Sun 19 Mar 06

Another bright and early wake-up. By 5:45 AM, I’m showered , dressed, packed, and enjoying a continental breakfast of bread, warm banana smoothie, and hot tea, courtesy of our host Jose.

At 6 AM we meet our Machu Picchu tour guide near the town center and catch a tourist bus up the hillside. Switching back and forth, skirting steep dropoffs. The weather is unfolding perfectly. Mostly blue skies, bright sun, a few wispy clouds.

We arrive at the entrance to Machu Picchu and our guide starts to slowly do a head count in shaky English. I’m extremely impatient at this point. The impatience largly pushed by the perfect weather and that feeling that I’m missing my chance to snap a few pictures before the real tourist crunch comes ruching in. So, I bolt before I even a hear a single word of Machu Picchu interpretation, telling Weaver and Mark that I’ll catch up with them in a bit. Well, it turns out that after the first five minutes I didn’t see them again for the rest of the day.

Really, it was a very pleasant way to experience the ruins though. Scampering around on my own. Never having to wait for anyone or come to a group consensus on which direction to head next. I had numerous moments of complete solitude, which, to me, is a far better way to soak in the feel of a place anyway.

I started off by racing up to the sun gate high above Machu Picchu, then explored briefly down the Incan trail to a second sun gate. All by myself, watching the shadows shift across the ruins as the sun came up. Everything beautiful and peaceful.

Then spent to rest of the morning wandering the more popular areas of the ruins, catching bits and pieces of other tours, and trying not to get too sunburned.

Huayna Picchu was closed to trail repair which was a bit of a bummer. Overheard a couple of British girls having this conversation while I was staring up at Huayna.

Fucking hell. If I had to walk that far to church. I’d be anti-religious. Seems a bit sill to me really. (pause) I feel the need to worship today. I think I’ll go for a five hour trek, then throw myself on nettles.

I found this amusing.

In the afternoon I started to climb the actual peak of Machu Picchu, but stalled out about halfway up due to lack of food, lack of water, and lack of sunscreen. Probably could’ve used some advance planning on that one. I stumbled my way back down to the main ruins, caught another bus back to town and waited for Weaver and Mark to show up, which they did about forty-five minutes later.

We all showered up at the hostal, then had dinner with a quite gregarious English-speaking Mexican guy who Weaver invited over. Played some more rummy. Shared a few pisco sours and nearly missed our train ride back to Cusco due to not paying any attention to the time. Thankfully our departure time was delayed because of a landslide over the tracks somewhere down the line.

On the ride back we’re all exhausted and not looking forward to four hours of knocking knees, but the time passes fairly quickly.

In Cusco, we catch a Taxi in the rain back to Wasichay Hostal and crash for the night.