Location: Aguas Calientes
With duffels and overnight packs underhand, we walked to Ollantaytambo’s train station to depart for Machu Picchu. We boarded the train’s B car and were pleasantly surprised to find that the train car was similar to an Amtrak. We were spread out throughout the car, but most of us ended up next to each other as there were a few empty seats that we were happy to fill to be seated closer to one another. The train ride to Machu Picchu town was around an hour and a half and passed surprisingly quickly. The majority of us engaged in a cross-cultural discussion about Judaism and Christianity for about an hour of the ride down and got a lot out of it. Robert and Raquel shared the basics of Judaism and their beliefs with the group. Johnny even went as far as taking notes and asking for the spelling of words including “Torah” and “Hashem” (which is what Jewish people call G-d). Cate, Johnny, and Charlotte, in turn, taught us about the basics of Christianity, which ultimately segued into a conversation on how religions can easily coexist because the same moral principles lie central to the majority of them, but humans judge one another for the nuances among their religions, and that is where religious conflict truly lies. We’re evidently a bunch of wannabe theological philosophy majors.
The train was a PeruRail Vista Dome, so it had large windows throughout that allowed us to take in the absolutely stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Truly beautiful. We pulled into the station in the area near Machu Picchu and headed straight for the hotel where we dropped off our stuff. We headed straight to lunch after that. The restaurant basically had the same menu as every other place we’ve eaten at in the last weeks we’ve been in Peru. The one outstanding difference was that this menu had a picture of a live guinea pig next to a picture of a baked guinea pig, as a before and after shot! After lunch, we headed straight for Aguas Calientes- hot springs. The hot springs that the town was previously named for are a series of six tiled pools that differ in temperature. We waded in the hot springs for a while, and when everyone was ready to leave, we returned to the hotel where we were given our phones for a couple of hours before heading to dinner. Dinner was quite the treat. The food took a while, but everyone eventually got something, and after two hours, we returned to the hotel to turn in for our early start tomorrow.
We woke up at six in the morning at our hotel and had breakfast. Shortly afterward, we took a bus up and around a mountain to the Machu Picchu site. The views of the mountains from our bus were incredible. Within a few minutes of walking upstairs, after arriving, we had a clear view of Machu Picchu. We took many pictures. Some were with groups, some were with single people, and some were just of the view. We proceeded to hike up a path to get a more distant view of Machu Picchu. At this location, we took many more pictures. We then hiked back down and took another path along the edge of a cliff to an old Incan bridge. The bridge was not safe to walk on, as it was blocked off.
We then walked back and went to a location to take a seat right in front of Mach Picchu, where William explained to us some history and facts about Mach Picchu. Then, it was time to go into the actual site. We descended and walked through many paths and walls with doors, inside Mach Pichhu. More pictures were taken. Then we left and went to get on a bus back down the mountain. We walked through the town to a restaurant and had lunch. Some of us had pizza, some had ravioli, and some people had other dishes. We then went to the hotel to pick up our bags. It was then time to head to the train station, where we did some quick shopping, before getting on the train. On the train ride, the crew surprised us with a man in a rainbow outfit and donkey mask, who danced. Then, there was a fashion show. Once the train arrived at Ollantaytambo, we got off the train and walked about ten minutes to our hostel. We relaxed and filled out some forms about our experience, before having arepas for dinner. After dinner, we watched a movie and went to bed.