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Inca Trail: Machu Picchu

  Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the world.  Visited by 1.5 million visitors each year, people from all over the world travel great distances by plane, train and then bus to be here.  Many are checking off bucket lists.   During the week before hiking the Inca Trail, we talked to an older couple from Canada who had just returned from their hike.  We asked whether the journey to Machu Picchu had been worth it?  The guy laughed and said that the Inca Trail was amazing but not to fall in love with the idea that Machu Picchu was going to be some kind of climax to the hike.   "It's amazing, don't get me wrong," he said.  "But it doesn't compare to the hike itself."   We didn't really understand until we were standing at Machu Picchu.  In many ways, it wasn't different from the other ruins that we had seen:  just on a grander scale.  It did have a more colorful name.  Machu Picchu translates to "Old Penis." Most people in the U.S

Inca Trail: Intipata and Final Night

 We had hiked a long day--through fog, rain and slippery rocks on the trail.  Our reward was Intipata, an impressive set of ruins consisting of dozens of agricultural terraces built by the Inca.

From here, we could see the valley floor where we would make our final camp.

 As Freddy promised, the final camp was crowded with 200 other hikers and about 300 porters, guides and cooks.  

The bathroom situation was atrocious.  There were no toilets--just a recessed porcelain hole into the ground.  Those who could not squat had a problem.  There will be no pictures but you can imagine what the floor looked like.  Every once in awhile, we heard screams and yells from failed attempts.  It was funny but not funny.  We all vowed to wait until we reached the tourist toilets on the next day at Machu Picchu.  

That night, we had a special dinner with the cook baking a celebration cake for the last night.

It is customary to tip the porters and cook on the day before Machu Picchu.  There were six porters.  Before the tipping ceremony, there was a group photo.

Everyone worked extremely hard for us during this trip.  Freddy suggested a tip of $25 for each porter and $50 for the cook.  After the photo, each porter told us where he was from and about their family. Freddy translated as none of the porters spoke English.  Spanish was a second language, as their first language was Quecha, the language of the Inca still spoken by eight million people living in the Andes.

The porters would not be traveling with us on the next day.  We would need to get up at 4:30 a.m. so that the porters could break camp and hike down to the town below with our gear. 


MFH said…
As Michelle would say, "They wuz grinnin' lak a mule eatin' sweet taters." I don't know where she picked that one up, but it's apt. Despite the "facilities," or lack thereof, you voth make it look more than worth it!

Wonderful picture of John giving you a hug.
John said…
We were feeling pretty good. At this point, the four of us were pretty certain that everyone was going to make it to the end--which was a relief and cause for celebration.
greg said…
A classic win-win. Y'all got an incredible hike in a doable fashion and the porters are able to earn a living without leaving their homes for the city!
John said…
You nailed it. That was the point that Freddy made also.

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