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Machu Picchu and the Sun Gate

face on the mountain at Ollantaytambo
face on the mountain at Ollantaytambo
I awoke to the sound of rain at two in the morning. It sounded wonderful against the greenery outside our room, but I was afraid it would ruin our morning on Machu Picchu. I did not sleep much that night. It was still raining at 4:30 and I was starting to bemoan the fact that I had waited about ten years to get here and was not going to be able to see or enjoy the ruins of Machu Picchu. Zed and I got up at 4:30 and ate breakfast as Santiago was going to pick us up at the hotel at six and we would walk to the bus station where we would make the 30 minute trip up the mountain. I had left my poncho back in Cusco and debating whether to go buy one when Santaigo showed up promptly at six and when we walked out of our hotel, the rain miraculously stopped. I had been praying to the rain gods and anyone else who would listen to please not let my morning at Machu Picchu be ruined by the weather. By the way, it was never very cold, only early in the mornings. The weather was beautiful while we were there. We met about 17 buses coming down from the mountain as we rode up. There were many switchbacks in the road. Seeing the mountains through the mist made for some spectacular scenery. We were there for the sunrise, but due to the mist did not get a very good picture. Then, miraculously, the clouds slowly parted and the image of the ancient Incan ruins came into sight. It was like watching a slow motion movie. The backdrop of the mountains, the terraces, the llamas grazing
below made me feel as though I was the first outsider to see this amazing and wonderful sight. My first glimpse of the ruins of Machu Picchu will be forever etched into my memory. Santiago maneuvered us around the many people and we never felt crowded. We were very impressed with the engineering and architectural skills of the Incas. They worshiped Mother Earth, the sun and water. I was determined to hike to the Sun Gate, so Zed, Santiago and myself started up the trail. The other family went back to Aguas Calientes to meet us later for the train. I had to stop and rest a couple of times, but reached the top in good time. I was disappointed when we first got to the top as the ruins were hidden by clouds. After a few minutes, the clouds dissipated and we had a wonderful view of the ruins, the road up to the mountain and the river. The mist made for some fantastic pictures. I felt like everything was working to make this trip perfect for me. The hotel on Machu Picchu was once a museum. We boarded the bus at noon and once we reached Aguas Calientes, we boarded the train and were met by our driver and van at Ollantaytambo for the hour and a half ride back to Cusco. I was delightfully tired and ready to shower. However, when we went to retrieve our bags at our Cusco hotel, we were told we did not have a reservation. After about 30 minutes of talking, Santiago had taken care of matters for us and we walked a few blocks to their sister hotel for the night.

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