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Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu by Train - 7 days...well 8! :)

Landing in the airportLanding in the airport (Shahnaz Ahmed)
How do I describe the start of this day? Well, for starters last night, my room mate Salman woke up pretty much every hour to first throw up and then sounded like significant diarrhea. I tried to sleep through it, but when I woke up Salman says he's NOT going and he's going to stay in Ollantaytambo! I was quite confused. He basically said his diarrhea was so bad he can't take the train. I couldn't convince him otherwise. I got ready and called Boris, our tour guide. Boris came and told him that there would bathrooms at the train station and the train. Besides this was Machu Picchu. He came so far for this! Boris told him he would get antibiotics and he should be fine. It was speculated that it might have been the *chicha* - an alcoholic drink made from corn. Anyways, that was speculated cause I didn't have any.

Finally we made out way to the train station after breakfast. Salman didn't have any breakfast other than black tea. I finished ALL the prickly pears and most of the mangoes. I think I've been eating really well on this trip and enjoying the new tastes.
Anyways, Boris let me take his seat as he had seats by the window on the left - the best way to go. Great views of the Urubamba river and of course the mountains. And then we got to the train station at Agua Calientes and went to our hotel El Mapi. Best hotel so far, but poor ventilation in the bath room! :(

Anyways, since we got to the hotel by 10am, our room was not ready. We left our luggage (overnight pack) at the hotel and off we went to a bus. The bus winded up the mountain on a very narrow lane on the ledge. I must say it is scary just ONE way, it is a lot scarier when a bus comes the other way and they manage to pass each other. The views of the mountain reminded me of Avatar - Pandora! Mountains converged with green and just plain beautiful in its grandeur. Tried to get pictures, but not clear from a window. Tried to take it all in. Then we went to Machu Picchu and there we were, looking out at the same mountains and the stream that ran below it. And of course, there was Machu Picchu. Set between these mountains. It was just beautiful. Like PARADISE. Can't describe it really. As we were going through Machu Picchu Salman had to go back for the rest room again! So, it was just me and Boris continuing on the tour. Later on we were able to find Salman and continued on tour. After the tour, we had options of going back to Machu Picchu and hanging out or climbing to the Sun gate. So, to the dismay of Boris, I wanted to climb the Sun Gate path. Boris joined me. Salman stayed back. The climb was an hour and tiring as it was fully uphill. Walk was easy but going up hill in the heat was difficult. But the views were great. Machu Picchu looked small from way up there, but the views were great. I was glad to know that Huayna Picchu mountain hike was still not higher than where I went so I'm glad. No desire to climb Huayna Picchu. Would be too scary for me and being so steep I'm sure I'll have a rough time up the mountain. So instead, tomorrow we go see a waterfall after an hour hike. I'm looking forward to it too, but I feel the highlight of my trip was today. Tomorrow we should be back in Cusco in the evening. Oh and the iced tea at the reception area in our hotel was great. But I can't drink much because I'm peeing like crazy due to hypoxia! But I'm doing well... :)

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