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Published: August 24th 2007
Hello Again! It is now a day after my birthday and the celebration continues tonight back in Cusco.
Since we last spoke....or I spoke (wrote) and you read and maybe responded I have been having an amazing time. Cusco has proven to be the most exciting town that I have visited on my trip thus far. The people are nice, the street vendors are as crazy as people come, the views are incredible, and the night life never stops. Cusco is quite a touristy town, but that also means that there are plenty of backpackers here as well...many of which get stuck here for months at a time. I spent my first night in town at another hostal named Loki Backpackers which has seen major success at their various hostals in South America. It houses many English travelers, many of whom I have had the pleasure of hanging out and laughing with. When I went to Loki to meet up with the two English guys I met at Sexy Woman I ran into another English guy, Dave, that I met in Huacachina a couple of weeks ago. Its truly amazing to see a familiar face in a foreign country. Anyway,
I was then introduced to more of Dave´s friends. An English guy Aeisa, an English girl Asli and an Australian girl with Malaysian ancestory Natalie. We all got along very well and partied it up hard at Loki. After taking advantage of the 2 for 1 happy hour in which each drink costs $1 we took to the town to go dancing. We found a place not too far called Up Town which seemed to be popular among travelers and locals. The dancing did not stop until after 5 am, by which time we were all still very much awake and having a good time, but decided it was best to head to bed. We all rendevouzed the next day for lunch at 2 am at a local cafe with couches. Asli was the only one that was truly hung over that day, but we were all exhausted and enjoyed our time on the couches. The service was slow (lunch took us 4 hours), but gave us plenty of time (or the others plenty of time) to make jokes about the solo American in the group. Our languages are the same, but so different at the same time and the
Wynapicchu- near the top
Aussies and English can find a common ground much easier. So I basically got ganged up on, but I got my own laughs in by playing the stereotypical American where Bigger is Better and its the Americans way or the Highway. It really makes for a good laugh. Anyway, we all left and went for naps so we would be refreshed for another night out on the town. I met up with all of them later on for more drinks at Loki, where another English guy from Huacachina had shown up, Nick, and he joined the party as well. (by the way... they all stay at Loki backpackers for 25 soles per night in dorm rooms...8 people per room and I pay only pay 12 soles for a single room) We attempted to go to a different bar that night, but it was closed, so we settled for Up Town once more. We danced until only 3 am that night and met up again for dinner the following night. We all took the night off because Aeisa and Natalie were leaving early the next day for Machu Picchu. The rest was wonderful. The next day was spent hanging out with
Dave and his canadian friend Genevive at lunch and walking around Cusco´s markets looking for things to buy. That night we had a few drinks and I went dancing with Asli and her friend at Up Town, but I had to get up early for the Sacred Valley Tour, so I left the bar by 1 am.
The Sacred Valley tour was a bus ride with a tour guide talking into a microphone. Not the best and most exciting thing in the world, but the tour took us to some cool sites. First, we headed to Pisaq- which is a pre Incan site built in near the 700 ad. We walked around and took in the beautiful views. Next, we headed to Urumamba (or something like that) for lunch and then onto Ollentaytambo which is another ruins site. The two sites I saw that day were amazing. These ancient tribes were nuts to build the cities that they did and supposedly without the use of slaves. They were a tight knit social group that believed in the devotion to the gods (sun and moon mostly) so much, that they built their cities on the most amazingly steep parts of
Sacred Valley - Pisaq
View from Above (its in the shape of bird...can you see it?)
mountains to get closer to the gods. These sites though were only a taste as to what I would see the next day for my birthday. I would be going to Machu Picchu.
From Ollentaytambo I caught my first train ride in memory (very unexciting) to Aguas Calientes which is the small tourist town that serves as the jump point to Machu Picchu. I got in late and went to bed because I had to wake up before 5 am to catch one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu. My two Peruvians friends on the other hand, that I met on the train, were going to spend the night partying instead of sleeping. They wanted to start hiking at 4 am while drunk to the ancient site. The hike can take anywhere from 1-2 hours. When I woke up in the morning one of them was passed out on the couch and the other still drinking with some girl. Neither were in any shape to go anywhere at that time. I ate a quick breakfast and went to catch the bus. At 6 am I arrived at Machu Picchu and b-lined it to the gate that allows people to hike Wynapicchu. (spelling may be off) Only 400 people each day are allowed up this other mountain that has Incan sites and overlooks the entire city of MP. I was the 49th person let in when the gates opened at 7 am, but I did the hour hike almost straight up the mountain in about 35-40 minutes and was within the first 15 people to reach the top. I am so glad I went fast because it was very peaceful before all of the others showed up. It was one of the most amazing views I have ever seen in my life and I realized it was the best way I could have spent my birthday this year. I wanted someone to pinch me to make sure i was real. All of you have probably seen pictures of MP, but they do not do it justice. You have to see it with your own eyes to really understand its greatness. I stayed perched on a rock at the top for about a half hour while many others filtered up. Once it got too crowded I headed back down to some Incan caves. One was a temple to the moon and it was quite brilliant and had an incredible view of the moutain range behind MP as well. On the hike out I went with an Argentinian family and hung out with them and their daughter for most of the day. We then walked through the actual city itself trying to get pictures without tourists in it, but that is virtually impossible. 2000 people were there that day and its not easy getting away from all of them. I then toured the Sun Gate which was kinda cool, but very pleasant because there were not many people at it. By the end of the day I was exhausted and ready for a shower and beer. I met up with the Peruvian guys who hiked up to MP from Aguas Calientes hung over and it took them 2.5 hours. I had dinner with one of them and we found a happy hour to celebrate my birthay further. Not much drinking could happen though because we had a departing train ride at a quarter to 6 the next day. All in all it was a great birthday that I wish you all could have celebrated with me. When I return we can all get a drink and celebrate again! I am now back in Cusco to meet up with Natalie and Aeisa to party for another night or two before heading north the Ayacucho. Check out the photos and sorry if some of Machu Picchu get redundant. When you visit the site you will understand. Take care and lots of love.
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