Peru Part IV - Machu Picchu


Date: 22 December 2010

Day: Wednesday

Location: Aguas Calientes

We took our train to Machu Picchu at 6 AM this morning.

It was not like our train experience in India at all. It was very comfortable and luxurious. But most important and impressive of all were the tropical jungle forests and mountains through which we passed and the river that we followed during 3 hours.

Even though this life no longer amazes me, this planet still can. From time to time, I could not tell whether I was in this or next life, in heaven. I went between dimensions. I guess that the cloths I was wearing, which were not covered in bright jewels and changing colours reminded me that I was still in this life.

During the journey, we were served local fruits (i.e. cactus fruit). F. drank coca tea. We learnt today that the coca leaf is legal only in Peru to be able to cope with altitude sickness and it is illegal to take it outside the country. For days, we have been naively tasting coca teas and juices without realising what it really was! Of course, this is not coca, which has gone through a chemical process, so it doesn’t have harmful effects; it even contains calcium in abundance. The bones of the Inca mummies continue to grow for a few years after death because of the coca leaves they consumed during their lifetime.

Anyway, the closest modern settlement to Machu Picchu is a village called Aguas Calientes. It is a village in every sense of the word. There is absolutely nothing to do here besides visiting Machu Picchu.

We were put in room 305 in a hotel called Inti Inn. It would be wiser to call it a motel. There are stains on the sheets. It is loud. Lightening goes off in F. and my brains but we didn’t say anything to each other. On top of it all, the agency which arranged our reservations, booked our return train for 4 pm tomorrow. It would be a nightmare to stay here until that time.

We went to the train station to ask if we could change our tickets and found out that it was possible. Then we got on a bus to climb the mountain and go to Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas, El Dorado. The climb lasted 30 minutes.

Unluckily, the fickle Peruvian weather brought us rain. Yet, we could not do without sunglasses due to the light. So under the rain, we had to constantly look at where we were stepping in order to not fall at this altitude.

We could not comfortably observe our surroundings. Whenever we could lift our head, we understood why it is very important and nowadays very popular to come here. The view and the Inca city, which has been preserved 85% in its original state are breathtaking. It is really worth coming. I wish the weather conditions were better so we could go around more easily.

Because the Spanish invaders never could discover and destroy it here, it could have been preserved as it is until the American Professor Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911. In its former state, the walls and doors of the temples were completely covered in gold but as we have seen in other places before, there were no arts, handicrafts or ornaments.

They are very happy to have tourists over because thanks to the money they make from tourists, they can maintain the city. Otherwise, the bushes and trees grow very quickly in this tropical region and hide the city once again.

In the Quechua language, Machu means old, Picchu means mountain. Beyond 7 mountains, the Amazons start. It is really impressive. More than anything else, the nature and the view are splendid.

After going back to the village, we changed our train ticket and made a reservation at the hotel in Cusco for tonight. It is not possible for us to stay here any longer, especially in this weather condition. Actually, because of the agency’s bad advice and planning, we lost at least 2 days in Peru. F. and I would have preferred to spend the extra time in Buenos Aires. But now it appears that we will only have one full day in Buenos Aires.

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