greatness’, One all-knowing of how much I would be needing to prepare myself for the privilege of a second visit.
Slowly I would get there. For now I finished hanging out the clothes and backed down the tiny ladder so as not to give the impression I was spying on my neighbours.
Outside of work hours (I had a part-time voluntary job in a cafe) I created an exercise routine of a walk about the area and an evening visit to a Peruvian shop-keeper with whom I had the most interesting language exchanges. The plans were still a little loose and sometimes felt like ‘nothing doing’ but it was all a preparation because the greatest moments were yet to come….if only I could always remember this.
Dear Reader: From time to time I have had a comment from one’s of you who have visited Ollantaytambo and you have let me know that you were also touched by how magical this place is and the friends you made there. Keep posting such comments. I welcome this connection. Muchos gracias amigos! (o;
Copyright Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing Blog