Peru Day 6

Next morning we walk back to the bus stop along the tributary rushing through the middle of Aguas Calientes. The street is flanked by fountains inspired by the spring-fed watercourses in the city above, one simulating cascades, another the undulating body of a snake.



The sound of the rapids echoing between the high walls of the canyon roars through the town and adds excitement to our departure for the heights.


When we arrive, the site and surroundings are predictably obsured by fog.


Alvaro leads the group in a prayer at the edge


The clouds begin to lift. Yesterday’s amazing sights take on a living presence, mysterious and intimate.



IMG_3617.JPG It seems like the renting of a veil, the parting of a curtain, the revelation of divine nature, Pachamama’s gift.


This is a moment together Jan and I are supremely privileged to share and preserve.

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Our group leaves the confines of the city and is led slowly by our guides toward a viewpoint looking down on it from above.


Anyone who wishes to go on ahead has permission to hike to the Sun Gate, the high pass through which Machu Picchu first appears to those traveling by foot along the Inka Trail, the 500 year old original approach.


I welcome the chance for more exercise and a little solitude.  Half an hour later I encounter another member of our party. He accepts my assistance in climbing the rock wall below a small opening in the jungle that provides the only possible opportunity within miles to go to the bathroom. On the way out, he slips and falls on the stone path. He’s in great pain but refuses offers to call for help or accompany him back to the bus.  He will reach the Sun Gate!  With the assistance of four Ibuprofen and my spring-loaded trekking pole heroically he reaches his goal.


Meanwhile, despite her injured knee and with the help of her two trekking poles and more Ibuprofen, Jan mounts hundreds of stone steps to the lower viewpoint. Little Al calls her the lady on four legs.

On the way back to the train she bargains in the market for silver earrings decorated with an Andean cross and symbols of the months and for a table cloth woven in the rainbow colors of the Qosqo flag.



The bus trip back to Qosqo offers our first view of the snow-covered mountains of the Cordillera Blanca.


Jan too is coming down with the cold that’s hit most members of the group. Having landed in a comfortable hotel room, we both decline to join the late night New Year’s Eve festivities in the central plaza and fall asleep well before the end of 2012.

Slideshow of these and more  full-size photos

Linnk to Day 7




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