“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.
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.
…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!