More stairs. More humidity.

The Machu Picchu mountain was closing at 13.00. So, at one point, I did need to move on. Back downstairs. Although it was a lot faster than going up, it wasn’t that easy either, needing to watch my step all the time. But I got back to the site without any injury. With a lot of thirst though. I thought I might get a beer at the bar just at the entrance but then had a look at the sky and quick estimation made me think it might start to rain soon. And I didn’t know how long it could last. Maybe a few hours, if it was like in Aguas Calientes on the previous day. So I might as well enjoy the place as long as it was still dry.

10 minutes is about the time I got before the taps got turned on. I tried to protect myself and my camera as well as I could, pressing myself against a stone ruin with a dozen of other tourists. It helped a little. But not much. And I couldn’t stand there for hours either. So, at one point, I resigned myself to get soaked and carried on with the visit. Even if the rain can’t take away the impressiveness of Machu Picchu  , these were not the best conditions to appreciate it. After a little while, I found a place to shelter. With tens of other tourists this time. I also miraculously found a place to sit down, which my legs, after all that climbing, were quite thankful for. I stayed there for another 30 minutes. Not long enough to rest my body apparently. Because as soon as I got up and left the hut, I slipped on a wet stone and hurt my bottom. I got back on my feet quickly enough. But that was one more bodypart that was hurting during my visit.

I went down a few more steps. Realizing a bit late I would need to go back up again. But the landscape and the whole place were worth it. I was tired though. It was around 15.00, which means I had been going up and down for about 10 hours already. I was ready to go back to the village, when I saw a sign indicating “Puente del Inca” – the Inca bridge. I might do this one last thing before leaving. And up again it was. I swore that there would be no more after that. Luckily, the last 20 minutes to the bridge were as good as flat. But the precipice along the walk made me  extra careful. You can’t actually walk on the bridge itself. Too dangerous. And I can’t imagine how anyone ever has wanted to walk on it  willingly. Way too narrow and way too steep. No thanks. I took a few pictures of a Chilean father-daughter pair and they took a few of me in return. They looked like nice people to have a little chat with but I was looking forward to finish my visit for real. Quite determined now. And although it cost around 10 dollars to take the bus, I just couldn’t imagine to go all the way back down to Machu Picchu village on foot.

Puente del Inca.
Puente del Inca.

I was exhausted. And hungry. And thirsty. I still hadn’t had that beer I had been longing for since I got down the mountain earlier that day. I had spotted a place where they had La Chouffe and other Belgian beers. That was exactly what I needed. No matter how much it would cost – and that was another 9 dollars -, now was the time for some celebration with a national product. Beer, pizza, bed.

On the following morning, I went back to Cusco. I had seat number 1 on the train but, unfortunately, my back was turned to the window. A shame. Because there was a big window, that would have offered me an incredible view. Until a train guide arrived and asked me and my neighbour if we wanted to have the seats turned around. Of course, we accepted with great joy. The lady sitting next to me was a young Mexican student. Also traveling by herself. She was doing a student exchange program  in Lima. I got to discuss the latest events in her country with her, the disappearing of more than 40 students, who were thought to have been killed by the police, at the government’s request. Pretty nasty. But although they keep on struggling with the politics in South America, there are also high hopes to be able to effect a change. People think of Pepe Mujica, Evo Morales and, to a certain extent, of Hugo Chávez… and think a different approach is possible. So they keep on fighting and protesting against what they think is unfair. Resignation,  it seems, is not part of their vocabulary.

Back in Cusco, as Stephany was looking for a hotel and as the one I was staying in was as good as empty, I suggested she could stay there as well. Which she did. We had dinner together – in a restaurant where the waiter happened to be Mexican too – and then went to a club. Someone on the Plaza de Armas had given us a leaflet, promising us a great concert at that place. Andean fusion music. That was a first for me. It took some time before the place got crowded and the band got on stage. But once it started, it was difficult not to get carried away by the rhythm and the public’s enthusiasm. Soon I was on the dance floor with a couple of Colombians. It was a fun night.

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