We have arrived at the most expensive and most touristy and most amazing part of the trip: Machu Picchu. Did you know you get a stamp on your passport just for going there? It seemed kindof like cheating. (You don’t get a passport stamp for, say, The Empire State Building, why should you get one for a big pile of old walls? It’s not a new country!)
We hiked for five days to get to Machu Picchu. I survived the trek, thanks, entirely, to the 28 or so Snickers bars I ate. I think I was propelled up the mountain by my own farts.
Day one required several hours of uphill hooving and heavy panting to around 4000m above sea level; days two and three were easy peasy three hour hikes. Day four was three hours up, two hours down, and two more hours flat. My feet were covered in blisters. We slept in tents and were woken up each morning around 4 or 5am with hot coffee by our guides. The coffee-in-bed service felt like such a luxury.
The food was almost as impressive as the landscape; the cooks managed three course meals for 15 people each day on the most humble little travel burner. They’d take off with their mules and somehow, each time we arrived at our campsite for the night, our tents were assembled and a hot meal was ready. We actually tipped them more than we tipped the guides.
So Machu Picchu was breathtaking as expected etc etc.
We arrived back in Cuzco to stay at Loki, the McHostel chain of the backpacking world. It’s got around 400 people staying in this refurbished old church. Each night the loud, smoky bar has 21-year-old British kids literally swinging from the rafters. The house band is named The Clusterfunks. I’m beyond caring that I’m beyond too old for this crap.
Instead I’ve spent the past week relaxing, getting massages, reading Hemingway, drinking wine and eating vegetables, doing yoga (in English!), and making friends with bar owners in the “bohemian” district of the city. We did some volunteering that involved playing with a bunch of Peruvian children displaced by the recent flooding. I tried the Chicha corn beer and cuy (guinea pig), although I’m certain they served us a rat.