Quote of the moment

"I have to tell it again and again: I have no doctrine. I only point out something. I point out reality, I point out something in reality which has not or too little been seen. I take him who listens to me at his hand and lead him to the window. I push open the window and point outside. I have no doctrine, I carry on a dialogue." Martin Buber

Friday, July 13, 2012

In the Sacred Valley: Ollantaytambo Village - A potter's welcome to the Hotel California

In the Sacred Valley: Ollantaytambo Village and PeruRail trip to Aquas Calientes (base of Machu Pichu),

At the base of Ollantaytambo fortress is the small village of the same name built upon the foundation of the ancient Inca homes (note the large rocks at the base of the homes). We visited this small community on my 60th birthday (July 5) as part of our family's epic trip through Peru to reach Machu Pichu.  The village appears much as it may have been in ages past. The Incan aqueducts continue to serve the pueblo as they run down each of the streets. Andy with his puppets enchanted curious village children and their parents much like the Pied Piper.

One of my greatest surprises and delights was discovered purely by happenstance, the ceramics workshop of Lucho Soler (www.andreafisherpottery.com/cgi-bin/artistlnk.cgi?Lucho_S...). I immediately became mesmerized by his work as he prepared pieces for a show in Lima in the coming month.

Lucho's work is a fusion of Incan design with that of many other indigenous pottery, especially that of New Mexico's Pueblo where he resided for 20 years. He returned to his native Peru after September 11, 2001 with a goal to elevate Peruvian ceramics to achieve the high artistic quality of his ancestors as well as reignite an interest in its history. The designs etched in his pieces come directly from old shards of pottery that he showed me from his collection.

Unfortunately the pieces he had available were rather large (and costly), designed for impact at the show. I did pause long and hard though considering how I might arrange to have one come home with me... and still have it remain in one piece. After seeing some shards saved by Lucho for sentimental purposes that were created by a customs agent who dropped his marvelous work upon inspection, I thought better of the purchase. But I do hope to revisit his work soon and add a piece to my collection.

After his Lima show he will present in Mexico. Hopefully he may even consider a show in Chile.

We continued to weave our way up and down the narrow cobbled streets popping into one store after another and poking our heads into the beautiful courtyards hidden away by the nondescript walls. It was in one artisan's shop that I was stunned to see what I thought were more of Lucho's ceramics. The shop manager explained these were actually of a student of Lucho's, Eduardo Huaman Aquino. I asked for Eduardo's taller (workshop) and set off on a mission to locate him and more of his pottery.

Passing by hostels and viewing the residents of this village in their daily activities I was directed to Eduardo's taller situated up the hill. As I climbed the street I could hear the haunting lyrics of the Eagles' "Welcome to the Hotel California" emanating from one of the homes. Upon reaching Eduardo's taller/workshop I knew it was my destiny to be there:

My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself,
'this could be heaven or this could be hell'
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say...

Welcome to the hotel california
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the hotel california
Any time of year, you can find it here

I stayed a while enjoying my discovery of this "lovely place, such a nice surprise" watching Eduardo craft another piece while guinea pigs squeaked off tune to the music from his stereo.

I later joined up with Andy, and my travel partners, Kathy Songer and Carol D'Angelo for lunch and a shared piece of Chocolate cake.

Later that afternoon we checked out of our hotel to walk down the road a bit  to board the Peru Rail that would take us to the Machu Pichu village of Auga Calientes. On our trip we encountered rain giving the region a misty and mysterious aura. All the while running through my mind were the lyrics that welcomed me to Ollantaytamo:
"You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! "


  1. The Sacred Valley was one of my favourite things I did while visiting Peru back in 2010. It was great to read about your experiences here.

  2. Thank you Samuel- It is a place we hope to return to soon!