**Note: I am writing these posts now that I am home and have reliable internet. This post is about April 19th. For anyone who is just now stopping in, I went on a 3-week study abroad trip to Peru to learn about the culture and study Peruvian literature.**
**I am truncating this post due to the large number of photos. Please read on to see/hear more about my trip!
We boarded the bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu pretty early, hoping that we would make it there in time to see the sun rise over the mountains. We walked around, our guide, Daniel, telling us about the various theories about Machu Picchu. It is really a gorgeous place, and I am so glad I was able to go there! But beyond the beauty, it is also so amazing and intriguing. Despite a century of studies, we still don’t really know why the city was built or what it was used for. It was obviously a fairly large city and it was incredibly well-hidden, but why? The various theories are really interesting. Before we left the US, we were required to read Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams, and I would definitely recommend this book. The buildings are in surprisingly amazing condition and everything is so well planned out. During our tour, some llamas approached us. Apparently they freely roam the city. We unfortunately visited Machu Picchu the day before Easter, so it was very crowded. After about a 2-3 hour tour, we returned to the outside of the park for a short break. Most of the group then did the trek up Waynapicchu (or Huanapicchu) to get a nice overview of the city. Apparently, it’s a really steep, pretty difficult climb with lots of stairs, but everyone said it was worth it (I was unable to go because I struggled a lot with altitude sickness). Three of us waited for the others to return (which took about 2 hours), during which we got our passports stamped.
(Prepare yourself for a BUNCH of photos- I tried to edit them down as much as possible, but there are just so many good ones!)
When the rest of the group returned in the early afternoon, we returned to Aguas Calientes for lunch and then walked to the hot springs. I’ve never been to hot springs before, and I have to admit that they weren’t what I was expecting. I was expecting natural hot springs, not pools filled with water from natural hot springs. Regardless, we enjoyed the experience and had a lot of fun getting to know each other better (all of the students managed to get a small pool to ourselves). From there, we went back to the center of Aguas Calientes and boarded the train back to Ollantaytambo. The train ride was fun, even though one of the guys spilled his bagged dinner of rice ALL over :). We then took a van back to Cusco, where we hurriedly packed our bags and headed to the house we would be staying in for the next week or so. We met our host mother, who is really nice and settled into our rooms. Our group of 5 students included 4 girls and 1 guy, so the 4 of us were together in one room with bunk beds. We discovered that the house didn’t have reliable running water when we attempted to brush our teeth and flush the toilet and it didn’t work, but otherwise were pretty happy with our new lodging.