Sunday, October 30, 2005

Machu Picchu - Day 3

Got up on Sunday morning (had a giggle with Hamilton about finding the nearest church or at least an Inca temple as it was Sunday!) and headed off for Phuyupatamarca (Town above the clouds). This is a beautiful and well restored ruin about 3,500 metres above sea level and about 3 hours from our starting point. There are a number of beautiful, ceremonial baths with water running through them...the rest of the day was downhill (which i WAY prefer to uphill but it does a number on your knees). We went through the cloud forest and down hundreds (yes im not exaggerating!) hundreds of giant steps, for about 2-3 hours till we get to what Hamilton thinks is the most beautiful Inca ruin of all - Winaywayna (Forever Young!).

The third day is really a half day of sorts as you get to the last campsite (which was super busy as its the last stop before you head for the Sun Gate at 4am on the last morning....but more on that later!). We got to the site about 2ish, had another amazing lunch and then Angie and I (see the romantic pic of us below !!) went to explore the ruins....It was so beautiful, I loved it and it was so very peaceful too - again with Hamilton and the spiritual stuff but hey, i felt it, man!!! Of course, the peace and tranquility was somewhat ruined by the 2 Peruvian policemen who arrived and wanted to a) practice their English, b) quiz us on stuff and c) apparantly continue their long running history of being the "Peruvian Pervert Police"!!! (so Hamilton told us later - nothing dodgy just fancied themselves quite a bit!).

They asked us where we were from, how old we were, how much we made, were we married, single, how many children did we have, did we know how many children they had and that´s why they didnt sleep at night (nudge nudge wink wink!), how much money would someone like themselves make in a big city like New York....did we like to eat, they liked to eat a lot, and then one guy kept rubbing his rather rotund tummy.. blah blah it was quite funny at the time ...

And so to dinner (again!). We had a great chat and laugh and if i haven´t said this earlier we all heartily agreed with Charlotte that we had laughed our way across the Inca Trail - seriously you would think we had all been friends for years, we were so lucky to have such a fun group, who totally slagged each other off and yet looked out for each other (when Jill needed some oxygen after hyperventilating a wee bit, when Rachel needed some ra-ra when her knees hurt, when i was carrying the damn backpack .. yes that pack again! What a team!)

Hamilton brought out some red wine, and as there was a wee bar at this campsite we all sat and had some beers together and chatted away. The one slightly strange and awkward part of this evening was the official handing out of the tips to the porters, cooks, guides etc. We all pulled our tips together and the guides get a certain amount (more for Hamilton as the senior guide than to Victor our junior guide), then the next largest sums go to the cook (who is obviously amazing!) and the head porter (who basically organizes all the others). Then the porters themselves. They all come together and introduce themselves to us and Hamilton explains what everyone´s jobs are... then he hands out the cash and they all thank us and we thank them. These people work so incredibly hard to make our time on the trek an amazing one. You can´t change it because that´s how the system works, and you want to give these people as much money as possible to thank them for how hard they worked for you....but you do feel (i know i did) guilty that they are doing it all for you! Have i mentioned before that Hamilton explained the porters life is a better one for these men than their previous life as farmers and that they make more than professional people with their salary and tips (i dont care - its still not enough money!). I got really upset seeing some of the older men carrying way too much one day (it was for another company SAS who seem to make their porters carry way more than United Mice!). Our company does follow the regulations on how much a man should carry and how many men are required for a trek but its still a very strange dynamic knowing its all for us gringo tourists to enjoy ourselves....

Oh well, this is our last night and we are all sad its coming to an end but hey,tomorrow we get to see the real MP !!!!


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