I will never forget my first view of Machu Picchu. I was simply overwhelmed by it! How in the world did the Incans build it? Can you imagine constructing a city high in the mountains using no power equipment? Oh my. Not only that, but they built an incredible system of irrigation as well as terraces that I would challenge anyone to replicate.
Our guide, Jose Condor, urged us to roll out of bed early in the morning and leave Aguas Calientes before dawn to experience the light of sunrise and an absence of crowds. The nine of us did mange to do just that and were rewarded by having the place almost to ourselves for a little while. The clouds were uncooperative, though, and hid the sun but nevertheless the light and scenery was spectacular! It did in fact bring me to tears!
That is a shot of my husband hugging our daughter, Katy. We were all overcome by the sight of Machu Picchu and coupled with not having seen our girl for more than a year, it became a pretty emotional moment.
We spent the better part of the day hiking around the site, led by Jose who was so knowledgable and companionable. He told us about the stones the Incans used for construction, the siting of the windows to allow the sun in at certain times of the day and year and about the respect the Incans had for the earth. I loved hearing that part. A lot that we know about the site and the people is speculation as they left no written records behind. The archeologists and scientists have done a pretty good job piecing it all together, though.
Some of our group, the ones whose legs and toenails were in tact, hiked up the iconic peak that is the backdrop to Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu. From the stories they told me, it was a very narrow, steep, rocky path with lions and tigers and bears! I get teased a lot in my family… Anyway, they said it was well worth the tremendous effort and from the pictures they took, I’d agree.
At the end of the day we boarded a bus and wound down the steep, winding road back to Aguas Caliente saying so long to our guide and now friend, Jose, and to the hike we have so many fond memories of. That night we hopped on a train and left for Cusco where we stayed the night before boarding a bus for a long drive to Arequipa. The train was an experience in itself! Not long after we got rolling, a group of brightly costumed Peruvians danced enthusiastically down the aisle accompanied by loud music! Turns out they were selling woven goods, but still, it was fun and unique and enjoyable. They even enlisted my niece and one of my daughters as models!
I’ll wrap up our Peruvian adventure in my next post. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a good book to read about the man most attribute with the rediscovery of Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham, I read “Turn Right at Machu Picchu” by Mark Adams. Hiram was pretty obsessed with finding this place and it was a wonderful read.
Thanks for stopping by my blog!