Day two of the treck began with a five am wake up call. This day was to be the hardest as we were to reach 4300 meters. This is the highest I have been as of yet on the trip. Knowing how much altitude effects your breathing I was quite nervious. Lucky for us after a freeeeezing nights sleep ( or no sleep) we received a hot cup of coca tea in the tent. Did I mention it got to -8 degrees celcius? Freezing. There was not too much that could be done about the cold except just shiver. Anyways we woke up packed out tent and had breakfAst. Omlets bread and hot tea. The toilet was a small tin hut with a door that did not close. It's floor was a piece of wood with a hole cut out. Under the hole was a nearly full dug out area in the ground. Super rustic. It reminded me of the porcelin holes in china. Around the corner a new hoe was being dug. I am assuming the tin hut will be moved over that hole shortly.
Anyways the altitude was already effecting mybreathing and I occasionally felt like I was hyperventalating.
I can't remember if I talked about how the peope in the mountains are sort defendants of the inca. They speak Quechua, which is the same language the incas spoke. It sounds sort of like Chinese and the radio stations made me laugh. To say hello is "ayiancha".
The hike began with a fairly flat walk along a river but quicky turned upwards. Arriba arriba arriba we went. We took many short breaks and made it to the top!!!! In my notes it says "4300 YEAH". We built our rock towers. Mine fell over within 3 minutes as it was super windy and cold. We had a small snack and headed down towards lunch. We ate lunch along a small lake with a creek running into it. We took an hour nap and then were on our way. The wild dogs got our leftover food before the cook Santiago washed the dishes.
I learned that all the dogs that seem to be wild and roaming free are generally pets used for herding animals and keeping the pumas out of the houses at night. I'm stil not sure what use dogs have in the cities.
The whole day we were racing the two Irish boys that were staying at the same camp as us. Unfortunately they arrived to the top three minutes before us. Bummer. It was a close match and something to keep us entertained in the quiet world of widernesss. We also did sily things Iike skip jump on rocks, sing, our guide even dug flowers out of the ground to put in our hair. We also had coca leaves an hour before we got to the top. Coca leaves help with altitude sickness and give extra energy. You bite the leaf off the stem and shove the whoever leaf in your cheek you do this with 15-20 leaves unti you have a golf ball size. You don't chew it but rotate the leaves to help release to caffeene like substance. After about an hour it begins to get mushy and you can either spit it out or swallow it.
After already hiking five hours I was not lookingforeward to another four but off we went. And shortle we saw the vilage way in the distance in the bottom of the valley with a river running through. The river canyon was steep and there was only one way. DOWN. Steep cliffs super dusty, especialy when the donkeys and llamas passed by. We crossed over multiple creeks running down the steep dry hillside.
We continued to run into chidren giving them pieces of lemon candy. We ran into a man asking me for water. I gave him the last of my water as he looked frail. Our guide asked his age. His response was 115. Consideringthe average age in the mountains is 50 that is remarkable. He was even going up the canyon instead of down. Absoutely crazy.
We arrived to the village and were bombarded by children looking for candy. We gave out all our candy but eight. That's 98 kids we ran into. Crazy. We arrived at camp and decided a beer looked good we got beers for ourselves and the guide cook and horseman ( not realizing we were almost out of money).
Our dinners were candle lit and the stars were the brightest I have ever seen in my entire life. I could have sat there for hirs staring it it wasn't so cold.
We were now at only 3600 meters and it only got -6 at night. A bit warmer. I wore all my clothes to bed. Every piece I had with me and i almost slept through the whole night.
At this point we realized we needed to tip the workers and were nearly out of money. We counted out our money and had enough to tip plus a tiny bit of cushion cash. This later turns into a disaster.
Some things we saw once we were in a more populated area include chidren running to school, more animals, people making bricks for their houses , and mutiple different plants.
The chidren running to school had books wrapped in plastic bags, they were laughing and skipping and having a grand od time. I saw four bulls near fighting. There were local people there and other cows watching. I am thinking they were mating the cows. The people making bricks work so hard. They first have to sort through dirt to get all the rocks out. They leave the grasses inside it. Then they use water to make it muddy. Then they scoop the mud into a wood frame. The wood frame could make 2 bricks at a time. Then you can see the wet bricks outside the mold and farther down you can see more dry bricks. As I walked along I saw more drying bricks in the sun. The process seems so tedius. As I walked I saw cactai, flowers, bushes, different trees including euctalyptus. We even saw woman laying corn on her roof to dry out. everyone is so self sufficien its amazing. There were inca ruins scattered along our walk. One buildinv was perched way up on the mountain as to view the entire valley to protect the rest of the small village. We took a snack break three hours into the walk. The guide called to find out what time our train was. He said we had one or two more hours of walking. It turns out our train leaves in just over an hour and we still had to get lunch. So we began to jog. This doesn't seem like a big deal but after 2+ days of hiking legs don't work so well. Plus my toe is not quite getting a change to heal after the break a few weeks before my trip. Beaches and sand, hiking around hilly cities, and 4 day treck up mountains. Oh I also noticed how some houses had long sticks with colorful plastic bags hanging off them flying like a flag in the sky. I asked and found out the houses sell a special alchohol called chachi. While walking along a narrow road a bus was heading our way, I thought I could stand as far on the side of the road without falling in the deep gutter or into the cactai on the other side of the gutter. This was a no go as the bus came within 6 inches of me I lept with one foot overthe gutter and grabbed on to the nearest plant for balance. Yup cactai, a few picks is better than being hit by a bus. That was a close call.
Anyways we made it to lunch where we even had some time to relax while the guide ran around trying to pick up our tickets. I sat on a large rock which was on the patio when the restaurant lady comes out with some animal skin to sit on ( this is not the first time someone has given me a cushion to sit on). This particular fur was definitely a dead cat. The shape of the tail and legs were still visible. Lucky I don't like cats too much.
We ate lunch then headed to the train. The ride was beautiful along a rushing river with steep cliffs and tunnels. The railroad just opened last week after mud slides damaged the area in January. We arrived to Aguascalientes and realized our money was super slim. We realized we had to buy dinner and possible lunch and a second dinner then get a taxi home. We also questioned if we had to buy our own bus up to machu picchu or if it was included in the tour. We counted our money and found we had $8 if we saved $20 for a tip for the guide. We started thinking how we could get money or save money. To our luck the guide bought us our dinner. Now we just had to worry about. The $7 bus ride and everything else. We paid for the bus that night and came across a $5 bill which meant we would not starve. We went to bed early as the next morning was a 345 wake up call to get in line for the first bus up the hill.
Day four was machu picchu day!!! We woke up at 345 to get in line for the bus. We wanted to catch the first bus that left at 530 because only 400 people a day get to climb up the mountain above machu picchu called wainu picchu. When we got to the bus, our guide was already holding our spot. It was a long dark hour wait. We ended up getting on the third bus at 540. Machu picchu opens at 6 and we were stressing out that we would not be one of the 400 to get a ticket. Anyways we made it up there and ran into line. We got our ticket for 10:00 am climb up the mountain. We had a few minutes before we could get into machu picchu so a bathroom break sounded good. The bathroom cost 1 sol which is alot of money when on a budger as tight as ours. We tried the beg the mn telling him we didnn need toilet paper that didn't work. So I found a girl leAving the bathroom and asked her we got 1 sol off her and the man let us both in for 1 sol. Yay. I've never had to be for money on the streets before but luckily it worked out and we were in a small safe tourist town. We entered machu picchu with a guide and had a tour around which was informaive. It explained the mysteries and research on it. I can't even begin to describe the size or magnificentness of the place. The only way to understand is to actually be there yourself. I am really glad I went to see it as I wasn't going to because I thought it was silly. Some things that the town of machu picchu that I will explain.
They had water irrigation and water pipes in the rocks. The town is still 70% in tact which is amazing as it is over 600 years old. People think the inca built it for the most honorable people and I was kept a secret from the rest of the inca population in south america. Most all other inca towns were found by the Spanish during the revolution. This site was not found until the 1900s by a man searching for the village vilcabamba. He was lead by a few local people up to the site where he started excavating. A few famiies were still using the ruins for farming and protection. The in a people are crazy about the sun and winter solstice. All the weird thugs revolve around the sun. Like on winter solstice the first beam of sun hits themost important temple first. There are also many places where on winter solstice shadows and sun create designs. One place the shadow iscut e actly in half by a crack in a rock. Another place the sun hilights only the guinnea pigs eye. Another place it creates a llama shadow. Another interesting thing is they use different quality rocks for different areas of the site. The terraces for gardening are plain rocks. For housing they shape the rocks a little bit. For the big honcho's house they actually made the rocks smooth and fit together almost perfectly. But the temples were absolutely perfect with the smoothest rocks. In many if the buildings the archiologists take the building structures as the incas were in a hurry to finish, as the rocks on the top of the walls had less quality to them. The split the huge rocks probably from cracks in the rock. They then used wood, slid it in the crackand got the wood wet to expand and pry open the rock. One house was even 2 storys tall. The people studying it say slaves were used to build the entire city. Although very few bodies were found. The only bodies found were in tombs in caves which had weavings food and other items with them. There are many places in the city where it is said they sacrificed animals to the sun god ( on winter solstice). Some of the buildings nd the entrance to the city had gates and locks.
After our tour and an hour nap on the highest terrace looking over the city, we went for our hike up the steep mountain. Boy was it steep. Cliffs with tiny steps and a rope to hold on to. It makes me wonder how many people have died from falling. When you get to the top there are actually more inca ruins. You can see the whole city ofmachu picchu which is shaped as a condor. The top of the mountain was the scarriest. The ruins were crazy and had tiny steep narrow steps with a great fall on the other side. It felt like a maze. It was super scary and i was more than ready to head down again. Most of the way was on my butt or hands and knees as that is how steep it was. We made it down but were super tired! Took us three hours. We were ready to catch the bus back to Aguascalientes. We get the the bus and notice our tickets were only for one way. So we had to walk 2 more hours down the Inca steps into the town. So tired, legs shaking, lost ballance. Wow what a long 4 days. Amazing. We went to the hostel and sat on the couches and watched Spanish tv. Talked to the massage girl that worked there for a bit. She helped us find cheap food since we had 8 soles left. We ate at the mercado and had coffee there too. Got a few sncks for the train and bus and relaxed in the main square. A little girl came up and took a liking to me. She played and talked with me for over thirty minutes. There was music in the square, it was nice. We headed to the train station and noticed the trains are steam trains, what year Are we in?
Anyways we rode the train home and got snacks of traditional unca dried corn ( it's gross, super dry and powdery gross)
I made it home at midnight and slept well after the hard 4 days of trecking.
The next day was spent in cusco as my bus for Bolivia didn't leave until 10 pm. I went to town to get our sleepig bags and jackets from the tour company to return to the retal company. The tour company lost them and were looking while the rental company waited. I never got that sorted out but got my deposit back as the tour company took charge of it.
I got a massage pedicure and manicure for 17 bucks. It was well needed. The lady who gave it to me was pregnate and due this week, crazy!!!
I went on a hunt to the mercado looking for cuy ( Guinnea pig) for dinner. I knew a place where they raised them in cages and killed de haired and sold them so I hoped I could find a Place where they cooked them. I hadno luck so I just ate ceviche and heded back to town to sort out the bag thing. On the way back to the hostel Marianne saw a restaurant with cuy. It was nearly $20 which was way too much. I talked the guy down and he gave us free drinks. I had fun with the cuy. Bit its foot, head, played with it's legs and then disected it looking for it's stomach and brain which are left inside. I ate a small piece of the brain and called that my gross duty for the week. I have lots of pictures just wait. You can see its teeth and eyes. Yum
That is the end of cusco. The beutiful city started by the incas.
Highly recommended place to travel. Beautiful town nature and people. DO IT.