Marc & Nora ROUND THE WORLD 2005/2006 - Join us!

Peru-Travelogue  |  Travel time: September 2005 - July 2006  |  by marc and nora L.

PERU: Cusco & Machu Picchu

For a long time we were looking forward to come to Cusco and to see the legendary inca ruins of Machu Picchu.

We arrived during the INTY RAYMI celebrations, Inti means Sun and Raymi means Festival, which is Cusco's biggest and most significant fiesta every end of June. It lasts for about 1 week and on the final day, the 24th of June the Inty Raymi is celebrated and many processions take place.

Inti Raymi celebrations

Inti Raymi celebrations

Happy Peruvian Dancer

Happy Peruvian Dancer

the cock, bull and woman

the cock, bull and woman

it goes on and on...

it goes on and on...

the entire day...in any weather...

the entire day...in any weather...

...the celebration lasts 1 week

...the celebration lasts 1 week

and everybody goes crazy

and everybody goes crazy

During the entire week the city is going crazy! Everywhere people are dancing in their traditional costumes, bands play and people are celebrating! Street vendors sell all kinds of food on the street and everybody is drinking lots and lots of alcohol - short, a mega street party!

As I (Nora) developped a tooth ache over the last few days my first visit was the dentist.
If you enjoy reading a disgusting tooth story keep reading, if not skip the following few paragraphs and continue reading after the next photo.
How did the whole disaster start? I woke up with a really bruised feeling in my jaw - my tooth didnt hurt at all, it just felt like somebody punched me into my cheek and i assumed i must have either slept in an awkward position or maybe marc must have dug his elbow into my cheek whilst sleeping.

the pain didnt go away and after a couple of days my tooth started to hurt.
I started taking painkillers which initially helped but then the pain got so big that they stopped working. I couldnt sleep for several nights and was more than happy when we finally arrived in a bigger city to find a dentist.

In the dental clinic i was told that i had a jaw-bone infection. The tooth that hurt was actually a dead one (had a root canal treatment years ago) but due to the infection below this tooth it still hurt. The dentist drilled a hole into my tooth so that the infection could exit. he had to drill pretty deep (23 millimeters) as my roots are loooong. (any memories j when i had my wisdom tooth removed last year?) As all other dentists he couldnt believe how long my roots are.
And he prescribed me antibiotics.
I felt better after the visit - the pressure in my mouth has disappeared and the pain was much less. The next day I had to see the dentist again and he was so confident that I reacted well on the treatment that he decided to fill the hole with a provisional filling.
WHAT A MISTAKE! the infection got worse soon after and my cheek and chin swell up enormously. I was in such pain i can hardly describe it! whenever my tongue touched my tooth just slightly i thought my entire head is going to explode -electric shocks ran through my body! awful! Concerning my swollen jaw I said to marc that i looked like Michael Schumacher but he replied i looked more like Coulthard. I was in real pain!!! The next day at the dental practice the poor dentist couldnt believe his eyes. He apologized immediately and opened the tooth again which made me feel immediately better.

He then said that he could not finish the treatment, he can only leave the tooth open and i should put cotton wool inside everytime i eat so that it doesnt get infected. Giving some more antibiotics and another type of painkiller as of course i reacted with an allergic rash on the old ones i was ready to explore Cusco...

Beautiful me! what a shame that this photo doesnt show how swollen my entire jaw was...here i was still confident, if i only knew what was going to happen in a few days time...

Beautiful me! what a shame that this photo doesnt show how swollen my entire jaw was...here i was still confident, if i only knew what was going to happen in a few days time...

During all these dental-treatment-days we still managed to discover the beautiful city CUSCO, which is UNESCO World Heritage listed. It is the oldest city in the Western Hemisphere and was the cradle of the Inca civilisation. It is situated almost 3500m above sea level in a basin surrounded by the Andes.

The infamous 12 corner stone

The infamous 12 corner stone

Nora in front of an Inca - wall

Nora in front of an Inca - wall

Inca ruins

Inca ruins

Beautiful Cusco

Beautiful Cusco

Peruvian panpipe player with rather looooong panpipes

Peruvian panpipe player with rather looooong panpipes

a beautiful courtyard in cusco

a beautiful courtyard in cusco

Cusco cathedral

Cusco cathedral

Another view of cusco cathedral

Another view of cusco cathedral

i love taking pictures of them - Peruvian mums with kids on their backs

i love taking pictures of them - Peruvian mums with kids on their backs

View from the hill

View from the hill

Cusco from above

Cusco from above

small replica of jesus statue

small replica of jesus statue

my boot-maker; this guy is amazing, he crafts shoes and boots as you want them to be - i paid 17 euros (!!) for hand-made suede boots!!

my boot-maker; this guy is amazing, he crafts shoes and boots as you want them to be - i paid 17 euros (!!) for hand-made suede boots!!

no, this is not a homo/rainbow flag, it is the flag of Cusco

no, this is not a homo/rainbow flag, it is the flag of Cusco

When we arrived we immediately booked the train and entrance to Machu Picchu. We initially planned to do the 4day Inca-Trail but this had to be booked 2-3 months in advance and we decided not to do it as
a) I was sick (of course) with respiratory problems at the time we should have booked it and didnt know whether I was going to be fit for the rather exhausting trek.
b) we didnt really know when we were going to be in Cusco - it is pretty tough to plan so far ahead for such a fixed date when you want to see so much of the continent.
c) the company we planned to take appeared more and more dodgy and unprofessional so we lost interest.
In hindsight it was a wise decision not to do the 4day trail as we ran out of time and with my tooth problem it wouldnt have been possible.
The day after my gum-cutting at the dentist we were off to Machu Picchu. Our tour operator Jessica appeared on time to bring us to the train station where she handed us the train tickets moments before the train departed. She told us she couldnt book us on the train we wanted for the return leg and asked us for more money for the better service she had booked. What could we do other than pay?
Once on the train thorough Nora inspected those tickets and discovered that the return date was a day too late. Great!
As we already had a flight booked the morning after our scheduled return we were desperate to correct this mistake upon arrival in Machu Picchu.
The train journey from Cusco to Aguas Calientes takes about 3.5 hours and is very interesting as it zig-zags up the mountain side. The hill is so steep that the only way for the train to operate is to use switch-backs.
You sit in the train and see the same thing dozens of times, all feels a bit like Groundhog day.
The scenery is very beautiful and for a long time you can see the actual Inca Trail.
Once we arrived in Aguas Calientes (also called Machu Picchu Pueblo) we asked to change our return ticket at the counter. Here we discovered that this useless Jessica woman did not only mess up our return date but she also only booked half of the journey back.
To cut a long story short, we had to pay a fine to change our tickets and the difference in fare. Great!
As the entrance to Machu Picchu is rather expensive we decided to go early the next day and enjoy the rest of the day in the thermal bath.
We also had our first encounter with TRADITIONAL PERUVIAN FOOD - GUINEA PIG!!! In Quechua language Guinea Pig is called cuy which originates from the sound the animal makes. mmmhhh...yummy! our conclusion is that either the guinea pig we had was overcooked, our we didnt have guinea pig but rat instead or if it really should taste as it did then it is DISGUSTING! "Cuy es muy pfui!"

who is the guinea pig?

who is the guinea pig?

Cuy es muy pfui! it looks as disgusting as it tasted!

Cuy es muy pfui! it looks as disgusting as it tasted!

In the early evening it started to rain (as it so often does during our trip) - and to make you smirk we have to mention that it is apparently the DRY season right now in this region).
It poured down all night - and we were really worried about the next day.
We got up at 5am to get to Machu Picchu as early as possible to avoid the crowds.
The rain had stopped and when we arrived at the bus station we bumped into Michael, the American guy we had previously met in El Calafate and then again in Sucre.
When we arrived at Machu Pichhu the atmosphere was somehow mystic. The clouds hung really low in the Valley and there was a constant movement of fog.
We did a good job getting here so early as the first 15 minutes were probably the best ones in terms of the view.
The fog got thicker and thicker and soon Machu Picchu disappeared in front of our eyes! Marc's positivity that the fog would clear up soon wasnt felt by the Inca weather god.

The infamous Inca Ruins at Machu Picchu

The infamous Inca Ruins at Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu and Waynu Picchu (tall hill) in the background

Machu Picchu and Waynu Picchu (tall hill) in the background

Marc and I
(apparently marc looks like 40 on this picture according to a colleague of mine)

Marc and I
(apparently marc looks like 40 on this picture according to a colleague of mine)

lama disappearing in the fog

lama disappearing in the fog

inca terraces

inca terraces

Far behind us was the Sungate through which you enter the Valley of Machu Picchu after the 4day Inca Trail and those poor guys couldnt see anything at all! What a disappointment this must be!
However, from the spot where we stood the Inca Ruins were always visible, the only thing that was missing was a blue sky and some sunshine.
Behind Machu Picchu is Waynu Picchu, a peak that overlooks the ruins. Despite the fact that we couldnt see this peak for most of the time Marc insisted that we had to climb it.
I just thought: "My god, does Mr. Engineer not understand that if we cant see the peak we wont be able to see anything from the top either?!"
The climb is quite exhausting - it takes approx. 50minutes and it is literally climbing up stairs - some are very very big and some are very very steep.
At the top you have to crawl through a cave and then climb up a ladder onto the actual peak.
We arrived quite exhausted and sweaty and were overwhelmed by the view: A thick blanket of white fog!!!!
I was really disappointed about the weather as we had been both looking forward to be here for a long time and we only had this day. When it started to rain I couldnt prevent a tear.
I had NO idea at all that in a few seconds I wouldnt care less about the weather as the most wonderful (and life-changing) thing was about to happen!
Marc turned around with a ring in his hand and asked me if I want to marry him! If you want us to be more conscise he said: "Would it make you happy if I gave you a cheap Artesania ring and asked you to marry me?"
I couldnt believe it! Thats when I really started crying!
I was overwhelmed and touched and soooo happy!
And OF COURSE I said "YES"!
Sitting on top of Waynu Picchu I wanted to let the world know which was a bit difficult. So I chose a middle-aged Irish bloke travelling alone to be the first to know.
And then the miracle happened: The fog cleared up for exactly 3 minutes and the view of the ruins was fantastic.
The feeling was incredible. With my provisional engagement ring (which is actually really nice) on my finger I sat on top of the mountain overlooking a really mystic and impressive site on the other side of the world and just felt endless happiness! Finally! After 5.5 years!

big smiles and a cheer with water, not champaign on top of Waynu Picchu! The view behind us was as you can see...
...foggy!

big smiles and a cheer with water, not champaign on top of Waynu Picchu! The view behind us was as you can see...
...foggy!

my inca-design engagement ring

my inca-design engagement ring

the curtain of clouds has opened - incredible view down to the ruins of Machu Picchu

the curtain of clouds has opened - incredible view down to the ruins of Machu Picchu

the fantastic inca trail - how the hell did they manage to walk up there with supplies?

the fantastic inca trail - how the hell did they manage to walk up there with supplies?

the newly engaged climbing down

the newly engaged climbing down

another view of the amazing inca ruins

another view of the amazing inca ruins

the descent wasnt that easy

the descent wasnt that easy

but fun - especially with such a slippy surface

but fun - especially with such a slippy surface

the perfect inca terraces

the perfect inca terraces

With no tooth-ache (if i only knew what was waiting for me in a few days time) and as Mr. and Mrs. Fiancee we continued our journey...
Before travelling back to Cusco we phone Jessica to tell her that we changed our train ticket and that she should pick us up from the train station (which was included in the price we paid). She said no problem, she will be there!
Who wasnt there when we arrived? Jessica! We phoned her right away on her mobile phone and she just screamed into the phone throwing the words "airport, tomorrow, 5am" at us. We found out that she was working at the airport and suggested we should come at 5 am (?!) to sort things out. Marc was really angry and told her that she should better come to our hotel in the morning with the money she owed us.
I wasnt too positive that she would appear.
But she did! After a very rational disproval from Marc concerning her inefficient services we got our money back!
I couldnt believe it!

© marc and nora L., 2005
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The trip
 
Description:
Hello - 5 more days!!! On the 12th of September we are setting off! Our plan is to travel round the world for a period of 10 months. 1st stop: Thailand (1 month) and cambodia 2nd stop: Via Singapore (overland) to Australia where we plan to stay for approximately 4-5 months. 3rd stop: New Zealand (2 months) (north and south island) 4th stop: South America (approx. 3 months) (Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and if time and money allows we might visit costa rica)
Details:
Start of journey: Sep 12, 2005
Duration: 11 months
End of journey: Jul 31, 2006
Travelled countries: world-wide
United Kingdom
Thailand
Malaysia
Cambodia
Singapore
Australia
Australia & Pacific
New Zealand
South America
Chile
Argentina
Bolivia
Peru
Ecuador
Canada
The Author
 
marc and nora L. is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 15 years.
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