Post ten: Gettin’ what I paid for – The trip to Machu Pichu
GOOD EATS AND OTHER DODGY HAUNTS
By the time I got to Aguas Calientes I was practically delirious with exhaustion, for I had only slept 3 hours the night before embarking on this long journey. I was so tired and cold that I could not manage to “shop around” for a well-priced meal. I ended up spending $40 just that night for dinner and a massage to help me recuperate. So much for saving costs.
WHERE’S THE DRIVER?!?
The bus driver was rather nice on the way out of Cusco. I ended up taking Perurail for a 2-hour train ride followed by a 2-hour bus ride to get back to Cusco the next day. I paid $75 for this transport and it still required quite a bit of patience.
EVERY SOL SAVED IS A SOL EARNED
Overall, I spent about $200 on the trip to Machu Pichu. By trying to save an extra $110 I ended up having to travel 16 hours instead of just 8. I ended up having to hike in the pouring rain alone in the jungle for 3-odd hours. I ended up paying about the same. I would highly recommend just paying full-cost if you’re planning to go see Machu Pichu.
THE SWEET SPOT
As I wound along the cliff and the ruins of Machu Pichu unraveled before my eyes, I realized what an incredible sight that was to see. The Incas were clearly very intelligent and prolific. I don’t buy into the theory that aliens made Machu Pichu, but it is clear that the Incas were privy to some very advanced and long-since-lost technologies.
My mother passed away January 4, 2009. That was the day after I had seen the sunrise over a hidden Maya Estella on a Honduras mountain-top. Three long and interesting years have passed since then. It filled my heart with joy to be able to sit alone at Machu Pichu and watch the sun rise over the mountain as I meditated on the memory of my mother. I have been blessed with far more freedom and love than I could ever deserve. For all the set-backs, tragedies and weird things that have happened to me, I have been compensated with an incredible richness of life experience. The lows have been grossly over-compensated by the highs. If I had to go today, I would go knowing that I had left no stone un-turned and that my life was far more incredible that any one person could deserve.
I spent a net $90 on the “all-inclusive” trip to Machu Pichu where other agencies were selling for $210. When I heard this price I thought to myself, “Exactly, this is what I’m talking about. I can do this!” The next morning I arrived to the oficinia at 7:40 am to board my bus, but low and behold, it was not there. After some searching, phone calls, and other efforts on my part, I finally located and boarded a bus that was supposed to be Machu Pichu-bound.
The travel agency’s owner had explained to me that he could sell me the ticket so cheaply because they would drive us instead of send us by train. For $110, that was ok with me. What he failed to mention was that the road didn’t go all the way to Agua Calientes (the city where one must lodge in order to see Machu Pichu in the morning). The roads that we drove were eternally winding around plummeting cliff’s edges. It was pouring rain and the driver was speeding. There was two-way traffic, bicycle riders in the road, and zero visibility.
I noticed that the roadway engineers that designed this new road must not have been too concerned about the landslides that were occurring all along the site development area, for it appears that they just dig the road out every time it gets covered over in earth. Perhaps somehow, they did not foresee that the road would become part of the landslide itself, as it had. I remember waking from restless dreams only to see the bus trying to pass by on one-side of the road because the other had already fallen off of the cliff into the deep chasm below. Also, I believe the stormwater engineers must have been taking a snooze, for areas of the road were covered in rivers and waterfalls which sprung from the cliffs above. Those were always nice to drive through because of the risk that the flood current would be just high enough to lift our van and carry it off over the cliff’s edge with the waters. Somehow, though, once again… God was on my side and we made it to a stopping point.
Unfortunately, this stopping point was not Aguas Calientes. Instead it was a park entrance about 8 – 10 miles from the hostel where we had reservations. It looked as though I would be walking through the Andean jungle, just as I hoped for the chance to do while I was still in Bolivia. The walk was only supposed to be 2 hours and there was 4 hours until dark. With a broad smile on my face, I embarked on this amazon trail with my fellow travelers. Somehow though, I couldn’t stand to walk so slowly, so I made the courageous decision to go it alone through the Amazon jungle bound towards Aguas Calientes. It began to rain fairly heavily about 1 hour into the trip. Comes to find out, the trip between the drop-off point and the town was 2-hours by train, but about 4-hours by foot. I ended up walking alone through the jungle in the pouring rain, as fast as I could for 3 hours until I arrived at the city at nightfall. I would have paid the $110 had I known, but isn’t hindsight always 20-20?
ESPIRITU LIBRE PARA LA VIDA
As I type here, in a Cusco café, barefoot with no make-up on, I realize how little so-called status means to me anymore. I want to live a rich life, where richness is measured in how many people I can help and how much I can contribute to society and the environment. Of course, I want to be able to support myself, but this is the floor not the ceiling. Life can be so magical and those born in the US are so privileged. To me, it would be really something to be able to share that privilege and freedom with people that weren’t so lucky.
I wonder how much longer I will stay living in the USA.