Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Machu Picchu

Alright... all the way back at Macchu Picchu.. what can i remember...

We got up around 430, and luckily had been smart enough to prepare everything the night before. Our bags were stuffed with bread, avocado, onion, bananas, passionfruit, oranges and chocolate. We had been told by both our guide and the woman at the tourist office that we would be allowed to bring in food, but when we got our ticket the evening before, post food buying, it clearly stated you could not enter with any water or food. That was absolutely ridiculous. I hate tourist traps like that, it is such a scam. Nonetheless, we decided that we would bring it all up anyways and just hope for the best. The hike up was ruthless, as we picked our way up the old Incan stairs in the dark. The moonlight lit our way, and the only time it was hard to see was when people came by with their flashlights blazing and ruined your night vision. After about an hour and a half we came huffing up to the gate of Machu Picchu, which already had quite a line formed behind it. They had just begun letting people in when we arrove, and saw numerous people turned back for having water (seriously....) and food in their bag. Nervous but not giving up we made our way to the gate, and miraculously picked the right line and wizzed by while listening to the girl on the other side protesting about how she didn't want her bag checked. Guilty for sure.

Once into Machu Picchu we immediately crossed to the other side of the ruins and got in another line... this time to make a reservation so that we could climb up Huanupichu, the towering mountain that you see lurking in the back of pretty much every Machu Picchu picture. They only let 400 people climb it per day, and because we showed up early we managed to get a reservation for the second wave, going up at 10. Relieved, all of our worries of food and reservations gone, we climbed up to a little house on a hill and sat down, relaxing and taking in the beautiful view while we waited for the sun to rise, all the while sneakily eating bananas. It was a lovely sunrise, quite late in the morning, as it rose over a huge mountain, part of the daunting landscape that Machu Picchu is set in. We hung out for a while, looking at the ruins and taking pictures, when we realized that we missed the start of our tour, and thinking we could see our guide and group, we walked over to where they were. Unfortunately this was not him, but we sat in for a while, learned some things, and then started our own little adventure. We explored for a couple hours, ocassionally dropping in on other tours, and spent a good amount of time hanging out with the Llamas that roam all around Machu Picchu, much to tourist delight.

Around nine nature called and we had exit Machu Picchu to use the bathroom, where we decided we might as well eat our first avocado sandwich, as we had already been up for over 4 hours and it was pretty much our lunch time. Walking back to the gate we here a very daunting statement ´Where is my ticket? Has anyone seen my ticket?!?´. This statement dropped from the mouth of a Rylie Johnson, and was no joke. He searched around ferverously for a while, checking every where his ticket could possibly be, even the garbage can, and was unable to find it. We were all very worried. The tickets cost 50 american, and even if we had the money to buy a new one, they don't even sell tickets at Machu Picchu anyways! Many vulgarities spewed from many mouths, and we walked up to the gate, ready to try our last option. We told the woman our problem, she said 'uh oh' and stared at us. Uh oh was right. Well was there anything that we or she, or anybody could do!! Well.... she paused...... do you have any pictures of him in there. YES!!! YES WE DO!!! I yelled in excitement, and busted out my camera, turning it on to a picture of a llama. ´That's not him´she said. ´almost´i replied. She laughed a little, I found a picture of Rylie hanging out by a ruin, and she stamped his wrist and let him in. We all laughed hysterically in relief, slapping eachothers backs in glee. It was awesome! We walked over to Huanupichu, our second hurdle, and even managed to explain our way into getting Rylie in without his reservation (which was clipped onto his ticket). We were so happy as we began that climb, barely able to believe that it had all worked out so well!

The climb up Huanupichu was really intense, with many abruptly steep stairs beside plummeting cliffs. Luckily, unlike the Inca's, we had a big metal rope, secured into the rock on the extra sketchy areas, to cling to. After a lot of effort we arrove at the top, completely out of breath, but any breath we did have was taken away by the amazing view of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains. We sat and rested, creeping on people through Jordans massive zoom lens, and eating more illegal bananas. The view of Machu Picchu was not the only amazing thing concerning Huanupichu, as it had some amazing Incan work on it as well. Amazingly steep areas of the mountain had all been terraced, some with strawberries growing on it. I ate one and then Orin scared me by telling me that I was probably going to die, and then my paranoia kicked in and I realized it was a very foolish thing to do, eating jungle fruit as far away from a hospital as I could possibly be, but luckily my rationality stopped me from incuding vomit, and only left me glaring at Orin for egging me on.

At the very top of the mountain we found a path leading down to the ¨Great Caves¨, which we had seen met back up with the main trail, and we had planned to go see it on our way down anyways, so we just decided to take this alternate route. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We went down, and down, and down, into a burning ring of fire. We went down down down, and our water got lower. And it burned burned burned, that ring of fire, that ring of fire (being the scorching mid day sun, that happened to be glowering on that side of the mountain.) The stairs seemed to go down forever, much farther than I thought we had to go to meet back up with the path. We were also very, very low on water, and realized that we were not prepared to be lost in the jungle. Finally, we reached the great cavern, which was not so much great, as a waste of our time, water and energy. It also turned out that we had hiked down so far, that we then had to go way the hell back up. It was a long way back, and many many stairs, and we had very little water. I was soooooo thirsty and tired from all the stairs already, and was regretting this adventurous decision. We were well out of water and hope when we finally reached the trail head, and collapsed with happiness! There we met a Machu Picchu official, who was combing the trails, telling us we were the last people in there and it was closing, so we had to leave. No problem with us, and we bombed our way out of there, to collapse onto the grass of Machu Picchu.

By this time it was about 3 in the afternoon, and the park closed at 5. We knew that there was one more thing that we really wanted to see, which was the Incan draw bridge, which Rylie had read was really awesome, and had crazy cliffs on both sides of it. Cool. We sent Jordan the mighty to go get us some water, and he returned with two tiny bottles, at 8 soles each!!! Holy crap! You can usually get two litres for 3 soles. What a rip. (rant time....) I absolutely hate when they set up these tourist traps so sneakily and with such clear intent. To part us with as much money as possible! Okay, so you are charged 50 american for enterance, where you are not allowed to bring in food or water (which if we hadn't snuck it in would have resulted in our dead corpses being removed from the mountainside of Huanupichu), and then they charge you 3 or 4 times the price of what anything is worth. Not to mention they charge you for the bathroom as well. Could that not be included in the exorbatent ammount of money you have to pay to enter? It is just not fair.

So jordan came back with enough water to wet our lips, as these bottles were TINY, but spent enough to keep us hydrated for a week. We then commenced the fairly easy hike to the Inca bridge, which turned out to be pretty lame. It was kind of just a piece of wood leaning over some stones. It was all well enough though, because we sat down in peace and ate an avocado sandwich. We then hiked back and exited the park on of the last to leave. First to arrive, last to leave, it was a very full day of Machu Picchuness. Once again, insulted by the overpriced busses we walked our weary legs down the mountain home. Orin and I took the road as my knee was really bugging me, and when dark fell we had our own personal show by lightening bugs. It was really beautiful.

That evening we went to the hot springs, which were just some scummy looking pools up in the town, but really felt good on our sore muscles. We hung out there for half an hour until the power went out and left us sitting in the dark. The mountain was covered in lightening bugs though, so we got another cool little show, and were happy that jordan and rylie got to see them too. We carefully rinsed off in the dark, changed, and wandered our way back into town for dinner and a delightful sleep. It felt soo good getting into bed that night, and I knew that I would be sore as hell tomorrow.

Well.... the dude at the computer shop is hungry and kicking us out for lunch! Bye

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