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Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 383 – Peru – Machu Picchu

Nobody should ever have to awaken at 4am but awaken we did and we were on our way downstairs by half past. The hotel was dead so we had little choice but to label our Alpaca duffle bags up and lob them over the reception counter hoping they’d store them when they eventually woke up. A little walk later we found the unmarked bus stop by way of a guide who was first in the queue awaiting her customer. This made us second and third and moments later our guide Jose arrived to be fourth. Eventually we were allowed to board the bus after making friends with a local pooch and after half an hour pulled up to the thankfully relatively clear unopened gates of Machu Picchu.

The weather had amazingly improved in the drive up and we were amongst the first 20 or 30 people in when the gates finally opened. We were clear in our intent – we’d asked Jose to lead us to the picture-postcard shot first and then we were all his to guide around as he wished. He didn’t disappoint – we were gifted a perfect view of Machu Picchu with next to no-one on it as the sun rose over the eastern mountain and bathed the ancient city of the Inca’s in a golden light under a blue sky. Bob on.

I had the tripod up and steadily gathered a stream of images across a few different lens changes in the hope that one of them would sit well within the collection of the adventures’ snaps. After a few celebratory happy birthday hugs we packed up and took a wander through the city.

It was in fairness a lot better than I was expecting and I’ve no doubt that the weather was a factor. Jose was a wealth of information that at this stage I fear went in one ear and out the other but it did make the tour very interesting at the time. Given the last-minute nature of the trip we’d been unable to acquire tickets for climbing Huanu-Picchu but a glance up at it left us feeling fine about missing out. It was enough to be there and see it, to walk through the city while the Llamas grazed around it.

After a while Jose left us to meet another tourist and continue his day repeating the same information over and over again. We wandered a little more, took in the city for a while longer, but then as the crowds started to pile in decided that we’d had our time there and we were ready to leave.

They stamp your passports with a commemorative Machu Picchu stamp if you ask nicely so we did and they did. After a quiet bus ride back into town we located our new hotel and were happy to find that they’d upgraded us to a suite at no extra charge as a birthday treat. While waiting for it to be prepared we met another couple – Matheus and Madelena – and it just so happened to be Madelena’s birthday as well. Our brief encounter was ended as our room was announced as available. We checked in to our nice room and then set off to grab our duffel bags and acquire some cash. Successful in the first of those we were however foiled for the latter by a power cut that had the whole town without electricity. The sound of explosions had caught our ear earlier up in MP and Jose had told us that the Hydroelectricity plant was blasting to create an alternative supply line. All the towns ATM’s were out and every card reader with them so we coppered up for a few empanadas and returned to our suite to wait until the power returned.

A sleepy few hours crept by before Fi decided to go explore and see if it was now just our hotel out of power. Half way through her absence the power returned allowing me to Skype home and talk to Ma n Pa. We then took a wander out to the Treehouse Restaurant for a birthday evening meal – hoping that it would be better than the deep-fried steak I’d been treated to in Moscow last year. It was – the food was cracking and we supped our first example of the South American staple Pisco Sour along with some Cusquena Red’s. We rolled out of there and back to our swanky pad to call it a night.