The Pilgrimage to MachuPicchu!

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South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu
October 13th 2011
Published: October 24th 2011
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sat 8

First thing we did in the morning was go into the Bamba office and have a briefing about our Machupicchu tour we had booked through them. It was with a guy called Darwin, who seemed friendly enough. We had booked our Machupicchu ticket and tour way back in England before we left and thought everything was sorted. However, we had booked student tickets and Darwin was adament that we needed an ISIC student card to go into Machupicchu, which of course we didn't have!

This meant we had to purchase Machupicchu tickets again! this time at non-student prices. Darwin said Bamba would give us back the money we had already spent on the tickets and we chose to spend it on a Zipline activity. We asked if we could use one of their computers to purchase the new Machupicchu tickets online and they got us to the right webpage. However, this seemed to be the limit of their knowledge concerning their job. Me and Hayley were astonished how completely inept the whole Bamba office was at their jobs! They didn't know how to purchase tickets online so me and Hayley had to practically guide them through the webpages that were in spanish! Then, it took 4 of them to figure out how to print the PDF ticket afterwards!!

We eventually left the Bamba office, laughing at what had just happened and i jokingly vowed never to employ a South American (a statement which i now stand by very seriously). We sat in the main Plaza de Armas and wondered where we should go for lunch. Then i spotted it...McDonald's. Hayley went skitz and we went in to have a McDonalds, halfway round the world. And yes, it was exactly the same.

After fattening up, we got a cab to Molinos Market, where there is phenominally large area of covered markets offereing everything from chargrilled Guinea pigs to stolen electronics. We bustled our way round for an hour and i picked up a cheap USB and rucksack. Hayley got a rather garish Pink poncho. Then we got the hell out of there! In the evening we just chilled out and watched some films.

Sun 9

Nothing. I'm sure you are asking "how the hell can you do absolutely nothing all day? you must have done SOMETHING!? No, we did nothing except sleep, eat and sit around on facebook. Watched a bit of the NFL, but that was was wonderful.

mon 10

This was the day our 4 day Machupicchu tour was was starting and we were supposed to be picked up at 7am. We waited patiently by the reception for our guide to pop in and pick us up...but by 8.30am they were still nowhere in sight!! Then we decided to take matters into our own hands and got the receptionist to call the mobile number Darwin had given us. When the receptionist got through, her face looked concerned and she tld us they were coming for us in 15 mins. We both thought it looked suspiciously like Bamba had forgotten us.

15 mins later we were picked up by 2 blokes in a white car. We were rushed off for about 15 mins and dropped off next to a minivan piled high in bikes. We were greeted by the guide and jumped in and got aquainted with our group. We immediately got on with three brits called Anna, Owen and Rob and soon forgot about the fuck up that morning. We drove for about 1.5 hours to the highest point of the road, where we were due to start our downhill biking. It was at this point that the guide said that he was sorry but this was in fact not our group! and as a result he had no safety equipment for us to do the Biking. He did have 2 spare bikes for us though and we said fuck it, we'll do the biking anyways. It was hammering it down with rain and as soon as we built up any speed the windchill completely froze our hands off. Plus, we were on our own because the rest of the group had dissapeared 20 mins previously whilst we had been trying to figure out what the fuck was going on with our group. After 15 mins, we threw in the towel and jumped back in the van and were driven down the road instead. An hour down the road we pulled into a layby and were told to change vans! We asked why and we were told that this new van was in fact our group! We were livid. No one was telling us anything about what was going on, we were wet, cold and being blindly sheparded about by blokes who spoke no english whatsoever. We sat in the new van fuming until we reached the town of Santa Maria, where we were due to stay the night. As soon as we got there we tried to call Darwin's number again, but it had been written on my hand and it had been washed off! We eventually tracked down the number, called Darwin and asked for an explanation. Darwin played dumb and tried to blame everything on other people. I lost my temper and growled at him down the phone that we wanted to be with our first group (with Anna, Owen and Rob). He assured me he would see what he could do and promised to call back 10 mins later...and then he never called back. Instead we spent the rest of the evening with our new group who must have had a pretty bad first impression of both of us sitting there fuming.

That night we spent the night in the hostel and tried to get some sleep but it was difficult because it was right next to the only road in town and also doubled as a petrol station.

Tue 11

Early wakeup at 6am and all of the group piled onto a pickup truck. We were driven for about 10mins to the start of the hiking trail. We were glad of the drive because it meant we missed what would have been a 2 hour walk from the hostel to the start of the trail. We set off up a steep hill and immediately me and Hazza fell to the back. It appeared that our entire group were all extremely fit and were setting a fierce pace!

We had been told that this day of the tour involved 8 hours of hiking but we were glad to find out that the 8hours included rest...and believe me there were plenty of rests!!

We stopped off at a little shack in the jungle for lunch, which was soup and pasta. One thing the Peruvians have down to a tee is their soups. They are really simple and contain just a few herbs and stock but they are delicious! After lunch we set off again and let the rest of the group plough on in front, while we took our time and exchanged our first impressions of the group. After a few hours we arrived at the hot springs. We hopped into the naturally warmed pool, making sure we avoided the pool with all the kids in (which was suspiciously slightly warmer than the rest of the pools...hmmmmm).

After an hour we dragged our shrivelled bodies out and then set off for another hour of walking to the town of Santa Teresa where we were to spend the night. After an ice cold shower we met up with the group for dinner in a little restaurant. They were showing the football game between Peru and Chile. Peru got dicked 4-1 or something. After dinner we headed into town because we had been told that there was a festival for the local saint. We didn't really know what to expect and were suprised when we saw a stage with a live band on and copious amount of locals who were all phenomenally pissed. One old lady who looked to be in her 70's was flailing her arms around wildly and her friends had to keep a distance in case they got caught by one of her haymakers! Then, inevitably, the locals spotted us tourists and ran over to get us to dance. In these situations you have two choices...both are awkward. The first is to fully embrace it and go dance your heart out (this is usually the choice after a few beers), alternativaly you can flatly refuse and stand there like a lemon. I chose to dance with the crazy 70 year old and ended up improvising with my own style of linedancing. Hayley refused and her and the two kiwi girls in our group devised cunning ploys to avoid potential Peruvian suitors looking for a dance. One of these ploys was to hide behind me....very cunning.

However, after an hour of relentless effort by a very drunk middle aged peruvian man the girls sucumbed and he got his dance. The girls spent the majority of the dance with their eyes tightly shut...probably tring to imagine it was George Clooney or something.

We headed to bed after a couple of hours at the festival because we had an early start the next day.

Wed 12

In the morning we hopped in a different minibus to the rest of the group because we were doing Zipling today! Upon arriving at the Ziplining palce we hopped in our safety equipment and hiked 30 mins up the side of the valley to the first zipline. All together there was 6 ziplines across the same valley and there was over 2500km of line to zip! I went first on the first zipline and as soon as the ground dropped away from me and i was hurtling over the valley at a serious height i thought to myself "Hayley is going to shit herself". I hopped off at the other end and got my camera ready to film Hayley coming in behind me. I was surpised to hear no screaming and as Hayley came in i stopped filming. What a mistake! because just after that Hayley applied the brakes too soon and ended up coming to a stop with another 20 feet left to go the platform. The bloke then told her to pull herself onto the platform, but she could't get herself in the right position and in the end the instructor came out and dragged her was one of the funniest things i have seen in my life.

After the first zipline Hazza was fine and by the 6th zipline had it down to a tee. After the ziplining Hayley bought a t-shirt (couldn't help herself) and we were driven to a hydroelectric plant and had to walk to meet the rest of the group. The walk was quite pleasant and followed a train track the entire way. I felt like one of the railway children and tested myself to see how long i could walk and balance on the rails. We met the rest of the group and sat down for lunch. We had some new people in our group, including two Americans with their great accents and unfaltering enthusiam for absolutely anything. At point one of the yanks exclaimed to a british girl that the reason she didn't undertand his joke was because she didn't understand irony or sarcasm....Me and Hayley exchanged looks of shock but decided to spare the poor ignorent soul and not teach/beat it into him that it was in fact the British that invented both terms and are unchallenged in their ability to use both at comically opportune moments. Idiot.

After lunch we set off again with the rest of the group for another 1.5 hours walk to Aguas Calientes, where were spending the night before we embarked on our final hike to Machupicchu. After checking into the hostel we found an internet cafe and wrote a long complaint letter to the CEO of Bamba (no point messing around with skivvy's, go straight to the top!). After the email we felt a little lighter (i think the email had a cathartic effect) and we headed to dinner with the group. After dinner we got to try our first Pisco Sour! It is a cocktail made up of Pisco liqour, egg white, lime juice and some toehr stuff. Bloody lovely. After one we decided to get another because it was happy hour. Happy hour was advertised as 3 for 1. but when we ordered 3 they charged us 15 soles! We couldn't understand that if one Pisco had cost us 7 was it now costing 15? He said because each Pisco during happy hour was 5 soles... He couldn't grasp the idea of what 3 for 1 really means...Peruvian logic is obviously much the same as Bolivian logic...backwards.

Thurs 13

4am wakeup and we set off walking the final leg of our trip to Machupicchu in the dark. The final hike involved walking up stairs...absolutely shitloads of stairs! We took our time and let the motivators storm up ahead. It took an hour and we reached Machupicchu at 6 ish. We walked around Machupicchu for 2 hours with our guide Amoroso (i called him Alfonso...because it's a better name) who spoke about the history of Machupicchu. After the tour we had some lunch and then went to conquer Waynapicchu. Waynapicchu is a steep shard of rock next to Machupicchu that is an extra 200 odd vertical meters higher. We set off up the countless steps that would take us to the top. It took us an hour and some parts of the route were precariously steep and without rails to hold onto. There was also a passage that you had to climb through which i could barely fit through, but we made it to the top and the views were AMAZING!! As we stood there at the top admiring the views we were suddenly left rather perplexed after noticing a bloke sitting with his legs over the edge...vigorously brushing his teeth!! We simply couldn't understand it!

After 15 mins at the top we started making our way down because we spotted some looming rainclouds and didn't want to make the descent down wet slippery steps. by the time we reached the bottom our legs were like jelly and it was a challenge just putting one foot in front of the other! We worked out roughly that during the course of the day we estimated we had climbed around 3,500 steps! I got a triumphant photo of Hayley in front of her conquered mountain with her improvised trophy (an inca cola bottle) we left Machupicchu. We decided to get a bus back down to Aguas Calientes the bottom because the thought of more steps sent our legs into spasms!

Once down we chilled out for a couple of hours waiting for our train that was going to take us back to a town where we would change onto a bus that would take us the rest of the way back to Cusco. We had been assured that the bus would be a tourist bus and would not be picking up any other passengers or make any other stops apart from Cusco. However, the driver had other ideas and we made two stops and picked up an additional three Peruvian passengers. We were too tired to even care and as soon as we got back to Cusco we hit the sack and slept until late the next morning.


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