Back in Cusco (Machu Picchu story)

Trip Start May 13, 2009
Trip End May 31, 2009

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ok back in Cusco at the same hotel as 2 days ago.  We left our luggage here and just carried some overnight packs to Aguas Calientes.
Aguas was pretty different: No vehicles...  Oh no cars you say... no... NO VEHICLES WAHTSOEVER!!!
The train is the only transport other than the busses which go up the mountian to Machu Picchu, so you have to walk everywhere.  Even the supplies for the town, which is much bigger than I expected have to be hand-carted through the town from the train.  There are no roads to this town.  Even the busses are delivered by train.
So it was up at 5am for a breakfast of - bread and jam?... oh well it was early but a good breakfast was needed if we were climbing any stairs.
Off to the bus station arriving at somewhere around O-dark-30, sneakily thinking that we would be one of the first in line for the bus... WRONG!  Must have been about 600 people ahead of us when we got there and the busses were already shipping people up.  The bus ride up is not to be missed, if you like switchbacks and looking down over 2000feet to the village below, as you pass another bus, on a road made only 1 1/2 busses wide.  After maybe a 40-50min ride we made the parking lot at the top.

We have a couple of people traveling with us who wanted to do the hike up the back mountain - WannaPicchu (sp?) which overlooks Machu Picchu.  I can tell you this is not for the feint of heart - you would need to be very fit or very dumb to climb that thing.  There are only 400 people a day allowed to climb that particular mountain and you have to sign in and be one of the first 400 to get to do it.  Alas, they were too late and didn't get to do it, which was a real bummer I am sure.

The walk to the view points on Machu Picchu wasn't too bad, you could see most of the ruins without having to go too far.  Not being the fittest peron on earth, I decided to stick with the best photographic vantage point and then took a climb up the staircase to the "Guardhouse", which, from where I was standing looked to be maybe 300 feet up from where we were standing.  Susan has a bad ankle from a head on collision some years ago - nearly lost her foot - so she stayed where it was smart - I mean safe...
So off I go, climbing some steps, more steps and a few more steps, stopped for a break, more steps, more steps, round a corner, and more steps.  Check heart rate, breathing, consciousness... wait a minute (pretend to be looking at a really interesting rock) - up, up and up... thinking to myself "why did I do this?.. oh well I'm committed now".  I spotted a guy taking a picture of his wife - and kindly ofered to take a picture of them both - just another excuse to stop for a few minutes.
As I neared the "Guardhouse" I could see people coming down from the vantage point I was headed to, dripping with sweat and totally out of breath, as if they had just run, and won a marathon.  I thought, "Jeez, these guys look pretty out of shape" and I looked at my own shirt and it looked just like theirs.  I have to say I was extremely pleased to reach the top, and wondered how they would get me out if I collapsed, or would they just push me off the edge of the mountain and be done with it.  As it happens, we would learn a little later how you get out if you are criticaly ill or injured.

We spent maybe 2 hours in the ruins - they are just stunning, if the clouds permit.  We had some exceptional views of the mountains and the site.  Unfortunately my big cameras are locked away for the night, so I don't have any of the mountain itself.

After the ruins Susan & I went to the Sanctuary Hotel for breakfast.  This was a real breakfast with poached eggs and hash browns - YUM!, then we hit the bus again to head downhill.

Lunch at a Pizza place in town and off to the train.

Once everyone was on the train, I noticed the people on the other side of the carriage looking at something coming onto our carriage from the platform, with 5 or 6 people around it.  I couldn't see what it was but though we were about to be invaded by donkeys, pigs or horses.  Then I saw what was coming aboard.  A mountain rescue stretcher with a body bag on it, but it was still open at the head end, with a guy, wrapped in bandages, bleeding from the head and an I.V. in his arm.  Please don't judge me too harshly for taking a picture, but I now know how they get you out if you are injured everything else, they put you on the TRAIN.

Back to Ollyuntumbo and on the bikes again for a fast ride through the mountains and back to Cusco - finally arriving after dark.

I promise to update with photo's of Macchu Picchu, but I have attached a few from my pocket cam.

Off to Colca Canyon tomorrow with maybe , just maybe an internet cafe, so you might need to wait for the awesom Machu Picchu  pix.
PS: No pix from the small camera either - my chip reader is in the camera bag too (sorry).
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johnorton on

Re: omg soundsso fun
Yup, definitely the 'adventure' side of the trip. I'm not sure if you would have made the bus trip up the mountain :) but the result was worth the effort.
I'll post the pix as soon as I can but it might be a few days before I get decent internet AND the cameras in my hands again.

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