In order to have a break from the long distance buses, this weekend we decided to explore the area closer to Cuzco so we set off for Ollantaytambo - a town with an unpronouncable name in the Sacred Valley near Cuzco. There was a big group of us from language school and other volunteers which was really nice. We all got a bus to Urubamba for a couple of hours through little villages in the Sacred Valley then a little colectivo taxi for 20 minutes to Ollantaytambo which is one of the most beautiful places we've been so far. It's a little Peruvian town surrounded by jaggedy mountains with little cobbled streets and Inca ruins overlooking it.
We arrived around lunchtime and we decided to go for one of our super cheap traditional almuerzos (while the rest of the group told us that we would definitely catch typhoid and ate spaghetti for 3 times the price!). Lunch was really good (and didn't give us typhoid) - we had fish soup and then chicken with sweet potatoes and aji with mate which is meant to help altitude sickness. As usual there was also a really inappropriate, slightly pornographic horror movie on the TV! We also looked around some of the touristy shops too where they keep English chocolate behind glass because it's so expensive. It made us want it even more!
After lunch we had a wander round the town which was so nice - lots of cute alleyways to explore although we were almost attacked by this enormous (almost definitely) rabid dog which was thankfully on a chain and missed us by about a foot! We walked out of town along the river and got some good views of the Inca Ruins (which we refused to pay to go and look at as it cost 70 soles - about 15 pounds). The ruins looked spectacular with the clouds low over the top of the hills - it was such a beautiful day with a bit of sunshine in between the rain. We also saw lots of goats, another potentially rabid dog and two enormous oxes! Had a coffee in the plaza and then caught the bus back to Urubamba. We met these 2 adorable Quechuan children on the bus who stared at us the whole way there and were very intrigued when Georgi started texting and taking photos. We met another adorable little girl on the bus back to Cuzco - we'd met a group of travellers on the bus and she was fascinated by their dreadlocks and kept trying to plait their scarves so they gave her their jar of jam as a present! Was a beautiful journey through the Sacred Valley with snow capped mountains in the distance.
On Sunday we walked up to Sacsayhuaman (pronounced sexy woman!) which are some more ruins above Cuzco but didn't go in as we figure we are going to see enough ruins when we do the Inca Trail. There was a great view over Cuzco though and the walk will hopefully be good practise for the trek. We've started going to these crazy energetic dance aerobic classes at the local gym to try and improve our fitness at altitude...we almost die everytime we go so it must be working! There was also a random parade outside our house and we did some more shopping - we pretty much have everything you could ever want made out of alpaca wool! Loving the llamas.
Our project is going well - we're working in a school every morning for 4 and 5 year olds who are crazy, very energetic but totally adorable. We each have a class to help out with though break time is the worst as they literally climb all over you and get you to swing them around! They also had a fiesta on Friday with ice cream and a clown to welcome them into the new term. We're trying to teach them a bit of English too and they call us "Profe" all the time which is really cute. We might try to teach them Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes at some point but maybe not yet!