Thursday, March 21, 2013

Peru: Part 2. Lima to Cusco

Lima for me wasn't that great, it seemed dirty and boring. like a city in the middle of the desert can be. I don't think there was anything special to see or do (besides the Pearl Jam concert), and I didn't stay long. I work-stayed at Loki Lima, but didn't end up staying as long as I had thought.

From Lima it was another hellishly long bus ride to Cusco. 25 hours I think. I try to take the overnight buses when I can, to save on a a night's accommodation.

This was a much bigger and nicer bus then the one to Mancora, but they still told us to hide out belongings. Traveling alone on these long-haul buses gives you a lot of time to think. Think, write, sleep. I had been feeling lonesomeness  creep in, like it does sometimes when traveling a while alone, and long, lonely bus rides like this one don't help the feeling.
Eating guinea pig

It's morning when I arrive in Cusco. When the bus crested the top of the final hill above Cusco, it was a sight to behold. There was rolling hills on top of rolling hills, with waves of adobe buildings flowing over them, like a man-made tide flowing with the landscape.

Another hill in Cusco
One Loki, Two Loki, why not a third? I had a long, yet pretty hike through the ancient looking city to get to the Loki Cusco, and I loved it. Contrary to Lima, Cusco felt like the "real" Peru. It was tiring though, walking up and down all those hilly streets to get to Loki.

I didn't work at this Loki, as I wouldn't be staying long enough, but if you need or want to travel the world on the cheap, you can literally go from work-hostel to work-hostel, and never pay for accommodation.

Awesome juice market in Cusco

Cusco is where you go to get to Machu Picchhu, and this is where I started looking for deals. I didn't have $300 - $800 for any of the famous Inca Trail packages, and I didn't want to pay even $150 for the regular packages to the monument, which included transportation and entry fee.

I weighed my options, and finally came up with the cheapest (not easiest) way to get to Machu Picchu. Normaly it is required to take one of the expensive buses to the town of Aguas Calientes, (it probably wont seem expensive to someone who has come to Peru just to see MP, but it was for someone who is travelling all of S. America). But what I found is that the locals either ride share or hitchhike to the ancient train depot that is just outside of Cusco, and take the cheap, slow train to Agua Calientes.

So this is what I did. After a long hike through town, a short hitch with some Israelis, and a long train ride, I was in AC. There were a lot of tour groups around, all getting onto buses that took them up the mountain. Instead of paying the $10 round trip bus ticket, I blended into a large group of Americans and slipped on board.

Once at the entrance, I slipped off and snuck in, avoiding the $50 entry fee. No one ever dreamed that a white boy would come all this way and not pay the entry fee, possibly even months ago online or something. No one ever asked me for a ticket once inside. Then I had one hell-of -a- hike, up about a billion steps.

There isn't too much I can say about Machu Picchu that hasn't already been said by millions of other travelers  photographers, bloggers, writers or anthropologists or tourist that has ever been there. I can throw out words like epic and glorious and awing, but since you've heard them all a dozen times, I'll spare you the time.

I can say though, that the whole scene went exactly in par with my lonely feeling I had been having on my long, solo journey, and I embraced it. I let the hordes of group-photo-taking-at-every-scene tourists go ahead while I hung back to enjoy and soak in the quiet serenity.

For a few defining moments, all I could hear was the wind, as I looked down from my bird's eye view on the ancient wonder and it's truly majestic beauty. At one point, I felt like I had in time; a time where there were no phones or electronics or any other worthless possessions.  No status quo or status updates; no white collar or blue. No politics, dramas or any of the other bullshit we can live without. I was just in my own world, in a simple dwelling built by people that could really appreciate true beauty.

I was high up on my mountain and all I could see, was all I ever really needed to see; nothing else mattered. Overlooking the beautifully constructed ruins were just endless mountain ranges topped with rolling clouds.
Then the sounds of a llama walking on gravel behind me snapped me back into reality. Though I am back to the present out not in my day-dream, I am still happy and in peace.
I realize that, even though I despise many things about this world, MY reality is actually pretty great. I am young and single, living my dream of wandering the world on a whim, seeing the things that most people can only read about. My problems seem so insignificant all of the sudden.

As I look back at my new wonder, I am suddenly aware that my superficial loneliness as of late has vanished. I have yet another one of those life clarifying moments when, with a jolt, I am reminded why I am traveling. I am reminded of a quote:

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on thier dreams with open eyes, to make them possible
T.E Lawrence


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