Yes, we are crazy! We got up at 4am to dress, grab a quick breakfast and scoot down to the bus station in the dark and it was exhilarating! The bus negotiated numerous switchbacks up a steep slope to drop us 25 minutes later at the entrance to Machupicchu where we waited in line for a few minutes with the 300 or so other early birds, eagerly anticipating entering the grounds of this incredible ancient Inca city. As we rounded a corner just past the gate I caught my first sight of Machupicchu and I was blown away. We have all seen pictures and you will see many at the end of this blog, but the experience of being here is unparalleled.
We climbed to the top of the terraces that were for agricultural use and took lots of pictures as we waited for the sun to peak over the distant mountain ridge and light up the city. The numerous terraces around the city were used to grow multiple crops and were designed to face the sun year round. The Incas cultivated pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, peppers and other indigenous tubers, such as yacon, which is used to treat diabetes.
We were very fortunate as the sky was clear and it was not too cold. There was a loud cheer as the sun edged over the ridge; we all knew it would soon turn the whole city on. The light from the sun was blinding. I watched for a minute or so and closed my eyes and just enjoyed the light on my face. I sat there as the colour red washed over me and it was fabulous! (I know it was the blood in my eye balls, but the experience was awesome).
More pictures were taken as we watched the sunlight work its way across the city, and then we started our exploration of the site. We decided as we were already so high up, we would do the trail to the Inca Bridge. It was on the other side of the mountain and quite a trail. As it was not crowded it took about 20 minutes to walk there. We were very impressed with the construction of this ancient trail 500 metres above the valley floor. There were places where, if you slipped, you would meet you maker sooner than you expected.
On our return to the city, we had to strategize our day as there was so much to see. We started at the highest point of the ceremonial area, passing through the quarry and into the main area of temples. Royalty and the Priests lived in this area as it was higher and made with more precision than the worker and servant area. Many temples and sacred spaces are located in the ceremonial area; we enjoyed seeing the famous Temple of Three Windows and the Principal Temple, which was damaged by earthquakes. Pictures show the damage to the Principal Temple was there in 1912 when Hiram Bingham returned to Machupicchu to do an archaeological dig. He had discovered Machupicchu the year before.
The correct names for these particular temples have been lost, but have been named for their particular features… the Temple of the Three Windows has three windows… hence the name.
We then climbed more steps to the observatory which is the home of Intihuatana. This four sided stone is made of bedrock and though scholars don’t quite understand what function it served, this stone carving is considered by one tour book writer to be the world’s first truly abstract piece of art.
Off to find the Sacred Rock we went. On the way we saw half a dozen Llamas grazing in the Plaza Principal which is now a lovely green grassy plaza. The Sacred Rock is a very large rock in the shape of Yanantin Mountain, one of the many mountains in the area. Every day, until a couple of years ago, hundreds of people would spread their arms across the stone to feel its energy. We can’t do this anymore as it is protected and surrounded by ropes so no one can get too close. Since I couldn’t touch the rock, I put out both hands towards it, as close as I could reach. I could feel the energy emanating from the rock and it was very cool to feel the energy coming into my hands… yeah!
We walked around for quite a few hours and looked at so many wonderful buildings … the Royal Tomb and the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Condor, waterfalls… to name just a few.
We were looking for what is called the Mortars… it took a while, but we eventually found them. The Mortars, also known as the Astrological Mirrors, were really interesting. These two sculpted stone slabs, embedded in the ground, are circular and concave in order to hold water. The modern day thought is that they were filled with water and used as earthquake detectors. Another speculation is that they were mirrors to view constellations.
There was so much to view and to think about that we were in Machupicchu from 6:15am until 2:00pm. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there and were reluctant to leave. This visit is definitely a major highlight of our year.
This is the end of our fifth month on the road and we have enjoyed being in the moment. We are thoroughly looking forward to the next seven months.
Love and happiness to you all!