05 November, Wednesday - Day 9

Train to Aguas Caliente, Afternoon at Machu Picchu

Today is my official 50th birthday. We’re up at 6 am so might as well go to the train station even though our train does not leave till 8:30 am. There’s an earlier train. Too bad our agent didn’t book it for us. Felt sorry for the porters at the train station. Even though the natives no longer cart stones to build temples, they are still lugging heavy stuff. The men are built short with strong backs. Some Brits tell us that Obama has won the election. All the travelers we meet are pro-Obama.

Uneventful train ride to Aguas Caliente. We find our way to the hostel, drop off our stuff and decide to purchase two days worth of Machu Picchu entrance and transport tickets. It’s expensive at $62 per day and there’s no discount for the second day. However it’s still cheaper than Disneyworld. We’re on the bus to Machu Picchu by 11:30 am. It's a fairly scary bus ride as the lanes are narrow and several times the us has to stop and manuveur so that an oncoming bus has enough room to pass.  Some young girls in the front of the bus squeaked every time we suddenly had to stop coming around a curve.  Also, looking out the window the mountainscape is steep and down.

We spend three hours at the ruins.

The first view of Machu Picchu

Worked our way from the back of the ruins to the front, starting at the Sacred Stone.
It is sacred because it resembles the contours of one of the mountains.  The Inca's believed the mountains were gods. 

Personally, I think the Mayan architectual ruins are more elaborate, but the Inca's had nature working for them.  The surroundings of Machu Picchu are stunning. 

Missed having a guide at first, but eventually figured out where everything was. Eavesdropped on a few tours.

This is the sundial that was damaged by a crew making a 2001 beer commercial.
The Spaniards destroyed all of these because they represented sun worship. Since the Spaniards never got to Machu Picchu this one had survived intact until the beer ad..

Huana Picchu

We saw hikers coming down from Huana Picchu where only 400 people a day are allowed to visit. Inca nobility climbed this mountain as a rite of passage. Asked a Scotsman about the hike up. He put his hands to his face, blew out his cheeks and then said he was finished swearing.

Back to Aguas Caliente by 3:30 pm. The market has many items. Rusela bought some gifts. The hostel’s idea of hot water is not-freezing-cold water. Rusela treated me to birthday dinner. We ate a dinner of alpaca upstairs on a balcony watching a mother cat and her kittens playing on the skylights. The restaurant gave us free pisco sours. So far almost every meal we’ve had comes with white rice and potatoes. Dessert was extravagant chocolate covered crepes.

Next Day

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