I am proud to be a mix of two different cultures. I am half Peruvian and half English. While I was (mainly) brought up in England I have been lucky enough to visit Peru a few times, though definitely not as much as I would like.
The last time I went was almost ten years ago and it was the time I got to visit the country’s most famous attraction – Machu Picchu.
Me and a couple of friends arrived in Lima after a month of being in America and Canada. My mum was already in Peru so we met her at the airport and said a quick ‘hola’ and ‘chau’ to my relatives who had dropped her off and then we boarded our plane to Cusco.
When we arrived we were taxied off to our hotel. When I say hotel, it was more of a B and B and all four of us were staying in the same room. The hostess was very welcoming and gave us all a Coca Tea to help us from getting altitude sickness.
Our first full day in Cusco was actually spent visiting the surrounding area. My mum had hired a taxi driver for the day and he drove us to various places where we got to see different parts of the area. I remember lots of windy roads and green fields! We did a stop over at a quaint Peruvian ‘restaurant’ (I think we were the only ones there and I don’t remember there being space for anyone else!) where we ate choclo (Peruvian corn) and meat (can’t remember which meat, but I know it wasn’t guinea pig!) and I had some Queso Fresco (Peruvian white cheese).
In the evening we walked around Cusco, taking in the people and the atmosphere. At one point my friend got covered in shaving cream due to the beginning of Carnaval celebrations! We then headed back to our hotel to get an early night as we were heading to Machu Pichu the next day.
The next morning we got our train, and just over an hour later we arrived at Aguas Calientes which is the village at the bottom of Machu Picchu. From there we had a little bit of time to look around the market before getting aboard a bus to take us up to the ruins. To say the bus ride was smooth and comfortable would be a lie! It was more bumpy and a little terrifying, especially as it had started to rain! You go up a road that winds up and up with pretty much only space for one bus, but buses are going up and down all the time so there are times when you have to let a bus coming the other direction pass you! But we got there in one piece.
When you get to the ticket area you still can’t quite see Machu Picchu, there is still a little walk before it comes into view. And what a view it is! I’ve never been up so high and seen something so breathtaking. It’s amazing, and everything you imagine from seeing pictures, except much, much better! There weren’t too many people when we got there but you could see little groups of tourists being shown around. There’s also llamas just casually milling around as well!
Our tour guide got our little group together and started to explain the history of the ruins. All was going well. We were just at the bottom and were going to slowly make our way up to the top. As we started to get a bit higher, I started to feel a bit funny. Oh no I thought. I remember we went into what used to be a little room, maybe a bedroom, and as the tour guide was talking I felt fainter and fainter… and then everything went black and I had to hold onto my mum to stop myself falling over. Not what you want when you’re in such an amazing, once in a lifetime, place.
So while my friends got to explore the ruins and really see Machu Picchu from a great height, I got to go and see the Machu Picchu doctor and be told that not only was I suffering from altitude sickness (quite common), but I also had food poisoning (remember how I said I ate the Queso Fresco? Well I was the only one, so we think it was from that!). The rest of my time there was spent drinking this horrible grape water that was meant to calm my symptoms and just sitting waiting for the dizziness to go away. Luckily I felt a bit better before we left so got to have a little bit more of a walk around the bottom of the ruins, and get my picture taken with a llama, but all in all not the experience I was after!
I would still say that the place is remarkable (from what I could see), and as I didn’t get to experience it to the full I will just have to go there again (oh, what a shame!).
Auf Wiedersehen for now,