Sunday, October 05, 2008

On The Edge

Machu Picchu feels as if it consists entirely of edges and drops offs. No matter where you go you're never far from an edge, and beyond that is seemingly a sheer drop to the canyon floor. I don't have a fear of falling but I had developed one by the time we left. It's stressful always feeling like your never more than 10 feet from a fatal drop. Wendy does have a fear of falling - I give her a lot of credit for not cowering in a corner the entire time.

Of course it's not actually a giant death trap. In reality there are only a handful of drops of more than eight feet. It's just that you have to get right up to the edge to see that.



Machu Picchu covers a rather large area for ruins, but it feels small. You can't see very much of it at once because there's always a ledge in the way. Even from high vantage points you can't see the entire thing.

The city is built down the east and west faces of a ridge. This gives a view of both sunrise and sunset, undoubtedly part of the reason the astrologically inclined Incas built here. But it also makes it impossible to see the whole thing at once.



In a far corner of the park we discovered the real attraction: llamas. They keep a few wandering around the grounds. They probably also serve as cheap lawnmowers.

Wendy was, as you can see, in love. These llamas were completely inured to the presence of people. They just blithely wandered around, cropping the grass, munching on trees, occasionally flopping into the dirt.

What's with this? A prostate exam? I don't know. Maybe a flashback to her past job as a veterinarian? After that little episode we decided to go have some lunch. In one of the best decisions I've seen, they allow no food or services on the grounds. There's not even a bathroom. So we headed back to the main gate.

I had basically crashed at this point, still sick, short on sleep and dehydrated. We raided all the soda from our hotel's minibar (hey, it was included!), had a late lunch and took a nap.



Then a few miles more hiking up Inca Trail to the Sun Gate, fighting mosquitoes most of the way. You can see the main ruins off in the distance, past Wendy's right shoulder.

So although we didn't really hike the Inca Trail, we at least did a little bit of it.

We arrived back at the Caretaker's Hut (or, as Wendy called it, "the Little House") just in time for sunset.

And that was our first day in Machu Picchu. I almost feel exhausted all over again just thinking about it, but it really was unforgettable. A few more photos up here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention the near complete lack of hand rails. In keeping up the historic facade there are very few hand rails installed, in fact where there were "barriers" they were mostly just loose ropes at about knee height. And while, if you were walking on a terrace, the biggest fall was about 8 feet, the stairways tended to extend from top to bottom of the ruins, nearly uninterupted--so if someone trips on the way down the stairs there is a very long way they could go...