Sunday, April 25, 2010

Peru Part 3

April 15, 2010 Machu Picchu

Because of massive rains and the destroyed train tracks we left for Machu Picchu at 4 am. Some people walk the Inca trail and 2 or 4 days. We didn’t have enough time and we found out later that those treks have 2-3 porters for each person and all you have to carry is your personal possessions, they carry all your food and bedding for you and prepare all the meals.

The other Inca ruins we’d seen were in the high dry part of the Inca Empire. Machu Picchu is much lower (7,000 ft) and is in the beautiful tropical, lush jungle. I was prepared to be underwhelmed with all the hype of this ruin, but it was incredible. It is a massive area that was an ancient breadbasket for the Inca that lived in the area. The inhabitants build the terraces by hauling tons and tons of gravel sand and soil up the steep slopes to fill in the terraces. Less than a 1,000 people lived in the buildings; it was mostly a farm and ceremonial plaza. The sun on the grassy terraces looked like glowing jewels. I really liked how they would incorporate a huge stone into the temple or house wall. We climbed Wuayna Picchu, the tall mountain right next to Machu Picchu. If you turn pictures of Machu Picchu on it side you can see the profile of an Inca warrior’s face and that mountain is the nose. It was a spectacular 2 hour humid hike, virtually straight up the mountain. For someone queasy about heights this would not be a good place to go. Now if you wanted to quietly get rid of someone then it would be a different story. They only let in 400 people a day to climb it and we were #381 and #382. We saw the guards carry a couple of people down on a stretcher. It is such a well hidden site; it took hundreds of years to find it. The Inca people were so amazing at stonework and building. It’s pathetic that only 160 of Pizarro’s men overcame such an advanced culture, effectively wiping them out. If only the Inca’s in the 1500’s had had gunpowder, the wheel, the written word, they could have repelled the Spanish invaders.


It rained all day. The river right outside our hotel seems stronger and more destructive in this heavy rain. The side streets had piles of sandbags from the flood in January. We tried to hook up with the missionaries but no luck. Boy we were blessed to get to see Machu Picchu on a sunny day. We went to the hot springs in Augas Calliente which weren’t all that hot, but the high mountains rising abruptly with jungle vegetation growing all over them was great. That afternoon we spent 6 hours traveling via train and bus to get back to Cusco.

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