Sorry for the delay, we have been having a few busy and physically challenging days, and the thought of gathering thoughts, much less photos, was too daunting...
Yesterday we explored Machu Picchu, an Incan Citadel high in the Andes. We left our hotel at 4 am (ugh) in a driving rain ( double ugh) to take a taxi for 1 1/2 hours to take a train for 1 1/2 hours to take a bus for 40 minutes, to finally arrive at Machu Picchu. The ruins are spectacular, to have survived for the past 500 years in this climate is a testament to Incan ingenuity. It is described as a mystical experience, and was particularly so when we arrived, as the mist was so thick that our first photos look like they were taken on a bad movie set where someone got overzealous with the dry ice... We were worried that the whole day would be wet and foggy, but things cleared up around 10 am.
The site is breathtaking, but also strenuous to traverse. My Fitbit either fainted after recording 157 flights of stairs or else ran out of battery. And why do ancient people all over the world make their steps so steep and narrow??? I mean, I keep hearing that they were shorter than us, but the steps are so difficult to navigate!! Thankfully, my walking sticks did a Herculean effort and kept me upright. Huffing and puffing, while Barb and most of our guided group were skipping up and down the stairs like gazelles... or perhaps llamas? it is rather disheartening to be overtaken by a 5 year old...
This is the rainy season and the local river was truly raging and formidable to behold. On our way home the train was delayed as a mudslide had taken out part of the tracks, so we were about 2 hours delayed in reaching to bus for home. I think that the bus driver was trying to make up the time as he tore back to Cusco passing slower vehicles, which was rather terrifying on the mountainous blind curves. However, he must have had an angel on his shoulder, as we arrived safely back in Cusco, footsore, but still able to bargain with the taxi driver about the cost to drive back to the hotel.
Today we are having a quiet day, catching up with the blog, laundry and planning the last leg of our Peruvian adventure!
A last minute update; my cell phone was somehow smoothly and expertly pickpocketed from me during our late afternoon stroll, which is majorly annoying. If anyone needs to text or call me; use Barb's number 425.681.2062. This is a major inconvenience that I have not previously experienced.
Ok, you have to understand that this trip is my 10 year old self's fantasy of being an archaeologist and exploring the worlds ancient sites. Nothing was going to stop me from reaching the top of wherever we stopped to see the remains of what was built.
The day before Machu Picchu we set out for an all day adventure travelling to Pisac where we hiked up and up the steep stairs to reach a temple above mountainsides of irrigated terraces. It's simply amazing that the irrigation system is still in use. The stonework is so precise and the fact that huge carved boulders were transported up steep inclines is amazing. The cloud cover between the mountains ebbed and flowed all day. If you waited a few minutes what was hidden suddenly appeared visible. We spotted places above the temple where a structure is built into the hillside to store grains and meat. The air preserves everything (think mummies) for future use. After Pisac we headed to Ollantaytambo deep in the sacred valley where we again made a major ascent of the steep, terraced hills to visit the Sun temple ruins. We even hiked a portion of the Inca Trail. It was on an exposed hillside and really windy. We had enough hiking for the day, think throbbing calves from the steep stairs and 86% oxygen. Heading back to Cusco we visited Patabamba a weaving center that's also a collective. Here, we could be sure that what is advertised as "baby Llama" was truly as advertised. Beautiful stuff. There was a traditional oven in the corner with water boiling for coca tea. Under it was a space for their guinea pigs to stay warm and happy until it was time for dinner. Kind of cute.
Our trip to Mach Picchu the next days was incredible and long. We followed the river Urubamba to Machu Picchu and it was a sight. Roiling, boiling muddy river flowing so fast over giant boulders. It would have killed anyone trying to raft or kayak. The force of it was mesmerizing. I enjoyed the train between Aguas Calientes and MP. We met a Columbian couple on the way there and a young Australian couple on the way back. We were lucky that the sun came out as we entered MP and we stripped off the waterproofing. The hiking and climbing was fun, you can gaze down at the whole city with it's temples and squares. It is estimated that only approximately 500 people lived there. Truly breathtaking (literally and figuratively). For my botanist and gardener friends, Machu Picchu and it's environs is littered with Brugmansia and fuchsia among many other familiar plants that we grow. JT, our guide told me that you can make a tea out of brugmansia leaves and whoever drinks it can only tell the truth.
Today has been a day to walk in Cusco to neighborhoods that we had missed. It is a day of celebration, "Compaderes Day" where they start shooting off cannons early in the morning and throuout the day to celebrate baptism. There were bands marching in the streets and on the squares. Very colorful. At abolut 7pm a big storm blew in with thunder and lightening that lit up the sky and rain pelting dowm. Good time to write and prepare for our departure to the coast tomorrow. We will land in Chiclayo and Uber to Pimentel where we have a place on the beach. YEAHHHH.