Friday, October 5, 2012

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about dancing in the rain

We return to the Inca Trail today...

August 25, 2012

Today is the last morning. I don't know about AW but I spent the entire night dreading the next day. It rained all night and some things in the tent are wet too. This really disappoints me: I hate when things are damp. Our wake up call is right on schedule: 4am and we're being asked to get up so that we can get going. Breakfast is short because the porters need to pack things up quickly and get going because they have to catch a train to return home--they won't be joining us in Machu Picchu.

Thing is, we still have some ways to hike before we actually arrive at Machu Picchu. The hike is quiet as most of us are still groggy and unhappy about the wet weather.By now, my legs are really feeling it. I can't walk properly up or down because my muscles are so sore. But I plug on because I don't have a choice. The scenery around us is so...  mystical looking because there are clouds and trees in the mountains. The mountain faces are covered in trees and look like they're straight out of a fantasy novel. The altitude is lower so I notice that my face and extremities aren't as tingly as they've been feeling previously. Despite this, I'm experiencing some vertigo when I look out from the trail.

The weather is alternating between drizzling and outright rain. I have my rain jacket and rain hat and for now, it's doing the job fine. We keep walking after we get to the check point where we get our passports stamped and continue on our way.

It's been 4 days since we saw more than a dozen or so, people in one area. The trail has a limit people who are allowed to be on it, on a daily basis--this includes the porters. We arrive at the Sun Gate. Dimas tells us the story and hypothesis about Machu Picchu and tells us that we have arrived at the Sun Gate and in the space behind him is Machu Picchu. It's still foggy and I look out to the space and see nothing. The rain picks up a bit now.... We wait and wait and nothing comes out; we get a little bit but it's still not grand as we hoped. The ideal moment is coming here as the sun is rising and then looking out and once the clouds part: the mystical city of Machu Picchu is revealed to you.

We continue down to reach the tourist gates of Machu Picchu. There are tourists everywhere. Many come by train to visit the site itself and forgo the 4 day hike.

At this point, we're pretty wet and this has become significantly less enjoyable for us. Dimas tries to get us into the guided tour and I really wanted to get as much information and history as I could. But, when your underpants and socks are wet, you pretty much just want to go home.

Dimas is beaming with information and history. He asks us what type of tour we want. Most of us tell him we want the most extensive summary at each point, he could give. This was before we broke. There was so much that was just fascinating from so many perspectives. One of the most memorable monuments was the Intihuatana. It is believed to have been designed as an astronomic clock or calendar by the Incas. The lives of the Inca was very much related to nature and studying various aspects of nature in order to exploit the best conditions for agriculture. Afterall, at this point, the Incan people were no longer a tribe... but an empire with many mouths to feed. We're all intently entranced on Dimas' lecture about the Incans and their Intihuatana while the rain has turned to sheets coming down sideways.

In keeping up with the very seismically active area, we learn of some of the architectural features that the Incans employ: trapezoid shaped windows, mortarless stone walls...

We try very hard to maintain our attention but it is soon clear that we're all miserable. Saoul leads the way back down the mountain and the interesting thing to notice is that all the drainage systems of Machu Picchu are intact and functional. The rain water that is pouring down is being funneled through their various eaves. We see llama casually mowing the grass up here and just living it up.

We make our way to the public bus that takes us down the mountain to Aguas Calientes where all our stuff is waiting. I'm just glad I can get out of my wet clothes and into dry ones. Good thing I brought my flip flops! I dread wearing wet shoes.

This is a long 4 days and I think most of us are pretty tired (and perhaps somewhat demoralized from the lacklustre performance at the Sun Gate). I don't regret not taking more photos or even staying longer. I saw what I could and I knew that the decision I made was following my best attempt to make the best out of a wet situation. I'd say I danced in the rain until I didn't feel like dancing anymore.

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