Twelve months to the day I left hubby home in charge of our four daughters for one full working week while I embarked on crossing off another milestone on my Ten Year Plan.
First week May 2014, my friend Monique and I left nine kids at home with their dad’s while we trekked off to see first hand what makes Machu Picchu in Peru so magical.
At first I wasn’t sure what I was more excited about, a week away from ‘mummy duties’, or seeing Machu Picchu with my own eyes. Once we left Chilean air space and were on the slow decent into Lima Peru it was made perfectly clear – I was delirious for Machu Picchu!
Watching the Peruvian landscape reveal itself as we flew across its skies was breathtaking to say the least. Just a quick stop to change planes and on and UPWARDS to Cusco. I say UPWARDS because you have to go up.there, way.up.there, as in 11,150 ft above sea level up.there. Altitude sickness is a real possibility for anyone new to those heights.
Cusco is your gateway onto Machu Picchu. We based ourselves here for a couple of nights in preparation for our journey onwards. A little organised touring around Cusco and its immediate surroundings gave us a taste of amazing things ahead. I found it so enlightening to hear such wonderful stories of how our brothers and sisters from yesteryear were so in sync with the sky, heavens, stars, seasons, sun, moon and it goes on. Strip back all the white noise (and distractions) we experience in today’s world and I am sure it would force us too to be much more connected with our land, our sky, and everything in between. (anyways, that’s the makings of another blog post, I digress)
Here in Cusco, Monique and I were getting ourselves ready for the pinnacle that was only a day away. I started to feel a little unwell, slight headaches and a little nausea. At first we thought it may have been altitude sickness, later I assumed it was anxiety. Whatever it was, I was not going to allow it to sabotage this once in a lifetime opportunity. I had a stern conversation with my inner voice, – ‘get a hold of yourself girl, pull yourself together, toughen up, get a grip – and I also ate bucket loads of chicken soup along with copious amounts of coca tea.
It seemed to work, the colour in my face returned and we were ready to embark on the next part of the journey, a jaw dropping, just wow, train ride through and down (altitude here is 6,693ft) the mountains into Aguas Calientes.
O.M.G did I just arrive on heavens doorsteps!
Aguas Calientes is just spectacular. While there is a modern-day footprint on its landscape you have to look beyond and see the markings from its early days. Our hotel window opened onto the spectacular sound and view of gushing waters surrounding the base of the mountains.
Now it’s time to conquer what we came here for.
….and this is how it unfolded
We’re sitting on the bus, our mode of transport to take us from heaven’s doorsteps directly into heaven. It seems awfully quiet for a bus full of about 30 or more passengers. I remember glancing at Monique, no words spoken just a head nod and a smile full of thanks for choosing to embark on this trip with me. The bus was wide, the path up the side of the mountain was narrow – I was scared, I couldn’t look out the window. Monique put her headphones on and rested her eyelids. The scenery was thick and deep with foliage, I may have stopped breathing for a minute. By about the third or fourth bend in the road I surrendered my fear and put all faith into the skills of my bus driver. I had come too far to close my eyes and not remember this. I looked down, the town we left only minutes earlier was now the size of my big toe, I looked up and thought I was a bird flying above the world. Magnificent is an understatement.
We arrived safely and disembarked from our bus, rallied around to find our tour group, filled out all the necessary paperwork and then switched on all our senses. In mere moments I would see what the Incas’ lived amongst hundreds of years ago. Bring it, I am so ready for this.
Enter Machu Picchu in all its glory.
There are mountains in this world and then there is MACHU PICCHU.
Whoooosh, here I am standing alongside hundreds of others all come to see the same thing, yet magically I felt like I was the only person on the mountain side. It is very weird to describe, I felt so alone and at one with it all.
It was very peaceful.
Once the whoosh of excitement had settled down, and there weren’t any stairs left to climb – my ever questioning brain kicked in and then I just became an annoying tourists asking far too many questions about how, what, when, where, why…..I just couldn’t get my head around that the Inca people called this place home, and they stayed here for such a long time, and they made it work. While it is undoubtedly the most majestic place on earth it is certainly not in the most convenient of locations.
Monique and I stayed awhile, we sat on the mountainside in silence. I sent many many thoughts and prayers off into the universe – When you are that close to heaven, how can you not talk to your god!
We got to visit Machu Picchu for a second day and I am so glad we did. Day 1, I spent my time just floating around the mountain attempting to take as much in as my senses could cope with. Day 2 we got amongst it, we got to see the mountain from a more up close and personal experience.
Innocently we decided to climb Montana Machu Picchu, I say innocently because if I had known what lie ahead, I for sure would not have tackled this mountain. Two hours acceding, one hour down. It was scary, exhilarating, exhausting, and very freeing all at the same time. I was never able to bring myself to look down to see how far I’d come, but I did look out and beyond to see where I was at. A couple of times when the path became almost no existent it was easy to think we just head back, but we didn’t!
The peak of Montana Machu Picchu was ours.
Tired and truly spent we collapsed at the foot of the mountain in awe of our accomplishments. We then had to gather ourselves up and say our final farewells to this piece of paradise. As I got closer to the collection point I looked over my shoulder and took in one.last.look. I blinked my eyes several times like a camera shutter on fast mode. I was doing anything I possibly could to burn this memory onto my soul.
Back in Aguas Calientes we said our final goodbyes to magic land and headed off to catch our train to complete our tour in reserve. Landing back in Cusco then off to Lima and finally returning back home to our families.
A holiday experience never to be repeated.
I truly hope you get the opportunity to see Machu Picchu with your own eyes, just like I did. It is worth every step.