Sunday, August 28, 2005

Pile of old rocks on a small hill

Machu Picchu, the Lost city of the Incas, now well and truly found by the hordes of tourists, but even that couldn´t take away from this truly awe inspiring place. We went there prepared to be dissappointed by the overhype but even us cynics had to grudgingly agree this place was absolutely awesome.( to steal a line from our beloved American cousins). We arrived in Agua Calientes, the small pueblo next to Macho Picchu very late the night before by Train. The scenery there was truly spectacular but unfortunaetly we didnt see a thing as it was dark. The Peruvians are milking the place for all it´s worth.... expensive train journey in, crappy albeit expensive hotels, and high entrance fees. For this reason we were on the backpacker special, last train in, arriving at midnight.

Now you may be wondering why us lazy buggers didn´t attempt the Inca trail. Well, firstly it was very expensive as you have to go with a tour. Secondly, you have to book a couple of months in advance, Thirdly the trail is one long stretch of gringos complaining about the cold and finally you end up in Mach Picchu too buggered to take a good look around the ruins with the sole thoughts of bacon and egg roll and hot shower needed immediately. Speaking of bacon and egg rolls, quite unexpectedly we found the world´s tastiest example here at Machu Picchu. We were prepared for crappy Peruvian tourist cuisine but somehow they have managed the impossible here... huge fresh roll, 2 eggs and 4 pieces of crispy bacon. I´m sorry if this is boring but It was truly a spiritual experience, especially after our 5 am start.
Arriving at dawn we were greeted by a spectacular mist that shrouded the ruins in the evocative magical quality that someone like Bryce Courteney would wax lyrical about for far too many pages. (we were also greeted by the hoards of smelly Inca trailers).
After the Bacon egg roll we headed up to Waynu Pichu, the famous curved mountain in the background. A steep one hour walk up some Inca steps made for tiny feet afforded amazing views. The ruins were built from abour 1450 until 1570 when the Spanish finally subjugated the Incas, forcing them to build a plaza de armas in every town, introducing them to horrible marching band music and gaudy religious art. They have a lot to answer for those Spaniards. Fortunately for the 1 million tourists that visit every year, the City was deserted for 350 years until a couple of Peruvian farmers decided to make it their home in 1901. Then along came an American archeoligist who claims he discovered it and the rest of the story is history.
We fluked one of those amazing 4 seasons in one day days. Mist, sun, storm, rainbow, then sun again. We felt like born again christiansAfter the rain storm, most of the tourists left leaving only a handful of us Indian Jones types wandering around the ruins with our llama friends. All in all a magical day and the highlight for me of the trip so far. And for the fans out there of shapes in the rocks, check out the Inca face that is Machu Pichu. Turn the picture of Machu Picchu on it´s side and you have the face of an Inca.... freaky man

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