I recall seeing a photo of the Machu Picchu when I was a child, and my Mum telling me that my uncle had been there. From that point on I wanted to go. However it seemed so far away, like another world. By the time I reached my 20s I had distracted myself with other things and had resigned myself to the fact that I would never get to the Machu Picchu in my lifetime. I didn’t mind really – I just accepted it, the way that I now accept that I will never own a Porsche, or marry Colin Firth. But when we started to plan the trip, I knew that the Machu Picchu MUST be on the itinerary.
On “Machu Picchu Day,” we woke at 5am and took a 3 hour train journey from Cusco. The train “zig-zag”-ed up the hill out of Cusco, stopping at each corner to change the points, and then go back along another track. The train had a sign saying “For your own safety, jumping from one coach to another is prohibited”. Who has the energy to jump between carriages at 5am?! I barely have enough energy to keep my eyes open. Anyway, the train finally meandered its way out of Cusco and the journey was spectacular, with mountains towering above us, their tops in cloud, and white-water rivers running alongside us.
The train took us to Aguas Calientes, a small town selling the usual tourist memorabilia. I do not have particularly fond memories of this town as:-
1. On the way there, a man was urinating on the bridge, with his penis out in full view. Thanks for that – just what I wanted at 7am. Nothing like a bit of public urination to start the day.
2. On the way back, an insect flew straight into my mouth and down my throat. How this happened – don’t ask! I am not a ritual insect-eater. I have never knowingly eaten an insect, touched an insect, or even been in the vicinity of an insect out of choice. I’m not a fan of insects, so as you can imagine this freaked me out. I drank lots of water to try and drown it, while worrying whether it was a mosquito that could give me malaria, and trying not to think of the English nursery rhyme, “there was an old woman who swallowed a fly…”.
Putting this aside, we got a bus from Aguas Calientes to the Machu Picchu. When we arrived it was very misty, and visibility was poor. I was anxious that we wouldn’t see anything all day, but there was nothing we could do about that so we got on with our tour. We had a tour guide who for the first 20 minutes seemed unable to say anything other than “Juan Carlos?… Juan Carlos?”. Clearly Juan Carlos had not turned up for the tour and he seemed to be very missed. Juan Carlos’s absence aside, it was a good tour and my boyfriend enjoyed hearing all about the history of the place. After a while I peeled off and explored on my own, taking photographs.
Amazingly, throughout the day the mist began to gradually clear until eventually we got THE view, which was just indescribable. To be truthful I got a bit emotional – I had found out in San Francisco that I had passed my exams, which was such a relief to me, and I was so happy that I had made it to the Machu Picchu and fulfilled one of my biggest life dreams. While there I then saw a Hummingbird, which was electric blue, and I felt that this was a special lucky sign on the most wonderful of days. Even though I saw a man’s penis and ate a fly.Next blog: The Most Amazing Coincidence Ever?!
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