I'll show a few pictures and give a few anecdotes to try to give you an idea.
The trip as a whole consisted in a very few hours of sleep, a lot of walking and many amazing sites to see. We left Arequipa at 8 pm to arrive in bus in Cuzco at 6 am on Monday. Someone picked us up and said go with this woman, who said go with this guy, who said go in this van.... Well maybe because of lack of sleep or just because we are used to the lifestyle being such that you go with the flow always, we followed without questions. Luckily, it was the right tour (for the most part) that we had signed up for. We picked up the rest of the group at their appropriate hotels. We had a very interesting group of tourists: including a woman from Latvia who currently lived in Canada (speaking a total of 5 languages), a brother and sister from Germany, and the most unique (I would give $1 to anyone who could guess where) was a group of 5 people - who surprising had not come together but rather found each other in Cuzco, Peru- from Israel. From here we continued on a 5 ish hour minivan ride until we arrived to where we ate lunch. During this time, we traveled up high into the mountains when we were in the clouds. Naturally I had to open the window to say that I breathed in a Peruvian cloud.
Then we continued another 45 minutes and stopped at the train station. Karlene and I had misunderstood that we didn’t have that train ride paid in the package so she and I and the 2 Germans walked the rest of the way to where we were supposed to stay that night in the hostels. It was a long walk (after arriving they said it was about 13 kilometers) but it was so worth it for the beautiful view we got all along the way.
|A centipede we found along the way!|
About 2 ½ hours later, we made it, settled into our hostel, ate dinner and crashed afterwards since we were tired from the long walk. The next day we woke up at 4:15 so we could get up the mountain quickly to spend maximum amount of time in Machu Picchu. Supposedly it was another 3 kilometers up the mountain and just about straight up (with stairs). Since I’m not in great shape, this was a difficult hike for me. Also seeing that it was so early there wasn’t much of a view along with the fact that it was through a jungle-y, forest-y mountainside. We arrived around 6:15 to wait in line to get in (many had cheated in taking the bus up to Machu Picchu so they beat us.)
Finally we arrived and naturally it was beautiful. I’m sure everyone has seen pictures of Machu Picchu before so you know what that looks like, but what was more beautiful for me was the surrounding area of the mountains.
|Down there is where we stayed in the hostel the night before|
Machu Picchu was interesting thinking of what it used to be in the 1400s. However due to natural causes it was destroyed somewhat. So when rediscovered 100 years ago (yes, this is the 100th year!), they had to do much reconstruction to put it how they thought it used to be. They told us this took 25 years of reconstruction. So, for me this lost some of the specialness. But I am good at using my imagination to think how it was.
We had a guided tour where we got some of these details- very interesting. But after the tour, I was surprised at the freedom I had of wandering around Machu Picchu on my own. Here I could use my imagination even better to say ‘this used to be the school’ and ‘this a house’… ect. Of course we needed to get a picture with us in it.
|still cloudy since this was around 6:30 am|
|later on from a bit higher view|
Another very intriguing part of Machu Picchu for me was the terracing. They explained the Incans did this for water purposes so that when it did rain heavily the water would slowly run down the mountain rather than quickly to prevent landslides. It also helps to keep all their lands green (as you can see in these pictures- and now is the dry season!) Very smart people.
|The llamas loved it too, they wandered around the terracing everywhere|
|I even touched one!|
Another animal that hung around there was part of the bunny family. I can’t remember the name- Karlene thought it was similar to a Chinchilla.
Then we hiked back down to take the train (which was included this time) and the looong minivan ride back to Cuzco. We again arrived exhausted, ate dinner and crashed in a hostel to explore more of Cuzco the next day.
|The cathedral in Cuzco|
|Another one of the 32 churches in Cuzco|
|The main plaza was very well taken care of|
|A cool mural in the city|
|A bit outside of town|
We were told we must try to Cuzco bread. So we walked over to the market to find it, successfully of course, and bought this delicious sweet bread for a dollar. It is called Chuta.
We finally wandered down to the bus station where we took the nice 10 hour bus ride back home to Arequipa. Back in town, I got a $2 hair cut on Thursday. And we ended up riding the Combi's for almost 4 hours going to the bus station and back. However we saved ourselves about $3 dollars in taxi money!
Due to some complications with our friend in Lima, we had to stay in Arequipa longer. So we changed our ticket and got a few extra days in this beautiful “white” city to say bye to everyone. Sunday we will take the short 17 hour bus to Lima to catch the Monday evening flight back home to the United States.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my adventure here in Peru because I surely have loved living it! I hope to see you all back in the states soon. Take care.