Greetings from Aquas Calientes. Technical, that means hot waters, but it´s also slang for fire water, aka booze....
One set back this morning. We had a pair of sisters traveling with us and one of them did not adjust well to the altitude change, so they have left us and gone back to Lima.
Odd thing about our hotel. There were no clocks in the room. It just seems strange to me, I guess I´ve gotten spoiled. Oh, and they had curry chicken for breakfast. That struck me as odd....
Left the hotel at 8 am and headed back to the town of Ollantaitambo. All we took with us is our overnight bags, our suitcases went back to Cusco. The reason for this is that we took the train from Ollantaitambo to Aguas Calientes, and there wasn´t enough space for big bags (but more on that later). We drove into town and hit a traffic jam. The streets are so narrow that only one vehicle can fit, and our bus almost went head to head with a truck coming the other way. After a few minutes of staring at each other, the driver of the truck backed down and off we went. We walked through the town and visited a local home. I always feel that I´m invading people´s privacy when doing that, but I guess these folks don´t mind and they can make some money on tips. Ollantaitambo still has the Incan architecture, with big compounds that in the old days housed a clan. The Incans were matrilineal (that´s your word for the day), and when they married, the family moved into the bride´s mother´s residence. In the home we saw a mess of guinea pigs, they were cute, but honestly, I´ve never been fond of the little rodents.
After our home visit, we walked to the Ollantaitambo ruins. It was kind of funny to me to be walking through a town with Incan houses on one side and an Internet cafe on the others. The ruins were really neat, and some of our group walked up the terraces, but I wandered around the ruins of the houses. While I was taking pictures at Ollantaitambo, a couple walked by and asked if I was from Boston, they recognized my genzyme t-shirt that I was photographing.ºº Next we got back on the bus to the train station. Train was really little, it´s a narrow gauge and single track. There were 3 cars and we had one to ourselves. It was a pretty ride, about 90 minutes, downhill most of the way next to the river and across the river from the Inca trail.
Once in Aquas Caliente we had lunch, a pretty nice buffet with an odd combination of items. There was a yummy chicken in peach sauce and also spaghetti in garlic sauce, but there was also alpaca fricasse (no, I did not eat any of that) and trout sushi.
We took a local bus up to Machu Picchu after lunch. The ride up there is hair-raising, a series of really narrow switchback curves. A couple of times we had to stop and back up for a bus going the other way. But the view was incredible with the train looking like a toy at the bottom of the mountain.
Our group photo was taken right after the entrance to Machu Picchu. Got to tell you, the view is absolutely incredible as you walk in. It is the stereotypical picture, with one of the mountains behind the ruins. After that we walked up a bit, but I knew that I was going to have problems getting down (oh, okay, I´ll admit it, I went down one of the sets of stairs on my rear end because I was too unbalanced to walk down), so I didn´t climb up very high and just found a relatively comfortable spot to perch on for a couple of hours and watched the sunlight on the mountains. I actually found the mountains more inspiring than the ruins, nature trumps man every time in my book. I did a couple of good deeds while sitting there, taking pictures of people together when they were taking them one at a time. On the way to the exit, I had a llama coming down the stairs towards me, and figured he had the right of way, but I got a couple of good pictures of him.
Hung out with a couple of other people who didn´t go all the way to the top and then we headed to the hotel (switchbacks again) and now it´s time to dress for dinner. Tomorrow we head back to Cuzco.
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