Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Day 4-5: The Amazing Trek to Machu Picchu and back to La Paz

Up again at the ass crack of dawn, we find Rocio waiting for us after a breakfast of pineapple, papaya, watermelon, strawberries, coca tea and local breads. I'm amazed that any of this was planned with the teensy amounts of each other's languages that we understood. We make our way to the train station with the hope that she'll meet us on the way back down from Machu Picchu at Poroy. It'll save us an hour by hopping off there and taking a taxi to the bus station where we'll barely catch a bus to La Paz, Bolivia tonight at 10pm. She'll meet us there with our luggage that we're leaving in the lobby of the hotel. Let me say that I'm not so comfortable with this.

We can't fly out of here for less than $500, so we've opted for the $35 overnight, 14 hour bus trip back to where we started. I would happily pay it, but my millionaire uncles can't afford it. How bad could it be? I'll just take a Xanax and sleep. Sure.

The train ride is a series of switchbacks where the train goes past, stops, and switches directions up the mountain. We travel alongside the Urubamba River and down to our destination for four hours. Disembarking, we walk through the gates to Aguas Calientes, a town that looks like they threw it up just last night. It's a series of shacks and such, underneath which all manner of Peruvian booty is being sold. (click on photos for larger views)

Rainy season doesn't end for another month, but there's no rain right now. We're prepared in case it does, but we're hoping for a dry day. We wait 10 minutes for a Mercedes Bus to take us up more switchbacks to the top. By the time we arrive at the top, it's pouring. I drag out the plastic bag that's going to protect me from the rain and cover me and my backpack. I'm soaked before we even start walking up the hill. Note to anyone who might go...spend more than .99 cents on rain gear!

We have to wait in another line to get through the gates to ascend up to Machu Picchu. Stone is everywhere and the mountains loom around us.
As we round the corner, we see the entirety of the site. Absolutely amazing. I can't even describe this place to you. You MUST go. I snapped about 6 pics with my camera, each time getting a little wetter. To give you some idea, the rain was coming down the stone stairways so rapidly that we couldn't even see the rocks. It was like stepping into a stream going down the side of the mountain.


It seemed like a few minutes that we toured the site, but in actuality, it was a few hours. There's a hotel at the top that is around $600/night and it would be worth every penny to stay up there and walk out at sunrise. The first trains arrive around 11am, giving you lots of quiet time at the ruins.

We are soaked. There might be a dry spot around my waistline, but everything else is ringing wet. We find the most expensive lunch spot (around $17 each) and I head to the restroom to dry my top on the hand dryer. There were all sorts of clothing thrown over their brick ovens to dry while the soaked and fortunate dined in warmth on Peruvian delicacies.


After lunch, it occurs to me that I have four more hours on a train, 30 minutes in a taxi and then a 14 hour bus ride to look forward to. I have never been cooped up for that long. Most of me is still soaked. My pants, socks and shoes are dripping. I'm bitchy on long trips on a good day. I bought myself some baby alpaca socks to soothe myself and promised myself to not be bitchy.
Amazingly, Rocio and a driver are at Poroy to meet us with our luggage. Everything goes according to plan! We get on the bus and immediately, I am antsy. I think, if the rest of the trip is going to be like this day, I don't want to do it. If it will be consisting of half days on buses on which I cannot poop, I will go home. I can't do this. This is miserable. All night. I can't sleep. My uncle has gas. As if I'm not miserable enough, the man next to me is crop dusting me in his sleep. The xanax is not much help with that.


The next morning brought more gorgeous valleys and a huge attitude adjustment on my part. I made it through the night and I'm fortunate to be here. You really have to see the one above much larger to appreciate it. That is a kiln off to the left where they make their own bricks. They were fired up all along this stretch of highway and I missed every one that was billowing smoke!


At the border of Peru and Bolivia, people were everywhere cooking lunch for the locals and selling necessities. This is no tourist town. Just a place to get my passport stamped and get off of the bus for a few minutes.

We arrive back at La Paz, Bolivia around 3pm and start planning our next adventure. Looks like Paraguay and Argentina are next.

18 comments:

Dana said...

You are right ... I must go to Machu Picchu. You know what? I want to takethe bus/train/taxi and see as much as I can when I go!

Real Live Lesbian said...

You really should. It was worth every minute on the bus. Just make sure you're sitting next to someone who isn't gassy!

Ginormous Boobs said...

I can't get over these amazing pics!

Jay said...

What an amazing adventure! I would definitely want to stay at that hotel at the top and get out there at dawn without the crowds. That would be incredible.

Jeff B said...

I'm loving your pictures and details about the trip. Machu Picchu looks amazing

TheBirdman33 said...

The trip looks and sounds awesome!!

Thanks for the birthday love!

The Mistress of the Dark said...

That restaurant looks incredible.

Leighann said...

I'm having such a good time on our trip!

Matt-Man said...

Great pictures. The trip seems like alot of work but worth getting to see Machu Picchu. Cheers!!

Knight said...

Wow, I feel like I wandered into a calendar. These photos are unbelievable.

Doc said...

Those pics are GREAT! I will live vicariously through you!

Akelamalu said...

I am sooooo envious of your trip! I know you got soaked but I bet it was worth it. :)

captain corky said...

It's best when I'm heavily medicated for 12 hour bus rides.

These pics are incredible!

Freakazojd said...

I can't get over the beauty...I'm so glad you toughed it out in the rain and took pics! :) Machu Picchu is as stunning as I imagined it would be, I would so love to see it in person! And the field photo - you're absolutely right, it did need to be enlarged. It's GORGEOUS. I hope you're going to be doing some enlarging and framing...

katy said...

wow what beauty, what an adventure too, looking forward to more

Micky-T said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. Those photos enthrall me!
I lived in Antigua for awhile and the bus rides were always enjoyable. Of course the island is only 15 miles wide. LOL

R.E.H. said...

I absolutely adore the pics from Machu Picchu! If ever I get to go there I know it is going to be friggin' awesome!

Beautiful. Can't wait to see more!

Anndi said...

Machu Pichu is on my to see list.

Thank you for sharing these wonderful pics with us.