Monday, 11 November 2013

Use your imagination

As I write this post we have now completed 1 month in Peru and we are still not entirely sure as to when we will leave. Travellers in general rave about Peru and the range of activities on offer to the backpacker and we can now see what all the fuss is about.

So getting back to us, we left behind the mountains of Huaraz and took the overnight bus to the capital city of Lima. As much as I like to visit a city I wasn’t really looking forward to Lima and had discounted it as a worthy destination to spend my money on before we had even arrived and I had no idea why. Maybe it was the thought of leaving the tranquillity of the mountains behind, but in any case it was a silly assumption because Lima rocks!
As seems to be the way in Peru and not in any other country in the world, our bus arrived over an hour early once again so we were left sitting at the bus terminal at 5am waiting for a reasonable hour to make our way to the hostel.
Feeling rather jaded we got to our hostel very much looking forward to a little lie down before heading out to explore the city.
At reception we asked the very sleepy receptionist if our room was ready and if not, what time would it be?
He looked at me a little perplexed and said of course the room was ready but check-out was 10am; it was now 7am.
It was now our turn for confusion and asked what was he on about? What has check-out at 10am got to do with anything?
It turns out I was a div and had booked the room for the previous day and he honestly thought that I wanted the room just for 3 hours before leaving. In the end we sorted it all out and our little rest of the eyes meant that we awoke after 11am and had wasted an entire morning.
It was a lovely kip though.

Part of the reason for our visit to Lima was to attend to some business. As much as we love not working and being complete wasters at some point in the future we must return to the ‘real’ world and replenish the funds. For Arancha to do this she needed to renew her teaching registration (all part of the task of proving that she doesn’t touch up kids like Savile) and this meant making a visit to the Australian Embassy to obtain a certified copy of her passport.
The Embassy was in the business end of town and it was odd that the area very much reminded me of Melbourne and I had plenty of time to stand about and reflect on this because it took Arancha an absolute age to complete this task with an old lady who didn’t know how to do, well, anything.

On the way back from the Embassy we started to explore the Miraflores area of Lima (where most of the tourists stay) and the charms of this city soon had us enraptured and also a little annoyed that I had convinced AJ that we should just move on so had booked tickets to leave the day after the next. This city is easily worth a 4 – 5 day stay.
For our first day we explored the coffee house laden alleyways and salivated over the numerous deli style eateries that adorned every corner of Miraflores, all centred around the Kennedy Park (named for JFK), which itself was interesting for its churches, nightly market and colony of resident wild cats.
Our hostel was ok but it was a little out of the action so we also found ourselves a new room and were very happy with ours that looked out over the park itself and all of the action – such as a couple of car crashes and a few drunks.

For our final day on this brief visit to Lima we set about fitting as much in as we could so that we could leave knowing that we had ticked a few boxes.
We caught a bus into the ‘old city’ to take a look around the beautiful Government buildings and surrounding architecture of the Plaza De Armas and after a typical Peruvian lunch of ceviche, rice, chicken and Inca Kola we made our way to the San Francisco Monastery for a tour of the catacombs.
We had no idea that our ticket entitled us to a free guided tour of the monastery but to be honest I can see why it was free because it was the quickest I’ve ever known and we learnt nothing at all even though it was in English.
The catacombs themselves were interesting just for the fact that there were thousands of bones everywhere. I think the guide said there were close to 70,000 bodies buried here but they had been here for so long that only the skulls and larges bones such as the femur had survived and not disintegrated over the course of time.


Next on the agenda was a bus ride across town to the once bohemian but now affluent beach side area of Barranco. This is the where the rich live and spend their time and money and I must say that although it was devoid of much life and energy it was very nice.

We forgot the budget for just one hour and had a very expensive beer on the gardened terrace of a restaurant overlooking the setting sun on the Pacific Ocean before walking off into the dusk with an ice cream – we know how to live.


We returned to Miraflores for dinner that evening and reflected that we really hadn’t given ourselves enough time in this city. Whether we return one day I am not sure but I would definitely like to spend a little more time here just hanging around and watching the world go by.

However, there is no time for melancholy when your next destination is an actual real oasis in the desert!
Huaccachina is a small habitation that was built in the 1900’s for the wealthy of Peru and is set amongst the towering sand dunes of the Ica region around palm tree decorated natural oasis. It really is like something out of a book.
After a number of earthquakes the settlement fell into disrepair and was sort of abandoned until it became a haven for backpackers after some genius decided it would be perfect to allow us to drink, sandboard and take joyrides in sand buggies around the desert.
We read that many backpackers lose themselves here for a couple of weeks and as much as I wouldn’t go that far we certainly enjoyed our time here.
We did sweet FA during our first day and just circled the lake whilst eating and drinking, relaxed in the gardens of our hostel with the pet tortoise and then climbed to the top of the sand dunes that literally began at our front door to enjoy the Arabian style sunset.
In the evening we met up with Anita, a Welsh girl we had met earlier in the day and myself and AJ enjoyed our first Pisco Sour’s – a traditional Peruvian beverage.
Pisco Sour’s are dangerous! They are made of bourbon, egg whites, syrup and lime juice and they are really strong. I haven’t yet had a proper night out on them yet but I think whilst in Peru it is important to get well and truly Piscoed!

We did partake in the afternoon tour of the dunes and it was excellent fun and such a good laugh. The 2 hour tour consisted of being driven up and over the dunes in a style akin to a rollercoaster and at times you felt as though it could very well be the end as we reached the tip of the precipice and then careered down the other side.
Then on 3 separate occasions the buggy would stop at the top of a humungous dune and there we would strap ourselves into the sandboards and make our own way down to the bottom.
I have never snowboarded before so this was a new challenge for me and my success rate was about 50/50.
My first ever downhill attempt on a board was perfect ie. I didn’t fall, so I was quite happy but let’s not beat around the bush, I took a few good falls as did everybody else.
I have included a clip here of our fun that left sand in every crevice!

I got a little over confident on one run and nearing the bottom I thought that I had this boarding lark nailed until I hit a lump and completely stacked it.
I am not kidding, the way that I landed I honestly thought that I had torn my bum-hole wide open. It hurt so much that I had to just rest on all fours whilst laughing and crying at the same time. I was so convinced that I had created a new anus that I had to get some fingers down there to check for blood. Serious!
It was funny that Arancha did the exactly the same thing: bum, hole and fingers!!
There was one guy who took a really bad fall and stumbled all over the place when he regained his feet – so obviously I laughed a lot at him.
On the dunes that were far too large and steep to attempt standing we took the easier and much more fun route down by lying on the board on our fronts and shooting down like Superman.  
It was all over a little too soon but we were more than happy although a little scared of taking our next poo as we watched another perfect sunset alongside the buggy.



Not wasting any time we next found ourselves in the dusty bad lands of Nazca to see the mysterious Nazca Lines.
We were still unsure about whether we would or could afford to take a flight over the lines but as Nazca was only a short 2.5 hour bus ride from Huaccachina (a rarity) we were able to arrive in good time and work out what we would do the following morning so that we could leave that very same evening.
We had already enquired about flights in Huaccachina so we had a good idea about the different levels of plane and prices on offer so our uncertainty was diminished and we had a flight booked for 9:30am the next day after our very first travel agency enquiry!
We would be taking a 35 minute flight over 12 of the Nazca Lines in a Cesna plane that could carry 5 passengers for £60 each. Deal.
The town of Nazca itself was pleasant enough and did not feel overrun at all with tourism, which was surprising given that the lines are such a big draw.
You could still eat cheap and find lots of old men in hats dozing on a bench in the central plaza under shade of a tree hiding from the intense sun that beats down upon the town.

If there was any apprehension about flying in such a small plane in an area where the safety record was questionable, all doubts were washed away when the driver taking us the airport received a phone call and his ring tone was ‘Take My Breath Away’ made famous by the movie Top Gun. How could our safety be in doubt, I was Ice Man and Arancha was Goose. (Although Goose did die)

The Nazca Lines are believed to be around 1,500 years old and there are many hypotheses about what they symbolise and mean, such as one that declares that they were created so that their gods could see them from the sky or that they represented star constellations. The real answer is that we will never know exactly why they are there but I think that the mystery is better.
There are dozens of these pictures marked out in the desert and all sorts of conspiracy theories can be attributed to them, especially as there is one called the Astronaut! (Really it is just a human figure, that’s all).
As mentioned we would be seeing 12 of them and these included some of the most famous such as the Astronaut, the Spider, the Hummingbird and the Monkey.

In order to give everyone the best view of the lines the plane would circle over each marking twice and bank at 30 degrees on each side so that we could all see and I have to admit that after 30 minutes I was over it.
The banking was making me feel sick and the women behind breathing into a paper bag did not help and as for the lines themselves, I am really glad that we saw them, it is remarkable that they were able to mark out pictures so accurately over distances as big as 350 metres without the ability to view them from the air, but we felt that we were too high up and it is a case that now that I have seen them I will not ever return.

The time was now upon us and we were on our way to Cusco to embark upon the fabled Inca Trail to follow the route to the long sought Lost City of the Inca’s, Machu Picchu.
The bus journey from Nazca to Cusco was 15 hours overnight so we decided to travel in as much luxury and comfort as possible which meant that we would have huge comfy seats as well as personal touch screen entertainment units where we could choose to watch our own movies, read a book, play a game or listen to music.
There is no better way to travel long distance but for us it wasn’t quite so relaxing. The reason? The little boy in front of us was ill and for 15 hours we had to listen to him spew his guts up and smell the combination of vomit and loose bowels.
He might’ve only been 4 yrs old but it didn’t matter; I hated his fat little pale face with a passion! Be sick on your own time boy.



Upon arriving into Cusco I cannot tell you how nice it was to take a lung full of fresh and clean air even if we were now at 3,300 metres altitude, so there wasn’t as much oxygen as normal.

Cusco is Peru’s tourism hotspot as it lies in the middle of the sacred valley (an area completely choca-bloc with ancient Inca ruins) and is the base for numerous different activities such as trekking, mountain climbing, white water rafting, mountain biking and of course where you set off for the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu.
Now given what I have listed above I hadn’t actually read anything about the city and I expected a quaint and cute town nestled in the mountains similar to those in Nepal, so I was somewhat taken aback by the full city that lay out in front of me. At first I was a little disappointed by what I saw but by our first afternoon I was taken with the city of Cusco as much as every other of the thousands of tourists that strolled around the immaculate and clean streets of the old city.
We had arrived into Cusco earlier than planned so would have 5 days to hang around and acclimatise before leaving on the trek.
We used our first day to become acquainted with the city and to also find a nice place to stay whilst we were here. We ended up staying in the Flying Dog Hostel (as we did in Lima) and we loved it. It was in a secluded part of town and the hostel was so quiet that we felt like it was our own house and could do as we pleased.

Arancha was also very excited at the sheer number of shops and Artisan markets in the city that sold a range of Alpaca woollen goods, clothes, bags, tit and tat that the tourists lapped up.
Walking around the city the history smacked you in the face from both an Inca and colonial point of view which is a rarity as the Spanish destroyed much of the pre-colonial architecture and culture.
However, we didn’t really take in much of the history on our first day as we visited the Chocolate Museum and ate free samples as well as ordering Inca hot chocolates (which you make yourself by pouring melted chocolate, milk, honey and chilli into a mug) and devouring chocolate brownies – we were increasing our fat stores for the trek!

We decided to take part on the free walking tour of the city and I am so glad that we did because apart from getting to know the city much better we learnt so much about the Inca’s and the history of the country. The following is a combination of knowledge from the tour and our Inca Trail guide who was descended from the real people of the region, the Quechua Indians.

Firstly, it is incorrect to call the Incas the Incas because Inca means King. Apparently when the conquering Spanish first invaded all they heard were the locals repeating over and over that they must take the Spanish to the King, so over and over amongst this unknown language they heard the word ‘Inca’, hence they called the indigenous the Incas.
The Incas quite rightly didn’t believe in a God as such, they believed in Pachamama, the Mother Earth and were devoted to all things natural.
The believed that the snake represented the underworld, the puma the land and the condor the sky and that the rainbow linked everything together, which is why we could see the rainbow flag everywhere and we now knew that Peru was not one big gay party.
The Incas also used the movement of the Milky Way to determine the seasons. With the dark parts of the galaxy they were able to see the Llama, the fox and other animals and they know that once the Llama crossed below the horizon it was time for the rains to come as the Llama would drink from the earth and then cry the water out, hence the rains.
Their buildings and structures were also immense and way ahead of their time. All Inca constructions were built on angle of 75 degrees and fit so perfectly together that nothing was needed to bind the rocks like cement. Some of the rocks were cut in such a way that they contained over 24 angles to fit and lock others into place and could weigh up to 300 tonnes! The reason for all of this was that the Incas knew their land and knew how prone they were to earthquakes so built everything to withstand this – the Spanish on the other hand knew better and built everything as they did in Europe and so during every earthquake since everything has crumbled to dust and rubble.
The Inca valued the Cocoa bean and tradable goods above all else and used gold and silver purely for decoration as it held no value to them and so it is said that when the Spanish reached Cusco they removed over 3,000lbs of precious metals from one temple alone.
The city of Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire and the location of the city was chosen with much purpose. The city lies perfectly at the centre of 6 mountains that are worshipped as deities and the givers of life and quite rightly so as the Incas knew the mountains were so high that they held snow and glaciers which obviously would melt and release water down into the valley and hence enable life to thrive.
The city itself was also built in the shape of the puma and within the walls of the temples you can make out the shape of the revered animals created from the shapes of the rocks.
All in all, these people were doing everything right and living very much in peace and prosperity before the Spanish came. (Once they themselves had conquered the surrounding tribes and forced everyone to live under their rule – still they did ensure that everyone was fed and clothed and lived in a sort of Socialist culture)
It is actually quite upsetting to imagine how the central plaza of Cusco would’ve looked before, with its magnificent temples and what amazing sights we would have seen if traveling through South America now if it hadn’t suffered the colonisation of the Spanish.
I think it is even worse to imagine what happened to the people and how they felt when the Spanish forced the Catholic religion on them and claimed to be saving their souls! And how did they force their god upon the people? They built churches and cathedrals directly over the top of the temples so that the indigenous had nowhere to go and no reminders of whom they really were.
The Incas also did not have paper and pen so there is no written account of their lives and times and all that we know now is what has been passed down through word of mouth and speculation.
Once again, those few greedy men who invented god and Christianity / Catholicism in order to rule over masses have a lot to answer for.
However, I am from England, we aren’t exactly innocent ourselves are we!!


On the side, there are some funny things here, such as a Willy Market and Fanny Tuna in a tin. Yummy!



So back to the tour.
We walked around the central plaza and learnt some of the history, such as the Spanish removed over 3,000lbs of gold and silver from one temple alone, we ventured down alleyways where more hidden relics of a bygone era remained, we explored the artistic San Blas area with its many artists and musicians, one who played us a number of handmade traditional Peruvian instruments and of course we had some panpipe music.
We also did some food tasting and it was really nice to try that typical Peruvian dish called Sushi! Not sure why we were eating Japanese but it was good and finishing up in the Chocolate Museum was obviously no hardship.

Whilst in Cusco we ran into Anita from Huaccachina and also Maya and Evelin, the Bulgarian couple we met a couple of weeks before in Trujillo who have become good friends.

We did some other sightseeing things in Cusco by visiting Cristo Blanco, a much smaller and less impressive version of Christ the Redeemer in Rio, solely for the views out across the city down below. Also in that area was the Inca fort of Salcantay which had the added bonus of both wild llama and alpaca that requested no fee for a photo like their owners did down in the city.
The Temple of the Sun was also worth a visit and it was interesting to see the original Inca temple with the newer Cathedral built around and above it.
We found ourselves at a loose end on one particular day so we decided to do an open top bus tour around the city and if I was bored before it I was definitely bored during it as we visited every single site that we had already seen in the previous days. Yawn!

The day before we left for the trek was 31st October; Halloween. Now I know Halloween is massive in the US and quite big in the UK but never did I think it would be as big as it was in Peru. The centre of the city was awash with opportunists selling outfits for the many parties taking place that evening and the amount of little kids walking around with their parents dressed up as all manner of ghoulish and fantasy characters was bonkers.
The kids must love it here because they don’t trick or treat around houses like we did, they do it in the thousands of restaurants and cafes who literally chuck handfuls of sweets at them.

And so after having to book our place 3 months in advance due to the enormous popularity of the Inca Trail the time was upon us. Machu Picchu is one of those must see’s and first caught my attention in primary school and now it was only a 45 kilometre trek away.
I was a little apprehensive about the trek before we left as we are very much used to doing it on our own but in this case you had to trek with a guide and group and how special could it be when the trail is limited to 500 people per day!! (This includes the guides and porters so equates to about 250 tourists)
The answer thankfully is that the huge amount of people in no way diminished the thrill and enjoyment of making the pilgrimage to the lost city – although it really helped that we had a great group of people who were, a) all quite fit, and b) not old and in need of taking it one step at a time; thank f*ck.

We were picked up at 5:30am from our hostel and began the 3 hour journey to the start point. It all appeared to be going to plan when the guide threw his hands up in dismay at realising that he had picked up the wrong person at one of the hostels and that we had a German lad instead of a Danish girl – I know it is an easy mistake to make!
The problem was solved by dumping the lad at the restaurant stop for him to meet his real group and getting a taxi to collect Celine and drop her at the start point where we were waiting.
As mentioned we had a really good group and it was in part because of these guys that our trip was so memorable.
We were a group of 9 and just like the 3 bears it was not too big and not too small, it was just right.
There was an Englishman (me), an Aussie (AJ), 2 Frenchmen, 2 Danes, 2 Swedish and an American and everybody had something interesting to offer the group in terms of information and stories and we all got on really well as a group of friends.


Our guides were the very knowledgeable Saul, a direct descendent of the people of the mountains we were to trek through and Lucieta, one of the only female guides in a much male dominated world of trekking.

We also can’t forget the porters and chef who would do us the great service of setting up and dismantling camp for us each day as well as cooking us 3 meals and providing us snacks so that we never went hungry or thirsty.
For us this was a very welcome and different experience from what we are used to. Seriously, who expects to be woken up each morning with a knock on the tent door and a serving of fresh tea to help us to wake up.
At lunch time they would even construct a meal tent with a table to sit 11 people and take it down again to move onto camp.
All the meals were great as well and consisted of soup for starters and then a wide range of dishes to fill ourselves up on before tea and then bed.

The trek itself is described as 4 days and 3 nights but in all honesty it only consists of about 16 hours walking, if you are not old, fat or slow.
There are many theories as to what purpose Machu Picchu was built for and served, such as the last Inca stronghold as they fled the invading Spanish but from the work completed by Hiram Bingham (the guy who discovered it; only in 1911!) it is pretty much agreed that this city built in this most secluded spot in Peru was actually the summer residence of the King and the Inca Trail that we all follow is the actual same path those Inca’s took over 600 years ago from Cusco – we were actually stepping on the same stones that they laid!
The walk takes you through cloud forests, over rushing rivers, up, into and over the mountains, the highest pass being at 4,200 metres, which is a personal altitude record for many on the trek and so quite a big deal, and passed many a beautiful view.
What surprised me most about the walk though was the amount of Inca ruins we would see and visit – this was not just a walk this was an educational trip and you couldn’t help but be enthralled by the ruins built into the sides of or at the top of the mountains as we sat there and listened to Saul go all misty eyed as he recounted the laws and beliefs of his people and the tales of his grandfather.


As much as the weather wasn’t always perfect and sometimes it was completely sh*t, you couldn’t help but be taken by the thick mist that would part to reveal a long lost Inca site or hidden mountain which was both spooky and exhilarating. No wonder Machu Picchu lay undiscovered until 1911!!
The trip was actually a very spiritual one and we were encouraged to participate in the traditions of the Quechua Indians and make prayers to Pachamama (Mother Earth) by spilling some of our Chicha (Peruvian mountain booze) on the earth before drinking or by taking a handful of coca leaves and blowing through them and whispering to the mountains for safe passage before chewing on them for energy. It was just all f*cking awesome and really special.

As much as we tried not to let it affect us, it did. I am talking about the people! Seriously, we hate people, it is a real problem and maybe a disease.
When you carry your own stuff as we all did you get a little snobby and righteous about those who pay for a porter to carry their belongings and only carry a day bag or nothing at all. I personally think that part of the challenge and part of the mission is about getting their on your own and under your own power. Like Clement, one of the French guys pointed out, taking oxygen to conquer Everest is cheating because the whole idea is that you push yourself to achieve what is difficult. If there were normal levels of oxygen at the peak of Everest then where is the challenge? It is the same as walking up a hill at sea level.
Now, this was no Everest but if you are only carrying a little bag and nothing at all do not block the steps and get in my way as I am climbing; I have a big bag and I am not afraid to use it!
Also there is absolutely no place on a mountain for men to trek in jeans, a shirt and a jumper tied around their shoulders. Some people dressed as though they had just decided on a whim the day before the make the trek, not booked it at least 3 months in advance, like the 3 Emo’s walking in Doc Martins!!
But saying all of this, we were fast enough to rid ourselves of the masses and enjoy the trail pretty much to ourselves.
I must also thank Mayanne, the American, for having a birthday on the first night of the trek so that we got to enjoy cake on 2 of the 3 nights along with the ‘Goodbye’ cake that served as a bribe to give the porters a tip.



Before we knew it we had reached the final day, the day we would climb around the back of Machu Picchu Mountain before coming up to the entrance to the mountain bowl that hid the city for so long and take our first glimpse of the legend from high above. In order to do all of this we needed to be rudely awoken at 3:30am (of course with a cup of tea) so that we could get packed and then make our way to the entrance gate to the mountain where we could happily stand in line for another 90 minutes until they opened the gate and we could proceed – what a crap process. What made all of this much worse and uncomfortable was that it was absolutely p*ssing it down. We are not talking a light drizzle here, it was raining Llamas and Alpacas.
Finally the gate was open and of the 200 odd tourists waiting in a nice orderly queue at the gate our group was in second place and soon would take the lead to be first to take in that mythical view.
The last task that lay between us and the top was a staircase known as ‘Gringo Killing’ because it is a staircase climbing 30 metres up at an angle of about 75 degrees and it finishes off most of the whiteys. The best way to conquer these steps is to start, ignore the build-up of lactic acid in the legs and not stop until you reach the top completely out of breath. As we were the first group we had a free rein as to the route we took up but given how many oldies, fatties and walking sticks were on the trail I can’t imagine what the traffic line would’ve been like once the majority of the groups reached this point.

From here it was now only a 200 metre walk around a corner to the Sun Gate, the gate into the city limits if you will.
I was building myself up for an emotional moment, so let’s get it into perspective.
Machu Picchu lay undiscovered from the world for over 400 years once the Incas abandoned the city for their last stronghold in the 1500’s. The Spanish had heard of a lost city and it went by names such as El Dorado, the Lost City of Gold etc but they could never locate it. It wasn’t until Hiram Bingham in July of 1911, on an archaeological trek combined with a mountain climbing mission (he wanted to make his name and become famous) came across the jungle covered ruins that were now inhabited by local farmers; although he still didn’t realise what he had found until a year later because he was busy doing other things!
The reason it lay hidden for so long was due to its location. Machu Picchu sits high upon a mountain in the middle of a green, forested Karst rock mountain bowl that rises vertically straight up from the white water rapids of the Urubamba River 800 metres below. Before the 1900’s the only to get to this region would be to fight your way through dense forest along hostile and precipitous mountain paths that were long ago swallowed up by the jungle.
A railroad was built by the Peruvians in the 1900’s to the region below the city but they were never aware of what lay above them because it was so high up and out of view.
It really was a lost city, unknown to the world apart from a few farmers who were living in a small part of the ruins.

Well from the Sun Gate we would enter the area from a high point where our view would be out across this bowl and down to the city clinging precariously to the mountain side in the first rays of morning sunlight.
As we rounded the corner we held our breaths for this defining moment but the collective sigh was not one of awe, it was of dismay. The rain may have stopped but the mist it had created left a view of completely nothing! Nothing!!
We all looked at each with no words and it was either a case of laugh or cry. We had no option but to laugh when our guide told us to “use our imagination”.
He did assure us that it would clear as the sun warmed up so we made our way down the path to the city that lay a few hundred metres below. Along the way we stopped for a history lesson at White Rock, the largest rock in the area and a place where ancient mummies were found by Bingham.
A couple of hours in we reached the spot where you see most people’s pictures of MP and each group was then expected to stand with happy faces as we took snaps of absolutely f*ck all.
I was getting a little annoyed now because there really was no need to take pictures of this not so happy moment and as I looked around there were a number of trekkers in floods of tears – this was maybe their life defining moment, something they had worked towards and it was all for nothing.
Admittedly the mist cleared in small but all too brief patches but it wasn’t to be the glorious moment we had envisioned.
You can see what I mean in the pictures below.



However, by the time we had puts our bags into storage and taken a toilet break the mist had cleared and we were able to bask in what was a truly remarkable place. The trip included a 2 hour guided tour of the city and combined with the now clear blue skies and one of the most breath-taking mountainous settings we have seen we were all smiles once again. 
We spent a good few hours at MP but soon the amount of day tourists entering the site made it completely unbearable and we needed to get out of there. Taking in such a place when there are just a few hundred people, the place being big enough to disguise the number is fine but once you reach a few thousand and you are queuing on the stairwells just to get up and down it is not so special and frankly ruins the whole experience.

Our answer to this was to the exit the city and head down to the horrendous town of Aguas Caliente, built solely to accommodate tourists to MP, so it tacky and over-priced.
We had to wait until 6:45pm for our train and bus ride back to Cusco so we decided to take a break in the hot springs that apart from having a group of local men lustily looking at Arancha’s boobs, the water also smelled like these guys and every local before them had taken a p*ss in there.

Eventually it was time to leave and head back to Cusco and the luxury of a bed and 20 hours after getting up we achieved this and arrived back at the hostel.
We decided to stay for a couple more nights before moving on to new adventures and we happily milled about and bought some Xmas presents for home as well as meeting up with friends for a couple of beers.

So that is where I leave this post. We made it to probably South America’s most famous location and although it didn’t quite go to plan it was still a magical place to see and to visit.
Will I ever go again? I am not sure but if I do I hope I want to be rich enough to request a private viewing so that I don’t have to share such a place with the camera happy Japanese and masses on Europeans that do not seem to have learnt how to do really basic things such as say “Please” or “Thank you”.
I have just Googled ‘a hatred people’ and we are now self-diagnosed as suffering from Misanthrope.
Bye, people I hate!

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