Nov 102014
Monday 11/10/14.  MACHU PICCHU!  :-))))))

Definitely a day I will remember for a long time to come!  I just spent 7 of the last 8 hours in the ruins of the ancient city, Machu Picchu (the name that the indigenous Quechua people later gave the site, meaning “Old Mountain”).  And it was super cool!  I woke up at 4 this morning, so I went ahead and got up to be at the bus by 5 (just a few minutes walk from the hotel), and even so, I was still in the 4th bus to leave for the site.  But it worked out great!  We were there by 6 when it opened, and I got to see the sun come up over the mountains in the nearly cloud-free sky.  Rolando, our trek guide had told us that UNESCO has mandated that only 2500 people be let into the site per day.  However the number of visitors who actually enter the site daily is actually about double that.  So anyways, there were many people there with me but the site is so big that it really didn’t feel crowded until about 10:00 in the morning.

I kinda felt like I had the place to myself for a while this morning, and I very much enjoyed taking lots of photos without a ton of people in them. (I was later admonished by Romulo that photos should never be without people, that it’s bad karma and bodes unwell for the photographer.)   Oh well, I’m over it, and I’m tickled by how many photos I was able to take without a ton of people in them.  I started in the agricultural areas, and then made a circle through the sacred and urban sectors before returning to the entrance, where I was scheduled to meet up with my group and a guide just for the morning at Machu Picchu.  His name is Romulo, and he was so full of information, and loved to talk, fast, with an interesting accent for the area, but I didn’t get a chance to ask him where he is from.
The word “Inca” apparently means king, but they were not all Kings, and Romulo started out by giving us an overview of the Inca civilization, including the 3 distinct classes of people:  Royalty, Nobility, and peasants or workers.  He said that the Kings usually married their sister and the first surviving son of that union would be the king’s successor.  He told us that Pachacutec, the 9th king in a series of 12, who built Machu Picchu, did marry his sister, but actually fathered 400 children with concubines.  They say that Machu Picchu was built as a sacred refuge from the Spanish conquest, and it apparently worked, because the Spanish didn’t find them.  The site is said to be 60% uncovered, and that 40% remains under the dense foliage of the jungle.  And they do not know how many other mountain peaks house more ancient ruins.  They also do not know why the city was never completed, and, judging from the degree to which buildings were left incomplete, and the quarry holds many stones in obvious progress, think that the Inca people fled quickly to another location.  Maybe because they still feared discovery, even up so high on a mountain peak in the middle of the jungle.  Peruvians love the mystery and really play it up when talking about their ancestral origins.  Machu Picchu is up much higher than the Meteora monasteries in Greece, but it is perched in similar fashion up on a granite peak, and the Incas were amazing stone masons, able to precisely cut and precisely fit stone blocks together to form walls that served many functions including stability against seismic movement, utilitarian housing, designation of sacred spaces, and protection from their enemies.
Ollantaytambo is a town that is a great example of the preserved layout of Inca cities, with narrow streets and walkways, and the intact canals and water systems are even more intact than those of Machu Picchu.  They are currently still in use today, as the fresh water runs through canals that run down the streets.  The citizens do their laundry in the constant steady stream from subterranean freshwater sources.
But anyways, I am here!  I got to see Machu Picchu!  It was amazing! It was wonderful!  And I climbed the big mountain that many of the most famous pictures are taken from, and it nearly beat me!  Took me 54 minutes of walking slowly up the side of the mountain on switchbacks of uneven stones that are also part of the “Inca trail”.  I almost didn’t think I would make it.  It took me a tough 45 minutes to come down again too!  That’s how uneven the rocks and stones were.  You can also climb Huayna Picchu (or “Little Mountain”), but I have the view in the pictures.  It was a really tough climb, a great workout, but I do feel sorry for the people who have to sit next to me on the train tonight, as I believe that I can smell myself;  and I was checked out at the hotel, so was not able to shower. :-(.  AND it didn’t rain again, til I got on the train and we were almost to Ollanta.
Afterr coming back down the hill on the bus, I actually bought a really expensive, really ugly, with hardened cheese, a 4 or 5 hour old little flatbread pizza thing of sorts, with tomato and cheese, in a tienda window in Aguas Calientes, and wolfed it down after she warmed it up for me.  And I washed it down with a small bottle of some orange colored Gatorade.  Wow, did that hit the spot!  So now am on the train heading back to Ollantaytambo, and then on to Poroy, where a driver from the travel company will pick me up and take me back to Pilar’s in Cusco.  The whole trip usually takes about 6+ hours.  Pilar is expecting me late and I have my key, so we’ll see how it goes.
It’s been a terrific day so far!
Wow, it’s a dinner car, on the train, with music and entertainment, and a fashion show of Alpaca and Vicuña weaves in scarves, ponchos, wraps, and a man’s sweater.  It’s also now officially a long trip!  Cuz I had to get up and use the bano, and I may have to do so again too.  Dude in the seat next to me is a fidgeter, who is large for his seat, and he keeps tapping or hitting me with his elbow.  I don’t think he appreciates the length of the trip either.  Oh, it’s either condensating terribly in here, or the window is leaking rain on him, or a little of both.  Whatever it is, he is not happy.  Whew!  He is gone to another seat.  :-)
LATER:  We’ve been at a standstill in the train for 2.5 hours with 1.5 hours of moving still left to get to Poroy because of “multiple landslides that have blocked the tracks in both directions”.  Hopefully they were able to get ahold of Worldwide Exotic Adventures to notify the driver to please wait for me at the train station.  Poor guy, whoever it is, waiting for 3+ hours more than he thought before driving however far it is to Cusco with me and then getting to finally go home to his family.  Hopefully he doesn’t have a small child with him this time.

  4 Responses to “Monday. 11/10/14 MACHU PICCHU!”

  1. What an adventure !!!….Really interesting experience. Safe travels back to Cusco!!!

  2. Yay! Made it back just fine, and am enjoying my day of rest between trips. Tomorrow I leave bright and early for a tour to Several towns and then Puno, and Thursday is Lake Titicaca by boat with a night bus back to Cusco sometime in the wee hours of Friday morning. Having a great time, Beverly! But it is winding down and I will be ready to Zumba with all of you again on Monday evening the 17th. Tell them I’m coming, please! Tell them to check my journal site too! You are my first comment in days! Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and support. It’s been delightful to hear from you!

  3. Your blog brings the adventure just close enough. I have no desire to work so hard at enjoying the sight. Love that you love it though. I am even getting someone else’s blog in addition to yours and all the emails, I think. Even answered them each day so hope you do not think we are not getting and reading your communication.

  4. Thanks Beverly! So glad that you are enjoying it!


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