Peru part 4: Macchu Piccu.
We got up early for our trip to Machu Piccu. We waited in the cold for a half an hour or so by the Iglesia de San Blas (San Blas Church) to get picked up. When we finally get picked up we start to get to know our tour group. Our fearless leader and guide: Justino. What seem like a couple of 30 something lesbians from St. Louis, one is ex military and spent a time working in Antarctica, there is a gaggle of four Asians (sorry C I stil have trouble telling folks apart) from LA there’s a freckled one, one who carries around a gigantic camera, and two whom I could not tell apart if my life depended on it, rounding out our group is Justin a muscle-head from Venice Beach working in advertising and is eager to pose for photos with his shirt off. Justin was interesting… normally I hate dudes like this, but this guy had a ease about him, nonjudgmental, and funny as shit, I begrudgingly had to admit I liked the guy in spite of myself.
On the trip to the train station Justin talked about getting sick repeatedly cause of the bad food in Peru, which both Rachel and myself found humorous considering how well we hd been eating. We got to the train station and had to wait a while… so I asked Justino, our guide, what was up with the rainbow flag. He told me it was just the official flag for Cuszco and it had fertility significance. The conversation turned to homosexuality in general and his theory (Not sure if this was just Justino or if it is a common belief in Peru) was interesting. He said there weren’t so many gays in Peru four five years back, but then Peru got the cell phones and other up to the minute technological do-hickkeys. So the technology makes the gays. I’m guessing this theory wouldn’t hold up to scientific study, but it is an interesting bit of logic.
The Train to Machu Piccu was fairly uneventful as the Asian girls spent most of their time taking pictures of a gummy bear in various paper made clothing and vehicles. We got off the train @ km 106 of the Inca Trail, our original disembarking location was meant to be km 104, but due to a fire plans got changed. The hike was rigorous. From 104 the path meanders up to the Inca trail proper, from km 106 the path to the Inka trail is straight up a bunch of switchbacks. It was a beautiful view but also it kicked the shit out of me. I’m happy to say I wasn’t the last to make it but I was far from the first.
When we got to our destination a sort of clubhouse on the side of the mountain I was soaked clear through. I couldn’t help but got bare-chested I was so soaked through. I figured I’d earned a cigarette. And all the ladies out there will be happy to know that Rachel got this damn sexy picture of me.
Before lunch we caught a farming ruins that was fairly impressive. The most interesting bit was how the Inca farmer would slowly move crops up the steps preparing the plant for colder and colder climates. They used essentially used natural selection on the plants breeding plants that were more and more capable to grow in colder temperatures.
Lunch was a little scary… I think I was the only person in the tour group to clean my plate. Then it’s off to the sun gate and Machu Piccu. We had like a two-hour walk to the Sun gate which was much less difficult than the hike up the side of the mountain. Rachel and I took it easy and found ourselves at the back of the tour group where our second guide “eddie” walked way to close to us with a walking stick…. Annoyingly going click, click, click at my feet. Rachel was walking behind me so eventually I just let her get in front of me and I walked especially slow to give her some separation.
The Sun Gate gave a beautiful view of Machu Piccu, but the sun was not in the right spot for a good picture. The walk down to the bus gives more views, it’s all pretty awesome. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
We spent the night in Aguas Calientes a beautiful and romantic little tourist town at the foot of Macchu Piccu. We wandered the streets as much as our very tired feet and legs could take us, and enjoyed the nightlife as well as these two adorable dogs fighting.
We had to get up early to go to the city proper of Machu Piccu. Again it’s just so stunning. Here are some pictures.
Machu Picchu in the morning
After wandering the site for three hours or so we headed back into town for lunch. Rachel was unimpressed with the group diner the night before so we went out for lunch. Most of the restaurants in Aguas Calientes (or anywhere else in Peru for that matter) have someone out front with menus begging you to come it (it’s off putting). We stopped at the one place that didn’t have that person hounding you in the street. We ordered and then we found out why this particular restaurant didn’t have one, they had a parrot. “Hola” “Hola” the bird says “Comida Bien!” “Tomas bebitas!” It was adorable. Close to the end of the meal it fell off it’s perch and cam scrambling on the ground, the waitress tried to pick it up but the parrot was having none of that. After scampering up a chair and getting onto our table the Parrot finally got what it wanted all along… Rachel’s Pizza.
After saying bye to the group we headed off to our fancy train… “The Vistadome.” At first we were none to impressed the car we got in was stuffy and it just had these glass windows. The menu seemed spectacular (garlic and herb bread sticks, pork tenderloin and farmer cheese sandwich, mini banana cheesecake) but when they brought us our food it was teenny tiny portions of bad food. The disappointment grew the views were nice, but the entertainment… the entertainment was the most surreal experience of the trip. A guy came out wearing a ski mask, some traditional clothes, a rectangle hat and began touching people with a sheep puppet. He did that Russian dance where he kicks up one foot after another with folded arms. Then there was a fashion show where the two attendants the steward and stewardess changed into different articles of clothing and walked up and down the isle while the riders clapped. Rachel and I just about completely lost it, I remember turning to Rachel and asking through tears of laughter “why are we clapping”… through the same tears of hysterical laughter Rachel responds “I have no Idea”.
When it got dark they turned off all the lights so you could see the stars above you trough the ceiling windows. The experience of the Vistadome was well worth the extra 30 or 40 bucks we paid. So if you go, go in style.
Why are we clapping?
When we got back to Cuzco it was fast and furious taking a bus to hotel to pick up are bags, then to another van, then to the bus stop. We sat on the front row of a double-decker fancy bus and watched a movie about a boy and his cheetah (Duma). The ride was fun but scary, luckily I had one Xanax left over to help me get through the terror of driving through mountains on a bus going 45 mph. We also become very aware that we both have colds by the time we hit the bus and tissue becomes one of our top ten concerns.
Next Stop Arequipa.