Before I retrace my steps let me just say that Peru has some great dentists. This morning I chipped part of my amalgam cavity filling, you know the bright shiny fillings with mercury in them. Happy Halloween. With only a few hours to spare before my flight out of Peru I entered a random clinic just to see what the damage is. The dentist looked at my teeth and told me that one shouldn't have more than three amalgam fillings due to the mercury content and asked me why I had so many. "I don't know, maybe it's the old American way." He cleared all the mercury out and replaced it with a kind white filling for $40.
One week ago Jessica and I jumped on a train in Cusco with our bowels cleared from spicy food (rocoto relleno) and the infamous water bug. We were very excited to get out of the city. The rail service in Cusco is run by a private company, Peru Rail, and is the only way to get to Machu Picchu. Goodbye alpacas.
In preparation for another spiritual journey to the ancient Inca world I had my last dinner in Cusco at the Shaman Cafe. Inside the cafe were massive quartz crystals, bags of coca leaves and essential oils. This plate was simply and deliciously steamed quinoa, rice, vegetables and a vegetable omelet.
The taxi ride to the Poroy rail station in Cusco around noon.
A few minutes out of the city and we were surrounded by goats and fields of quinoa and corn.
Midway through the three hour ride they shared with us a cup of cafe and some chocolates.
About a half hour till we arrived to the Machu Picchu one couldn't help but to notice the jagged mountain peaks hovering above the train. It felt like we were on a train ride heading deep into the earth's womb.
We stopped to let a few hikers off at the Inca trail. The Inca trail is a multi-day hike through the mountains and ruins that ends at a Machu Picchu.
The further we went the more jungly the forest looked.
Arrival at the town of Aguas Calientes (hot water). This town is notorious for it's access to the ruins of Machu Picchu and hot water springs. For one hundred dollars you can catch a bus to the ruins and spend an entire day in the ancient city. After that most go to the hot springs in Aguas Calientes to relax their muscles, but be warned, hundreds of tourists with stinky feet flocking to the hot springs late in the afternoon can be unappetizing. What worked for us was to skip the bus (save fuel and fare costs) and hike all the way to the top of Machu Pucchu, then the following morning we went to the hot springs at sunrise. Early in the morning the hot springs are unpopulated and the water is very clean, natural. For some reason my camera took a dip into the river outside of the town after falling 30 meters from a bridge and I was unable to capture by camera any of our trip to Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu wanna Ticchu something.
There's no photograph that could capture the feeling of sitting on the window ledge of a 500 year old Inca house with the love of my life, watching a cloud from hundreds of meters below rise up and engulf the stony city with thunder rumbling in the background and vibrating throughout the valleys. If you want to know more about Machu Picchu start here at the UNESCO World Heritage Site website.
We stayed at the lovely Terrazs del Inca hotel. For $50 a night you can sleep right next to a waterfall.
A painting on the wall of the hotel depicting an Ayahuasca ceremony.
The futbol field of Aguas Calientes.
So many dogs. Almost every day we met a new dog companion that was more or less our guide. One of the dogs we met 1000 meters up on Machu Picchu mountain and hiked with for sometime. Later that night, I ran into the same dog back at base camp and fed him some steak on a stick for it took us 10 hours to the hike up and down, and I could only imagine how strong and well fed he must be to do the same with much smaller legs.
The first time in Peru I've seen a separated waste system. Inorganic and organic.
Breakfast at Terrazas del Inca - an egg, granola with yogurt and honey, fruit, bread, marmalade and cafe or coca tea.
Very beautiful flowers along the river bank.
A boy hiking to school at 7 AM.
The dog bus.
Hiking by the river we came across a large pile of colourful, crystalline rocks. This kept us busy for an hour.
Some old Inca terraces. More information about the irrigation canals and growing of the Inkan crops here.
More rocks, yes.
I came across a tomato patch thriving next to the river on the rocks. Not sure if it was intentionally planted or a result of seeds being washed down from Aguas Calientes. The plant roots dangled beneath the rocks and had very little sand to dig into.
The soda pop of Peru is Inka Cola... had to try it once.
Tastes like bubble gum flavoured corn syrup.
School's out - time to head to the internet cafe and play games.
You can hear these dudes here.
To the butterfly sanctuary where we learned more about the rare orchids of Machu Picchu that radiate the fumes of woman at night.
A mini dragon.
The most common Peruvian dish I've come across - chicken, rice, fried potatoes and a bit of tomato and cucumber.
Cowabunga for sustainable organic farming!
On the road to find sunshine.
The last picture I was able to take before my camera went under. The sign reads 'Welcome to Machu Picchu Pueblo'.
When the camera fell into the river I laughed, it happened in May went I was tracking a beaver in Alaska. Surprised it lasted this far. Felt like the spirit of Machu Picchy blew it out of my hands into the water. Magnetic. A couple hours later I returned to the scene and dug around in the rock crevasses in the river rapids - cold water knee high, hands in creepy places feeling odd objects. I found it buried deep behind a rock in the river, it was split in half and drowned, the memory card intact. When there's a reason for co-creation, there will be way.
I'm very lucky to be able to share these photos with you.
I kept the broken camera to give to my little sister so she can take it apart and see what's inside a digital camera. This morning I popped the battery back into it and of all things weird, the power light blinked and the lens came out with a few crunching noises. It's halfway alive again. There's still tons of water in the lens, but who knows, maybe? Possibly? Tomorrow? Maybe? (< inside joke from the artisan markets)
Wrapping a shirt around it and stuffing it deep into my check-in luggage. Maybe it will dry and repair itself at 35,000 feet. Time to catch a plane...