We visited the town of Ollantaytambo the next day before making our way to Machu Picchu but I am going to include the photos here so Ollantaytambo is all together.
Ollantaytambo dates from the late 15th century and has some of the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America. It was fun to walk the small narrow, cobblestone streets it was like taking a step back in time. Here is a description from enperublog.com:
"This pretty little town in the Andes is different from all the others. It may be set among beautiful mountainous scenery like all the others, be populated by indigenous locals going about their daily business like all the others, be pleasantly quiet like all the others and be surrounded by ancient ruins like all the others, but this town is different. Founded by the Inca Pachacutec in the mid-15th century, it’s still here, soon to be 600 years later. Not only is Ollantaytambo surrounded by ruins, the town is a ruin in itself. Since Pachacutec founded the city as a retreat, the Incas and the descendants of the Incas have been living in the same houses accessed by the same ancient streets. To step into Ollantaytambo is to step into a living breathing Inca town."
The Incas built several storehouses out of field stones on the hills surrounding Ollantaytambo. Their location at high altitudes, where there is more wind and lower temperatures, defended their contents against decay. To enhance this effect, the Ollantaytambo qollqas feature ventilation systems. It is believed that they were used to store the production of the agricultural terraces built around the site.
We had opportunity to be invited into one of the residents home, to see what the day to day life in this town is like.
Remember this figurine, this representation of prosperity will show up again in the next post
This is a skull of a family member that they display in their home for protection from evil.
Their home is one long room, with dirt floors and exposed stone walls. At one end of the room is the enclosure for the guinea pigs. For those of you who are not aware, guinea pigs are not considered pets in South America, they are considered a delicacy, and guinea pig meat is served at special occasions. I had guinea pigs as pets growing up, so seeing them in their little pen made me a little bit sad and I contemplated for a split second, stealing them and putting them all in my purse. But they are a significant part of Peru's culture and I respect that.
They have a beautiful view of the temple complex from their front door step.