Monday, April 21, 2014

Machu Picchu...or MaPi, as the locals call it

My mom had a little llama keychain on her pocket knife my whole childhood. She found it in this magical place in Peru called Machu Picchu. For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to go and see it myself.

Unfortunately, Machu Picchu has become the hot South American destination for a lot of people. It remains as utterly stunning and impressive as everyone might imagine, but for me at least, some of the charm is lost in the swarms of tourists and equally stunning price tags. 

The main take-away? The Inca Empire was pretty sweet. I was surprised at how much better MaPi became as I learned the Incan history behind its creation. Their hard work (neuroticism?) and devotion to their gods and mythical creatures seems unparalleled. I want to share all the fun facts we learned about how and why they built stuff, but I guess you can just wiki that. Or ask us later!

We took the train from Cuzco via Ollantaytambo, which is another awesome site, practically in town (people are still living in Inca-built structures). In Aguas Calientes, we soaked in the thermal baths before waking at 4:50 am in order to hike the hour up and "see the sunrise" over MaPi aka "see" Machu Picchu in the mist and rain for two hours. But we did beat the crowds!!

I will admit, however, that I got that I'm-about-to-cry feeling when I finally did see the mist pull away and reveal it all. Well done, Mr. Inca.  

Ollantaytambo. This Inca site is the only to have successfully held back the Spanish (although it was later overtaken).
Luke at 5 am before the hike. We tried to convince him that he didn't need his make-up for the MaPi pics, but he insisted.
Before the crowds got up, we got some alone time with Mr. Llama

The Sun Temple. Perhaps the most impressive architecture at the whole site. That was put together with no mortar 500 years ago, and has survived multiple earthquakes! 

Every single window or shelf space is trapezoidal, to make it stronger.

Out of the mist it comes!!!

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