To say our small company of travelers do not always enjoy the rewards of a new dawning day is perhaps best captured by a direct quote from my 14 year old, who, when I attempted to wake her at 5:15am to make our 6am train to Aguas Caliente let it be known that my efforts were somewhat unappreciated with a shout of “Go away!”. I replied with great parental care and patience “…you had better get your butt up or we are going to miss our train!”.
Now ordinarily missing a train is not life or death in my world. GO trains and subways, are after all, a big part of our daily pattern in Toronto. There is always another train to catch. Let me tell you a bit about acquiring train tickets to visit the tremendous, not to be missed, Inkan ruins of Macchu Picchu. My often unappreciated partner and key travel coordinator had many months previously purchased train tickets and our entry permits to Machu Picchu. To do so, however, had required countless hours of research to decipher the very specifically worded rules and policies of the train journey and ascent to the ruins. In these transactions it was made painfully clear that there would be no refund for missed tickets and the waiting list for both train passage and entry tickets was many weeks long. As a result, this part of our trip had expended the most amount of effort and fretting. All of this was opaque, surprisingly expensive, and frustrating at times, so much so that when my youngster offered her advice to sod off, I swiftly informed her that over my dead body would we miss that train.
So up we all got, jumped into our three wheeled taxi in the predawn darkness and made our bleary eyed way to our awaiting train. What a nice way to see the countryside! Our carriage had huge windows in the usual side position but also on a curved overhead ceiling. This allowed full appreciation of the rugged mountain landscape the train trundled through, following the winding Urubamba river through the final leg of the sacred valley. Once we arrived to the lovely little hot springs town of Aguas Caliente we acquired the startling expensive bus tickets to get whisked up to the site. Many fitter specimens of the human species hike (trek) their way into the ruins at dawn but as those types of physically adventurous days are well behind me, we elected to be brought up in a well-padded Mercedes Benz bus. Such luxury was welcome but even this kind of comfort does not make one immune from eye-stretching and heart palpitating switchbacks up the slopes. The rocky, single lane road up requires one to make peace with powerlessness and to have faith in the skill and reflexes of the man behind the wheel. We made it up after lots of oohing and ahhing and sharp intakes of breath followed by efforts to put on a face that conveys “ya, I’m cool with this whole roaring along on the side of a mountain thing”.
So much has been said and written about Machu Picchu that I won’t spend too much time sharing my thoughts on the site but I will say it was one of the most stunning landscapes and harmonious places I have ever looked upon. I place it right beside the Taj Mahal in its ability to be appreciated from countless angles and times of day and appear perfectly apportioned and lovingly shaped to its natural setting. Wow. Go see it if the chance ever affords itself.