Ollantaytambo – Local Culture

On the way to Ollantaytambo, we stopped at a local business.  By night it is a bar.  By day, it serves as an educational outlet for tourists like us.

Our first encounter was several skulls sitting on the table.  This is a Andian tradition.  During large family celebrations, it is customary to have the skull of an ancestor at the table to participate in the celebration.  They might even poor a drink for the ancestor.

Today is customary to bury the dead in a cemetary.  Then after 10-15 years the cemetery offers to remove the body or the family can continue to pay for the grave site.  When the body is removed from the grave they prepare the skull.

Ancestral skulls

This practice may have originated in the Incan times where the practice was to include a mummified body of an ancestor in ceremonies.  Over time the practice has evolved into the current practice.

Next we saw a common bar game.  The concept is to throw large coins into a box with a series of holes.  Getting the coin into one of the holes earns you a certain number of points.

The game is called Spoi and is similar to our ski ball.  You can even buy a do-it-yourself kit to build one yourself.

Kit for bar game

Inside we learned about the process of making Chi Cha the national drink.  First, we were reminded about the diversity of agriculture in the Andes.


The corn is prepared and fermented similar to moonshine.  Each day the Chi Cha is prepared for the evening’s business.

Chi Cha fermenting

Sometimes a local berry will be added to change the color and flavor.

In the kitchen we found a collection of guinea pigs that is typical of an Andean home.

Guinea pigs hanging out in the kitchen

While checking out the guinea pigs, we were greeted by a puppy who got along great with the guinea pigs.

There is also a cat – who is less trusted with the guinea pigs and is not very tolerant of the puppy.

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