Last Leg #3: Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, Lima - PERU

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May 22nd 2008
Published: May 25th 2008
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This last leg was a doozy! By that, I mean we´re completely pooped. I´m sitting at the internet cafe in the Lima Airport right now waiting to catch my flight back to BA at midnight. We´ve seen 4 cities in about 6 days and we´re sleep deprived and burnt out on touristic tours to prove it!

We flew into Cuczo on the 17th and spent the night there at this huge hostel called Loki Backpackers that housed around 200 people! The down side was the hostel set on top of the hill above the city (yet again) and hiking up to it every time was a chore since the altitud is so high, it really affects you! But luckily the locals found a natural cure a long time ago - chewing coca leaves or which now they´ve also luckily for us modernized into the form of a cough drop candy or a tea that one can drink. We met a couple there who was also headed to Machu Pichu, the famous Inca ruins which are also one of the 7 Wonders of the World, on the same train the next day, the guy - Camillo - was from Canada, and the girl - Sky - was from Florida. We ate dinner in the hostel that night since our train left so early the next morning (6:30am, but we had to be there at 6!). The 4 hour train ride was a bit unconfortable and too long for my taste, but it´s the only way too and from Cuczo to Aguas Calientes, the town close to Machu Picchu where everyone who is on their way to see Machu Picchu has to pass through. Since we arrived so early in the day we decided to visit the local hot springs above the city, which was fun even though the water was a tad dirty looking and not as hot and not as natural of a facility as we thought it would be. Then we went out to dinner with Camillo and Sky and went to bed early again as our bus to Machu Picchu left the next morning at 5:30am (having to be there at 5 to get on the first bus!). When we first arrived it was still cloudly and a bit cold and dark seeing as how sunrise was not until 6:30/7am. But we hiked up to the most popular look out point - the Guardhouse, where one can see Machu Picchu from above in all of it´s magnificence. While waiting for the sun to come out we went down and looked at some of the ruins a bit closer and once the sun started to rise hiked back up to take the classic Machu Picchu photo. After taking several photos we went back down and proceeded through the ruins to the other side in order to hike up Waynu Picchu, the mountain overlooking the ruins. They only let 400 people per day hike up since the tourism is causing the ruins on the top of the mountain to errode. We were numbers 92 and 93! It took us about 1 hr. and 10 min. to hike up the switchbacks and just straight up steep paths to the top. But the view from the top was worth all the huffing and puffing! We had a little snack at the top, enjoyed the view, met some people from Oregon, took some really good photos, and then proceeded to hike back down. A task that was not as easy as we thought it would be at first since you have to side
Plaza in Aguas CalientesPlaza in Aguas CalientesPlaza in Aguas Calientes

main square in town below machu picchu
step or go down backwards a set of very narrow steps from the Inca times for the 1st part of the trail. But once we conquered that it was pretty easy going from there, and we made it down in about 35 minutes. By then it was really crowded in the park and really hot! But we went through the other side of the ruins seeing many specific sites on our way out and finsihed up around 12pm. All in all we spent 5 hrs there, and it was truly awe inspiring to see what the Incas had accomplished building their citadel city on top of the mountain and the fact that it is still so well preserved today. We caught the train back to Cuczo that evening and from there a night bus to Puno the city on Lake Titicaca.

We arrived in Puno that morning at 5am and luckily had booked a hostel with a nice lady named Juilana who was very hospitable making us banana pancakes the next morning and were able to crawl right into a warm bed with 5 blankets on top, since it was blistering cold, since Lake Titicaca is one of the
Woman Wearing Traditional Peruvian  OutfitWoman Wearing Traditional Peruvian  OutfitWoman Wearing Traditional Peruvian Outfit

complete with top hat and multicolored sling pack that's usually twice the size and weight of the the woman
highest lakes in the world, twice as high at Machu Picchu which is around 6,000ft high. Later that day we were able to take a tour of the Floating Islands of the Urca Tribe on Lake Titicaca. The islands are made of the pentiful reeds that grow on the lake and the Urca lay down fresh reeds on top every day to replace the rotting ones below the water. Everything they make is made of these reeds from their houses, chairs, beds, tables, boats, and even the restaurants we ate at. You can also spend the night on one of the floating islands in little tee pees made of the reeds. Whats really cool is the bouncy or squishy sensation you feel when walking around, like walking on bails of hay! It was really interesting to meet and talk with the local people and also discover that our boat driver was one of the last people of his race on Lake Titicaca distinguisable by his large hands and frame, twice if not 3 times the size of any normal man´s hands!

Later that night we caught a bus to Arequipa which is deemed the ¨White City¨since many of its
Relilgious ParadeRelilgious ParadeRelilgious Parade

Passed while we were eating dinner the night before going to see Machu Picchu.
historical buildings are made from the volcanic rock of the three volcanos that overlook the city. We were hoping to visit Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons on earth, deeper and larger than the Grand Canyon, but the guide book as well as people we talked to didn´t tell us the canyon was a 5hrs. journey from the city and tour agencies usually only offered two or three day excursions, not a short day trip to look down into it and come back. So instead we ate lunch at a very nice restaurant that served tipical Peruvian food. I decided to go all out and order two traditional foods - a pork chop called Adobo and a vinegar based potato salad called Escribano along with their papaya ice cream for dessert. Afterwards we took a yellow tour bus tour of the city and surrounding country which was infromational, but by the end we were burnt out and ready for bed. Especially since Victoria had gotten bitten by some bad misquitos in Aguas Calientes whcih had become infected and swollen her feet two times their normal size causing her much pain and she wasn´t able to walk very well. But
Aguas CalientesAguas CalientesAguas Calientes

Hot Springs we visited.
luckily we found an English speaking doctor who knew exactly what it was and had the shot and antibiotics to cure it up overnight and all for only $50USD!

We flew back to Lima yesterday and since we were burnt out on tourist stuff decided to kill our all day layover by going to the local underground mall in Miraflores overlooking the beach to watch a movie in the theater there. We discovered that not only did the mall have a movie theater, but also it had a bowling alley! Who knew?!?! So we played a couple of games of bowling, which I can proudly say I won both rounds, since Victoria wasn´t much of a bowler in her childhood. Then we had lunch at the food court and afterwards watched the new Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian movie, which was really good! It felt like we weren´t even in Peru today. Especially since we are planning on having Papa John´s pizza for dinner in the airport.

It has been a great two weeks but I am ready to come home! We have a couple more days in Buenos Aires and then ít´s back home and back to Charleston for the summer. I have an internship at Lowcountry AIDS Services teaching sexual health education to the Spanish population in Charleston IN SPANISH! So I will get to keep practicing my Spanish while also persuing one of my passions in the health field - promotion, prevention, and education which are the best ways to remain healthy.

Anyways, THANK YOU ALL for reading my blog this semester, I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed doing it to remember my trip!

Until next time! GRACIAS Y HASTA LUEGO! Caleb

Additional photos below
Photos: 76, Displayed: 27


Main Gate to the CityMain Gate to the City
Main Gate to the City

of Machu Picchu
Observatory HillObservatory Hill
Observatory Hill

before sunrise.
Machu Picchu's left sideMachu Picchu's left side
Machu Picchu's left side

still before sunrise.
Ceremonial RoomCeremonial Room
Ceremonial Room

sun starting to come up/out from behind the clouds
Mahch PicchuMahch Picchu
Mahch Picchu

sunrise. the classic machu picchu picture looking down from the top of the guardhouse
Me with Machu PicchuMe with Machu Picchu
Me with Machu Picchu

A city in the clouds
Machu Picchu From AboveMachu Picchu From Above
Machu Picchu From Above

You can see the famed agricultural layers/levels.
Tres VentanasTres Ventanas
Tres Ventanas

Three Windows Room. See the way the sunlight comes through.

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