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Friday, October 05, 2012

Peru: Machu Picchu

This is the day I have been waiting for. I set my alarm to wake up at 4:45am to have a very early breakfast and try to get the 5:45 bus. I met our guide for MP last night and although I checked to see when sunrise would be, (the internet said 5:44am), the guide said that sunrise is usually around 6:50am. He said that these days, it's cloudy and foggy so it's hard to see the sun rise. He also said that it was supposed to rain. Not what I wanted to hear but that was what the forecast said on the weather station too. I went back to my room trying to strategize in my head in the event that it rained. We brought good rain coats and umbrellas but we left them in Cusco and brought the cheap ones we bought on our way to Saqsaywaman two days ago. Don't even ask why I did something so dumb. Well there was a reason. We wanted to take only minimal things on the train so we took two backpacks with our clothes and everything else that we needed for one night. But it was pretty dumb not to have taken our better raingear.
Like I said, I don't think I slept a wink last night but I must have because I woke up about 3:45 to some dripping sounds. I dared not get out of bed but did with a slightly sinking heart. Yes, it was drizzling. Rain. Why did the weather man have to be right today of all days? I went back to bed and willed the rain to stop. By 4:00am, I heard what sounded like water falling hard on cement - you know the kind - that rushes out of a downspout on cement during a heavy rainfall.  Yes again. It was now pouring. I could not believe it. I love rain but only if I am at home curled up in the sunroom under a blanket and listening to the sound of the rainfall in the roof. Some of you may remember that sound growing up in Guyana when the rain falls on the zinc sheets and you can hardly hear yourself think so the only thing left to do is make a big pot of barley soup with chicken and eddoes and dumplings and have a nice steaming bowl while watching and listening to the rain. It was not so much fun when you had to get dressed to go to school and if it was raining hard enough, you got wet going to school and had to stay in wet clothes all day. That was my dread today - that I would get wet (not a problem) and it would be cold and I would have to stay in wet clothes all day till 9pm when we returned to Cusco.
I stood staring at the rain, feeling like my big graduation balloon had just popped. It continued to rain even as we went downstairs for breakfast. I imagined all kinds of horrible things - that my backpack would get wet and soggy, that my flimsy raincoat would rip, that my clothes would be muddy, that I would not be able to take any pictures because my camera was not waterproof and it would not be sheltered by the umbrella sitting in my suitcase in Cusco and whatever else came into my head.
You cannot believe what happened next. We finished eating and the rain stopped. Not to a drizzle but to a full stop. From pouring to full stop as we finished. We left the hotel and walked down to the bus stop to wait in line. That took about 15 minutes and we boarded just as the rain started a fine drizzle. It took another 25 minutes to the entrance of Machu Picchu. By the time we got to the top, the rain stopped but it was overcast with heavy clouds so I was not about to see the sunrise that I was so waiting for. By this time, I was so happy that it wasn't raining, that I was quite fine with the thought of not being able to see the sunrise over the mountains.
Robin and I went in and walked around for about 40 minutes. We were supposed to meet our guide at 7:45 so we had about 1 hour 15 minutes to do our own thing. We passed the gate and as soon as I saw a bunch of stones, I was already oohing and aahing. I could feel the excitement building as I got closer to the formations. Then we crossed over to one section and I could see the area that is referred to as the Principal Plaza. It was breathtaking!!! I have seen lots of pictures but seeing it for the first time was truly splendid. A hundred questions could run through your mind at that time but you would really want to spend no time thinking about how this was created. I just wanted to witness it. And did I witness it. I must have taken two dozen pictures within the first 10 minutes. I looked around and the clouds and fog were so thick, that I felt I could reach out and touch them. We were above some clouds. I kept looking at the sky as if another miracle was going to happen and the clouds would part long enough for me to see the sunrise but I contented myself that I was where I wanted to be right at that moment and if I could not see the sun rise and brighten the Principal Plaza, that would be just fine. The experience was great anyway.
At about 6:48, I could not believe what I was seeing. This huge, thick, grey rain cloud drifted apart as if a magic wand had been waved and there was the sun in all it's glory!  I felt like clapping but I was too busy looking at the rays on the formations. I was grinning and I am sure if anyone was looking at me, they'd think that I won the lottery. And did I ever! We are always wanting to win the lottery - hoping for more money. If only we could count our riches in other ways. we'd see that we are indeed wealthy. The sun rising each day is a richness that we don't always appreciate. Granted that this day it was rising over Machu Picchu. That was a double richness that I want to savour.
The guide took us on a two hour tour of the grounds and explained some of the history which I will write in another post. After he was done, we went to the top at the Guard House (about 400 steps up). That was some walk! but the trick is to walk and when you get winded, stop and take a rest and continue and before you know it, you're there. I kept stopping because I was winded but it also made for a great photo opportunity. I was sure that each step I ascended was the best photo opportunity. Everywhere you turn, you feel like you are in a post card. Every scene was postcard perfect. And I mean everywhere you looked you found something astonishing to photograph. So of course I took about 200 pictures but I won't bore you with all of them (I deleted some because they were very similar).  


















Can I just say how lucky we were today? The sun came out long enough for us to take some beautiful pictures and just as it was starting to get hot, the sky got overcast and stayed that way until we were done and went back to the bus. Just as we stepped into the bus, it started to drizzle but stopped when we arrived back at Aguas Calientes. We found a restaurant with a sheltered patio to eat lunch and as we settled at the table, the rain came down again. It rained until we finished lunch and dried up as we walked back to our hotel to get our luggage. It rained when we were sitting in the lobby checking our email and as soon as we were done, so was the rain so we headed over to the train station to wait for the train back to Cusco. Was that a perfect day or what? Yes. Perfect. Super perfect.
sandra

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