Thursday, June 30, 2016

Machu Picchu

Our flight to Cuzco was at 5:00am, which means we got to the airport at 3:30. The Taxi stopped at my apartment first, and of course, half of the team was asleep when we arrived to pick them up. It’s a good thing I factored that into the timetable! I hadn’t however, factored in how long it would take to do my laundry and pack. I finished at around midnight. I was worried I would be the one who didn’t wake up for the taxi, so just decided to stay up until Jonny arrived for me at 2:30. I was happy I decided to just stay awake; the undergrads were all very groggy and grumpy when we picked them up.

We arrived at the Dragonfly Hostel at around 8:00 in Cuzco, but couldn’t check in until 11:00, so decided to get breakfast. After finishing, we walked around and shopped for souvenirs for our families. It was nice to get out of Lima and explore Cuzco, which is very small and quiet by Lima’s standard. It was hard to take in everything my sleepy eyes passed over: cobble-stone streets, many old churches and innumerable people in traditional Inca dress, selling their crafts and moving about their business. We saw several women with an alpaca, llama and cria (baby llama) standing near a church entrance; we did the very touristy thing and asked for photos with them. They then asked us for a tip, which was smart on their part. I’m sure they get that sort of thing all the time.

We actually arrived in Cuzco during the 400th anniversary of something. We still don’t know what though exactly, because we all received different answers from locals when we asked what was being celebrated. Either way, there was almost too much for us to take in. Traditional Inca dancing with music and dress were at the center of a parade that seemed like it never ended. I began to run out of room on my phone for pictures/videos pretty quickly and decided to save the rest for Machu Picchu. We made it back to the hostel, took a much-needed nap, went Salsa dancing and came back a bit after midnight. The youngin’s (undergrads) went to bed, but I stayed up with some British people I had met, who also coincidentally happened to be watching the Brexit vote on T.V. My inner nerd/wonk will always find a way out in the open. The British went to bed very upset that night.

The next morning, with a two-hour each bus and train ride, we made it to Aguas Calientes, which is the town at the base of Machu Picchu. We found a soccer pitch in the middle of town and some asked to join in. After being shot down, they started their own match with about 20 kids, average age, I would say about 7 years old.  After every goal, they would dog-pile on top of a Fellow on their team. The kids seemed to be having more fun doing that than actually playing. We went out to dinner after, where I had Alpaca with a quinoa risotto. Very tasty. Early night though, Machu Picchu was at 5:30 the next morning.

We thought that by taking a 5:30am tour, we’d beat the crowds; everyone else had the same idea. We had a great guide, his name was Carlos. I quickly used the rest of the room on my phone for photos/videos, deleted all of my music and used the room again. It was hard to get photos without other tourists in the frame. After our tour, we found some llamas on their own. I tried to feed one out of my hand but it wasn’t in the mood. We walked along a ridge that took us away and above the hidden city. After sitting there and admiring for an hour or so, we headed back. Bus and train ride again. The British were still in a sad mood when we returned.

Half a day of travel and we made it back to Lima. Renée and I had anticipated complications with our project with Perú Champs, of which Renée had confirmed upon my return. I spent a weekend flying high in the mountains, learning about the centuries-old traditions and history of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and returned to 2016 Lima, working with an organization with 2016 concerns. More on that next post.  

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