Up super early again, a quick breakfast at the hotel restaurant buffet. Checked our bags at the hotel desk. Efrain came at 5:50 AM to accompany us to the bus station just up the street. We were dismayed to see a long line of people waiting for the bus, extending well up the street.
|Line for the bus station|
The 15-20 minute bus ride went down the valley, crossed the river, and started tight switchbacks up the mountain side.
|Looking back down in the valley|
We were dropped off in front of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge; there really is a hotel in the protected Machu Picchu area!
|Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge|
The entry path headed straight for the House of the Terrace Caretaker, with its reconstructed thatch roof.
|House of the Terrace Caretaker ahead|
|Panorama of Machu Picchu|
From our vantage point, we could look backwards to a mountain ridge in the distance, and see a notch with trees and buildings. That point is the Intipunku (“Sun Gate”), the Inca Trail’s last mountain pass and first view of Machu Picchu. From there you could see the Inca Trail leading down to where we stood. Still above us was the Watchman’s Hut, or Hut of the Caretaker of the Funerary Rock, with its thatched roof.
|Sun rising over the mountain|
|Postcard of the Inca profile|
|Brynne at Machu Picchu|
|Sunlight has reached Machu Picchu|
|Kirby & Jan|
|Tamiko, Brynne, Jan & Kirby|
|Defensive terraces and water channels|
|Bar hold for door|
|Eye hook above door|
|Looking back at doorway|
|View from the quarry|
Efrain said they used obsidian stone to polish stone surfaces, but it makes more sense that they used pumice (lava rock) which would cause the quartz present in the stone to take a shine.
|"Obsidian" stone for polishing|
Saw a vizcacha in the quarry.
We had plenty of opportunity to see Inca walls, and the finest stone masonry was reserved for religious and royal uses.
|Inca stone walls|
|Stone extensions to support roof beams|
|Temple of the Sun|
|Rectangular sun spot on temple floor|
|Temple of the Three Windows|
|Trapezoidal windows cast rectangular sun spots|
The Principal Temple also had three walls of masterful stonework. There is a bit of slippage at the back right, either due to an earthquake, or settling of the ground. Efrian reported that one stone weighed over 300 tons.
|Principal Temple's largest stone|
|"Southern Cross" stone|
|An entrance stone of the Sacristy|
Grooves are often seen cut into seating or flat surfaces,
|Stone with inside corner cut into it|
|Looking down on Sacred Plaza|
|Temple of the "Hitching Post to the Sun"|
|"Hitching Post to the Sun"|
|Rock formation echoes the mountain profile|
Llamas would not have been raised at Machu Picchu, because the native grasses were not to their liking.
The Sacred Rock is a giant flat stone with an outline said to echo the mountains.
|Sacred Rock from the side|
|Gate to Huaycha Picchu trail|
Brynne spotted two lizards as we headed back through the living quarters and workshops of Machu Picchu.
|Stenocercus crassicaudatus/Spiny Whorltail Iguana|
|Living and workshop quarters|
|Load bearing endwall|
Instead we were shown what is called the Temple of the Condor, with a flat carved rock on the ground that is said to represent the head of the condor.
|Head of the Condor|
|Temple of the Condor|
|Looking into a "fountain"|
|Water is still flowing|
Jan went down a path marked with a Peace Pole, to look for birds.
We never did see the museum! There is now talk that a German found Machu Picchu decades before Bingham, and looted it in secret. Apparently there are many pieces in private collections that cannot be verified as to origin, and also can be traced to one person. The other controversy about Machu Picchu is that Peru desires that Yale University return all the artifacts found at Machu Picchu.
Jan asked for directions to the Pueblo Viejo restaurant, and initially got directions to the Pueblo Hotel, until the driver called her back to verify that it was the restaurant she wanted. It turned out to be a block away. The restaurant would not open for an hour, so we did some window shopping, and then went to the main plaza.
|Main Plaza with church|
|Inca Pachacutec and Father Earth|
|Ulbalina on the right in the main plaza|
Finally lunch! We could choose from a limited menu: an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. We had soup and pizza. Ulbalina finally arrived about 12:45 PM to say she would meet us at the hotel at 2:15 PM with the train tickets. We saw her outside the restaurant talking to her husband, who was wearing a mesh top with what looked like swim trunks. What’s going on?
|Mural on the school across from the restaurant|
|Little old man construction worker|
Finally, the doors were open, and the employees checking tickets there let us through. Our unofficial tickets were written on PeruRail forms, so we thought we were okay. But, as we tried to board, the conductors couldn’t match our names to the seat numbers. So they called on the radio for back-up, and had us sit on a bench to “Wait five minutes and don’t worry!” We noticed that except for Jan, we all had new names. Brynne was “Bry Ne”, I was “Tamy Ro”, and Kirby was “Kirby B.” A woman came and took our passports, and returned saying, “Don’t worry!”
At last, after everyone else had boarded, they found we had seats, and we got on the train. Our seats on this Vistadome were two-facing-two across a table set with cups and saucers, and napkins. Jan and Kirby wanted to trade the backward-facing seats halfway through the trip, but Brynne and I just took them for the whole trip as it did not bother us to travel backwards. A man in the station rang a bell by hand, and the train departed on time. Ah, we could relax now!
|Jan & Kirby|
|Mountain thru the Vistadome window|
We were met in Ollantaytambo by Hugo and a girl named Norma.
The Royal Tomb was the first thing that Hiram Bingham was shown when he arrived at Machu Picchu, It is part cave and part man-made cell under the Temple of the Sun, and it has some of the more elaborate stone carvings. No mummies were ever found, but the name persists. Anyway, the conversation went on to other things, including the rainbow flag of Cusco, which I guess Kirby asked if it could be purchased somewhere. We also found out that our train tickets had been mailed to Ulbalina, but she never received them, and that Hugo had spent all day on the phone trying to straighten out the train ticket fiasco. I just wanted to look out at the stars!
Arrived in Cusco to find a huge crowd had blocked off the Plaza de Armas, and we were afraid it was a demonstration. But it was the Virgen de Carmen celebration with dancing performances. We were let off on one side of the Cathedral, and had to walk across the front of the cathedral and up one side street to the Casa Andina La Catedral Hotel. Rob and Anahi arrived with the rest of our luggage that they had been keeping for us, and we went to our rooms to unload and use the bathrooms. Rob informed us that he was not doing much better, and had been told to rest, so he could not accompany us to Lake Titicaca. He had his Puno hotel money returned, so he was going to treat us to dinner. We walked a couple blocks to Baco’s, their favorite restaurant. Another Italian-themed restaurant with a wine bar. We had great service, including one American girl as wait staff. We ordered a couple sampler appetizers, one with seafood, and one with veggies, all roasted. Brynne had undercooked trout and a salad she couldn’t eat, and I had rare lamb with a pecan, pea, and mushroom mix of salad. Rob always has entertaining stories, but the ones told on him were the best. Such as, if anyone disagrees with Rob, they end up dying. This happened twice in his career, with people in important positions (having a public environmental policy difference with Rob) who suddenly and unexpectedly died. The last chapter of this story is: “The ocelot died!”
Back at the hotel we again re-packed, and I used the free internet to catch up with Kent and suggest that we would like to come home a day early if possible. This hotel also used the card in a slot to turn on the electricity in the room.
|Casa Andina La Catedral Hotel room|