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July 18th 2011
Published: July 19th 2011
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At the very last minute I decided to join Anna and Julia on a four day trek to Machu Picchu. I believe this was the most beautiful opportunity I have ever taken, and a story that I will forever have to share! They say that when you are traveling, at one point you step out of the zone and begin tampering with opportunities you would normally turn down. This trek is by far one of them!

We began the trek Wednesday morning and met the rest of our group. The group consisted of four boys from Ireland (all teachers) and our guide Jimmy John "JJ". This was the perfect group because the boys were surprisingly well behaved and we all got a long really well (I have to admit its very pleasant listening to Irish accents for four days!). JJ was quite the flirt with the chicas but it was all fun and games! The first day of the trek we drove about two hours past the sacred town of Ollantaytambo and reached the top of a mountain. From this mountain we needed to bike all the way down. This was the part where I took a 180 degree turn, sucked it up and flew with the wind. Anna and Julia didn{t ride down the mountain (they never rode bikes before) so they drove in a van with JJ right behind us in case any accidents happened. I went pretty slow in the beginning, as anyone whose driven up or down a mountain knows, theres several sharp turns, narrow roads and two way traffic. After the first break I was grew comfortable with the ride and was able to finally enjoy my surroundings. The views were impeccable, we were surrounded by mountains and the air smelled of campfire. After we made it to the bottom we hopped in the van and drove 30 minutes to our first destination called Santa Maria where we ate and slept.

The next few days were treking treking and more treking. We typically started around 7. The first trek was about 8 hours. The first half we climbed up a mountain and the second half we climbed down. It is impossible explain the intensity of this hike, although we took several breaks it got harder and harder. I have to note though that at one point we stopped to visit Martin the Monkey, who stole my water bottle and drank it the little shit, but this situation restored our spirits. JJ also let us rest in hammocks for a few minutes, but resting is hardly what we did. There was a little boy who was close to two that was WAY more aggressive than the monkey. He ran around trying to literally bite us and gave Anna a few passionate hits. For a moment we considered the diagnosis of rabies. By the last 2 hours of the trek we were basically numb so distance and time meant nothing to us. This part was easier to enjoy because we were no longer climbing up, instead we were walking along a river guarded by mountains. Finally we came across a point to cross the river. This was quite an unusual crossing because we each had to sit in a box connected to a cable where the guy on the other side pulled us in. On the other side of the river was a natural hot spring which was like finding gold. It seriously felt like we were running through heavens doors as we were able to throw on our swim suits, grab a beer and relax our muscles in the hot springs ahhhhhhhhhhh! That night we stayed in Santa Teresa with other groups, we even made it to the local discoteca which wasnt too shabby for the small town we were in.

The next day we got a later start because the boys went ziplining, Anna Julia and I stayed at the base and rested again in hammocks, we were also highly entertained by the baby sheep (which were being guarded by a german shepard... soo adorable) Following the boys return we began trekking along the rail roads. This was my favorite trek because at this point we were walking through a small version of the jungle overlooking the river and mountains. We finally made it to the town called Aguas Calientes which is the base of Machu Picchu. This town actually reminded me of a small little ski resort due to the design. We had our final dinner together and before crashing we went to the main square where there was a major celebration. There were locals dressed in vibrant garments and music playing. The best part was that in the very center and man was holding a long stick with fireworks on top, as he lit it the fireworks would spin and create the image of rain crashing down, all the little kids would run around the casading lights, it was SO FUN to watch! We then went the hostel and crashed because we needed to be up by 4:30am.

The day FINALLY came for Machu Picchu, although exhausted I could hardly wait to get there. Machu Picchu is known as the Lost City of the Incas (built in 1450) and is about 2,430 metres above sea level, it is located on the edge of a mountain above Urubamba Valley. This year is actually the 100 year aniversary of the discovery.

We arrived to the gates at about 6:15am were we needed to meet JJ. JJ was very late which was complete torture. A little after 7 he finally made it and we began touring with him. I was taken to a new world the minute I saw Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is full of mystery, of course its beautiful but its much more than that. Beautyl is what you think when coming across a waterfall, but Machu Picchu executes power, structure, brilliance and art. I could only imagine what life was like there with society creating and maintaining life. JJ told us that there were only about 500 inhabitants inside Machu Picchu, which is incredible considering how large the site was. The structures of the building were unbelieveable as well, for example they built each wall at a five degree angle to ensure building stability. There was a lot of dedication to the layout of the building as well, for the more important structures they would chisel each block to perfection which still have managed to remain in tact today. Every placement of each stone was carefully placed with logic and meaning, Machu Picchu contained several functions such as houses, temples, sun dials and resting areas for individuals passing through. It is too hard to fathom how this specific civilization was able to create such a mystical structure from their own hands, around mathematical and astronomical strategies. I wish I had the words to describe this adventure but it honestly was an out of body experience. Pictures definitely can not justify Machu Picchu. To even begin discerning the creation and life of this wonder, you must experience it yourself because it takes the combination of physical and emotional devotion.

Leaving Machu Picchu was really difficult, this has been a journery I have been wanting to do for an exceptional amount of time. Everything has to come to an end, and I am really getting a harsh reality with how quickly experiences come and go. I am finding that new adventures are starting before I am capable of letting go of the present one. This trek was the most challenging thing I have ever done, I completely overstepped my boundaries and was forced to repeatedly test my abilities, nontheless I would do it again without hesitation! Machu Picchu along with the entire trek is going to be a product of countinuous reflection for the rest of my life. I have unexplainable memories, images, smells and feelings that simply can not be translated onto paper. This journey will forever remain a part of me, as it could never compare to anything else in this world.

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19th July 2011

you have no idea how jealous i am of you! i'm so happy you're having such a great time.

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