Sunday 3/15/09 Machu Pichu
This day started out early. I had an alarms set for 3am and Madison had one for 1:20am. Early, looking back now that’s an ungodly time to get up. But that was OK. Because we were going to one of the world wonders: Machu Pichu.
To catch an early morning train up the mountain, the group was asked to meet that the mercado at 4:30am. My 3am alarm made more sense than Madison’s 1:20.
As soon as the bus started moving Madison fell right back to sleep. I stayed up for a bit watching the city lights pass by. I did doze off but when I woke back up the sun rise looked pink through the fogged up window. Priceless.
The train we were taking up the mountain served a boxed breakfast on the way up and a dinner on the way down. I passed on the breakfast. The ride took a couple hours, give or take.
From the buses we had to make our way through a market to get to the buses that would take us up the rest of the way. These buses would go racing back and forth up the mountain. When two of them would meet on the road you could have stuck your hand out the window and high-fived the other bus. And I thought the drivers in Cuzco were crazy!
You would think that when you get to a world wonder there would be a grand sense of Ahh. When we got to the top and off that crazy bus, I didn’t get that sense right away. Why would there be Ahh if the first thing to see is a restaurant? And pay phones, a jewlery bathroom and a spot with lockers? A let down… just a little.
Our group was given their tickets and we proceeded to a house on the path where we had to sign a visitors book and have our passports looked at. When everyone was through, we were on our way to the hidden ruins.
I say hidden because at the time of the Spanish invaders, it couldn’t bee seen. And when it was found again in the 1900’s trees and vegetation had totally taken over the place.
This place was huge! It had been estimated that 600-1000 people lived in the “fortified” city at one time. when it was abandoned 80% of the bodies found were women. That brings up questions like: Why were there more women than men?
At the time there were three theories given to the group. The first was that this city had been a home to virgin women of the Sun. Another suggested that them men had left to go fight the invaders. A third theory about aliens was tossed in for giggles.
When Mauch Pichu was found again, people found mummified bodies and thought that the Spanish had been there. The skeletons showed that the poeple hadn’t gotten enough calcium in life. There were skulls that had holes and cracked jaw bones. It was also found that many of the women had syphilis.
The first things we saw were the houses of the nobility. Some suggest that Machu Pichu wasn’t a completed city when it was abandoned. The reason for this is because of the open quarry right behind the houses of the nobility.
From there we saw the religious square. Here the buildings were in the shape of a cross. I should clarify which type of cross it was. When most people think cross they think of the christian interpretation. Here is was more along the lines of a plus sign.
Next was the industrial houses. When the city was re-found they found tools, including a stone abacus.
You could take a thousand picture of Machu Pichu, but they will never do it the justice it deserves. You really have to go there to get the full feel of the place.
After the main tour the group split in two. One half would follow a guide to the sun temple while the other would explore the city further on their own. Madison and I chose the sun temple.The trip from the city up to the temple takes about 45 minutes to an hour to complete.
At first I regretted going to the temple. Don’t get me wrong. It was fun and hard, but I was slow. So I didn’t get to hear all the cool facts… Even if I didn’t get great pictures of Machu Pichu and learn cool things, I at least go braggin’ rights. I climbed 2,000ish steps, in the rain almost by myself.
When we got down from the temple it was time for lunch. The group was to eat at a place Toto’s House, which was back in the market. Another crazy bus ride separated us from the food.
I can’t remember what I had for lunch. I do remember that there were four men singing for the guests as they ate. As we were leaving I bought a CD from them.
After Lunch we were given our train tickets for the ride home. The whole group didn’t make it on the first train. One adult and half the group, myself included, would be taking the later train. This was a good and bad thing. Good because it would give us more time to look around, Bad because it gave us time to look around and shop.
I ended up finishing my shoping for gifts in this market- although I did wonder about getting something for the grandparents. Little cousins and immediate family members are easy, even friends are easier to shop for than grandparents at times. I was a Peruvian shop-o-hollic.
As we were shopping and it was starting to get dark a rumor started floating around that the chaperon for the second train had left on the first one leaving us remaining students high and dry. Naturally those of us left behind had minor freak-outs. Thankfully this rumor had no truth to it. The sigh of relief was audible. I’m pretty sure if he had left on the other train he would have gotten some choice words from us students next time we saw him.
The train ride and walk home were uneventful.
As an adult I wouldn’t mind going back to Machu Pichu and taking a slower look at things. If this post has put the travel bug in your brain below are some of the sites I’ve been looking at to plan my return trip.
- EF College Break
- Student Universe Tours
- Peru and Machu Picchu Tours
- How to Travel to Machu Picchu (informational article)