Ollantaytambo ruins
South America, Story

My Friend Fernando – Memories at the Ollantaytambo Ruins in Peru

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“Como te llamas? (What do they call you?)” I asked the fidgety, energetic 7 year old in front of us. “Me llamo Fernaaaaaaaando!” as he flashed a not-so-toothy smile. I wondered for a moment if the tooth fairy visited this part of the world. I am always impressed by how energetic kids can be hopping from rock to rock in the Andes. We were making a hike up to the abandoned ruins in Ollantaytambo, Peru, and we apparently had made a new friend.

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“Our ruins.”

To be honest, the only reason we found ourselves a bit off the beaten path was because we had become too cheap to pay the 130 sole (~3 soles to a dollar) entrance fee for the better more “landscaped” ruins on the other mountain while we waited for our evening train ride into Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town). I was okay with it, though. We had the entire place to ourselves.

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130 sole ruins.

…and our luck never skipped a beat. The warm rain started pouring from the heavens but we had made it to the top before it had become too slippery. We were prepared this time with our raincoats in tow. I let out a long sigh as I peered out over the city, into the mountains, through the fog and clouds coming down from the peaks. The Earth never ceases to amaze me with its beauty.


I ran my fingers across the rocks and mortar of the old buildings, breathing in for a moment and feeling what it must have been like to have lived here. Back in the States this would have been prime real estate. Welcome to your new hillside home with a gorgeous downtown view!


Fernando was busy curiously peeking around corners at Shaun and I. We couldn’t help it. We had to get a small momento of Fernando. “Un foto? (A photo?)” He nodded his head and stood next to Shaun as I clicked the shutter. In an instant he held out his hand and with a big smile he shouted, “UN SOLE! (1 sole)” I looked at him bewildered. You gotta be kidding me. “Que va a hacer con un sole? (What are you going to do with a sole?)” He grinned as if he had been asked this before. “Vitaminas, frutas, y comida! (Vitamins, fruit, and food!)” Jesus kid, that had to be rehearsed. I rolled my eyes and handed him 1 sole. He stuck the sole into his pockets with glee and lit up like a light. Out came several pieces of candy, half melted and filled with lint. “Quiere? (Would you like one?)” “No, gracias.” I said quickly. Well, now I know where the sole is going.


As we climbed down the mountain I couldn’t help but realize that while we love to experience ruins and history, our favorite part of Ollantaytambo was Fernando. The locations are great, but to us, the people are what make it.

Have you met someone that made your travel experience?



While we may not be traveling at the moment, I have so many stories to share with you guys that somehow didn’t make it onto the blog during our travels. Expect new and exciting content!

32 thoughts on “My Friend Fernando – Memories at the Ollantaytambo Ruins in Peru”

  1. It’s really fun reading this post as I’ve just left Peru myself! I would love to do some reflective blog posts like this about my pre-Wanderland travels. It always annoys me that I’ve been to places I didn’t blog about — ha!

  2. Snap Alex! I blogged when I was long-term travelling around South East Asia but then I didn’t start writing again until April last year when I realised what a massive travel blogging realm there is out there. So I have almost 7 years of travels to catch up on! Good job I have a good memory, a few notes and lots of photos to help 🙂

  3. Great blog. We agree, it definitely is the people and connections you make while travelling that make it worth while. I loved Peru when I was there. We’ll have to head back there so Cody can experience it. Maybe we’ll meet our own little Fernando? 🙂

  4. Love this! Plus, gorgeous pics!! I have met quite a few people in my travels that had a lasting impression. I love that they can entirely change the mood of a place!

  5. Stunning photos. I def think it’s the people that make your travels all the more enjoyable. When we hiked The Dungeness Spit in Washington state, we met the volunteers looking after the lighthouse out at the end of the trail. We had tea with them and were invited into the lighthouse to see what living there was like. A special experience made all the more enjoyable thanks to the locals!

  6. Nice post. Very true it is the people that always make the experience that much more memorable. I still remember a lady that served me coffee in Italy 2 years ago!

      1. Well we started chatting in her tiny café and she started to tell me about how much she loved coffee, how she used to make it for all her friends and would be so happy when they enjoyed it. One day she quit her office job and opened the café and it was the single greatest decision of her life. She was so passionate about her job and so proud that now people from all over the world could try her coffee. I remember thinking what a beautiful thing to find your true passion in life and be so happy everyday in your work. Sometimes when I think now about what work I want to do I remember her and think, do I love this as much as that beautiful lady loved to serve coffee?

        1. Thank you so much for sharing this. Now I know why she is on your mind. She sounds like a fabulous, inspiring lady. I wish I could find something like this that I would be happy with for the rest of my life!

  7. Erica, I am honored to still be your friend after all these years. You continue to inspire me everyday, as I am sure is the case for all of your avid readers. I am so proud of you for following your passion and all of your achievements. I truly enjoy reading about your life both good and bad, thank you for sharing so much of yourself.

  8. Aw, he sounds so cute 🙂 It reminds me of this kid I met at a festival in the UK, he just sat down next to me and asked if I would like to buy a stone, then started telling me about how many other people have bought them and the toys he’d bought with the money. Of course I ended up buying a stone, which I could have just picked up from the floor myself, but which I still have in my memory box now 🙂

  9. thx for sharing this wonderfull post, i really appreciate it, and i ppromise to always check back this wonderful site for more information

  10. Having met up with Fernando, I’m sure makes your trip to Ollantaytambo Ruins in Peru just a lot more pleasant and memorable. The panoramic photos are awesome!

  11. I recall something similar when I last visited Peru, instead of a boy it was roadside sandwich seller who insisted I pay her for a photo too. Diana, if I recall her name right. 🙂 Lovely post!

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