After Salkantay and Machu Picchu, we needed a place put ourselves back together. Ollantaytambo (tambo meaning ‘way station’ in Quechua) was the natural stop, as it was the end-of-the-line for our most-expensive-train-ride-in-the-world… we were feeling too wasted to try our luck with the long, cheap way round and ended up getting a one-way ticket out of Aguas Calientes for $58 USD each. The journey really was pleasant, but Sheena had the poor luck of coming down with a fever and was in a dazed state-of-mind when we arrived in Ollanta.
We had the exceptional luck of staying at an NGO in town, called Mi Pequeña Ayuda. They do a lot of work with mentally disabled children in the local schools, and the house was full of very welcoming and friendly volunteers. They really made us feel at home immediately. The house was comfortable and the dorm room was quiet, so it was an ideal place for Sheena to rest up for a few days. I enjoyed speaking Spanish with the other residents (Peruvian, French, English, Italian), and went on quite a few day trips to some of the nearby ruins.
Ollanta is a beautiful and friendly town. Most of it is only accessible by foot. Incan stonework makes up the base of many buildings, and a canal system has been bringing water into the town for hundreds of years. In fact, the water is essentially free! Seriously, I saw a water bill for the NGO and it came to a whopping $5 soles ($2 USD) for the entire month, basically covering administration costs… The people here are friendly, saying hello to you as you past, reaching for your hand to shake. Little children run up to you to ask what your name is and to desperately tell you theirs. It’s the kind of place you could easily get stuck, and our 5 days passed in the blink of an eye.