Friday, March 27, 2009

So we went to Machu Picchu...

...It was ok.

But some funny things happened to us on the way there:
1. To avoid the horrendously overpriced tourist train, we decided to take the ¨back way¨ into Machu Picchu, which involved taking a bus, to a minibus, to a taxi, to a hike along railroad tracks, to the town at the base of Machu Picchu. After being whisked from the bus to a minibus and racing past banana trees and coffee bushes up and down the mountains on a single track dirt road, we suddenly stopped. The driver got out, walked over to a little shrine on the upslope side of the road, threw out the old flowers and placed a new bouquet in the cut off plastic bottle that served as a vase. Then we continued on.

From The Trip, pt. 11: Back to Peru

2. When we arrived in Santa Theresa, we were whisked from the minibus to a colectivo taxi, but one taxi driver tried to steal us away from another and a fist fight broke out! We felt badly that the locals would brawl over the chance to take us on the next leg of our journey. On the way we saw an entire cow being skinned by the side of the road.

From The Trip, pt. 11: Back to Peru

3. After the taxi driver dropped us at the hidroelectrica plant, we figured what we had to do next was walk along some railroad tracks towards Aguas Calients, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. So the group of us that had been thrown together throughout this hodgepodge of public transportation, two Spaniards, one South Korean, a German, and a Canadian and us, all set out hiking on these railroad tracks. We were not sure if they were active railroad tracks, but luckily we did not find out while crossing a rickety bridge that wobbled over some raging rapids. The train passed after that when we were good and ready for it. Then knowing the tracks were active and seeing the sun go down, we ran when we got to the tunnels near the end. Finally, we arrived in Aguas Calientes and our alternative journey turned out to be alot more memorable than the crusty old train.

From The Trip, pt. 11: Back to Peru

4. The next morning we woke up before dawn because the thing to do was to get to Machu Picchu at dawn, but it was pouring rain so that did not happen. After the rain stopped, we headed off in what we thought was the direction to Machu Picchu, but it was really foggy and Lonely Planet´s map sucked. We started to doubt our trail when we reached our first hundred foot tall ladder ascending a jungly cliff. We thought, ´This does not seem like a trail that thousands of tourists would be willing to take, and I thought they said there were steps, not ladders,¨ but we continued on, for some reason. We broke out of the forest and continued ascending some nice granite steps, which gave us false hope that we were on the right track. We reached the top halfheartedly hoping to see the big M.P., but as it turned out, we were on the hill next to Machu Picchu... Apparently there was a good view, but we wouldn´t know because the fog was part of what landed us on the wrong hill in the first place. So we hiked back down and then back up the correct hill and the correct set of steps. By the time we reached South America´s hottest attraction, I could hardly look at another step.

From The Trip, pt. 11: Back to Peru

5. But we ate some quinoa bars and some maize gigante and somehow we found the will to hike to the top of Wayna Picchu anyways. (W.P. is that big hill you see overshadowing M.P. in the famous photo.) Those Incas... seems like they did things just because they could. As though they thought, ¨See that unbelievably steep hill over there? I am going make some terraces and grow some quinoa up there... just cause I can.¨I don´t really understand why they farmed the tops of these Andean hills when they had plenty of fertile valleys to hang out in down below! It makes me dizzy just thinking about it.

From The Trip, pt. 11: Back to Peru

Or maybe I am dizzy because I need to eat some lunch. We are in Lima now and we only have five days to go... if anything remotely interesting happens to us, we will post. Otherwise, we will see you in the Ooosa.

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