Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I left Machu Picchu and returned to Cusco for a few days. After an uneventful train ride from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, I hired a car and shared the cost with a friend I made on the train. It should have been a simple, uneventful drive, but if I have learned anything in Peru it's that nothing really goes as planned. The driver suggested we take a detour to visit the Moray Ruins. It looked cool, so we decided to go for it.

The ruins were absolutely enormous. I couldn't fit it all into one frame so I mostly shot panoramics. Apparently the ruins were used as a meeting area, so the bowl shape of the ruins was incredible acoustic. A group of young children ran around the center of the ruins and shouted "hola." It sounded like they were right next to me on top of the hill.

It took me a while to climb all the way down the mountain and shoot a 360 degree panoramic from the center of the ruins. Some of the kids playing wouldn't move for the photo, so I decided to include them in the panoramic. I played with the image a lot, experimenting with the polar coordinates filter in photoshop. The images didn't have the impact I was going for, so eventually I distorted the panoramic to focus on the kids and was happy with the result.

The ruins were like a playground for local children. When I was young, I never had a place to play like these ruins. I also would not have been allowed to play on my own there!

After leaving Moray things got interesting. The driver decided to take a shortcut from the ruins to Cusco. Normally, this would have been a great idea, but as we were leaving it started to rain. The dirt road did not hold up well, and the driver sped the car through all kinds of precarious potholes. Eventually, we hit a patch of road that looked completely impassable. Instead of turning around and going back, the driver got out of the car to inspect the mud holes. He returned, confident that we could make it through. We had confidence in his experience, so we didn't protest too much...

The car's wheels spun as the driver struggled to get the car through the first large puddle. I felt an enormous chunk of earth catch on the bottom of the car as it lurched to a stop. After gunning the engine several times, we knew we were stuck.

We got out of the car and unloaded the luggage to make it lighter. No amount of pushing, driving forwards, backwards or sideways helped. With not a human or car in sight, we imagined ourselves having to walk several miles with our luggage to the nearest town. The driver disappeared over the horizon in search of help and we waited. It was cold, the sun was setting and we were getting worried. About fifteen minutes later, the driver showed up with a local farmer, his ten year old son, and their tiny dog. The farmer dug a trench to drain the water from the puddles while the rest of us collected rocks and trash to put under the wheels.

I took a couple of snapshots of the adorable puppy, but it wouldn't look at the camera. The young boy saw me struggling and quickly darted over and held the dog for a picture.

The child was caked in mud and probably cold, but that didn't damper his enthusiasm for helping us out. He sloshed through the mud, pushed the car and carried rocks as if they were perfectly normal and amusing ways to spend his evening. After at least an hour of shoving, adjusting, splashing, and digging, the car finally sped out of the hole and past the next couple of puddles. The road was good from there, so we tipped the farmer and his son and thanked them for helping us. I arrived at my hostel in Cusco wet, cold, muddy and exhausted, but happily satisfied with life.


Tiffany said...

i half expected to see a picture of you covered in mud from tripping or some sort of disaster! hhaha. ahh but i'm also very glad you didn't get involved with that mud. what a cute boy and puppy :D

Mary said...

you clearly didn't have this dog's consent to photograph him, and he's not pleased with either of you.