MACHU PICCHU SACRED VALLEY CUSCO INTI RAYMI
June 22 Saturday
We woke up in a beautiful jungle paradise--the birds singing and lush, tall
greenery surrounding us as we lay in bed looking through the large glass
windows surrounding our balcony. Had an early breakfast and caught the 7:30
bus to Machu Picchu for a quiet experience before the daytrip tourists arrived.
Again, the spectacle of Machu Picchu arising out of the mist was breathtaking.
It must have been quite beautiful when it was a thriving city/sanctuary--with the
terraces planted, beautiful tropical flowers climbing the walls and spilling over
pathways, gold gleaming everywhere and people scurrying about. We began by
taking a hike to the Sun Gate, which was the Inca Trail's gateway to Machu
Picchu. It was a quite steep and difficult hike--and hot. When we had gone
about half way, it was obvious that Leah, who was again bothered by the
altitude, could go no further. So, she and I went back down while Rosa and
Ken continued to the top. I spent the time wandering, oohing and aahing while
exploring nooks and crannies--absorbing the grandeur. It was nice to have
some time alone.
In the afternoon, we stayed around the hotel, soaking up its ambience--after first
collapsing for a hour's nap. We relaxed and had drinks at a terrace overlooking
the river and the town. It was very serene and peaceful--God's handiwork was
all around us. Dinner was in a lovely glass enclosed room. We went to bed early.
Sleeping in the mountain, jungle air is so easy and renewing.
June 23 Sunday
Location: Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu
Another day in paradise! We chose to spend the morning
exploring the village as along with sites we like to experience
people and culture. We stopped by an internet cafe where it
took 30 minutes to get on line and send one e-mail
message-----so that was that! People were busy going about
their daily lives, scurrying to and fro. Most all the villagers
are involved in the tourist industry in one way or
another--bus drivers, vendors, restaurants, small hotels, etc.
It is a very colorful, vibrant culture; although, clearly, most
people are poor by our standards. As in Ollantaytamnbo, we
became aware that though Catholicism is the major religion
here, there are heavy traces of the ancient Quachua religous
inherent in it. We bought a couple of shirts in the street and
then one more from Pasquela, a woman outside of the hotel
that we had promised yesterday.
Rosa took us on a walk
through the hotel''s
jungle/orchid area, which was
very beautiful. Two bears
were in a large cage so we
watched them play for a
while. They had been rescued
from the mountains during a
fores fire a few years ago. Rosa was very excited when we saw a Mot Mot
bird with its exquisite green plumage and iridescent blue tail. Rosa has looked
for these birds for years and this was only the second one she has seen.
At 3 PM we caught the train back to Cusco---a 4-hour trip. The scenery changed
from the highÂ jungle to farming, villages, people toiling in the fields and more
Inca terraces. Through the train's panoramic windows we were able to see the
towering mountaintops covered with snow, encircled by swirling clouds and,
finally, an incredible sunset.
Miguel was waiting
for us at the station
right before Cusco,
which was really
great as by van it
was just 15 minutes
to the hotel but by
train it would have
been another hour.
chosen, so found one on our side. It was a great find! We enjoyed it so much that Ken and I went back for lunch on another day.
The parade was one of the pre-festivities for the huge Inti Raymi celebration to be held the next day. The atmosphere was exhilarating and
festive. As tourists we felt that we were being allowed to witness and experience a native event------not something staged for strangers and
travelers. It was very real.
After dinner we meandered back to the hotel, stopping at a cyber cafe on the way. This one worked much better than the one in Aguas
Calientes. Along the way we passed several small music groups performing in darkened streets, in front of church doors, anywhere. The
streets were thronged with people, laughing and having enormous fun. Festivity was all around us.
Finally we found ourselves back at the Hotel Libertador. I read for a while, caught up on this journal and finally called it a day. Tomorrow is
the Inti Raymi, the festival welcoming the return of the sun. It will be a full day of activities beginning at 9 AM
When Rosa and Ken came down, Ken and
climbed to lower terraces and explored
buildings and a small cave that were off
the normal tourist paths. No one else was
down that far. We went back up and
wandered through buildings--one with
lovely yellow stonework and another with
red. Often we would stop, trying to
visually absorb the scene before us. It is
incredible that such a talented, intelligent
people could be completely annihilated.
Two hundred Spaniards led by Pizarro
destroyed a civilization of thousands.
Before returning to Aquas Calientes, we
had a late lunch at Machu Picchu where
they serve an incredible buffet,
exceedingly good food. While dining we
were entertained by the haunting
melodies of the Andes. Peruvian
musicians bring the heart of their people
to their music and it is beautiful!
When we arrived at the hotel, our rooms were ready and all of our stored luggage
reappeared. Did some rearranging of belongings and then went out walking the
streets and byways of Cusco on our way to dinner with Leah and Jon. A large
parade was taking place in the Plaza de Armas with thousands of people watching
and celebrating. We couldn't cross the plaza to the restaurant we had