I haven’t posted anything this week simply because I’ve had a hard time wrapping up my experiences at Machu Picchu. I think I’ve now determined that no combination of words will ever sufficiently convey how incredible it was so I’ll just do my best with my word vomit.
I was lucky enough to be paired up with another American girl named Suzanne for the weekend trip to Machu Picchu. She’s a 28 year old devout Mormon from Los Angeles. She truly is/was one of the sweetest and most interesting people I’ve ever met. We spent tons of time talking about her religion. I really enjoyed her company and she taught me a lot.
We got to know each other really well because the journey from Cusco was a long one. We began in central Cusco where we were picked up and taken to a bus station at the edge of the city. The bus then traveled two hours to a train station where we boarded a train and traveled for another two hours to the small town of Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu. The train ride was almost the best part. If I could ride that train everyday for the rest of my life I probably would. I’ve never seen vistas so incredible. If possible, I’d absolutely recommend doing the train ride during daylight hours so you can see everything we saw for yourself.
As the train travels deeper and deeper into the Peruvian jungle, you enjoy a river and snow capped mountains to either side. I guess the flawless mix of all those unique ecosystems is what made the ride such a “mystic experience” (that was written on the cups on the train) Since we were moving most of the time my phone didn’t take the best pictures but I did manage to get a few…
Suzanne and I were really grateful to have each other because once we arrived in Aguas Calientes we were sort of on our own. She got a parasite her first week here in Peru so we were both a little paranoid about eating out. To make matters worse, almost every restaurant in the entire town had the exact same menu in a different design. Me thinks microwaves were involved. The first restaurant we sat down in actually had a pet monkey so we got up and left… Obviously we survived so actually this part of the story is not so important after all, moving on.
The next morning we had to be at the bus station by 5am to board the bus that took us up to the ruins. To be honest, the bus ride was a bit scary because you wind up hairpin turns in a big bus on the edge of cliffs with no barriers but again, we survived. You have to use your passport to get into Machu Picchu. There’s also a sign at the entrance that explains that Machu Picchu is a sacred place and any nudity is reported to the home embassy of the offender. That’s really all you have to know.
Past the entrance is where I begin to lose my words… For me, my time there was a very emotional experience because there’s something special about knowing whatever you’re experiencing in a given moment is probably once in a lifetime. And there’s almost a certain sadness in knowing that you may never feel or see something so beautiful again. I felt like a sponge and all I wanted to do was soak in and remember every second of my time there. Machu Picchu is also such a unique place with such a rich history. It may be lame to some people but walking around an ancient city and learning about everything that happened in the middle of those mountains was such a remarkable experience for me.
I really can’t describe it to you. It’s definitely called a Wonder for a reason. Since a picture is worth a thousand words and I’d need billions to even scratch the surface of my experience I suppose I’ll just let you enjoy some of the pictures I took. You just have to know it’s so much better in person.
Machu Picchu Catastrophe 2k14
Before leaving for Peru, I bought a gopro to help document my time here. It’s a pretty expensive camera and I usually buy 5 dollar shoes so for me that’s like, a really big deal. Anyway, I stupidly forgot the screw which secures the camera into all the special mounts at home. Ugh. No problem though, I thought. I’d just gently place the camera on top of the mounts with no issue, right? Wrong. So wrong.
As you can see from my pictures, the ancient city was set up with sections of terraces meant for gardening – many of which were carved out of the side of the mountain. I set up my tripod mount at the edge of one of these terraces and placed my gopro on top of the tripod.
Well, as I’m sure you-with-the-brain already predicted, my camera fell off the damn mount and toppled right over the mountain. It was like watching a car accident in slow motion. It tumbled its way down and over two terraces before landing out of sight in a tree branch about 40 feet down – an inch and a half from a vertical drop to the river/its death. So of course I, being Indiana Jones, decided I needed to go find it. And looking back I feel really stupid for trying and also really grateful to be alive to tell the tale.
Anyhow, below those terraces was a muddy cliff, the home to the tree that saved my camera. The only way down there was by navigating the rocks and once I got down there I realized the muddy cliff was really more of a crumbling death trap. At one point the ground began to give way and I started to drop. I scrambled up the crumbling mud which felt more like a treadmill. My life actually flashed before my eyes but I managed to grab a tree root and hoist myself back to semi-solid ground. When I looked back and watch the clumps of mud descend I honestly questioned if I was still alive or not. I think in an alternate universe I’m probably a pancake.
But just as I was about to give up and make my way back up to the safety of the terraces I spotted my camera and after slowly testing the ground I went out on a limb (literally) and made the reach for it. The small crowd that gathered and I are still in disbelief that I found it, rescued it, and survived. Gopro or go home… I really do feel so stupid for risking my life like that over a camera but the point is I got it back… Sorry mom.
Comparatively, the rest of the weekend was less eventful. Suzanne and I did go to the famous hot springs in Aguas Calientes before doing the reverse journey home to Cusco. Last night we got dinner and tonight we’re taking salsa lessons! Unfortunately, she goes back to America this weekend.