The central square in the ancient Inca village of Ollantaytambo bustles with all walks of life. Bright stocking capped men sit and tend market stands, selling everything from vegetables to crafts. Victorian-era felt hat clad women scurry with garments full of produce slung over one shoulder. They dart and weave amassing groups of tourists who gather for any number of reasons. The Inca ruins here are the most intact outside Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo is a major stop for those touring the Sacred Valley. Most of the traffic through this square are those funneling onto Perurail trains headed deep into the mountains to Machu Picchu. Anyone destined for the ancient ruins must depart from here. It’s the grand central station of the Andes.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that tourism rules and for every resident going about their day there are two vying for foreign currency. They come dressed in their “Sunday best” and primp and prime themselves for the constant churn of tourists that frequent their village and delight in their culture, crafts and cuisine. Some stake out plots on the cool stone ground and knit garments, flaunt flowers and lay out splendid spreads of produce while others simply seek tips from photo snapping passers-by.

I never did determine these four boys roles. My guess is that they are brothers possibly waiting for their services to be called upon, maybe by a family orchestrator. It’s undeniable that tourism has forged a role in the Peruvian economy and I can only hope that it aides in preserving the culture and tradition.

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