On the train
getting served munchies and drinks.
On my return from Puno I managed to get some sort of flu bug. The result being that I totally lost my voice and nearly a week later it still isn't right. I can only imagine how ticked off you all are that this didn't happen while I was at work and at home LOL! I did need the doctor though for antibiotics and a puffa so I would stop coughing all night, but nothing
was going to stop me from doing Machu Picchu. He actually said that it would be a better environment up there rather than Cusco because of its dry air and pollution. I had to take a couple of days off work which was a bit annoying, but it allowed me to figure out some things that I could put together to help the day care centre, which I have just learned, only started up in March this year. I will post more on the work I have been doing here in my next blog, but right now I want to talk about Magical Machu Picchu!
I was picked up Sunday morning and put in a car with a lovely couple from Florida. We had an
View from the train
the start of the uphill journey.
hour and a half to kill getting to Ollantaytambo where we would then board the train for the village of Aguas Calientes which is at the base of Machu Picchu. The train ride was amazing and I never expected the scenery to turn into jungle! I expected it to be cold and mountainous but it was mild and full of vegetation. The train had windows up on the roof so you could see the grandeur of the mountains while you were being served drinks and nibbles. I was allocated a seat next to a gentleman from Chile, an American from Dallas and a guide from Peru. The conversation was a mixture of Spanish and English which was quite challenging for the journey. While I have been continuing my Spanish lessons I still find it very, very difficult to understand sentences and even put them together. I do have another 2 months to practise but Vanessa, you'll be getting a call !!!
Arriving at Aquas Calientes was delightful. A gorgeous little town that is full of restaurants, markets, pubs and a generally great vibe. Could have stayed there for a week but as it was only for the night, I
The window in the room
able to capture the enormity of these mountains.
was met by the delightful Linda who strolled me through the streets to my hostel at the top end of town, next to the hot springs. Bozena and Mike were off to their hostel and we weren't sure if we would meet up again or not. I checked out the digs and felt really comfortable with the sound of the river running coming in from the bathroom window. Then decided to go for a stroll and see what there was to see before it got too dark - it was around 2.00 pm. Every restaurant wanted you to go in and they all looked good but I was more interested in what the place had to offer. As it was mother's day, I was feeling a little nostalgic so wandered into the church which was really pretty but no photos unfortunately. Then wandered through the plaza to the markets where I met a lovely lady who was also by herself for mother's day as she had to work the market stall. Her husband had taken the 3 children to see his mother, so to help her get through the afternoon, a few of the other ladies were helping share bottles
enjoying the street life.
of beer. We struck up a conversation and the next thing I knew I was enjoying a mother's day beer with her as well. Needless to say, I bought something from her stall (gorgeous earrings that have real butterfly wings as the background, plus photo album which I really did need). She also said that there was a Feliz dias mammas festival on in the local soccer ground and made me promise to go and see her there. By now I was getting pretty hungry so stopped at a restaurant to get a pizza, beer and wifi fix. Really good and as I was making my way back to the hostel, stopped to chat to Carlos who was one of the first guys to try and get me into his restaurant near the hostel. He was very funny in telling me that I had been ripped off in the purchase of my album, but while there Bozena just happened to see me talking and we caught up. Unfortunately Mike was not well but nothing that was too concerning, so we girls decided to go for another wander. Bozena met my friend at the market, enjoyed a beer and also bought
a festival for all to enjoy!
something. We then made plans to meet again and check out the festival. What a great night! The band was playing salsa, the kids were kicking footballs, the ladies were dancing and the men were drinking...and we were the only blonde hair, blue eyed, gringos in the place! No matter - we enjoyed the atmosphere, the music and then left in time for orientation with our guides. That sorted and Mike still not well, we went off in search of our meal which ended up being in a restaurant overlooking the street while eating delicious grilled trout. Even though the beer and sangria were very good, we had plans to meet at 5.20am in order to be at Machu Picchu for the sunrise, so at 11.00pm we headed to our beds. The alarm went off way too early, but I was so excited to be on my way to this wonder of the world that it didn't take long to enjoy the best shower I've had in a month, grab a bread roll and wander with Mike (who was all good now) and Bozena to catch the bus up the switchback road.
I don't think there are any words
to describe this place, especially when the mist is rolling in and out, teasing you with a view that isn't complete and then all of a sudden lifting to show you the majesty that is Machu Picchu. I can only say that it felt surreal, like I was looking at a postcard. Much the same Jane, Ryan & Kal as when we were at the Grand Canyon and you just can't wrap your brain around the fact that you are standing on the edge of such a vast spectacle.
We wandered around for about an hour then it was time for tours to be joined. Ours were at different times, so I went walking, thinking I might finish a trail before my tour began. Not meant to be but, I found myself in a secluded path listening to the noise of the birds while looking across to the most enormous mountains. Awesome. I then began the walk with the tour group and it was 3 hours of climbing up and down treacherous paths. I couldn't believe how many older and I mean 60+
people were wandering around with walking sticks. It is very hard going just to breathe let
alone balance! The information was great and the views to die for and once finished we were left to wander wherever we wanted to. I decided to go the Inca Bridge trail which was fantastic. I had limited time as I still needed to catch the bus down to the township for my train - which I thought left at 2.00p.m. I raced to get to the station but only to discover that I had an hour to kill as it didn't leave until 2.30pm (you do have to get there 30 mins beforehand though). Was a good opportunity to sit and catch my breath especially as I had just taken a spill in the market place! I had not tied my laces all the way up the hooks of my hiking boots and as a result, one of the laces caught on the other boot's hook as I was marching with my suitcase and backpack. Down I went!!! but without too much damage except to my pride. The bruises have come out and look pretty impressive, but the stall holders were very thoughtful and made sure I didn't get up too quickly. The funniest aspect to this little episode
is that I had a bottle of beer in my backpack that we had bought at the festival and meant to drink at sunrise. Sounded like a good idea at the time and Bozena bought it along, however after dragging it around for an hour she kindly put it in my bag. I forgot all about it until I was sitting waiting for the train and realised that I hadn't smashed it!!! I am now planning on drinking it with Patricia and Totti on my last night when we eat all things Peruvian and then go off to Salsa for the last time in Peru.
The train trip back was uneventful and then there was a long drive back to Cusco. I wandered through the Plaza de Amas, caught my taxi home to a delicious dinner and tumbled into bed at 9.30pm.
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