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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Machu Picchu

PERU | Tuesday, 8 January 2008 | Views [705]

            Today was the most exciting day of my time in Peru. I visited Machu Picchu! I woke up at 4:00 AM, packed up, and went down to the restaurant for breakfast. I had pancakes, but there was no syrup. It reminds me of cereal with no milk in Cuzco and mashed potatoes with no gravy at summer camp in 1999. Then, we were ready for our final trek! It was very misty out and it drizzled a little. Much of the trek was uphill and consisted of mostly rocky stairs. Every step I took, I was feeling happier because I was getting ever closer to fulfilling another one of my childhood dreams. My legs were aching because I had walked over 20 miles in the past three days (with most of it being uphill, and while I’m sick). Some of the stairs were extremely steep, including a set of super steep steps leading up to the Sun Gate. I climbed up bravely, and I was finally there! But, I could not see Machu Picchu because it was too misty. I got a photo at the Gate, and we headed almost straight down through the mist. One young man was crying; probably because he couldn’t see Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate. I told him I was proud of him for coming all this way. About 20 minutes later, we were finally there! The clouds and mist had cleared just enough for that perfect postcard shot. I also got a photo where I’m looking at Machu Picchu; Alvaro said I look like Hiram Bingham (the man who re-discovered Machu Picchu). The ancient town had been forgotten about for hundred of years before Bingham discovered it by accident. It was covered in dense plant growth before Bingham returned to clear it. Afterward, I went to the checkpoint and got a special stamp on my passport certifying that I’ve been to Machu Picchu. I then got a Red Bull for 19 soles ($6.33) as my treat for completing the Inca Trail. That would have cost me 8 soles in Cuzco, but this is a real tourist trap. We then met up and walked through the checkpoint. I had to leave my walking stick because it is not allowed in the ruins. Alvaro talked about the history of the ruins. The mist was clearing and the sun was coming out. However, there I saw a young man get carried out on a stretcher. He was awake but I couldn’t tell what happened to him. It’s very sad and unfortunate to hike the entire Inca Trail and then have to be carried out at Machu Picchu. I was guessing that he probably fell and hurt himself. Alvaro then took us up and showed us the three temples; sun, earth, and water. The temples were built with carved bricks that were cut and placed perfectly together, whereas the areas around it were built with just solid rocks. I kept taking lots and lots of pictures. We then saw the Temple of the Three Windows. Over to the left of Machu Picchu, there was a very distinct rainbow in the forested valley below. I got a photo and then we walked up to the sundial. Alvaro showed us a photo of Hiram Bingham at the sundial in 1911. The sundial had been damaged a few years ago when a crane fell on it during a commercial shoot. Afterward, it was our free time. Carla and her husband decided to head to Aguascalientes, while Brett, Mike, and I decided to climb Wayna Picchu, which is that tall peak behind Machu Picchu. Mr. Hanley had been asking me about that, and now I had a chance to find out. I shared a goodbye with Carla and her husband and then I headed on up. I had to sign my name at a checkpoint first. It was raining by then, but it was hot enough that I took off my shirt. The climb up was brutal, and some stretches I had to walk up very rocky stairs with nothing to hold on to. To add insult to injury, they were all wet, so it made the trip even more dangerous. Each step I took, I was more excited! One lady gave me some Inka Kola because I needed energy. It took about 40 minutes to get up to the final flight of stairs. Up there, I met a cute Aussie named Teagan. I got a photo with her and then headed up to the very top. I had to climb through a tunnel, which having my pack on made it tough to get through. After climbing one more flight of rocky stairs, I was at the peak of Wayna Picchu. The view was completely filled with ruins and jungle. I was on top of the world! I snapped picture after picture and stayed up there admiring the world around me. After about 10 minutes, it was time to head back down. Machu Picchu looked incredible as I started my descent. Going down was even scarier than going up, and I nearly fell a couple of times. The whole time on the Inca Trail, I only fell once despite all the rain. After going down, I signed out and then walked all the way through Machu Picchu, taking in my final views of this majestic monument before going to the checkpoint where I retrieved my walking stick. I put my shirt back on and then caught the bus. I saw Natalie and her sister, and Malena and her friends. I told Malena that I want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and all that and I said “You gotta love me!” and one of her friends replied with “You have an ego as big as that mountain.” I don’t think so because I help people out a lot. Many people in L.A. do have big egos, though. The road down the hill was a big zigzag, with a set of stairs running straight down the middle. A little boy in Inca apparel was running down the stairs and waving to us at each bend. He was running fast! At the bottom of the hill, he got on the bus and collected money. I only had 50 centimos to tip him because all of my money was buried in my backpack. I congratulated him because he is a FAST runner! He’s 10, and when I was in 5th grade I ran a 5-minute mile. I got off in Aguascalientes and met Alvaro at the restaurant he said to go to. Alvaro watched my stuff while I ran to the Internet café across the way. I got emails from a few people and then I walked to a store and got a Red Bull. The other members of the group had not shown up yet. I sat with Alvaro and got a pizza. It was alright; I’ve had better pizza. Aguascalientes is a town that caters strictly to tourists; much like Yulara in Australia and Te Anau in New Zealand. The town is only 2,040 meters, so it was warmer than in Cuzco. Brett and Mike showed up and then Alvaro gave us our train tickets and his email. At 2:30, we parted ways. It was such a fun trip! How many people get to hike the Inca Trail? Shortly thereafter, I walked up to the hot springs. It was up a big hill, like I haven’t walked up enough hills on this trip. I paid 10 soles and changed into my swimming shorts. I had worn the same clothes for 4 days! So it felt good to wear something different. I stored my bags and then jumped on in. It was raining a little, but it felt good in the hot pool. I saw Katie again; a Brit who I met on the Inca Trail. To toast my trek, I ordered a piña colada. It felt and tasted good! The atmosphere of the hot springs is a rather tropical setting. In total, I spent about an hour there before getting out. It was a nice treat after the long Inca Trail. I saw Helena’s son, Nabil and I was going to walk with him to the train station, but the woman at the towel stand was trying to rip me off saying that I didn’t pay for my towel rental. Anyway, I sorted things out and then started out toward the train station. In a back alley that I took, I met a nice Argentine girl named Soledad. It means “loneliness.” I got a bit lost, but I found my way to the station and I checked out the various souvenirs. There were many different rocks and crystals for sale. I met an older man from New Zealand and we were talking about the earthquake that rocked Gisborne last month. At the train station, I saw Helena and her kids again. She’s a very nice lady, and I’ll sure miss her. At 5:00, the train was off. It was a four hour journey from Aguascalientes to Cuzco, and I was thinking it was like an hour. The scenery is very pretty, with raging rivers and rainforests, and then snow and mountains. On the train I was talking with a man from Canada. We were talking about the Cuban Embargo. Someone in Costa Rica told me that the reason the embargo was put in place is because America was upset that Cuba was on its ways to becoming a global superpower, and that we were giving them the tools to accomplish that, and that the only way to stop Cuba was to place an embargo on them. We were also talking about World War II and Japan’s involvement in the war. The train ride was long; it actually took five hours and it had to go through four switchbacks because the hill is very steep. It was very cold out. At the Cuzco train station, I said goodbye to Helena and her kids, and I promised them I’d see them in Sydney someday. My transfer was there, and it took about 10 minutes to get to my hotel. I got my key right away, put my stuff in my room and then ran down to the massage place. It had closed, but luckily there was another one still open right across the street. The massage felt so good, and I fell into a deep sleep during it. I was feeling really tired, but I walked to the internet café next door and checked basketball scores and email. The Lakers have won their last three games. There, I met a nice girl named Mishell. She’s Peruvian, but speaks French. She was having a bad night, so I told her she could stay in my room for the night because I have two beds. I didn’t stay on the internet very long. Mishell and I walked around Plaza de Armas for a bit and then walked to my room. She speaks little English, but she seemed to be attracted to me. I have a girlfriend, though. At the hotel, the clerk was telling me that I’d have to pay $20 extra if she stayed the night. I agreed, but it isn’t fair because my hotel is part of my Inca Trail tour and I shouldn’t have to pay extra for a person that I’m just trying to help out. Mishell and I communicated as best we could in broken English and Spanish. One thing I have to say is that my Spanish has really improved since I went to Costa Rica. However, I’m still a very long way from being fluent. After talking for awhile, Mishell decided she was feeling better and she headed home. I know I should have walked with her, but she said she was alright. I then took a shower. I’m going to get to sleep now because I’ve been up 22 hours today. See you tomorrow.

Tags: monuments

 

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