Monday, May 25: When we contemplated visiting Machu Picchu on our Peruvian journey, Hubby noted that it would be the trip highlight for him since it was one of the seven wonders of the world. (Mine, as I’ve already stated, was the Amazonian jungle.) Vaguely I remembered another wonder listing being the Taj Mahal in India, so I thought wow, I will have seen two wonders of the world as I enter the 67th year of my life. (May 12 was my birthday.) Never could I ever have imagined such a thing when I was growing up a sharecropper’s daughter in north central Florida in the 1940s and ’50s.
For accuracy’s sake I decided to check it out, since all I could remember were the pyramids of Egypt and the hanging gardens of Babylon, to find out what the rest of the seven wonders were. I had no idea there were so many seven wonders lists! There are now at least three MAIN lists: the Ancient, the Medieval, and the Modern World, and sublistings under those. No telling how many more. And yes, both the Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu fall under the seven Modern World listings under the sublist of travel listings.
Be that as it may, it is with a greal deal of uncontained excitement that we depart today after breakfast for Ollantaytambo’s train station for an hour and a half train trip through the Urubamba Valley, followed by a 30-minute bus ride up to to the reputedly breathtaking lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu, where we’ll be met by a guide who will give us a guided tour through the ruins.
In early April, Hubby and I watched a HighDefinition channel (cable) tv show that featured a travel documentary about Machu Picchu. So I know that there’s a main entrance gate we’ll pass through, then do a short stair climb to an omigorgeous breathtaking first view, which is the only way I know to express these things, as I did my own first view of the Grand Canyons at its southern rim about 20 years ago. I fully expect to be breathless in a way that has nothing to do with the high altitude (8,000 ft). So will Hubby and the rest of our group, I suspect.
We’ll have lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge which is the only hotel located adjacent to the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, and–according to the travel notes I read–it really is a sanctuary with naturalists there who care about wildlife. Accordingly, they have made the surroundings attractive to hummingbirds and the special cock of the rock bird, which incidentally is Peru’s national bird. Having learned this, already Machu Picchu is inching up closer to the Amazonian forest on my list of highlights of Peru. I can barely wait to see these birds!
After checking in at the The Presidente Hotel, at the base of the mountain in Aguas Calientes, where we’ll spend the night, we’ll be free to explore the ruins of Machu Picchu or other attractions of the town at our leisure for the rest of the afternoon (and tomorrow morning as well).
The town of Aguas Calientes derives its name (English translation, Hot Waters) from the natural, sulfur-heated waters, long considered to have medicinal properties near the base of Machu Picchu. The local government has set up a spa there with changing rooms, and even a cafeteria, to unwind and relax after a busy day of exploring. I already know this is one of the things I’ll want to check out and do, if it’s not too crowded.
I’m hoping we remembered to pack our swimsuits as I understand swimwear is mandatory (thank goodness), as well as towels and sandals which can be rented. And to think, we don’t have to leave this oasis until tomorrow afternoon! Chalk up another one on my Wonder(ful) list of pleasures!