Saturday, May 13, 2006
I got up early to get the 5.30am bus for Macchu Picchu. I woke at 4.45am but it was raining, so I went back to bed for an hour and got to the bus stop at 6.30am. We got to the main gate at 7.30am. It was very foggy but this is how it will be for me (the sun does not shine all the time). But I will make the best of it and just hope it gets better. I set out to the temple of the Sun
and next to this was a hut that had a seat and a view. As I arrived I met someone from the night before. We sat and talked for a while as the tour parties passed till one caught our attention. This guy was really good! We followed him to the
next place at which point he invited us to join the group. The tour took one hour and his information was really good (or else he told a good story ?)
I went to bed after this. The next morning I took the trail that goes to the
Upon arriving the first I see is a missing piece of the trail behind a fence as I follow the trail around to a wooden bridge section. Sheer cliff except for a 50cm walking trail. You still can see the ropes attached at some points where tourists took the trail until someone fell ??????? to his death. No more fun for the tourists. There is a 500meter drop off the cliff.
The last thing for the day is the hike up to the Sun gate for a classic view
of Machu Picchu and a quick look at the most recent landslide that has closed the Inca trail into Machu Picchu till repairs can be done.
My thoughts on Macchu Picchu, I can only think that this place was for learning but also it was a place for worship for these people. The Inca had a good idea on how the sun, moon and seasons affected their lives. They too also looked to the stars as did many early cultures did and as we do today and we should respect this place as a Holy site not a Disneyland ride. Maybe Pagan ritual should have more respect
than it gets today.
[This Pagan editor responds: Ra! Ra! Ra!]
Friday, May 12, 2006
Aguas Calientes and Macchu Picchu
Machu Picchu starts with a 4 hour train ride, first up a zig zag then across the high plateau, then descending down to the town of Aguas Calientes. I have to stay two days here because I cannot get a return the next day. I will make a day of Macchu Picchu, and as I have a spare half day at the beginning, the guy at the hotel says that there is a short hike up Putucusi the mountain directly opposite Macchu Picchu.
I was told that it would take one hour. Off I go, following the directions I was given, down the train tracks till you find a set of stairs going to your right. Up I go and the trail curves and climbs till I come to the ladder. I was told it is about only fifty meters up a flat slippery rock face. Up I climb, feeling happy that was over. I look up, only to see another ladder. Up I go and with joy I finish that one only to find another around the corner! Up I go, this time it was the last but the trail is steep, crossing a saddle and climbing again. This time it is not jungle, just grass and rock. At one of the curves in the trail there is a crack in the rock
that houses a beehive. Some hour and a half later I arrive at the summit but just before this a Condor flies overhead, looked more like a plane than a bird!
This is my first view of Machu Picchu just across the valley. It looks so neat and tidy, like it has fine trimmed lawns on the terraces and new houses without roofs, just waiting for life, yet the only thing that moves there are the brightly colored tourists, most in groups just like cows coming home, slowly moving across the landscape. I think I sat and look for an hour before heading down.
After completing the hike I headed up the hot mineral water pools for a good long soak. The best part of this is they serve BEER POOLSIDE! You do not have to even get out. "Heaven!"
Monday, May 08, 2006
Next stop Macchu Picchu
I have been doing quite a lot today. I got a train ticket for Machu Picchu. (The price seems more like a kings ransom and made me think about other ways.) I arranged parking for my car ,went shopping, and now the internet. I should be back in two days.
The last two days the road has taken me from Arequipa to Al Alto and the back road in to the Canon del Colca. I first drive across the desert where nothing is growing. The road is flat and straight, then it drops into a dry river and it follows this for some time. It starts to close in and there are some Inca terraces. Someone has a farm there, a small dot of green in a gray desert. The road starts to climb from here on a zigzag pattern before leveling out to a high desert. The road crosses this like a ribbon before climbing again over a pass and dropping in to the village of Huambo. There's Inca terracing here, too, and it's all green, what a change from the morning. The road then climbs over another pass and down to the village of Cabanaconde. I rested the night there, my car locked up at the police station (the only safe parking in town!)
In the morning it is off early to Cruz del Condor too see these big birds fly. They have wing spans over 6ft! It's great to watch them flying overhead, catching the thermal air coming off a 1300 meter cliff. After this the road continues to drop down through more Inca terracing (still being used today) until I reach the town of Chive. This, too, is an overnight stop. In the morning I head down to the (agua thermal) hot water springs for a dip in the mineral water, then back on the road. I am trying to get to the town of Yauri, but in the process the road follows a river for some time before turning into the hills and once again in a zigzag pattern till it reaches a height of 4800 meters. There is even snow around from the last storm. It stays at this height for the next few hours before dropping a little to
Yauri, but the surprise was just before the town. There was an open cut mine run by "BHP", "the big Australian!"
On I go heading to Sicuani for the night, but before I get there I pass some great
countryside and a lake which viewed from a hilltop looked stunning with just a small town on the lakeshore. On to Sicuani to spend the night at 3600 meters. In the morning it is off to the Inca ruins at Raqchi. I arrived a little early. The guy at the gate was not there yet but arrived quickly. The ruins here have some of the Inca stone work but the best part was to see the village ruins of round houses with grass roofs. Some have been reconstructed so as you get a good idea what the place would have looked like. Then the last 100 ks to Cuzco on a good road that passes most villages, except of course the one which I have to pass through. (Pain in the ass, as there is no clear way out or sign and you have to ask directions.)
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Another shot of the Monastery
[Editor's Note: Apparently Blogger has a two-images-per-entry rule. How annoying. Anyway, here's the other photo.]
Peruvian High Country
Arequipa is the gateway to the high country of Peru and Bolivia, and a little closer the Colca Canyon (which is deeper than the Grand Canyon in the US so I am told ). Here in town there are a few things that have got my attention. Monasterio Santa Catalina and Museo Santuarios Andinos.
First I took a trip around the Monasterio which was started in 1580 just after the Spanish conquest. To be a Nun here, it was a little selective. You need to be from the best Spanish families, which in turn paid a big dowry for this. You were allowed to between one and four servants and would live the life you were accustomed to, having parties, etc. (I have to think how much church wine was used there ?) But anyway, this continued for some three hundred years till the Pope sent Sister Josefa Cadena out there to sort the situation out. Well she did. From there it was all by the book till 1970 when the Mayor got them to open their doors and the tourists came! There are some 30 nuns that are still there, living a closed life as a nun in one corner. The rest is open for all to see and enjoy and learn.
Last stop for the day was the Museo Santuarios Andinos for the Ice Princess, a young Inca girl who was sacrificed to the Mountain some 500 years ago but is perfectly preserved, frozen in time at an altitude of some 6200 meters. She was not discovered till 1995 when weather conditions and a volcanic eruption on a nearby mountain made it possible. On the same mountain there have been 3 other such discoveries since then. Sorry no pic (no camera allowed).
Colca Canyon Planning: Today I went to the Peru office for information (the national tourist office). Not much on my planned route, but when talking to the woman at the hotel she said that her boss knows the route ("just what I need ") and he will be here in the evening. When he arrives we will sit down and talk about the route and some options as well , but the part I liked was he told me where to make the turn off the Pan American HWY "50 meter before the milk factory" and yes
I know where that is as it got my attention as I drove up here. Now equipped with all the information I will set out in the morning for what is a 4WD only road, I am told, except for a stop at the market for some BBQ supplies. Well, I will need to stop for lunch some where!