The South American Adventure - Day 6!!

Day 6 - Speechless and Breathless

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Let me try that again.

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Man...I'm having a hard time figuring what to say.  

I think it won't fully hit me until later what we actually did today.  We saw Machu Picchu.  We climbed around Machu Picchu.  And we scaled a mountain.  But let me start from the beginning...

The wake up this morning was hard.  We didn't get to sleep until almost midnight.  Then having to wake up before 4a is just mean.  But that's what this vacation is going to be.  And as Adele has said many times, "If someone tells you to be somewhere when the sun rises, you do it.". Plus, we both woke up a good hour early (3 hour sleep for those keeping track) from someone knocking on the door to an adjacent room.  That was less than perfect.  The plan was to get to the bus terminal by 5a.  Luckily, the terminal was next to our hotel.  Yay!!

At 5a in Aguas Callientes, it is cold.  But we knew it would eventually be hot in Machu Picchu.  So we're bundled in layers and excited.  We didn't know what to expect, but we knew it was happening very soon.  

We were on the 6th bus to Machu Picchu and started doing mental math...if each bus holds 27 people and only 400 can climb Waynapicchu, will we make the cut.

Yes, you read that right.  Climbing a mountain.  Me.  Just wait...it gets better.

We got to Machu Picchu after the busses took a 20 minute (or so) drive up winding roads to the entrance.  It was a little hairy.  Especially since the sun wasn't up quite yet and you just hoped the driver knew what was going on.  But after a bit, we made it.  We were almost there.

The Gods were with us today (I think...I'm still not sure right now) and we made it on the list for the 7a Waynapicchu climb.  We had an hour to figure out where we were going.

The excitement for Waynapicchu was quieted the moment we walked up high enough to see Machu Picchu.  All you can do is stand in the shadow of the ruins and stare in wonder.  We both were rendered speechless.  Any attempt to convey what we were feeling was stopped as we just stared in amazement at this scene in front of us.  And them we started taking pictures.


There is no way to take a crappy picture in Machu Picchu.  No. Way.  Every scene is breathtaking.  Every landscape shot is the best thing you've ever seen.  It just boggles my mind that an area so beautiful really exists.  We took pictures of scenery.  We took pictures of each other in front of the scenery.  We had other people take pictures of the two of us in front of the scenery.  There wasn't a bad place to take a picture. And we took lots of pictures.  Lots.

Soon enough, we we made our way to Waynapicchu for our climb.  We were told that this is a climb that is doable if you are a relatively active person.  That should have been my clue that this was going to be a doozy.  Then again, the towering mountain should have been my first clue.  I am well aware that I am a total sloth.  But the mountain beckoned and before I knew it, we were climbing up the mountain.

The good news is that Adele and I were in almost equal shape (though, she is in better shape than me).  So it was nice when we both had to stop in order to breathe.  And we also were almost equal in the pain we were in (I hope).

The first pain was climbing up.  It was The Stairmaster From Hell.  Big  ledges, small ledges, medium sized ledges.  They weren't stairs, per se, they were rocks sometimes shaped in stair form.  Luckily, in some areas, there were hand rails.  Though not as many as I would have hoped (the second pain).


The climb took about 1 hour and 45 minutes.  And at the top...it was astonishing.  The views from 8000+ feet...it's something you can't get anywhere else.  The people who climbed before us were at the top, just sitting on rocks.  We found a patch of rock and ate a supremely early lunch.


The second pain was climbing down. I notoriously hate climbing down stairs.  I always use a handrail for fear of falling and breaking something of importance to me (aka my spine).  There were some handrails, but not many.  So as I was going down the mountain, I was grabbing on to every rock available for support.  This took a whole lot of time.  Thank god Adele was patient.  Cause I was a distinctly unfun travel buddy during this time.  

At this point, my legs started giving out.  So as I took steps down the "stairs", if I went too fast, my knees would buckle.  This is not ideal when climbing down a steep mountain.

We did run into a couple behind us on the way down that stayed with us for the majority of the trip.  I kept making them laugh.  They kept making us laugh (the dude said the initial decent on the stairs - horrifying, really - was like decending into Mordor.  Accurate.)  This was very helpful during the 40 minute descent, cause I was struggling.

It was over two and a half hours, we guzzled two bottles of water and I was wearing a sweat bib, but we climbed that bitch.  Sadly, they didn't have a t-shirt to accurately convey that message.  Damn.  We both knew that this mountain is like the Inauguration.  It was horrible while it was going on, but you were glad to do it and will remember it fondly.  After some time passes...

After the climb, it got harder and harder to walk around Machu Picchu.  Our limbs were constantly shaking and we just gained 187 Weight Watchers Activity Points.

And I have to digress for a few seconds for a WW shoutout.  There is no possible way I could have survived Machu Picchu 4 years (and 85 lbs) ago.  Not only would I not have the stamina (which I barely did now), but there were a few caves and ladders and such that would have been damn near impossible to deal with.  In the muttering to myself (which I did A LOT on the climb), I gave mad props to WW several times.  (I'm pretty sure I gave a WW shout out on the first blog day, but I don't care...it is necessary).

We saw just about everything we could see.  My main want for Machu Picchu was the llamas.  I wanted to get close to them and watch them do their llama things.  I think I found the llama that is on my desktop screen in the office.  We named him Danny, after the cute front desk guy at Torre Dorada.

I want to write more about Machu Picchu, but I don't know what to say.  It will probably come to me in a few days.  Or it may not come to me at all.  It was a serene place.  A place that made you think about the past and how people lived.  And to know that these buildings have been around for so long and that visitors have been coming to Peru for almost one reason only for the past 100 years just takes my breath away.  

After a quick stop back at the hotel, where we freshened up slightly (we were a freaking mess), we were back on the train to Cusco where we would stay again tonight.  The train takes 3.5 hours, but it is a nice ride.  We got a snazzy snack and had some onboard entertainment (I got pulled into a Cirque du Soleil dance with the lion-faced man.  Seriously) Soon, we will have plenty of time to sleep.  We both need it.  Though, I'm sure we won't be able to stand up when we get back to Cusco.  The plan is to have an early night after a WiFi frenzy.  There's that addiction again...

The funny part about today is that we kept meeting people along our journeys.  There was the couple on the decent.  There was another couple that we sat next to at the cafe yesterday in Ollantaytambo.  Before we saw the llamas, we met a woman from Tazmania in Australia. She and her daughter have been traveling since the beginning of May.  Then back at the hotel, we met a couple from California who gave us restaurant ideas for Cusco.  And the guy from Texas who had his wallet stolen in Cusco.  For a bunch of non-joiners (or at least I am...lord knows I don't like to talk to others), we have been highly social.  Who would have thunk it??

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