Fourth Day of Five: Machu Picchu
Day 157 – December 26, 2011
This is the day we had been travelling for: the day we would trek around one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
But first some administrative stuff for the would-be sightseer to Machu Picchu. The closest city to the ruins is the village of Machu Picchu. As this similarity of monikers tends to confuse some people, this little hamlet goes by another name: Aguas Calientes. This is where you must go to board the bus that will take you to the Lost City of the Incas.
This is where our PeruRail train deposited us last night and where we spent the night. As we walked to our hostel last night, I thought it odd that we all had to cross a line of railroad tracks that were, literally, right outside the hostel’s front door, which brings me to my latest bit o’advice…
Tip #012: In Aguas Calientes, know where the train is in relation to your night’s accommodations.
The lovely wife and I received nearly no sleep last night because of the regularly scheduled locomotives that whistled by our window. Think I’m kidding when I wrote “right outside the hostel’s front door”? Well, here’s your photographic proof…
The town itself is quaint. As an example, I offer visual confirmation of this via the
science magic of digital photography as you can see for yourself a Nativity scene including a Christmas tree made out of soda bottles…
We caught the bus from the town and took the switch back road up the mountain that was just wide enough for one and a half buses to pass each other. As we went up, buses were coming down and the drivers had to do an automotive ballet of moving their land ships close to the edge of the mountain without falling off the edge or scraping the sides of the bus on the vegetation.
I now firmly believe that the awe and wonder most people feel upon seeing their first glimpse of the ruins of Machu Picchu is really the feeling of simple relief that they made it up alive in the first place.
Then again, this is a pretty darn cool site…
Other than the iconic shot I blogged about earlier, this is the coolest thing I saw at Machu Picchu. It is called the Intiwatana stone and our tome of reference that we used during our trip, The Machu Picchu Guidebook: A Self-Guided Tour, says it is not a sundial, but is sometimes called “the place to which the sun was tied”.
Ignore the people on the sides of the photo above and focus on the hunk of rock in the middle. Now you may ask yourself, “How did the Incas move that beautiful piece of stonework up the mountain?” and the answer would be, “They didn’t.”
Let’s let Ruth M. Wright and Dr. Alfredo Valencia Zegarra, authors of our Guidebook explain as they do on page 55…
The Intiwatana was sculpted from the rock that formed the peak of this natural pyramid, creating an elegant and multifaceted stone masterpiece of exceptional elegance and beauty.
Why haul some piece of masonry up the mountain when you can simply carve away the mountain until you have the beautiful sacred object you want?
This place is awe-inspiring, beautiful, majestic and was thankfully rain-free, which made our trip to this unique site all the more remarkable.
I leave you with one final shot…
..and this final thought: That large peak you see in the background is called Huayna Picchu and you can hike up to its top if you have the legs for it.
Coming Up Next: Fifth Day of Five – Back to Cusco