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Published: July 30th 2017
THE WAY TO THE SUN GATE
Take a left up those stairs to the Sun Gate, There are three kinds of rock walls...one looks like your kids built it, it is very rough. One is of worked stone, but the surfaces are not smoothed and flattened, used for workers homes and factories. The third is finely finished, with no gaps and tightly fitted stones, used for temples and special buildings.
SEVEN DAYS AND SEVEN NIGHTS
Machu Picchu, voted one of the 7 Wonders of the World
Michael was a great help in planning this trip. He has already been to Chile and Peru and gave me ball park dates for this part of the trip. He suggested a couple of days in Lima because I am not big on municipal buildings and museums. I enjoyed my time there, just resting and relaxing, and squeezing in my Nazca trip. I settled on seven days for Machu Picchu, which as it turned out, included Aguas Calientes and Cusco.
I totally enjoyed Cusco. It was small enough to get around on foot. I don’t demand too much of myself when I visit another country. I just look at what there is to see and how much I want to do. I arrived in the afternoon and learned, much to my dismay that the Apu Huascaran Hostal I had booked was full. I had to change hotels in the morning. I was not very happy, but I was assured that the transportation, bags, etc. would be taken care of. I got a recommendation for a restaurant…the concierge thought, "rich American."
City or Estate? It feels more like an estate, with so many workers mowing and clipping, and mending walls. The llamas munching the grass is a nice touch. Hiram Bingham, an American archaeologist, was looking for Vilcabamba, the last Inca stronghold to fall to the Spanish, when he found Machu Picchu in 1922. His book, "The Lost City of the Incas" popularized the site.
The meal was over-priced, but good. The place was nearly empty so I struck up a conversation with a young man at the next table. He was from Florida and had only four days to see Machu Picchu. Then it was back to work, for him. I was stunned when his meal came…a baked Guinea pig, its little feet sticking heavenward.
When I returned to the hotel I felt sick; headache, dizziness and nausea. The gentleman at reception made me some tea made from coca leaves and mint. I went straight to bed, but slept badly.
The next morning I had breakfast and the taxi came for me promptly at 10 a.m. The Atlantis Hostal was a bit further from the center. I was cranky, went to my new room and fell asleep. When I awoke I realized the room smelled of mildew. Reception showed me another room on the second floor…still a strong smell. The third floor was much better and I also had internet in my room. Around 2 p.m. I found a little restaurant near the hotel, down an alley. I walked up steep stairs to a tiny dining room with a stupendous view; sunlight
FRIENDS FROM WORLD RACE
Two of four amazing young women doing volunteer work all over South America, for one year.
streamed in the huge window and great music was playing. I had the special but I was still suffering from altitude sickness. I focused on what a blessing this little restaurant was - a joy to the senses.
I followed the alley to a small plaza with a man-made waterfall and lots of little shops. I bought a pair of knit socks, then walked down the street to the Plaza de Armas. I bought some small carved gourds, some tiny llamas and a small order of Kentucky fried Chicken for a snack later that night. On the way back to my hotel I was stopped by a young woman who had earlier offered an Inca massage with hot stones. I decided to take her up on her offer and I followed her into a huge indoor market, up some rickety stairs and into a room divided by beautiful East Indian fabrics. I must admit “fire hazard” flashed behind my eyelids, but the massage was very relaxing. A perfect way to end my second day in Cusco.
The next day I focused on stuff that had been piling up – banking, dive log, laundry, and I had an unusual
THE SUN GATE
The old entrance to the City...the design also catches the sun's rays. Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.
adventure getting money, and purchasing tickets for Machu Picchu. The man from my first hotel was my booking agent and he arrived at my hotel saying I must get money for the tickets before five o’clock and there was an ATM very close to my hotel. I allowed him to rush me out onto the street. Then I realized I was breathing hard and I told him I must slow down because I hadn’t been feeling well. We walked at least half a mile, back almost to the Plaza de Armas. The first ATM did not have any money so I had to find another. At last I slipped the money into my money pouch and started back to the hotel. The man stopped me and told me he needed it right now. I was rankled and told him “No, I am not going to count out money for you on the street. It isn’t safe,” and I went the few blocks back to the Apu Huascaran Hostal. He had plenty of time to get to the ticket agency. Because of the language barrier and his hurry, I now had to walk back to my hotel, grab a jacket and
THE SUN GATE
Areas to rest and catch your breath. It was very peaceful. After finding the city, Hiram to some artifacts to Yale for study. The Peruvian government filed a lawsuit to get them back during Obama's presidency.
some other things and return to the town center for dinner. I always feel that the walking is good for my health but that doesn't keep me from whining, especially when I am hungry.
I was up the next morning and packed for my overnight in Aguas Calientes, the closest town to Machu Picchu. The taxi was right on time . I was the only passenger. The drive was harrowing, to put it mildly. The car careened around corners and flew past other vehicles with no thought to the rules of the road. I just hung on to the strap above my window and looked at the view. From the busyness of Cusco to idyllic farmland with variegated greens and golds of crops in tiny adjacent fields, butting up to a backdrop of the staggeringly steep, formidable peaks of the Andes, we rushed to catch the train. We made it with at least a half hour to spare. How I wished I had asked the driver to stop so I could photograph the stunning views.
I caught my train and stepped off into the quaint little town of Aguas Calientes. After many starts and stops to ask directions
This colorful little restaurant is hidden between two ordinary buildings. I almost missed it.
I finally found my hotel. This was no mean feat since the sign outside was for the now closed previous hotel, and the name of my hotel was the same as the name of the borough it was in. (I think my hotel was actually in the “Twilight Zone” because I lost it every time I went out). It was all right, though, because Aguas Calientes is a charming little place with fountains and stone art in every little street. I wish I had a few more days to explore, and go to the hot springs which gave the town its name.
I dropped off my luggage and went to the bus station and met my guide, Vera. She took a liking to me and glued herself to my side. I knew I needed breakfast if I was going to be able to keep up with the group that was gathering, especially since it promised to be a really hot day. Vera showed me a small French café and told me she would return soon with the rest of our tour group. I ordered breakfast and before it even came from the kitchen Vera was back saying, “Hurry, hurry!”
BAS RELIEF HEAD
He looks intimidating. I never did memorize my way back to my hotel so I found lots of art in the byways.
In my haste I grabbed my food and rushed to the van…and forgot my camera, hanging on the back of my chair. I was annoyed and frustrated, but also resigned. I heard all about the city of Machu Picchu and its construction in more detail because I wasn’t snapping photos while Vera was speaking. And, I was coming back to Machu Picchu the next day on my own, when there would be plenty of time to take photos.
When we got back to Aguas Calientes I followed Vera to a street where her friend worked. She had gone back to the restaurant that morning and retrieved my camera. I was glad to get it back and gave them both a substantial tip for the service.
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