Blog from Jennifer Owens

We ended our week at Lobitos with a goodbye dinner and campfire singalong, and loaded up a van at 3 a.m. to begin our travel day to Ollantaytambo, a town of 3,000 near Cusco, Peru. In contrast to the hot sun, desert-like climate, and ocean air of Peru´s northern coast, the mountains of the Sacred Valley are cool and green, where wildflowers grow among the chacras, or agricultural fields, and chilly mornings and nights require extra layers.

Indigenous culture remains strong in Ollantaytambo. Incan ruins lie on the various mountain slopes that enclose the town, including one set in the shape of a llama! The Incan protectors, the condor, the puma, and the serpent, are visible on trash cans and streetlamps in the main plaza. Many streets and buildings bear Quechua, and students learn Quechua alongside Spanish in schools.

We have also been learning Spanish this week, both in our morning classes and our conversations with our homestay families. In the afternoons, we have had time to explore the city, visit ruins, and even see the extensive salt flats that lie outside of a neighboring town. We´re enjoying our time in the mountains and getting to know more about Incan culture here in Ollantaytambo.