Sunday, July 26, 2009


Our excursion to Machu Picchu began early in the morning of May 28 by van from Cusco to Poroy's railway station and by train to Aguas Calientes for overnight. Because our travel arrangements did not include transportation from Aguas Calientes' railway station to the hotel, I was a bit concerned about how to get from the station to the latter. My concern quickly vanished when the train pulled into the station and I looked out the window. The hotel was right across the railroad tracks!

"Aguas Calientes" means "hot waters" and the town got its name because of its natural hot springs. Emily and I went to take a peek at their outdoor thermal baths but it makes me sad to confess that they didn't attract me in the least.

However, the town is so enchanting that for a moment I considered moving in. I was fascinated by the charming bridges, the quaint atmosphere and particularly by this vendor with four legs. What intrigued me most was all the construction activity that was going on. Emily surmised that what these construction workers were doing was manufacturing sand and concrete from scratch! We had found them cutting stones (maybe splitting describes it better) in the river and also noticed some of them operating machines that were probably crushing the stone pieces and converting them into sand. We were so enthralled with the whole operation that Emily bought each of them a bottle of water and they all cheered! After all this excitement, we walked towards the plaza and had lunch across from the cathedral. In this next picture, notice the partial view of the statue to the left of the cathedral. It is that of Inca Pachacutec. Pachacutec, conqueror and builder of Machu Picchu, was the ninth Inca who devoted his entire life to spread the inca civilization beyond the boundaries of what Peru is today and made Cusco the center of the great Inca Empire, Tawantisuyo.

Aguas Calientes is not only popular because it is so enchanting but because of its proximity to Machu Picchu. It is about 6 kilometers away (3.7 miles) and offers two ways to reach Machu Picchu. One can either walk or take a bus. It is about a 30-minute bus ride on a zigzagging road through the mountain or (and I read this somewhere) about 1.5-hour on foot. We decided to take the bus as we were in a hurry. Honest!

One important factor about this bus trip option though was that in order to see the sunrise, we had to be at the station at 5 a.m. and take the first bus. We went to bed early and requested a wake-up call for 4 the next morning.

Next, Machu Picchu.

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