Saturday, July 17, 2010

Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu

So the past few days have been focused around Machu Picchu.

After getting breakfast at our hostel, we got picked up and went to the train station in Poroy, just outisde of Cuzco.  It was a 4 hour train rain to Aguas Calientes, but it was actually pretty nice.  We got a snack and drink included in our train ticket, and there was really nice scenery all along the way.  The train crept along at snail speed (or so it seemed), and it swayed from side to side for parts of the ride. 

We got into Aguas Calientes, and after dropping our bags at our hostel we went out to explore.  There was a parade going on, complete with costumes, music, and people throwing feathers and rice.  After asking around, we found out that we arrived just in time for the celebration of Virgen del Carmen.  I haven´t gotten to do any research to find out the specifics of the celebration, but it went on well into the night.

We had a buffet lunch, and I explored the market after that.  I told myself I wasn´t going to spend any more money, but I found some handwoven potholders that were really beautiful.  I bargained them down to a price of $6 for two.  I also found my first native South American Kit Kat.  Its wrapper is a bit different on the front, and on the back it said it was made in Bolivia and had writing in Arabic.  I saved the wrapper as a souvineer.

That night Isabel enlightened me about movies that I have never seen such as The Bourne Identity, and we packed and then turned in early. 

Then we were up at 3:30 (yes, 3:30 AM) in order to go to Machu Picchu.  We wanted to be able to get a pass to visit Wayni Picchu, which is a specific part of Machu Picchu that is limited to 400 people either at 7 AM or 10 AM each day.  It was a long morning of waiting.  We got breakfast at 4 and were in line to wait for the bus at 4:15.  The bus only left at 5:30, and we got a good spot in line (or so it seemed).  After the bus ride to Machu Picchu, it was once again waiting in line until we could get through.

Around 6 or so the line started moving, and we were able to get a pass to Wayni Picchu at 7 (we were hoping for a pass at 10).  We got inside around 6:10.

Oh yeah, I forgot to add one important detail: it started raining the night before and was raining the entire time (each time) we were waiting in line.  I took Isabel`s suggestion of putting plastic bags inside my shoes to keep my feet dry, and luckily we both brought rain jackets with us despite the weather forecast of sunny dry weather for our entire trip.  I didn`t think it would be as cold as it was, and I only had on sweatpants and a t-shirt, so I was a bit cold.

We started the tour around 6:30, and it was so foggy that you could barely see anything.  We tried to take pictures, but they didn´t turn out too well at first.  The foginess added to the mysteriousness of Machu Picchu though.  Since we would have missed another hour of the tour, we decided to skip Wayni and just follow the tour.

It was really amazing to see Machu Picchu in person, and pictures don´t do it justice.  Later on the fog cleared a bit and it stopped raining, and we got some nice pictures.  After doing a loop back to the entrance to use the restroom, we followed the path up to the Inca Bridge.  I was running out of breath and didn`t want to hold Isabel back, so I told her I`d hang out and wait for her to come back down.  After waiting about 45 minutes she still hadn`t returned, and I needed to use the restroom and wasn`t feeling well.

I decided to head down by myself, and we would find each other at the entrance.  After 10 minutes of walking or so I got sick.  Luckily some French people that spoke German saw me and checked that I was ok, and they walked with me for a bit to be sure I was ok.  As I was making my way back to the entrance, Isabel caught up with me.  We took some more pictures on the way back, and it started raining again.  I headed back to Aguas Calientes early, and it is nice to just sit somewhere inside warm and dry.

I am glad I got to see Machu Picchu, but the weather put a bit of a damper on the experience.  And just for good measure, I´m going to end with another bad pun.  I am getting sick of getting sick in Peru.

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