I Need A Time Machine

12 11 2012

I woke up this morning to find myself surrounded by vertical walls of rock covered in lush vegatation and humidity that had my hair looking like I stuck my finger in a light socket. Oh, yes, my friends, we have ventured to the rainforest side of the Andes!!

Let´s take a quick step back. We are currently in our Tour of Really Old Stuff that started yesterday from Cusco and brought us to the Sacred Valley of Peru. We booked this part of the trip as a package deal, so yesterday was basically spent as sheep: we were herded from one place to the next, on a tight schedule, and expected to follow our guide´s every move. Not super fun, but we saw some cool stuff. The Sacred Valley itself is beautiful, with the Urubamba River at the bottom. We stopped at some little local markets and went to the town of Pisaq, where I would have loved to spend more time. The ruins at Pisaq were cool, since I´m a great big history nerd, though it´s hard to hear the stories when the guide is doing his best with English, and my Spanish is crap. Neat all the same. The famous Pisaq market was awesome, though our shepherd only gave us 30 minutes to look around. Not enough! Then we went on to Ollantaytambo – a pretty huge complex with impressive terraces and water system. J and I were rebellious little sheep and left the herd here, taking our time to explore the place. I hate that I don´t have our pictures to show yet! We were up in the mountains by this time, and the place was gorgeous.

Our journey continued on from Ollantaytambo while the bus was headed back to Cusco, so we headed into town to kill time before our train. A couple others from the original bus were doing the same, so we made friends and found a lovely cafe to hang out in. We quickly discovered the owner was from the US – Seattle of all places!! What a small world! So we hung out with our new friends, one from Chile, the other from Thailand, then trekked down a dark street to the train station. After a bit of confusion, we finally made it on the train, bound for Aguas Calientes. It was 9pm at this point, so we didn´t get to see any of the landscape the whole 2 hour ride. We could have been on the coast for all we knew. Once the train stopped, our host Betty was to meet us and take us to our hostal. We talked of Betty like we´d known her our whole lives, though we had no idea who he/she was. Nevertheless, a woman held a board with our names on it, so we followed her like little ducklings. We arrived at the hostal and crawled into our bunk-beds like we were at summer camp. “Good-night, John Boy. Good-night, Mary Ellen.”

So now we´re back to this morning. Six a.m. to be exact. Out of the hostal and around a corner and we were face to face with the most incredible sight – we didn´t know we´d crossed into the rainforest, or that we had come this far into the mountains! A terrifying bus ride up and we were at our final destination: MACHU PICCHU! We joined the thousands and thousands of other people who have seen this world heritage site and signed our names in the giant register book. We were early and entered on our own, without our guide. We went down the path and the ruins opened up before us. Holy panchamama, Batman, this place is HUGE!! I had no idea how much there was, or how expansive the complex. We walked around the impressive rock walls before heading back out to meet our guide. There was quite a bit of confusion around this, too, but finally made it in, listening to the history and stories of these crazy Incas.

Why build on the peak of a mountain? Because it was closest to the sun and moon and stars that they worshipped. And it was easy to defend. Why leave it, even though the Spanish never made it to the city? The most likely theory is that they couldn´t supply themselves with enough food for the 800 or so inhabitants. I was fascinated with every detail and enjoyed the two hours we spent with our dude. Then it was 10:00 and time to break from the group again – and climb Waynapicchu!! This is the mountain that pokes up in the background of just about any picture of Machu Picchu you see. They only admit 400 people a day, and we had tickets!

So we headed into the jungle to conquer this bad boy as the Incas once did. The trail was mostly the one they used, and the rock steps were steep and often narrow. I was soon pouring sweat in the brutal humidity, but at least the altitude was much less than we´ve been dealing with, so I felt ok there. Finally finally finally, we reach the bottom of the ruins that crown this peak…and it starts raining. Raining!! We were prepared, though, since this is, after all, the start to Peru´s rainy season. I whipped on my super-cute new ice-blue raincoat and secured the hood. I was a sexy beast!! Then I switched it around to put my backpack under my coat, and the coat couldn´t zip. So I looked like the hunchback of Notre Dame, with a triangle of the front of my shirt soaked through. Not so sexy beast. Of course, J´s jacket was made for this sort of thing and fit over his backpack fine, so he got to stay a sexy beast.

We climbed up the most ridiculous stairs EVER and made it to this rock tunnel we had to climb through. The break from the rain was nice, but I got pretty dirty. We pushed forward, carefully picking our way. The trail on to the Big Cavern and around the rest of the big loop appeared closed off, so we reluctantly turned back. About half way back down, the rain finally stopped. At least we got a glimpse of the gorgeous views and riduculous skill of the Inca trail builders.

We spent the entire rest of the afternoon exploring the Machu Picchu city and taking eleventy million pictures. The clouds came and went as we discovered more and more. I hate hate hate that I don´t have pictures to add just yet, as there is no way I can tell you how awesome it was. Even with the pictures, you really just need to go. And I would like a time machine so I can go back and visit the Incas, maybe do a homestay with a couple of nobles, and really see what it´s like to live in a city built right on top of a crazy mountain!!

We also ventured down a path to the Inca bridge – a path along the cliff-side that was not for the faint of heart. By which I mean the trail was built on retaining walls and dropped off to sheer rock faces. Don´t trip!! At the end of the trail, or at least the end of where tourists can go, is where the Incas build a bridge gapping a ridiculous section of cliff that couldn´t be crossed otherwise. Boards were placed over the “bridge” that could then be yanked away if invaders were coming. If you ask me, this was not really necessary because who would be insane enough to try to attack from these wild cliff-sides?!

The jungle was gorgeous, we saw all sorts of birds and butterflies and flowers. It was the most lovely day ever. We´re at a delightful state of exhaustion now, but happy.  We´re killing time waiting on our train back to Ollantaytambo, then a bus back to Cusco. We´ll get in super late, then back up super early in the morning. Tomorrow is the day we head into the Amazon Rainforest, to the Manu reserve!! I´m unbelievably excited. We´ll be there for a full week, and I have my doubts about electricity being available, much less Internet. So expect a nice massive post when we get back!

Comments from J:
Those Inca´s were cray-zy!  Of course you looked devastatingly gorgeous in that picture. Man, the rock work on these trails in crazy – I can´t imagine building trails here!

And that is all. I have surpassed my hour of Internet and must run. Hope this finds you all well!!

xo,

J/K

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One response

20 11 2012
moleedavis

We are so happy for the both of you! Sounds like an incredible adventure and looking forward to hearing more about the rainforest.

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