Walking the Inca-Bahn

Politically, Ugh Correct
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The second day, we reached Dead Woman's Pass, which, two Americans in the group pointed out, should be immediately renamed Dead Person's Pass. A Danish P.E. teacher got sick and had to ride a horse the rest of the way—for an extra $8.

On the second night, one of the Israelis became very familiar with one of the young Americans from California. However, after seeing each other in daylight, they broke up the next morning. Unlike the Belgian couple who found each other through a personal and didn't connect but were sticking it out like a bad marriage.

The third day was mostly downhill—1,200 steps, to be exact. If you've ever walked down 1,200 steps before, you know what I'm talking about when I say, "ARRRRRRHHHH!!''

There were plenty of nice campsites around, but the guides felt obligated to help the economy of a local "hotel" by making us stay there—where we would surely be tempted to by their Coca-Cola and Snickers bars. It rained that night, so everyone slept on the floor of the lobby.

Efraim woke us at 3 a.m. to eat breakfast and start walking the last hour and a half to the sun gate at Machu Picchu to watch the sunrise. The problem was, it was still raining. We were assured the sky would clear by the time we reached the ruins, so we all donned rain ponchos, grabbed our flashlights, and headed down the trail in the dark.

Naturally, it was still raining at the sun gate and we couldn't see squat. So we descended into the ancient city and waited for, according to Efraim, a "professional Machu Picchu guide." Apparently, Efraim was only an Inca Trail guide. Finally, the new guide arrived at 10 a.m. and started marching us around in the rain, oblivious to the fact that we had been marching around in the rain since 3:30 a.m.

Unfortunately, he couldn't hold the same thought for more than three seconds: "Over here is the temple and you'll notice this stone has 32 corners and if you look across the way you'll see some llamas so that is why Machu Picchu got its name, blah, blah, blah."

Machu Picchu is an ancient Quechua word meaning, "Be sure to bring a silly white tennis hat and take lots of pictures." I say this because we immediately met all the tourists who came by train, bus and helicopter, and their presence took away any sense of adventure we were having.

So much for the "lost city."

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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