Today we have quite a different perspective! It was wonderful! We're so, so glad we took the time to go see it even though it was a long day AND, it turns out, last night was the first night Paul slept well. Josh and I slept like bricks too. Perhaps tramping around ruins at 10,000 feet is the perfect cure for insomnia and what ails you.
Rachel Tarvin, missionary in Urubamba, graciously offered to give us a ride to the train station. I wish I had a picture of Rachel because she's very photogenic, but so far, I don't. Rachel amazed us by giving us 2 BIG bags of food, water, bug repellant, sun screen, hats, rain gear, etc. We were prepared for anything! And then she told us where to stash it while we did the ruins which was very helpful.
We got on the train at Ollantaytambo and that was the last sizable place we saw for the day. Macchu Picchu is extremely remote. Many people like to do the Inca Trail which takes about 4 days of hiking 9 hours a day mostly along a river side trail. For me, the spirit is willing, but the flesh? I'm not too sure at this age.
We rode on that for about 2 hours, and then took a bus for about 20 minutes up, up, up the many switchbacks to the ruins. There we met our guide, and with 7 other people toured and learned some about this intriguing lost city. It was built, he said, in the 1400's, abandoned in the 1600's and rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, an American professor and explorer.
We hiked around for about 2 hours with the tour guide, reveling in the brilliant beauty of the day, the sheer mountains surrounding us, the remote location, the river far below us, and the imagining of the lives of the royal Incas who once lived in this place.
I compared it to the last time I went to Macchu Picchu, in December, 1988. It was rainy, cold, and my camera was pre-digital so I took a cautious amount of pictures. The train ride was on wooden seats, and the only refreshments were if we stopped and there were mountain ladies selling fire-roasted corn.
Now the train has plush seats, art work on the walls, and assigned seats like an airplane! They have "in flight service", also like an airplane. There are windows on the ceilings so you can see the 5 tunnels we through and all the mountain heights. The snow capped mountains at the Ollantaytambo end are gorgeous.
As to pictures, there was no need to be cautious with our digital camera so here are some of our favorites:
|The view from the first hill we climbed.|
|My 3 guys for the day: Paul, Josh, and Caleb. Caleb is planning to be a missionary, and he's from Montana and loves mountain climbing. We were so glad Josh had someone closer to his age with us.|
|Just like the postcards! Doesn't it make you want to play a massive game of Capture the Flag or Hide and go seek? Does me.|
|This rock(in the front) is a miniature replica of the big mountains around Macchu Picchu.|
|There's my man!|
Our guide was a Quechua youth, struggling with English. He explained that this wall was damaged in one of the two larger earthquakes that hit Peru. These are some of the upper class, polished, fitted stones.
A peek over the edge will make you back up quick! The Urubamba River is down there, and the road to the train station.
That high peak behind Macchu Picchu is climbable, but you have to sign up for it in advance, and it's very steep. Last time I was here, a Japanese lady had recently fallen, and a search party was hunting for her body for 3 days so I never wanted to climb there.
On the other hand, I have missionary friends in Argentina who got engaged on that peak.
After our tour, it was time for a late lunch. Rachel had loaded us with goodies, but we had to go outside the "sanctuary" to eat. After lunch, Josh and Caleb went back inside and explored the heights while Paul and I stayed near the entrance. There were hundreds of people standing in line waiting for the bus, so we decided this was a good old fashioned evangelistic opportunity, and we went to pass out some of these tracts in Spanish, or some Chick tracts in English.
I got stage fright or whatever the equivalent is for tract passers is, but once we got started, it was just fun. Many people were pleased to get them, and we met such interesting people from all over the world.