I was happily (as happy as possible for a job) working,
saving money and getting to a point of financial comfort that I had not felt for a while. I was optimistically considering going to visit my sponsored child in CuscoPeru. The last time I saw her in 2010 was too long ago, it was a beautiful moment for me and I wanted to do it again. I filled out the forms for the required police records checks.
I was planning my holiday and seeing friends in South America again and having a new adventure. I knew I had a few more things to take care of before I was completely comfortable and I started to consider options.
I have been informed that my tenant will be moving out of my house. I feel it is good and that I am about ready to make the move but, (there is nearly always a but). Although it is good to be financially ready there are a few things that I am not sure about. In some ways this slows me down but I feel it is a necessary evil. I have to face a few demons before I am free.
Good morning, after another steamy night (No! get your mind out of the gutter), OK, there is still no power. I am a little surprised, this is the longest black out I have seen before and to make things more challenging we ran out of water last night. The landlord had been busy bringing buckets of water up 3 flights of stairs from down stairs (I wonder if he has been to Machu Picchu?), he said that the electricity company will have the power by the end of Christmas day, we hope they are correct. (Any longer and I will smell like the roast that left over after the day), back to camping days and wash from a bucket.
I use up my batteries on the PC chatting to “K” and having a giggle and then go for a coffee again to charge my batteries. I am getting used to this but it would be more fun with a friend. I thought about Christmas, would it be the same as the last time I was here? Back then I was amazed that at 3am on Christmas morning there were long lines in Abasto shopping centre of people lining up for gifts and fireworks were going off all night from dusk until about 2 days later.
I went for what has become my daily exercise, my little project has kept me actively walking around the city, learning new words and also exercising. “K” finds this very amusing but she does say she sees I am learning and also the fun in, learning should be fun most of the time, look at politicians there are a great example of this. It does pay off, they pretend to be educated and good at whatever field they have chosen, they pretend to care and do the best for the community and then because something agrees with the opposition or is against their policy they ignore it, they play with our money and make mistakes like playing Monopoly in real life. To top it off they get a pat on the back and a pension. (I wish my ex-employers where so generous, Oh, they have a choice).
I return to my room and sleep for a while, I chat to “K” and say Merry Christmas and decide to not go to a milonga tonight, and (I smell like the left over roast). I waited until 11pm and went for a walk around the city and them back to my apartment up one of the main avenues; it was fun to see families and friends celebrating Christmas. There were fireworks going off everywhere; some shooting upwards and others slithering along the ground (oops), others were being thrown from buildings and I did have to be careful when walking around corners. There were a few cars pulled up onto the curb with the boot lid up and music blaring loud and the alcohol just inside, (the only thing missing was that Australian invention, the Esky).
27th October 2010. Today I declare No stairs day. I have had enough of them, my legs are sore I have no fat left on them and I no longer know if the new lumps are new muscles or torn old ones. I sit at the PC sorting pics, finding a few to share from the many I have taken. I say hi to a few of the people sharing the house. I do have to walk downstairs, (a mans gotta eat, I could ask for room service but I do not like being laughed at), at least it was just about 20 stairs, this is nothing compared to the last six days. I am not complaining it was an amazing adventure with lots of good memories and new experiences, this was more enjoyable than any gym I can imagine. It was also a lesson, a reminder of what I was able to achieve when I put my mind to it, sure, it is easy to say “I know I can do it” from experience, but to actually doing it is a kind of validation.
There were a few times in the last few days that I thought I bit off more than I could chew and questioned why I do not plan my holidays like normal people. I did originally go to Cusco to see my sponsored child, that was the goal, the rest was to be made up along the way, I had virtually no knowledge of Cusco, Machu Picchu or any of the places or things to do in the area, (I knew they were in Peru). I also remembered that it is fun to improvise, I have always loved to be spontaneous, it was beaten out of me when I listened to everyone else say I was silly, I was silly for listening to them and believing
them, something we seem to loose living a “normal” life, (or in my case, existance). A little variety is good, nice surprises add to the adventure, (also the laugh later moments also do), if had planned this holiday complety I may not have met most of the people I have and not seen the places I have in the way that I have. I enjoy meeting people, “normal” (there is that word again) people and see the world through thier eyes, not through the eyes of a travel company that are generally speaking after the best returns for their investment not mine. It is my way to learn about
their culture and beliefs, if I can not understand I hope to at least appreciate their beliefs. It is good to agree to disagree.
Today I am off to see Machu Picchu, I line up with about 300 other eager tourists waiting for the bus ride to the other side or the river to Machu Picchu national park.
There is a line of about 5 buses, one behind the other loading up and driving away, it was a relatively short wait maybe 30 minutes if that, not too many street merchants trying to sell things, some sunscreen and hats, and the stores to the right had most other things you may need for the day.
We head out of town down the main road which quickly turns to dirt, it follows the river which runs quite rapidly and has many large boulders in it causing some nice currents and cascades to be formed on the other side there is the railway which runs above us and goes through tunnels in the mountain, there is an area where there was a small avalanche, workers were slowly cutting this on site for use in some of the new buildings.
The bus goes through the gate and crosses the river to the other side, we turn left and start to climb this zig zag road, to the top, (well nearly to the top). On one side there is jungle with brief glimpses of the mountains and on the other there is through the trees you can see part of the ruins. We stop at the main entrance to Machu Picchu, and line up like everyone else, my guide says to wait a second so I stay in line. He returns to say come on a we walk to the front of the line he says hi to friends and we get stamped to enter the park. As we go through the gate I am told I can get my passport stamped if I want, It is not compulsory but it makes sense in a novel way, we are entering another world or at least another time.
I snap a few photos as I enter, I look at some of the stones not to big yet but I know they get bigger, some are as big as a mini bus, how were they transported here? He tells me we are heading to Wayna picchu, I have no idea what he is talking about and he points and smile, (I must have looked like a dumb tourist), I said something along the lines of ‘the mountain’? He had his characteristic grin and laugh which I have grown to appreciate and he said ‘yes, we have to be there before 7 am because the gate opens soon and we have to go in and climb it’, They only allow a 400 people up the mountain per session, the second and last session is at 10am, that’s 400 per day. It was a nice walk, (more stairs) long flat paths some grassed areas and stone walls everywhere. We go to the gate to Wayna picchu and wait around, the crowd is growing at a steady rate, someone must have told them there was something nice here, I wish I was told before I got here, ha ha.
The gate opens, you need to show your ticket sign in name, country, time, age, this is to know who and where your from, good idea keep statistics, also you can check you own time but lost importantly to make sure you return and leave, if not people start to worry about you. There is no need to worry, the rangers are trained in vertical rescue so if you have an OOPS they can help you get out again. This I realise why later, it started off like a normal (what’s normal really, compared to home this is another planet, it‘s a matter of perception) walk in the park, a dirt track, lots of trees, fresh air and stone steps. I weave may way along the track following my nose and the noise the people ahead are making, (no screams so far so good) I get a little further and there they are (I don’t need to say it do I?) the stairs that lead to the top of the mountain, they were not too bad to start, they were sort of “normal” the higher you get the steeper they got, the height starts to vary from 200 mm to 400 mm, some steps were very narrow, 500 mm to maybe 300 mm and to make it exciting there was a very steep drop to one side and no hand rails, I actually liked this feature it did no ruin the view and those who climbed had to take responsibility for themselves (that’s a new concept to many western people), there was a small rail, it was a thick wire rope but against the rock to help people pull themselves up, (this is a nice compromise for the westerners, ooh that includes me), After a few stops for photos and deep breathes I am nearly at the top, my legs are burning, heart pumping and I was sounding like a dirty phone call, (yes I know what they are like, I have had one or two in my lifetime).
I see a cloud float by me when I look past a set of stairs, it is a funny feeling considering I am 500+ meters high. Only 50 metres to go, I stop on one of the terraces and relax, I have a tourist photo of me taken and I continue up. A few stairs later I get to a small cave which I have to get on my side and drag myself through, (it would have been smarter to take off my camera back pack). One small make shift log ladder to go and here I am, there is a small line waiting for the rock with the highest tip. There are some people from Australia and the U.K. celebrating with cheers an a half finished mini bar bottle. The last few steps to the highest point and I felt relief, I was very happy and sort of surprised I did it so easily, I did expect it to be harder. I relaxed with the other crazy climbers, that includes a 64 year old woman that nearly beat me.
After telling my guide this was boring I asked for something more exciting, for a split second he thought I was serious. We head down and see some of the buildings, I can not imagine who would want to live or be up here, it is so high and away from everything else. The walk down was a little easier, I see a few of the second session climbing and they ask how much further to go? I snap a few photos and get back to the gate and sign out. Not to go to the opposite end to see the guard house, it is on the high point at the other side and many stairs to go.
From there I walk to the Inca bridge, this is part of the original Inca trail, it had been damaged by an earthquake and has now been rebuilt, this whole path is built on the side of the mountain, it was interesting to see how it was built and made wonder how it did not just slide off. We walk back to look at the rest of the city there is a wall which has a section that is falling, it is believed that when it was built there was a fault in the rock and this is visible in the way the wall had sunk in one corner. It was a great, long and hot day, now it is off to lunch and relax. We head back to the hotel where I have more stairs, (ARRGGGHHHH, what am I stressed about, it is only four floors). I relax for and hour and head to dinner, chat and laugh and go tuck myself in for the night. Tomorrow to follow the dream again, even if it is to the same place for different lighting affects.
The story of David (Storm) Allison, a man that has decided to follow the dream he has had for 40 years.
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