Cusco was built by the Spanish on the foundation of Inca walls and streets. The city, whose name means navel of the world in the language of the Incas, easily rivals any in Europe for architecture and style. The narrow cobblestone streets are crowded with colonial churches and colorful street markets. Only the draw of Machu Picchu could make you want to leave this place.
We took the easy way out this time. The price and timing was right so we took the bus/train through the sacred valley, leaving the four day, 300 USD Inca Trail for another time. We visited several other Inca sites in Pisaq and Ollantaytambo on route to the big one, each very impressive in their own right.
Rising at the lovely hour of 5am, we made our way to the ruins. The first sight is a breath taker. Although actually 1000m lower than Cusco, the dizzying location of Machu Picchu makes it seem much higher. Clouds don´t pass over the city, they pass through. I am a huge sucker for steep, pointy mountains and this place is surrounded on all sides.
The ruins themselves are equally impressive and intact, having been kept a secret (and thus safe) from the Spanish invasion. The site was only discovered in 1911. We hiked to the top of one of the pointiest mountains where a break in the clouds (which were actually below us-a very strange sensation) let us catch a glimpse of the temples, residences and signature terraces of the city from a crazy angle.
Hiking back down from the city we had a moment. This was the last stop on our South American adventure. Now we head back to Cusco, Lima and then home. A tear. I should make some sweeping and insightful remarks now. But instead I will let you know of few reasons why I am excited to be back in Westford: my family and friends, gift-giving and peanut butter.