June 20, 2011

Machu Picchu: Baksheesh works here, too

Today, a guest blogger: Dana, who just had an amazing four-day, off-the-grid expedition out of Cusco with about a dozen others from her group. The $100 trip involved some mountain biking on Day One, then hours-long mountain hikes on Days Two and Three. The end of Day Three put Dana's splinter group in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu, and the terminus for the Cusco to Machu Picchu train. On Day Four the entire group visited Machu Picchu -- but only an early-rising, adventurous subgroup got tickets to climb Huayna Picchu, which is the peak you see in most Machu Picchu photographs. The ruins sit on a flat area between two peaks, Machu, which is never photographed (you stand on it to photograph the famous gumdrop peak), and that gumdrop peak, Huayna, seen here.

Dana and I Facebook chatted for an hour today, and I'm just going to copy and paste her excited, uncapitalized, typo-ridden, run-on entries here. I could feel the wonder of her journey through the keyboard:

"hellllloooooooo. omg the past four days were amazing. o can't believe what i did mom. it was incredible and i cannot imagine not having done the trek and feeling the same way about the trip.

it was insane. very hard. but amazing.

and machu picchu was amazing.

and we climbed huayna picchu. we left our hotel at 330 am to do it. we bribed the guard with money to open the gate an hour early to hike up to machu picchu and get to the opening before everyone else. and we were the first one there. first 400 can do huayna.

and then when we got in to macchu picchu we were so lucky because it was deserted and really special, because we saw it empty for like 15 minutes before all the tourists came in. when i saw the first ruin on machu picchu i lost my breath and my eyes teared

and then three day trek before it was so crazy ahhhhhh

i wish you could have seen what we did

and the trail was crazy.

it made the whole trip worth it

i didnt shower for 5 days

It was amazing. And Machu Picchu was so perfect. I spent almost an hour just sitting on a ledge by myself and I watched Huayanapicchu go from dark to completely illuminated in the sunrise. It was magical. I'm currently gearing up to spend 11 hours through the night on a bus to go to Arequipa. SEE YOU SOON. I LOVE YOU."