Cusco to Aguas Calientes by train.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I have about zero experience with train travel.  I have also commented about how much I love the colorful Peruvian textiles.  Imagine my delight when the attendants on the train set our little tables with these wonderful table runners.  The ride between Cusco and Aguas Calientes is approximately four hours.  One goes to Aguas Calientes in order to access Machu Picchu via bus.  We spent the night in a tiny hotel called RupaWasi in Aguas Calientes.  Attached to the hotel was an outstanding restaurant called The Tree House.  Both the eco-hotel and the restaurant are very high off the ground and we had to climb many steps to get up there.  (No elevators.)  The rooms were sparse, but charming.  The food was the best we had the whole trip, in my opinion.

We arose very early after our one night in Aguas Calientes in order to catch an early bus and sunrise over Machu Picchu.  It occurred to me that I should get a photo of the steep stairs we had to navigate so I took this one.  That’s fellow traveler Jan at the foot of the stairs with a smile on her face as she anticipates the day ahead of us.  She wasn’t disappointed.  Nor was I.

Below is the first picture I took when I arrived at Machu Picchu.  It might have been a better shot with a better camera and a better photographer, but I love it dearly just as it is.  It was breathtakingly beautiful. The sun was just rising and had not yet burned off the fog and vapors that usually accompany mornings in the mountains.  If you look lower left in the photo you can see a little of Machu Picchu.

The photo below makes me grin.  This stone monument is a place that Shirley MacLaine mentioned in a book or maybe on her website, or maybe both.  According to Ms. MacLaine there are sacred sites in various places around the world, and this spot at Machu Picchu is one of them.  I think you’re supposed to get some sort of energy or vibrations from it and that’s what all these people pictured here are trying to feel.  There was such a crowd around it that I didn’t try to feel it.  It’s now roped off.  I guess that’s to keep one person from getting all the vibes.  🙂  It was interesting to hear the comments.  One person said, “Well, I don’t feel a thing!”  Another person’s comment was, “Oh, man!  Feel that.  It’s amazing.”  I couldn’t help wondering if the latter was getting a call on his cell phone.

Here, as everywhere, I found myself people watching, and listening.  My very unofficial tally told me that the tourists in Peru sounded as if they came predominantly from The United States, the UK and Japan, with a fairly large number of Spanish speakers whose nationality I could  not discern.  I have not done any research to verify or dispel my theory

Here we are back down in Aguas Calientes and ready for refreshment.  You can see by our smiling faces that we had a good day.  The one brave male who completed our little quartet is noticeably absent from this picture.  It wasn’t because he photographed the three of us sitting here.  A restaurant employee did that.  He was probably seeking refuge from the rest of us.  I have to admit that I’d had enough togetherness at that point, too.  I imagine we all had but I must say that it was nice to share the wonders we encountered that day with other human beings.

 

 

When can I go back!?

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Starting in Cuzco.

We arrived at the Lima airport the evening of May 16, 2012.  I found it interesting that we were able to walk directly to our hotel from the baggage claim area.  In the US, when someone says they are staying in an airport hotel, it means they will have to go by taxi or limo or bus to the hotel.  This Ramada Inn is an almost-attachment to the airport.  It was very convenient to spend our first night there and walk over to our flight to Cuzco the next morning.

When we arrived in the city of Cuzco, the ancient Incan capital, we signed in at the Hotel Ruinas and then hit the streets to check it out.  The photo above shows an indigenous woman setting up her wares near the Plaza de Armas in the hope she will be able to sell them to tourists.

On the left is the Plaza de Armas  in Cuzco.  Along the outer edges of the plaza one can see vendors of all stripes.  There are even shoe-shine men who zero in on leather shoes like a moth to flame.  I have a very old pair of leather loafers, black and extraordinarily comfortable, whose dusty surfaces kept calling their attention.  I turned them away and vowed to my friends to wear sandals the rest of the time there.  And that’s what I did.

Legend has it that the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco was designed by Manco Capac.  Click here to read more about him.  Was he legend?  Was he real?  You decide.  It was in this plaza that Francisco Pizarro proclaimed that he had conquered Cuzco.  On the right, note the fountain in the plaza.

Here’s another view of the fountain; following are more views of or from the plaza.

This post feels rather disjointed to me because my computer is not behaving.  It’s very, very slow and I’m think I may have to take it to Apple Spa for a massage and maybe a mani and a pedi.  Not very good timing, Mac.  I spent all my money in Peru.  I hope you readers can make sense of it.

More about Cuzco later.

As the mind wanders…

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. ~ Mark Twain

I know there’s such a thing as adult ADD but I’m wondering if it gets worse as we get older.  It seems that I can’t focus very well these days.  I’m getting excited about my upcoming trip so I know that’s a factor but I can’t even walk and chew gum at the same time lately.  What’s going on?  Hell if I know!

If you read my blog even occasionally, you probably know that I’m going to Peru soon.  I’ve been reading until my eyes are bleary.  As you can see by the title of this book, I’m trying to learn as much as possible about Machu Picchu.  A friend who’s going with me on the trip told me about this wonderful read. The moment I heard the title I thought, “Now this guy is funny.”  Happily, I was right about that.  He’s very funny indeed.  It isn’t often that one finds a travel book as entertaining as this one.  Ah, but I’m not writing this post to sell books.

I’m laughing at myself as I try to figure out why I am writing it.  I have found these past two years that if I write it out, whatever it is, I can begin to make sense of what’s going on in my life.  It’s rather like thinking aloud, but in print.  I hope it still works.

Back to Peru.  Most of my life I have wanted to see Machu Picchu.  I saw a photo of it in my Spanish book when I was about fifteen.  I think that explains why I have pored over materials about that particular site.  Now that the trip is coming at me like a downhill snowball, I realize that MP is only a small part of the trip.  It’s time for me to pay attention to Arequipa and Cuzco and the Colca Canyon.  I’m starting to get excited now about the magnificent textiles I’ll see and buy there, as pictured in the top photo.  Aren’t they gorgeous?  A feast for the eyes.  Heavenly to touch.  I’ll have to make some tough decisions.  I can’t buy all of them.

This will be my first journey to the southern hemisphere.  I must say my emotions are all over the map.  (Groan.)  You name it, I’ve felt it over the past few weeks.  I’m elated, nervous, a little scared, very excited–so many things bouncing around–no wonder I can’t concentrate.  I’ll be happy to get on the plane.  Then it’s too late to worry about leaving something behind.  That’s when I’ll let it go and relax.

And so I hope my wandering mind is calming down for the night and a good night’s sleep now that I’ve typed it out of my head.  One more thing I will mention, though, and that is that my grandson DW moved to a new apartment today.  He had stayed with me for the past two weeks while he awaited his “moving-in” day.  A couple of weeks doesn’t sound like enough time to get settled in and I doubt that it was for him, but I became accustomed to having him here and I miss him.  I guess I’ll set the alarm tonight since he’s not here to accidentally set it off.  He was three years old in this photo.  That was twenty years ago.