Machu Picchu!

Trip Start Jun 10, 2012
Trip End Aug 17, 2013

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Monday, December 10, 2012

Once I stepped into Machu Picchu, I considered the Inca trail to be finished. I could finally wear my "I survived the Inca Trail" shirt! In the morning, David gave us a tour of Machu Picchu. Not many tourists were there yet; it was only the people coming from the Inca trail. David showed us the water system used by the Incas. They used water that flowed from a nearby mountain, and carved little pathways in the ground for it to travel through. It flows through the entire ruins of Machu Picchu, and has never stopped going. We also got to see an ancient pit toilet used by the Incas. They actually used running water from a pathway in the ground to flush it out. The Incas were amazing astronomers. They built tons of things that aligned with the stars, the moon or the sun at different points of the year. It still amazes me how they could transport huge, heavy stones without even the help of machines. All of the stones in Machu Picchu were also from other mountains. I learned that to break the chunks of rock off, they couldn't just hammer away with tools. They put water in the cracks of the stone. This would slowly start to break away the stone, but it took about 15 years to get a whole chunk off the mountain. It's thought that they transported them by rolling them over long, log-shaped rocks. There was actually a big, heavy rock on top of a few cylinders of stone in Machu Picchu. David said that the Incas dropped everything and left quickly when they suspected the Spanish were coming to Machu Picchu. But they never did come. Our private tour finished at around ten, the time when all the other tourists started flooding in. We had a few hours to walk around by ourselves until we had to leave. Machu Picchu is exactly how it looks in all of the postcard pictures. Well, like most things, it's even better in real life. It really is amazing. I personally think it's better than Tikal, especially because it's framed by tall, beautiful mountains. There were lots of llamas there also. We went up to get the postcard-view picture of Machu Picchu, and by that time all of the fog had cleared. But there were also lots of tourists there. I could tell the clear difference between people who had hiked the Inca trail, and people who hadn't. The people who hadn't had nice outfits, sandals on, makeup, and perfect hair. I, on the other hand, had on baggy hiking clothes that were caked with dirt, boots that had just spent four days tromping through mud, a bright red face from my sunburn, and hair covered with an alpaca fur hat because it was just a greasy mess. I looked completely dirty and disgusting. I was really proud of myself for doing the trail though.
I was really sad to leave. I actually didn't want the Inca trail to be over. But we got on the busses that took us to Aguas Calientes, and met up with our group at a pizza place. Some people went to thermal springs, but (because of online reviews) we decided not to. We played cards with Sara, Tom and Kim. The pizza place was right by the railroad tracks, and we got to watch the trains pass by. My mom and I went to a hostal across the street and payed for showers. It felt great to be clean again! We later took a train, then another bus to get back to Cusco. We ended up getting back at around 11pm, and said our goodbyes to everyone. I was glad to sleep on a soft, cozy bed again, but part of me still wanted to be hiking the Inca trail. I will always remember my experience there. It has probably been my favorite part of my travels so far.
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