I`m back! Thanks to Eric for filling in on some of the details of the recent week or so. I really wasn`t that upset, although the fried chicken definitely helped to put me in a better mood pretty quickly. So let me tell y`all about Cusco and amazing Machu Picchu.
After we left Puno we headed on a bus to Cusco and found a hostel only a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas which is the main square. Cusco was the capital of the Incan empire and is surrounded by Incan ruins. We walked around a lot throughout the city, visiting a few churches, sitting in the plaza watching children dance some of their local dances and enjoying the beautiful weather. There were LOTS of tourists as it is a major destination point in Peru. We found really tasty local food for incredibly cheap as Eric pointed out in the previous posting. Sometimes we end up spending more on breakfast than we do for dinner which is amazing to me. And that`s just buying fruit, yogurt, and juice. So we stayed in Cusco for 3 days and then last Saturday headed to Ollantaytambo on our way to Machu Picchu.
They certainly don`t make it very easy to get to Machu Picchu. We figured out that is was less expensive doing the trip there on our own rather than with a tour agency, as that´s what most foreigners do. The least expensive we found was $170 each for 3 days and 2 nights including entrance fees and bus rides. We ended up doing it for $245 total instead of $340. But there were 3 buses and a train involved in getting to Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu. We settled into Ollantaytambo , walked around the small town that is set amongst more Incan ruins and lots of cobbled streets and went to bed early as we had to get up at 4:45 AM to catch the train to Aguas Calientes.
Aguas Calientes is the base for getting to Machu Picchu. From there you either take the bus up or walk 3 miles up. On the way there we opted for the bus. On the way back was a different story. Talk about sore muscles... So needless to say Machu Picchu was amazing. We got there at 8 AM and stayed until they kicked us out at 5 PM. It was a very long day but worth it. Some say that the ruins were made for the rich Incan rulers to party and hang out kind of like a resort for them. Others say that it was used more for religious or ceremonal purposes. Whatever the reasons, we should just be glad that we are able to enjoy the physical endeavors of what they accomplished 550 years ago. We also were able to do a hike straight up a smaller mountain called Wayna Picchu. When I say straight up, I mean straight up. Eric even went down part of it backwards like a ladder it was so steep. But what an incredible view. We looked out over the entire Incan city and hung out at the highest point at about 8000 feet. We were lucky enough to have a beautiful morning for the hike and then the clouds rolled in and we were greeted with a nice afternoon thundershower. It made for a variety of great pictures. So it was incredible and there are pictures as well to get a small perspective of it. But one truly has to visit it in person in order to experience it´s magnitude.
We are heading to Nasca as Eric said and will send further updates in a week or so. Love and hugs to everyone!