Monday and finally Machu Picchu. After two days at altitude I was relatively acclimatized. The thing about Machu Picchu is it is on the eastern side of the Andes and not so far from the Amazon rainforest (you do have to decent some 10,000 feet however). Raquel as with everyday met me at 6:30am drove me to the train station (40 minute drive) and then a 3 1/2 hour 90 kms train ride through the Sacred Valley past Ollantaytambo which I had visited the day before and then a 30 minute bus ride up hair pin turns with a bus rally driver catching glimpse of the the lower ruins of Machu Picchu through the think rainforest vines and canopies.
Machu Picchu at last. We met up with guide Roni (23 years old) and the guided tour started.
I was looking forward to seeing Machu Picchu but sometimes the hype is bigger than the actual attraction. I have seen pictures and documentaries about it and it looks pretty impressive nestled between two monster rock mountains jutting up on each end.
Now I am seeing it in person and really pictures do not tell the story. It is spectacular. What is not conveyed in pictures is how dramatic the setting is. This city situated between two giant mountains, the iconic one in the pictures jutting out from the juggle like some massive stella, and the other one with terraces like a giant staircase. From the edges of the city on the other two sides are vertical precipices that descent thousands of feet to the river below. Looking in every direction you are surrounded by huge impassable mountain ranges some covered in snow. How the Inca built this place in 100 years I think is amazing. Why they built it in such an isolated difficult place to reach with almost no resources is also amazing. And to think that for over 400 years it was undiscovered is actually easy to understand because of it isolation. Its is located in one of the most isolated places on earth. The ruins themselves once you are down among them is extensive and except for the precise engineering of the temples and how exacting the stones wall are constructed with no space to fit even a credit card is impressive as well as the extensive terracing. However, the buildings and palaces are relatively modest in size. The one-way tour lasted two hours and I wonder around for the next two hours enjoying the relative quiet and sparse remaining visitors. White bulbous clouds against blue skies and their shadows swept across the lush green vegetation covered mountains surrounding the complex. A breeze blew sometimes gusting … grey rocks, green grass, blue skies, white clouds, black shadows ….beautiful ….breathtaking.