Machu Picchu, Day One

To get to Machu Picchu, you board  the Peruvian Railroad in Ollantaytambo, travel about 30 miles alongside the Urubamba River, which later almost encircles the base of Machu Picchu, and finally board a bus which takes on a 25 minute trek through countless switchbacks.  This is a great example of touring…Some people hate the constant uncertainty of dealing with the systems of a foreign land, and other hate the constant press of people. If you enjoy the travel, you find things in the local people’s culture and manners to learn and respect. Either way, the outcome is an arrival at a Wonder Of The World, and then it really doesn’t matter what it takes to get you there!!!

Our Day One was walking the city with a local guide. I included a series of photos above. The first thing we learned was the complexity and art of the Inca stone work. The bottom right photo, although somewhat dark, shows how the Inca blended their stones into an existing boulder, with no mortar. I asked our guide how this was done…Nobody really knows how it was done because their tools were bronze and were too soft to carve the granite…But they did it!!!  The top photo on the right is a great illustration of their skills

I remember  hearing that there are two ways of living in the arctic north. You can do it in the primitive way of the Native American tribes, or you can bring in heavy technology to modernize. The same thing happened at Machu Picchu… When rebuilding began, the archeologists put up stones with mud mortar, and finally realized that their efforts could not recreate the original Inca work. So there is a ban on all rebuilding. Only restoring is currently allowed.

We toured the agricultural terraces, the temples, and the residences. There are many theories about why Machu Picchu was built. My favorite is that it placed the people closer to heaven, their eventual spiritual destination. And the mountains that surround this site are indescribable…I had seen photos of the complex with the one mountain spire in the background. But, I believe, Machu Picchu is surrounded by four mountains, with others in the distance…It’s so much more !!!

Another side note: The Spanish, in their “wisdom,” destroyed every Inca temple they found and replaced it with a Christian one. They never found Machu Picchu. They rode horses along the rivers, and made it to Ollantaytambo, 30 miles away.  They did not attempt to navigate the Inca Trail, which had been destroyed by the Inca to protect the secrecy of Machu Picchu.was built to transport travelers to the city.  Today, travelers can walk the rebuilt Inca Trail…The full walk is four days and can be done with local porters. It is also possible to walk abbreviated lengths in three or two days.

One more…Llama usually stay above 8000 feet, but wander down to Machu Picchu because of the abundance of grass in the terraces. They are familiar with humans, as Mrs Bear so cleverly demonstrated.

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