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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Machu Picchu

I haven't mentioned our hotel in Ollantaytambo, which was quite nice. We had a room overlooking the front lawns and flowers. It's spring here, so everything is in bloom, which makes for a beautiful setting. This hotel, Pakaritampu, has three pet alpacas who get fed on the front lawn everyday. I woke and peaked out and what a great surprise! Our room had a little sitting room and lots of space, plus a TV, which we hadn't seen in awhile. We don't really watch when we're away, although we did put on CNN just to see what's happening in the world. When I get online, my netbook shows the time and also the weather at home, so I'm quite aware El Granada had better weather one day that we had in Peru. Yadda yadda...always the way.
This must have been a Sunday, since Matthew was craving pizza. We were on our own for dinner, so we walked uphill to the square to see if any pizza was available. Ha! Before we even got to the square, we passed about 3 pizza places, then just about every restaurant there had pizza! They're obviously a huge tourist stop because the train for Machu Picchu boards there, so pizza is the universal food. The one we chose was pretty good. On our way back to the hotel, we stopped and bought ice cream on a stick...mine was called “Sublime” and it was pretty close.
The next day, we had a fabulous breakfast at the hotel, then got ready to go. We boarded around 11, and only had to walk down the block to the train station. We got there early, so had to stand and wait in the sun for awhile, but we had reserved seating in 'executive' class, so didn't have to rush to get on. Turns out the seats are pretty small, face each other and have very little leg room. I was facing a man from DC and his wife, and this poor guy was way over 6'...his legs had to stay in the aisle until the porters came through with drinks and snacks. Then he squeezed them under the table. Ah, finally a reason to be happy to be short. I think the ride was about 1.5 hours long, and fun to watch the landscape change from mountainous and terraced to lush jungle. We also were descending to 9,000 ft. wow...who thought that would be a dream! But I'd been having a lot of trouble breathing in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, which is much higher.
When we arrived, Matthew headed out with Sylvia and her daughter Amy for Machu Picchu. The rest of us had opted to go the next day only, so headed to the hotel for welcome cool towels laced with citronella and some pisco sours. We were taken to our rooms, through a maze of buildings and lush landscaping. Our room was near one end of the property and looked out at trees and flowers with great bird sounds. This was our most expensive hotel, which was obvious. It's called InkaTerra. They had 4 bags on the bed, two with plastic slippers like you get in a spa and two with robes. I already mentioned my afternoon of getting lost on the property—but I didn't really explain that I have NO sense of direction and cannot read a map, so it was predictable, if not desirable. It was my own personal adventure, after which, I deserved a rest in the nice room. No altitude problems, but it was more humid here than we'd experienced. Speaking of which, I've been silently laughing at a memory of my sister Marianne and I going to Tahoe many times when we were single...she always had me laughing about 'altitoot.' No kidding!!! Even Beano had no effect.
We were scheduled to have dinner as a group at the hotel's dining room, and it turns out Greg, Cari, and Susan were sick, Ginger was at dinner, but not feeling well at all, so it was just Sylvia an d Amy, the 3 from Taos, Bob and Ginger, and Matthew and me. The dinner was three courses, and they were very good. Turns out, as we found out the next day, a group had arrived from the Sacred Valley that day or the one before to stay at the very expensive hotel at the top of Machu Picchu (about $800 a night up to $1200 or more for a view room) with some ailment that was going around Sacred Valley, so they were all in bed sick and unable to check out. I guess the 6 who went to dinner that last night picked up the same thing since 4 of them ended up ill.

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