After enjoying an enlightenment experience in Machu Picchu and missing our train, we went down the mountain to figure out how we were going back to Cusco.
From my 2005 diary:
Funny, going down the stairs was harder than going up. Perhaps the Inca spirits helped us up.
We kept meeting the little Peruvian boys that bet with tourists they can run down the hill faster than the bus. Desculpa amiguitos, I’m revealing your secret here. They tell people leaving Machu Picchu that they can get to the bottom of the mountain first – but those poor gringos don’t know the existence of the stone staircase that crosses the road. So they give the boys money, and they might actually get puzzled when they see the same kid waiving and waiting for the bus on the many turns throughout the road trip down.
(see the picture of my beautiful hand-drawn map for reference)
Reality hit us when we were leaving the park: it was a shock going from that dreamy state of feeling connected to the cosmos — the supernatural or just a nature-temple — to being hit by the chaos of urbanization and excursionists that are visiting that magic place without actually feeling it.
Perhaps for our group, the sensation of getting there was even more touching, since we had 20 days traveling South America and getting in contact with all different people, culture, and landscapes. Plus the 4-day trekking on the mountains when we lost touch with city life and connected only with nature.
When we got to Aguas Calientes, our guide Carlitos was pissed off and worried about us. It was actually cute: he was just upset because he knew that we now were gonna have to spend more cash to get a new train ticket, although it didn’t really affect him otherwise. At the train station, we panicked when the seller said no tickets until August 6th (7 days later), but Carlito told us to stay near the teller and wait for no-shows. One hour later, we got it – and lucked out, as it was the cheapest option. Still, US$20 was a quite a lot… but Machu and Wayna Picchu was worth.
Our train was next day at 5:45AM, so we had to get a hostel. Again, all expensive. We found something for 20 soles (in Cusco we were paying 10), and lunch cost 15. For dinner, I ventured on a street Hamburguesa – all my friends thought I was crazy and that I was going to get sick, but it was the most delicious thing. The fries are actually put inside the sandwich, between the bun and the burger, and topped with lots of mayo, ketchup and mustard. For 2,5 soles!
Bonus story: The hotel lady was a bit cuckoo, I didn’t like her from the start. When we were leaving for dinner, we realized we locked the key inside the room. I went to speak to her and she said: ‘No hay otra llave (there isn’t another key).’ And I was like, ‘so what do we do now? Can we get a locksmith? And she says: ‘no hay llaveros (there isn’t a locksmith).’ And she had a keychain with like 100 keys, but didn’t want us to try them. Vanessa grabbed the keys from her hand and start trying it. At the third try, the door opened. Cuckoo!
The train took us to Ollantay, and from there we cabbed to Cusco.
It was the start of our way back to Brazil: Cusco – La Paz (bus)
La Paz – Santa Cruz de La Sierra (The Death Train) –
Corumbá – Sao Paulo (36h bus)
– The End
The End, but really the beginning of a Wonderful Vacation Life.