Machu Picchu : A path like no other

We are arriving to Cuzco with my argentinian friend Luciana. We are staying two nights before leaving for five days trek following theIncas’ traces.

The Andes cordillera will be our playground for the coming days. I was told about moutain sickness but I still don’t know what to expect and how I am going to deal with an altitude change from 6560 to 15 750 feet (2000 m to 4800 m).

Seven hikers, a guide named Jesus and three porters with their donkeys are accompanying us. We go through tropical forest which disturb me. I am more used to conifer forest at such altitude.

Our porters take me aback. Despite low temperatures and difficult paths (mud, scree, slippery wild grass), they wear only plastic scandals.

They must be born with 3 lungs. They don’t seem to suffer from moutain sickness. They walk fast. They always arrive 1 or 2 hours before. When we get there, diner is always ready to be served.

We are crossing amazing sceneries. Few villages are located on the way. Locals built small shop. They sell Coke and Yeme Yeme (M&M’s). Anytime I buy some, it makes me laugh (It sounds very funny in French).

Machu Picchu waking up in the mist

Machu Picchu waking up in the mist (photo by will-on-board)

Out of question for me to yield to this fizzy drink, I want to play it like a local. I am chewing Coca leaves and having some local cider : “Chicha”.

Coca leave, coming with a chewing paste, is used as an appetite suppressant by farmers. It doesn’t have any taste and rot your teeth.

I knew that water wasn’t always drinkable in Peru. I guess, I am having trouble with. Chicha, made in an old fashion local way (spring water and dirty bucket), is giving me a terrible stomach ache.

The trek is rough but captivating. The most astonishing are those houses away from everything. We are walking pass next to a school and a clinic. People succeeded in adapting themself to those living conditions.

Nights are cold and humid in tent. My pancho isnot sufficient to warm me up.

We are arriving on the railway leading to Aguas Calientes, last village before Machu Picchu site. We are following it. We are really close.

Here we are. The tourism industry has taken control. Restaurants, shop, travel agencies and hotels are pervasive. It’s pretty disturbing after a walk off of the world. However, shower feels good after five days without.

We are spending the night at the hotel. We are getting up at dawn to go to Machu Picchu.

We start walking up. I only need 30 minutes to reach the top, adrenalin may be.

Home straight, the reward is almost there. All these efforts to finally see what we all have been expecting. This marvellous experience of Machu Picchu waking up in this mist within this dense and humid forest.

Here I am. Everything is quiet around me. Machu Picchu is giving me a wonderful gift. I am speechless.

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