It has been over a week since my last post because I was in Cuzco, Peru, so I have a lot of catching up to do! Forgive me for the excess of photos and words!
We left Viña Thursday, October 8th, at 4 am and landed in Cuzco at 1 pm that afternoon. I had been warned by many people about the altitude sickness I would feel, but I didn’t realize how quickly it would take affect! About 30 steps after coming off the airplane, I was walking up the airport ramp and was instantly out of breath and couldn’t walk any farther! I realized if I was to walk anywhere in Cuzco, I would have to either slow down my walking pace or take frequent breaks every 20 feet to catch my breath! After picking up our checked bags we took a taxi to our hostel to check in. We were told to take the first day easy to adjust to the altitude, so we decided to take a loooonnnggg nap to catch up on some lost sleep. After resting up, we decided to grab dinner at a local restaurant to taste some authentic Peruvian food, and schedule our tours for the week on Friday and Sunday.
The Sacred Valley is a valley of the heartland of the Incan Empire. The Valley was created by the Urubamba River and contains many cities with preserved Inca ruins. Our tour of “Valle Sagrado” began promptly at 8am. We took a bus to a small town outside of Cuzco called Pisac. There we encountered our first set of ruins, the Pisac ruins. The most impressive feature was the agricultural terracing used to produce large surpluses of food than would normally be possible at high altitudes.
The second stop was in Urubamba for a tasty Peruvian lunch! Then we continued on to the city of Ollantaytambo. Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of the Emperor Pachacuti and later served as a giant Incan fortress that protected the northern portion of the Sacred Valley from the Spanish conquerors. What was amazing was how the Incas had carved each individual stone to fit with the next in a trapezoidal shape. The trapezoidal shape was to prevent collapse from earthquakes.
The final stop was in Chinchero. There we photographed the Incan terraces and learned how the native Quechua create and dye the textiles.
After such a long Friday, we took Saturday off to just wander through downtown Cuzco and explore. Cuzco has tons of catholic churches throughout the city, so I decided to walk around with my friend, Miranda, to see just how many we could find! I think we found 10…
We went to bed early Saturday night because we had to be ready by 4 am for our trip to Machu Picchu Sunday morning! We started with a 2 hour car ride to the train station in Ollantaytambo. From there we took a 1.5 hour train through the Sacred Valley to the town Aguascalientes where we met our tour guide, Carlos. We then hopped on a bus to climb the mountain where Machu Picchu is located! When we finally entered the park, I was blown away by the overwhelming beauty! Tears started to well up in my eyes and I had no words! I just stood there and stared at the beauty. Machu Picchu was by far the most beautiful place I have ever visited. I couldn’t believe the Incas built such a massive city on such a tall mountain above the Urubamba river valley! It is amazing that only 40% of the city is open to the public. The other 60% is still covered in trees and forested. The Quechua tribe wants to preserve the city for future generations and for future archeologist that will have better technology to understand the Incan ruins. I was also surprised how well hidden the city is. It was no wonder that the Spaniards never found the city! Now I’m gonna let the pictures describe what I saw!
At 2pm we stood in line to go back down the mountain to leave Machu Picchu. We returned to Cuzco around 9 pm and had only eaten snacks that we brought with us throughout the day, so we decided to go out for dinner. It also happened to be my friend Madeline’s 21st Birthday (how cool is that, to spend your 21st on Machu Picchu!!!) so we wanted to celebrate! We went to a recommended burger joint and enjoyed a very satisfying meal and dessert! I absolutely loved it…..until unlucky for me I got food poisoning from my burger. I spent the entire night in the hostel bathroom feeling miserable.
Luckily we had planned for Monday to be another rest day, so I was able to sleep and recover from the food poisoning. While my friends explored Cuzco in the morning, I slept in and nibbled on saltine crackers and Sprite to calm my stomach down. I managed to get up out of bed to do some shopping around 3 pm and then met my friends at the top of a hill to watch the sunset over Cuzco. After sunset we came back to the hostel to pack because tomorrow afternoon we were scheduled to leave back to Viña.
For our final morning in Cuzco, we wanted to go inside the main Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas. Since Cuzco is largely a tourist city, a majority of the churches require you to pay to enter. The only time they don’t require you to pay is from 6:30 to 9:00 am when the churches are open for daily mass. We decided to wake up early to go to daily mass instead of paying to enter the main Cathedral. I didn’t take any pictures of the inside of the Cathedral, but the church was beautifully adorned in gold, paintings, and statues of saints, Mary, and Jesus. After mass, we visited the Inca Museum to see some artifacts of the Pre-Incan and Incan tribes and grabbed lunch. We left Cuzco to catch our flight at 1:30 but when we were checking in to our flight, the kiosk lady told us that we were not able to board the flight. She told us the plane would weigh too much and would not be able to land with the bad weather in Lima so she was going to have to change our plans. As a result we would have to take a later plane at 7pm, we would have to spend the night in Lima, Peru, and then return to Chile Wednesday evening. I was really worried because we had already planned for someone to pick us up from the airport in Chile and we couldn’t contact them to let them know of the changes, but for our inconveniences, the airline agreed to give us a compensation package. The airline paid us $45 in USD, 3 Sheraton hotel rooms in Lima, a taxi to and from the hotel in Lima, and a buffet breakfast in the morning. I couldn’t really complain especially since I didn’t have school Wednesday!
I absolutely loved the hotel we stayed in while in Lima! The beds were extra soft with lots of extra pillows, we had a room on the 17th floor overlooking the city, and we received the tastiest breakfast I have had since before I arrived in Chile! I could not complain! At 8 am we hopped in the taxis to return to the airport and were back on our way to Chile without any further problems.
After a week in Peru, I can say I absolutely loved it! The food was wonderful, the weather was marvelous, and I could actually understand the Spanish they spoke!! (Meaning they didn’t speak with a lot of slang or drop their “s” like in Chile!!) I loved the architecture of the city in Cuzco. It reminded me of a European Latin America with the tiled roofs! Machu Piccu was definitely my favorite place I have visited, and it still feels like it was only a dream! I hope to go back to Peru sometime in the future! Well that is all for now. Ciao chicos! Hasta manana!