Saturday, February 26, 2011
This is my "I hope all the Inca Trail pictures and posts aren't too annoying" post.
On to the subject of Inca Kola:
Tastes like bubble gum + Red Bull and just as omnipresent in Peru as Coca Cola, little kids clutching huge bottles of the acid yellow liquid.
A phenom I can't wrap my head around.
(p.s. I love bodegas. Even just the word).
We noticed this very dressed up couple at Machu Picchu who asked us to take their picture. When we asked why they were so dressed up, they replied luna de miel! Or in English, honeymoon!
They were glowing and just so darn happy. I'm glad Walker creeped this picture in so I can remember them.
We regained energy later in the afternoon. The sun came out and after inhaling a lunch that included ice cold Coke, a hamburger with an egg on top plus ice cream, a group of us decided to trek back up to the Sun Gate for that perfect, money-shot view. Totally worth the extra effort.
It really is a you must do this once in your lifetime kind of a thing.
(And I even avoided looking at Machu Picchu postcards the entire trip, just so I wouldn't feel the dreaded tourist letdown seeing the real thing).
Don't let anyone scare you out of going. Because they will try, Walker and I carried a sense of foreboding the entire trip.
I would whole-heartedly recommend doing the Inca Trail to get to Machu Picchu - I don't see how it could mean as much or seem as magical taking the train in from Aguas Calientes and pulling up on the bus. I really, truly don't.
To me, it will be this isolated, hidden city we got to stumble upon after four days of hiking.
And that really is how you feel, you scoff at the good smelling tourists, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. You mutter assholes as they load off the buses. You drip with pride and condescension because you feel you deserve it. You earned this beholden sight more than they did.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Once there, Raul takes us on an impassioned tour. The place is huge, I can't imagine what went through Hiram Bingham's head when an Indian child led him here. Best discovery ever. The past perfectly preserved.
Unfortunately, at this point, we are dead and feel a bit like sleepwalkers. Badly in need of a nap and some sustenance.
The day you've all been waiting for.
3:30am wake-up call.
4:30am line up at checkpoint gate.
5:30am gates open and everyone takes off on a mad trail run for 45 minutes to the Sun Gate in hopes of seeing the sun rise over Machu Picchu. It's epic. Our group pretty much dominates it to the top, only to see...fog.
You may find this depressing, but the fog was actually really beautiful. It would move around, revealing parts of the famous panoramic and Wayna Picchu, only to cover them up again. Like a teasing game.
Raul eventually convinced us to give it up to the rainy season and we begin to make our descent into the ancient city itself, complete with llamas.
This was probably the most challenging day for me personally. I didn't sleep well with a migraine from not drinking enough water at such high altitude and our tent began to make me feel claustrophobic. Pounding rain started up in the early morning and I woke Walker up convinced the stream we were camping nearby was going to overflow and wash our tent away.
The rain did not let up. It rained and it rained and it rained. Rain bursts were welcome and refreshing on the first and second days, but getting ready at 6am in it and slugging through it all day is terrible. Everything gets wet, everything you brought. You literally begin to walk up waterfalls, learning to deftly maneuver in a poncho.
Eventually you accept that you are soaking and embrace it. The cook packed you Oreos as a trail snack which taste like heaven. And your surroundings turn into dense jungle, the rush of the Urubamba River, with Incan ruins popping up to let you know you're on the right path.
After lunch, it did finally let up. And the camp site on the third night includes a lodge that provides showers and beer which make it feel like paradise. (Even though I had a shower mishap that included a long line and the water being shut off).
Plus we got a cake at dinner in celebration of our last meal together.