It's a very rare occurrence but it happens. Once in a blue moon I leave my surfboard behind and head for the mountains. A few moments of separation anxiety occur, but time apart is good for the soul. And what better cause for inland dwelling than the one and only Machu Picchu?
To be honest I wouldn't have gone but my friend is visiting from Brazil. Sometimes I need a third party to shake me out of my comfort zone and try something different. We arrived by domestic flight to Cusco. I was cold. I live exclusively in my flip-flops but it was clear that wasn't going to cut it anymore. The rain was pouring down soaking my freezing toes, and I had to buy a $1 blue poncho off a lady in the street. One mini van ride and a seriously overpriced but stunning train ride later we made it to our destination - the small town nestled in the mountains bellow Machu Picchu.
A strange mix pot of nationalities, the town is a tourist mecca attracting people from all over the world. It's a buzzing little place with so many different restaurants, hotels and some really nice hot springs. We spent the chilly evenings drinking red wine and playing Jenga. The first night I felt the altitude. I thought I was tired, had the flue or something - my head was pounding. Local remedies are always the best answer, after a few cups of coca tea I was feeling a lot better.
The bus left for the ruins at 5:30 in the morning. A huge line of tourists huddled together in the cold waiting. While the history and structure of the ancient Inca ruins are incredible, it was the view that got me. I can't even explain it. It's like this little hole in the mountains, a platform nestled in a truly overwhelming mountain range with giant peaks towering in every direction.
We made the extra hike up to Huayna Picchu (also known as Wayna Picchu), a 8,920 ft peak overlooking the main ruins. There were so many stairs. I'm used to mountain hikes with a few steep parts separated by some flats but this was ALL stairs. Just climbing up and up and up with your legs on fire and the thin cold mountain air in your lungs. We stopped at the top then continued down the other side on a small trail leading to the Temple of the Moon. Half way down my legs were like noodles. With every step they were shaking, threatening to give out beneath me. Then on the way back up it started to rain. I double plastic bagged my camera gear and tried to hide under my $1 blue street poncho. But it was beautiful. The rain and the clouds, the cold and the never ending stairs, the big mountains staring down at me.
Coming back to Lima our flight was delayed by 5 hours. The airport isn't heated and the toilet in the waiting lounge was broken. My tennis shoes were completely soaked so I resorted to a serious fashion faux pas , I wore big wooly socks with my flip-flops. Now I'm reunited once again with mother ocean but a strange thing has happened - I'm dreaming of the mountains.
|5:30am bus lines|
|I ate one of these for dinner. I'm sorry, but it tasted pretty good.|
|Blue poncho high fashion|
|James checking out the view|
|Stairs, so many stairs!|
|Local kids. Always good for a laugh.|