iguazu falls
12th August
written by Ilana

My mom had joined us on our trip with two goals in mind:  1. to do a multi-day trek and 2. to spend time in the Amazon jungle.  With the first goal accomplished, we set off to Bolivia to accomplish goal #2, but before we left for the jungle, we spent Shabbos in a small Peruvian town.

Shabbat in Ollantaytambo

We finished the Inca Trail on a Friday, and did not have enough time to get back to Cuzco before Shabbos started, so instead we stayed in a small village called Ollantaytambo between Machu Picchu and Cuzco.  Bloom took an early train to make sure he would have a few hours there before Shabbos started, and my mom and I had decided to take a later train so we could spend more time at Machu Picchu.  Sadly, this was a bad choice.  After we reached Machu Pichu at 6:30 AM or so, and had a guided tour until 10, we were Machu Picchued out.  We left Machu Picchu early and were stuck waiting around for our later train, trying not to fall asleep on public benches.

Our train got in about ten minutes before Shabbos, so now we just had to get to the hotel.  We walked from the train station to the center and thought maybe Bloom would be there to show us where the hotel was, but there was no sign of him.  We knew Bloom had planned on pre-paying for our Shabbos meals at a vegetarian-friendly restaurant, so we went there.  The man didn’t really know English, but understood enough to say “from Chicago?  Cheecago Bulls!” and then pointed us in what he said was the direction of the hotel.

An indigenous boy on the edge of one of the many aquaducts that flow through the town

My mom and I walked and walked and walked, and found no hotel.  This was a very small town, and as we looked around us we realized we were probably out of the town by now.  There weren’t so many buildings or people.  Finally we saw two girls walking sheep on leashes.  This was a very weird thing to see, but I couldn’t even appreciate it, because I was exhausted and dirty from the 4 days of trekking, and it was dark and we were apparently very lost.  “Donde esta el Apu Lodge?” I tried.  They looked confused and pointed in the other direction.  I looked at the sheep for help, but they too looked confused.

Finally, after going down dark alleys and asking anyone we could find if they knew of this Apu Lodge, an old lady who had been sitting in what was possibly her restaurant, or maybe her kitchen, led us to the darkest alley and told us to walk down it.  I was freaking out.  Where the hell was Bloom?  If he knew this place was unfindable why had he not found us first and led us there?  Had he never found the hotel?  Maybe he was also lost!  At this point we decided to turn back and go to the center and sit in the restaurant and hopefully Bloom would eventually come look for us.  It was too dark and scary.

We turned around and saw a skinny guy in a white shirt walking toward us quickly.  It was Bloom.  He had tried to find us but had just missed us at each point.  We turned and walked back down the dark alley, only to be accosted by a gang who pretended to shoot us.  I guess I should mention that the gang consisted of four 5 year old boys, but I have no patience for annoying children, and a gang of rowdy kids is a gang of rowdy kids, yeah so they’re 5?  So what?  My mom played with them and pretended to shoot them back.  Finally one of them dared to touch me in my psychotic, exhausted state, I turned to face all of them and, using my best self-defense voice, yelled “NO!”   They finally seemed to get it, and ran away.  The next morning my mom went for a walk and came back to tell me that she had met the gang in the alley again and this time they had spit all over her clothes.  She was pretty annoyed.  Vilde Chayas.  This is why you need to be strict with children.

Cobblestone alleyways, some of which are from Inca times, not as fun when you are lost at night

In the end, the Apu Lodge was an awesome place.  They had a real bed, not just a foam skinny mattress on a slab of wood, and a good breakfast, and they did our laundry.  We ate the best vegetarian food of the trip, since almost every meal we’ve eaten has been rice, mixed with an egg and awkward French fries, which sounds better than it is.  Overall, even with getting lost and our run in with a gang of children, it was a great shabbos.

Leave a Reply