I woke every hour paranoid about the time and eventually showered up at 3am and found a cab to the train station 3 hours before they opened.
At this point I was in the full grips of the flu. I just waned to get on the train and sleep. The fact that I worked midnights back home had allowed me to function at random hours on minimal sleep but I was reaching my breaking point.
Here is a picture of your typical jackass with an expensive camera, who doesn’t have a clue what he is doing
I arrived in Aguas Calientes and searched for an hour looking for “Hostel Joe”. Again in a town of 4 hotels and 2 streets, no one seemed to know where it was. I eventually stumbled upon it and slept for the next 20 hours.
I woke and gathered my gear to board the line of buses set to drag the tourists up to MP
Some people were actually hiking up the hill, which was an impressive straight up hike, but with my lingering sickness I opted for the switchback road.I should also mention that there is also the option of a 4-5 day hike along the Inca Trail, but I did not want to spend 5 days in the jungle when I could be exploring the country instead.
Reaching the top, I was still nervous until I actually got through the entrance gate. I finally knew that nothing else was going to go wrong and I had finally made it.
Because of my SNAFU the day before I did not have my original tickets which allowed me the hike up the mountain behind MP, Wayna Picchu. So I had to settle for the taller mountain in front of MP, Cerro Machu Picchu.
As I began the hike I talked to a guard at a checkpoint who told me only about 25 of the 2000 people that visit MP each day actually make it to the top of Cerro MP. He also charged my S10, which I later found out was a scam as it did not cost anything to climb this peak.
I met a paramedic from Canada along the hike. He was barely making it. He made me look awesome, so I decided to stay with him. He was a few years older and an avid smoker. He had to stop every 10 ft to my 20. eventually I pressed on to reach the top.
I really was not in a hurry as I had 8 hours to spend at the ruins and fog was everywhere, meaning I would be waiting for the sun to burn through before I could get a bird’s eye view of MP.
I reached the top and there were a few people up there shivering in the cold
A German girl, asked if she could take my picture so I stood on the edge as seen below
It was only after standing there for 1 minute like a jackass did she ask for my camera to take the picture. For some reason I thought she was so impressed by me that she wanted to take a picture of me with her camera.
All the people waited for about 20 minutes and then left. I could not believe that people would climb for an hour and then split as soon as they realized they could not see anything yet. I waited for 2 hours up there and was rewarded with some incredible views
I eventually headed down knowing full well that I was going to hate the next part of the experience. By the time I got down there the place was crawling with tourists.
I tried to get some shots without them but that proved impossible. I did get a few of the classic MP shots, one with me in it to prove my presence to the doubters
These are a couple shots of the place called the “3 windows” a place believed to be a clue to the origins of this mountain city.
This rock is Intihuatana. It was used to predict the Solstices, the center of the Incan culture.
Here are a few more random shots
Here is the switchback road that our buses climbed. The hiking trail bisected it and although it does not look that steep, it most definitely was.
Here is a stone carved into a condor head, marking the entrance to the prison area.
Here is a look at the amazing plumbing system used by the Incas
Similar to the Romans, they use subtle gradient changes to bring fresh running water to all the houses at MP.
Before leaving MP, I sat for an hour trying to imagine the people who lived here back in the 1500s. It was difficult with all the tourists. Throughout the trip I saw natives living on the outskirts of towns, breaking their backs all day to put meager amounts food on the table. I always believed that people in years past had a simpler better life, but the natives did not seem to be happy or relaxed. Few actually smiled. I thought, maybe what I was looking at with MP, was the easy life I sought. Working a few hours a day cultivating crops on the hillside, spending the evenings under the stars drinking and telling stories. But maybe this is just another example of the illness documented in a recent Woddy Allen movie, Midnight in Paris, where one believes that living in times of yore would be better than the present.
I boarded a bus back to Aguas Calientes and killed some time before my train headed back to Cusco
Below is a cool picture I saw. I had never noticed this, but apparently turning MP on its side reveals the outline of a man’s face
I boarded the train back to Cusco. This was an upgrade from the train I took to Aguas Calientes, but a step down from the $2K luxury liner named after the founder of Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham
It was complete with ritual dances and fashion shows
While sitting on the train I thought about the controversy surrounding MP’s discoverer, Hiram Bingham. It was actually the 100th anniversary of the event. Locals do not want to admit it was discovered, because they knew it was there all along. A similar case to Columbus “discovering” America. At first I agreed with the locals, but I began to think that Bingham was indeed the one who discovered it, because the definition of the word in my mind means revealing it to the general public. And with that revelation began a landslide of tourism and explorers. Peru has reaped billions from MP and without it being discovered it may have remained buried or even destroyed. The good with the bad I guess, as throngs of tourists mucking up the site, turning it into a tourist trap is not ideal either.
Again I found the bed early as I had to catch my flight back to Lima in the morning.
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