34 Photos

Happy at Machu Picchu
7 wonders at a 7 wonder

Day at the fields in Aguas Calientes.Day at the fields in Aguas Calientes. (Miki Thomaston)
We awoke early and had a quick breakfast. Our guide tells the story of Ollantay-the great general of Pachacutec (a great Inca leader). Ollantay had a great passion for Pach's daughter. He finally, after many years, gets her and brings her to the town. Pacha comes to take his daughter back. He requires many great tasks out of Ollantay before giving in to their love.
We make a quick Ollantaytambo ruins trip. Our favorite part was the on/off fountain. Our guide stepped over the rope and explained that the fountain would speed up and slow as he rubbed his hand across the edge of the fountain. He does it over and over and we are in awe. We each get a chance. Shoosh. Top secret! I took a video for the non-believers.
We ran to the train station to catch our 8am train. We barely made it. PeruRail is quite nice and we even got snacks along the way. Many great views and sites lined the river along our route. We left our packs at the Inti Inn in Aguas Calientes are set out for what we came to Peru for. A little girl reaches out to me and kisses me (almost-an inch of my cheek)and runs off. We climb aboard the busses and watch in awe as the meander up the mountain side. The views of the valley and river and mountains are undescribable. You have to see it for yourself.
We arrive Machu Picchu (MP) and the entrance was very ordinary. We entered and showed our passport. Then I stuffed our "stuff" in my day pack. I asked the guide Donde el banos, por favor. He said no bathrooms inside. I swelled with disappointment. I trekked back outside and paid 1 soles ($0.38) to go to the bathroom (and get toilet paper). I got to the turnstile to come back in and the gatekeeper asked for my passport. It was inside the day pack. I explained, but he said he didn't remember me. He asked the other guy. He again said he didn't remember me. I was so close and so far away! I took off glasses and hat and gave my most charming smile. He finally lets me in.
We walked up and around and up and around and up and around and then...there it was. The view I had been waiting for. Huana Picchu stood tall in the background protecting the beautiful Incan City. We had reached the view that most pictures show. A picture can't do it justice. We saw a trail up Huana Picchu and our guide pointed out that that was tomorrows adventure.
We were winded climbing the steps to the top of MP (not the mountain but the ruins; the mountain that the ruins are on is called MP mountain). We got to the top of the ruins and rested on one of the back side terraces up near the guard gate. The sun was out full force. I used the time to water up and sunscreen up, and of course have a quick snack. Our guide told us about the ruins and pointed to some of rooms. He gave his thoughts as to the purpose of MP, which was more than what I read in any book.
MP was the summer city for the Inca. The people who followed the Inca, were the Quechua people. The Inca went between MP and Cusco. About 700 people lived there. Ther was a main gate that had eyelets to allow for locking. The lost city was hidden from the bottom of the Urabamba valley because of its location between the mountains. Our guide believed that the people eft it when the Spanish invaded. Manco Inca helped keep it a secret when he fled Cusco after the last Inca push. He fled to the Amazon.
The spot was chosen for its isolated location and becasue of its position with the sun. The Incas constantly used the sun and mountains positions to their advantage, along with their civil engineering marvels with working fountains and drainage systems. Agriculture thrived because of these choices.
We walked down and saw the main gate, the house of the Lillyputs(per our guide there were small people that lived among the Incas that had special powers, as did the hair lips and those with birth marks), and the house of an average Inca.
We walked to the temple of the 3 windows. It was where the chosen person (maybe someone in a coming of age ceremony) an dthe sun shines a 3rd eye in the center of the forehead. Their were steps to adjust to different heights depending on the person.
The Principle Temple, which was where the priest likely made sacrifices and the shotenwork was beyond imagination. The left hand door jamb has 32 corners.
Then to the Intihuatana, which was known as the hitching post of the sun. It was positioned to show the exact equinoxes.
Another room where was no roof and was 2 small round disks on the ground, was used to view the stars. The 2 disks had a small amount of water in them.
We visited the sacred rock (broken recently by a film crew). In this building there were 2 other rocks as you stood back, you could see they were somewhow shapped like the mountains behind them (one was Huana Picchu).
Then to Intimachay. There was a small cave you make your way through. The Incas believed it was symbollic of being in utero. I snapped a quick picture of Jan's rebirth upon exiting. The back wall got light for 10 dayss before and after the winter solstice. Next we saw The Temple of the Condor. There was a rock shaped like a condor, including its wide wing span.
We traveled tot he Royal Secor or house of the Inca. He had a living room, kitchen, bedroon, and the only personal bathroom in the city. There were 2 small stones in the kitchen area that were heavily debated. Our guide felt sure the Inca kneeled at the smaller stone and ceremonial applied Chicha to his head, a drink made from fermented maize.
Next we saw the founatain area (16 in all). Some were still running. Amazing. The fountains were fed from under the ruins in an elaborate system. We planned and engineered. They systems were underground to prevent algae growth. The terraces were built to drain as well and prevent collapse. They were layered gravel, clay and then dirt. This system also filter the water. The first fountain, and freshest water, was at the house of the Inca.
The Palace of the Princesses was nearby. The Inca would choose a wife from the virgins. Adjacent to the building was a 2 story building. Not time fror Intipunku, The Sun gate. At this point, I had a small regret of not having done the trail. I vow to gain redemption tomorrow at Huana Picchu.
We all met for a water (well, Mick had a cusquena) at the exit. I had chica morado. It is refreshing, just as claimed. We agreed to head down for the day. We picked a spot near the railroad tracks in Aguas Calientes for a celebratory lunch. We all drank to MP and Pacha mama. Our guide told us of the Inca tradition to cheers and give a small drop to Pacha mama. We talked about the great day as a band began to play Peruvian music. A woman started dancing down the way and our guide bet me she was American. I said sure thing on the bet. He asked and she was an Aussie.
The singer came to our table and both our guide and Mick had small role in singing the song. Mic and Jan danced. How great. A definite highlight as the couple from Maryland put on a show. Their young son acted embarrassed and we assured him he would over it.
We all went back tot he Inti for a nap. We trudged up the hill after a long day. How could I nap after all of that. I checked emails and whittled mine 90+ down to 8. Jody and I decided to try out the hot baths. We made the 20 minute walk up to the baths. The sun was almost down and it was between 5 and 6pm. The weather was chilly. Coat, no coat, coat, no coat. I had trouble the entire trip. We were unimpressed by the baths. I went in just to say that I had been there and done that. I realized the girl next to me had a bar of soap after a few minutes under the hot water spouting from the wall. I looked closer and here mother had soap and head and shoulders was on the wall. Too much. I laughed and it was time for me to go. We grabbed supper and then headed to bed. I would have a big day ahead of me.

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