Another Adventure

15 10 2007

On Saturday we took the Inka Express bus from Cuzco to Puno (where Lake Titicaca, the highest navegable lake in the world, is). We had a fright, though, in the morning. We left our “home” in Cuzco, Hostel Belvedere, and took a taxi to the Inka Express bus station. Our driver helped us unload bags, then pointed to two smaller buses than appeared on the Inka Express website. “Here is your bus to Puno” he said, after walking arond the corner to see the bus. “Are you sure?” I asked… “It doesn´t look like anybody´s here, yet they told us to be here an hour early.” We paid our driver, dragged our bags a few steps, and immediately saw that the bus said “Machu Picchu Tours” on it. Oops. Been there, done that. I ran to the taxi driver who was still there…”This is a bus to Machu Picchu, not Puno” I said. “Oh..”  “So what do we do?” I asked him. Another man standing nearby told us that the Inka Express was farther down the street, just a ways, and gave us the address. We could walk there. So our driver took off, and we walked down the street to the address.

Nobody there. Doors locked, with a padlock. I looked in the window, and it looked completely empty.  A man standing there said to me, “Nobody´s there.” “What do you mean?” I asked.. ” where are they?”   “I don´t know. They´ve moved to another site.”  What!? now what?

Just then a man wearing a fleece jacket that said “Peru Rail” (the train we took back and forth to Machu Picchu” walked by and told us where they had moved to. He gave me directions, which I didn´t completely follow, because it was turn here, walk there, look for that, and this, and it was very direct, really, and we could do it in 15 minutes. I asked him about a taxi, and a teeny weeny taxi came by. He hailed it, but said, looking at our bags, “This is too small for you. You need a bigger taxi.” But the driver said he could fit us in, us and our bags. So one bag was set on top (not fastened), and we squeezed in, and it´s a good thing we didn´t walk. It would have taken us at least 30 minutes. And it was definately not direct, or easy, to find.

But we made it! We were early, and we made it. Thank God for the guy pointing us down the street, for the guy who told us that Inka Express had moved, for the Peru Rail guy, and the taxi driver.

Despite that harrowing start to our day, the bus ride was quite good. The bus itself was quite nice, the guide fairly good, though a bit repetitive and too talkative. We had many stops in small villages along the way, passed llama and alpaca herds… tons of them.. So cool. I think I already wrote that. And I hugged and alpaca. Even better.

Each town we stopped in had a “Plaza de Armas” or Central Square, with a church, mini-park, benches, vendors at tiendas (selling me alpaca wool socks so I could stay warm on the bus.) The churches were fascinating. We couldn´t take photos inside, but such beauty, and strange similiarities in ceiling painting, similiar to rosemaling (sp?) from Sweden. One church we visited is called the “Sistine Chapel of the Andes”.

We have met so many travelers along the way, including two fun couples from New Zealand. At one of the stops, we got off the bus, and one of the NZ men said, “Another plaza… another church….” Very funny, and very true. But good, for us ordained people.

Our hostel in Puno is a slightly not-so-great. Though I appreciate their concern for the environment in having a solar system schedule of hot water, we only each had one shower there during our two night stay, and Jo Ann had an ice cold shower, Jim had lukewarm, and I had a lukewarm turning ice cold shower. But the family that owns this hostel is very nice. The breakfasts are fantastic, the father of the family  is adorable and sweet, the blankets were warm, and two nights there did really do us any harm. I´m just not the “roughing it” type anymore.

Another hostel, another cold shower, another plaza, another church, another ride to another new city, another adventure, another day of protection from worse things happening…. and another day of beautiful people, scenery, llamas and alpacas.

Wayna Picchu & More Llamas

13 10 2007

First, apologies to those who cannot view the photos I posted the other day.. some could view them in normal size, some couldn^t. At home I know how to diminish photo size, but not on these computers and in Spanish. Also, the apostrophe on this computer does not work… oh well.

I^m exhausted, so this is hopefully going to make sense. Here goes.

Machu Picchu-an incredible view of Incan intelligence at work, planning, orchestrating, changing when times necessitated (or as one of the theories goes, leaving when the final time necessitated… though it^s unknown where..or if that theory is even correct). Machu Picchu-a place to meet tons of interesting international travelers.

Yesterday we woke up early and got in the Machu Picchu line at 5:20 or so. First bus left at 5:30. We were on bus 2…. leaving a few minutes afterwards. Gates opened at 6, but Wayna Picchu (that mountain I forgot how to spell) gate didn^t open until 7, so we were in line for an hour. Sat on rocks, talked to others, Cathy took more llama photos (I^ll show them all to you, Will K.), gate opened, and we were climbers 16, 17 and 18 into Wayna Picchu. Only 400 allowed in a day. Hike takes about an hour, it^s said. An hour and 8 minutes for us. Which included lots of stops, sometimes to sit and catch breath (high altitude), sometimes to give burning legs a rest, sometimes to let others pass us).

Incans were not short. We found out later that the last king of the Incans, Pachacutec, is believed to be 7 feet tall… a-ha. That^s why my legs still burn today. All the stairs going up Wayna Picchu (and it^s mostly stairs) are uneven, but also high…higher than the average stair. Especially for the vertically-challenged. Oof. Tiring.

The top? so worth all that pain. Beautiful views of Machu Picchu, great conversations with other travelers. Great to hang out and eat our Caribou Coffee Granola Bars, dried fruit mix, cheez-its, and drink water.

Apparently, Wayna Picchu was built (not the mountain, but the stairways all the way up and buildings on top) in case of attack from intruders. The important Incans could retreat to Wayna Picchu, and perhaps even destroy the trail on the way up. It was a good retreat place. Not many intruders would make it up, with no trail. For one thing, their legs would burn too much.

The way down from WP was pretty harsh, but done in 35 minutes. Whew. From there we visited the Temple of the Condor at Machu Picchu, photographed and pet more llamas (are you sensing a theme here?), and left the park.

Back in Aguas Calientes we ate lunch, saw Peruvian friends whom we had met in our Cuzco hotel on the street, wandered through the market, drank coffee and Coca Tea, and picked up our bags for our train ride back to Cuzco, back to our “home”, Hotel Belvidere in the San Blas neighborhood, “our” neighborhood.

This morning in a strange moment of the trip, I woke up at 4:15, when our alarms were set for 5:15…. not sure why. I thought my alarm went off. So I got up and showered, and realized that I was up an hour early. UGH! When I returned to the room I looked at my watch and sure enough, I was up early.  So I told Jim and Jo Ann to go back to sleep…I put a towel in my hair, and slept until Jim^s alarm went off at 5:15!

Today we took the Inka Express Bus to Puno…. tomorrow we^re taking a boat on Lake Titicaca… tonight I^m exhausted..and going to bed soon. Very soon.

Hope you^re all well, and next time I blog, I^ll fill in about today^s bus ride. Suffice it to say, lots of llamas and alpacas…. life is good, sometimes!