Tuesday, April 10, 2012
We get up early and it is still dark. We grab a bite to eat in the hotel, mainly just some fruit. We get outside to the bus stop and at least 100 people are already in line. It is first come first serve for the buses. so we end up on the forth bus and it departs. We get to the road up the mountain and it is a rough zig zag all the way up. I attempt to take some photos but the ride is way too rough and I actually fear for our safety as the driver seemingly drives way too fast and about halfway up, the empty buses are coming down and the road certainly doesn’t seem wide enough. So it is a white knuckle ride to the top and the cameras are parked. Take note to see the photos that show the road tomorrow!
So we get to the entrance and check in with our prepaid passes we acquired before we left for the trip. It is misty and foggy as our guide finds us and we step into a magical place!
The stone work and the magical nature of this place are a dream come true. I have wanted to visit this place since I was a young child and I firmly believed that dream would never come true! But here I am and it is real! We climb and descend, climb and descend, over and over again, marveling at the stone work that is beyond comprehension. Generations of Inca, Quechuan, and other civilizations built the structures using different techniques and methods and it is apparent.
When the Spaniards invaded Peru and destroyed the Inca people, they never found Machu Picchu. What a blessing! But the Spaniards brought with them disease and the Inkans that survived died off in a short time. So the biggest damage here besides the rotting away of wood materials is some random earthquake damage that is relatively mild. The last photo in this series shows the worst of it.
I try futilely to imagine living here. Our guide tells us that they haven’t uncovered one third of this place. They know it’s there and the terracing and city goes to the bottom of the mountain in all directions. But the Peruvian government has decided that they have reached their quota of tourists and want no more volume of people trampling the area. So they have put a moratorium on more excavation.
The fog and the rain have made for magical photos.
See the strange stone structure coming up? That is part of the “Temple of the Condor” where the people worshiped their gods. Later in the day, the rain starts to dry up and we find the Inca Trail and try to hike it to the Sun Gate. But partway up the Trail someone tells us it is 90 minutes each way. We realize we don’t have the energy for this and we get to a point and take a distant photo of the Sun Gate.
The Sun Gate is two thirds way up the ridge in the first photo. Way too far to climb on exhausted legs! So we work our way back to the entrance and onto the last bus down.
See the mountain in the back? We will climb that tomorrow!
We get back down and it is dark. I know we must have gone to dinner but for the life of me, I don’t remember it. I know we go to bed for another early day tomorrow!