Aguas Calientes, Peru
We needed to be ready by 3.30 am so that the porters could pack up all the tents and take the 5.00 am train for their day off. We all had to wait at the park gate until 5.30am!!! I laid down my raincoat on the ground to rest a bit. We must have been 200 people waiting. Another go with the flow moment! The gates finally opened and we had to hike up and down with our headlights until the sun rose. We thought it was going to be an easy day to Machu Picchu; I think it was not even 5 miles, but we were all tired and many people were sick so it was difficult to trek. It started to rain also on the trail so that was challenging to wear the ponchos and climb steep stairs, almost stepping on the ponchos and falling. Then we finally crossed the Sun Gate. At which point you see the entire Machu Picchu compound and steep mountains surrounding it. It’s a moment to remember and much more significant when you walk the trail as opposed to taking the train. Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the world and also called the Lost City of the Incas. The Lost City is clearly separated in three section; The agriculture to the left, The middle section is dedicated to religion with its temple and offerings, the right side was for the King’s entourage and his family or their habitations, plazas, food storage. Only 200 to 300 people lived there but they were of high ranks. The Incas religion was all comprehensive in that their God was Viracocha and they prayed to the sun, moon and stars, they also believed in never destroying nature but working with it. The Inca empire was built in the shape of the Milky Way; which is so vivid in these parts. You see no planes and the clouds are natural, the air so crisp… Our guide explained that the spoken language then was Quechua as it is to this day, in many parts of Peru. We walked for at least 2 hours in the various parts, the agricultural ladders with the llamas, walking around the temple, going to the top plaza and just enjoying the breathtaking views in the light fog and rain. This was truly a physical achievement for me and a lot of people. I was elated to have been able to withstand all the trials we had to face during this trip. In all honesty none of this would have been possible or comfortable without our porters and guides. We had it much easier than the Incas! Now that the hardest part was completed, we spent the night in a hotel in Agua Caliente. There was not enough room for me as I now will get a single room for the rest of the trip. So they sent me to another very basic hotel, maybe a 2 stars. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in one of those not even in my twenty’s! After 4 days of not showering though, all I cared about is a hot shower and a conformance bed; which I got. The first thing a lot of us did was book a massage, which was great except you heard construction and noise, after I willed myself to relax- I wax able to enjoy it. All my muscles hurt afterwards as it was a blend a Inca massage and Swiss- or deep tissue . I met Eduardo , Chari, Sig, DENISE and Gilda for dinner at a fairly good Peruvian French fusion restaurant down the street. Right after I found a laundry service which would wash everything I had on the trail for 20 soles or $6.00!! The street were packed with people and a live band was playing in the towns square. I hit the pillow and passed out!….