Machu Picchu - A Dream Come True
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamt of visiting Peru, of seeing the Andes as well as the world famous Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. Today, that dream is finally about to come true so I’m not bothered by the 3.30am wake up time, as we get up and ready in our rather modest hotel room, in the village of Aquas Calientes. The village isn’t accessible by car so we’ve left Epeli at the closest possible campsite, in the village of Santa Teresa, after reaching the end of a narrow switchback road.
We rush to join the queue for the coaches, which to our surprise is already several hundred metres long, despite the early start. It’s peak season, so tourists from all over the world flock here, and subsequently the number of visitors to Machu Picchu has now been limited to “just” 2500 per day. We got ahead of the game yesterday by purchasing the coach tickets in advance, as well as charging our camera batteries, preparing lunch for today and packing all the essentials, such as mosquito repellent and sun cream. I’m sipping on a takeaway coffee bought from a street café, and taking in the almost tangible excitement in the cool mountain air.
The ticket inspector for the coach is working his way down the queue and stamps our tickets, but then, another official turns up, asking for an entrance ticket to the Machu Picchu archeological site. We’re confused. When we visited the tourist info yesterday, we were told that we would only be able to buy those from the gates at the other end of the coach journey. This isn’t the case though, so after having already queued for two hours we’re told that we won’t be able to get any tickets for the morning. Feeling a bit disappointed, we leave the queue and go back to get some more sleep.
The ticket sale opens again at 10am, but as expected, there’s a long queue of people waiting outside long before then. Pekka decides to head out early to queue for tickets to the afternoon slot while I get a bit more rest in the hostel room’s comfy bed. After five hours of queueing, finally getting hold of a pair of tickets feels like a real win!
The coach journey up the steep mountainside to Machu Picchu take about half an hour. I don’t look outside the window much, because the dramatic drop down to Sacrada Valle is hundreds of meters deep. Once I get out of the coach though, the view is breathtaking! I have never seen anything like it! The ancient city of the Inca empire is nestled amongst steep, rocky mountains, their tops tall enough to touch the clouds.
Our guided tour take us back 600 years, to the golden age of the Incas. We’re astonished by how well preserved these buildings are, centuries after being built and also by the sophistication of their culture at a time, when us Finns still lived in huts. The Inca sun dial and calendar are fascinating to see, as are the star gazing towers and equipment. My imagination is running, I can almost see the muscular warriors dancing on the ceremonial square, and picture the llamas and vicuñas offered up as sacrifice at the ceremonial rock, in honor of the sun, moon and “pachamama” – mother earth.
There are some llamas here now too, walking around the ruins amongst the tourists. When we stop for a snack break and dig out some bananas from our rucksacks, one of the llamas goes for a surprise attack and snatches the banana off Pekka’s hand, swallowing it whole, skins and all. Thankfully it was a local banana and unlikely to contain any preservatives.
After hours of walking and more stone stairs than we care to count, we return to our accommodation feeling tired but happy. I’m so grateful to have seen yet another one of my dreams come true.