Today was our final day of the Jungle Trek and we would finally ascend up the final mountain to see the ancient ruins of Machu Pichu. I was sad to see the fun times coming to an end but so relieved to be almost done with the hiking and early mornings. Today was the worst, we had to wake up at 4am, only six hours after last closing the door on Alex and his apparent creepiness. I’m really into sleep, so I wasn’t in the greatest mood to begin with waking up so early and I was getting less enthused about seeing the world famous Machu Pichu thinking about the 2,000 steps I would have to hike up just to see it.
The Long Walk Up
Needless to say I struggled all the way up the 2,000 steps it took to get to the entrance of Machu Pichu. I arrived with the Argentinian girls and set my sights on finding a nice comfortable spot to plop myself for at least two more hours of sleep. I was hoping to find an ancient little broom closet wherein I could crawl and waste away until some Japanese tourist found me thinking I was an Incan mummy. No such luck. We met up with the rest of the group and settled down for the two hour tour and history lesson about the ruins. Figuring I could just Wikipedia all of the information later, I didn’t feel any guilt about falling asleep. I was famished and freezing now – the morning dew, high altitudes and evaporating sweat made for an unpleasant freezing effect – so I lazily and thoughtlessly leaned on Home Alone and dozed off until it was time to move again.
I Need “Me” Time!
Crankiness was now fully starting to express itself in my demeanor and I was really yearning for my solitary broom closet at this point. I joined the others for the cliché pictures and tried to be a good sport about hiking further along to see some bridge way off in the distance, but after someone suggested we hike another 40 minutes to the sungate I made a “Fuck this” gesture and stayed behind to rest a little bit. After all, I was aching and tired and after all of that effort, I just wanted to sit down and enjoy the view of the damned city without constantly moving about the place.
I was also starting to get “group fatigue” at this point. Given my solitary nature, I tend to have a time limit on how long I can amicably socialize and travel with a large group of people who aren’t close friends. That time limit is about 3-4 days, after which point I become irritable and prone to bouts of either silence or sarcasm. Now I can honestly say I liked everyone in my tour group, but at this point in the trek, I needed my space which I got to some extent after the hike out to that damn bridge. 15 minutes I spent relaxing on my little perch in front of the new wonder of the World and I was finally happy to see the famed image that Hiram Bingham discovered in 1911. I contently exited the park and happily paid USD $9 to ride the bus back down to Aguas Calientes – I figured I had already done the strenuous part and walking down would only feel more uncomfortable to my sore legs.
Train Ride Back to Reality
Later that evening I took the train back to Cusco, stopping in Ollantaytambo and catching a bus the rest of the way back. Everyone in the group had different train schedules for some reason so I was on my own once again, sitting back with a glazed over expression on my face trying to process all that occurred on the trip.
The best part about the trek to Machu Pichu was all about expectations. I sat back in my cramped train seat and was amused at the fact that I figured this trek would be very leisurely and how I’d spend every night reading my book before heading to bed early to be up and ready for the early morning hikes. It reminded me of how for better or worse, I’m grateful nothing in my life so far has turned out the way I expected; the unpredictability makes for a much more interesting existence.