Skipping over (for now) Quito, Banos, Cuenca, Trujillo & Chan Chan, and Lima — I’m in Cusco and I went to Machu Picchu yesterday!
Alone on like two hours of sleep, in the rain, on swollen ankles and borked knees and back, and it was definitely worth it. Spectacularly.
I arrived in Lima with train tickets for Sunday, but still no actual ticket to Machu Picchu, due to the legendarily headachey website. There were still plenty of tickets available, but really did not want the additional what-if of, you know, what if, so I spent the extra $10 USD or so to book through the hostel travel agent. Unnecessary, but halfway worth it, at least.
So my day started about 4am, since the morning train for Poroy near Cusco leaves just after 6, and the train station is outside of town. I was grateful that the Uber driver did not try to engage me in pre-dawn Spanish practice and I dozed the twenty minutes to the station. Naturally, as soon as I was there, I ran into my two roommates from Brazil in Lima, with whom I had exchanged numbers and fully intended to get a drink with, and then didn’t. They were taking Inca Rail, though, and I took Peru Rail (effectively the same, as far as I can tell), so we just kinda waved and groggily asked if everyone was still alive and moved on.
Being freezing fucking cold, the train station had a number of heat lamps inside, which I thought was quite classy. My mom would approve.
Ended up sitting next to a sort of extended American family, which as an American I will say is hit or miss, but they were very pleasant, and I talked all the way with my seatmate, commiserating about idiotic injuries and ogling the incredible views. (She was, of course, from Florida as well.)
They say the train between Cusco/Ollantayambo to Aguas Calientes is almost as amazing as the ruins themselves, and like, they ain’t lying.
Before I start with the huge photodump, oh my god, this is not a short day; I wish I’d stayed the night in Ollantaytambo. 5am Uber ride, 3.5 hour train, 20 minute terrifying bus ride; 5 miles hiking around he ruins; 20 minute bus ride, 1.5 hour train ride; wandering aimlessly out the train station hoping there was in fact still a collectivo to Cusco — which there was, exactly one, with exactly one seat. But it worked as intended, and got back my hostel after a very short but very very cold walk from the collectivo to my hostel.
(My photos are, as usual while still on Chromebook, unedited and disorganized; apologies.)
So we got to Aguas Calientes, which is a pretty town, though pure tourist. Growing up in Daytona Beach, I’m like, oh, yeah, AU hometown. But I befriended a cat. (With assistance of leftover empanada.)
ANYWAY and then I got the (irritatingly expensive) bus up the hairpin curves to the temple itself. The driver was very safe, but I am coming to terms with my fear of heights, and staring out at level distance to Andean peaks and then looking down at the bus tires like inches away… . .
But we did not fall off the edge.
I didn’t get the Machu Picchu passport stamp; I’m not sure if it’s even still a thing, since all info is from who the hell knows. I’ll live. And I started climbing up the like Actual Hike, got about fifteen minutes up — and it was difficult, due to the fact that I can’t fucking breathe, but could have done it slowly — but could not go down, due to knees about to pop out every step. So I crept back down and went down to the feeble-person-circuit, which is still mostly all of the temple, just not the cool views. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to do it at all until I realized there was an easier path, so I’m cool with it.
Also lots of alpacas.
Zona de Trabajo, indeed.
And now to collect the laundry that probably have should been burned after Machu Picchu, along with my skin, coated in sweat and rain and sunscreen and bug spray, and head to Puno tomorrow morning, to see Lake Titicaca, because: