Let me be the first to say 4 AM wake up calls are not the biznis. Nonetheless, a 2 hour flight and 4 hour train ride later we arrived at our next destination. Aguascalientes is a lively town that’s surrounded by incredible landscapes. A little money can get you a very long way in Peru but prepare to pay premium prices for lodging if you ever visit Machu Picchu, as AC is a town that was built specifically for tourism. It was midday when we arrived and the boys were ready for lunch so after securing a hotel we walked through the town to find something to eat. The restaurant workers stand readily outside their establishments with open menus and sales pitches for why you should eat at their restaurant. After being lured into the first restaurant we looked at we sat down and ordered the highly anticipated cuy dish (guinea pig), which is considered a delicacy in the country. Fortunately I have a soul so I didn’t dare try it, but the consensus was that with its’ gamey taste it was nothing to run and tell home about. No worries, the beer and free pisco sours made up for it! Lunch was followed by market shopping (my favorite!) and compiling bruises from stray children crashing their bikes into us. The rest of the evening was filled with subtle events with us drinking more beer, playing cards, watching Batman dubbed in Spanish, eating pizza, and calling it an early night. We wanted to be sure we were well rested for our adventures in the morning!
After having a light breakfast the next morning, we left around 8:00 AM to get in line for the bus to Machu Picchu but found we were already 3 hours too late. With the line being a half mile long and us being the impatient and foolish Americans that we are, we decided we couldn’t wait and we’d do the hike instead. I have probably never regretted anything more in my life, but I can truly say I worked for that view! The hike was a little over 10K and took us about an hour and a half to complete due to us making frequent stops to rest, drink water, and shoot SOS flares (to which no one responded to). Alas, the crown jewel of our trip! Machu Picchu is every bit as magical and beautiful as you hear and read. The photos I have chosen to share are only a fraction of what’s on my camera roll. We entered the site through the citadel in the area that was used for cultivation of crops and were immediately surrounded by commanding views of the Sacred Valley. With endless heights of sophisticated dry-stone walls before me, I suddenly felt as if I had time traveled into the 15th century. Grazing alpacas loitered the winding paths that took our breath away (literally because of the altitude) as we continued to walk higher to capture the panoramic views. The experience was amazing.
After countless hours and full memory cards we made way to the front of the site where we took the bus back down to our hotel. We treated ourselves to massages and a delicious pasta dinner at a restaurant called Pueblo Viejo (Italian food is very popular in Peru!) to celebrate our milestone. My advice to anyone considering visiting Machu Picchu is this: GO. Go while you still can. Go while its’ beauty and awe still exists. Go before it gets ruined by tourists or run over by locals. Go. Go. Go.