Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Back to Cusco

6 April

Yesterday we toured Machu Picchu and Eddie, our guide, gave us a 2 hour walking tour at the site. There are still many things unknown about MP and yet to be discovered. Just last year explorers discovered new sites at Huayna Picchu, a mountain also considered sacred by the Inca, across from MP and are continuing to excavate at this site.

We arrived about 8 as the morning offered nothing but a heavy downpour and our plans of a sunrise at the site were changed. The rain lets up a bit as we take our walking tour around the grounds. It's incredibly green up at the site.... the llamas must love it! More about the site later.
After the tour we took the bus down to Aguas Calientes and checked out.

We then went for lunch at Pueblo Viejo in Aguas Calientes which has delicious authentic Peruvian food! There is a grill in the middle of the restaurant used for cooking the meat and when you walk in it feels and smells like you're entering someones' home. That incredible smoky smell of a grill! nothing like it! Their buffet is outstanding and they offer wine and beer, as well. You can enjoy the sights on the street while you wait and talk about the trek. We were then treated to an excellent Andean music performance by a local band called Amaru Pumaq Kuntur!

Afterwards, we walk through the town to the railway station for a 2 hour ride back to Ollanta and then a 2 hour van ride back to Cusco. Once the train gets going we are flanked by the raging Urubamba River and people can't help but stare and take pictures, commenting on it's force. It is the end of the rainy season but the rain doesn't want to quit.... 

The Peru Rail Vistadome train is very comfortable and they do serve drinks and snacks on the way. The scenery is pretty fine as you leave Aguas Calientes and the mountain walls slowly open to a widening valley. Lush, bromeliad covered walls give way to higher, drier mountains and beautiful scenery. There are agricultural ruins along the way visible on the hillsides and you find yourself daydreaming of the things you've just seen and learned about and wondering how many years it took to build all these incredible sites. 
We arrive to Cusco;
This is where we said goodbye to Eddie, our guide who had taken such good care of us for 5 days now. Sure we had porters who set up and took down our camp, cooked for us and made sure we were most comfortable but Eddie was our cheerleader, our inspiration and knew this trail like the back of his hand. He had run this trail as a marathon in years gone by and even led races for groups! None of us, even those of us who run, could imagine running these steps as a marathon, EVER! There were walkways so narrow and high it just boggles the mind that anyone could run these mountains, over steps of stone! 
Eddie kept us on track and paced us for arrival to our designated campsites. He gave us site lectures as we came to each spectacular ruin, told stories and kept us laughing.
You don`t have many goodbyes like this on a trek.......

More about the trail later.

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