A riot of tiny color – Ollantaytambo, Peru photo essay

It would have been easy to cobble together a salad from the edibles that we brush by while exploring the Incan ruins of Ollantaytambo in Peru’s Sacred Valley.

Lush from the late seasonal rains, there are pea-sized Peruvian bush tomatoes, more seed than flesh; cactus fruit, what little the birds have left unpecked; agave, its spindly, tall masts flowering in a last hurrah; and wild greens and herbs, stinking up the place oh so nicely.

Cactus fruit, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Looking up at cactus fruit

Tiny Peruvian bush tomato, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Tiny Peruvian bush tomato

Agave, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Inflorescence of agaves

Succulents and air plants cling to the ruin walls, twisted forms adapted for exposure to wind and sun.

Red succulent spheres, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Strange red succulent spheres

Air plants, Ollantaytambo, Peru photos

Air plants on ruin walls

Throughout the Ollyantaytambo ruins, we’re knee-deep in wild flowers smaller than a non-Peruvian kernel of corn and more brightly colored than the cheaply-dyed textiles sold in town to tourists.

Purple flower bunches, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Purple flower bunches

Purple flowers blooming, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Purple flowers blooming

Blue flower, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Lone blue flower

Yellow poppy flower, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Yellow poppy

Yellow flowers hill, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Yellow flowers grow on the Ollantaytambo hill

The plants are so distracting that it takes some effort to remember to look up at the ruins we’re walking by.

Yellow flower mountain ruins, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

In front of the distant mountain ruins