Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Peru 5

For the second day in a row, we’re all getting up at 4:45 in the morning. This morning, it’s so we can see the sun rise on Macchu Picchu. I’m not terribly excited about heading up there. Even though I’ve been told how amazing it is, and how I shouldn’t miss it, I can’t help but feel it’s going to be an annoying touristy experience. I’m hoping the early visit will cut down on the crowds.

We head down to the bus stop to catch the 5:30 bus, the first bus up the mountain. We blink at each other in the early-morning darkness and tiredly chew the bananas we grabbed from the hotel lobby. Despite the early hour, the bus fills up to capacity. I am wedged between Aa and some guy who needs a shower. I spend the whole ride wishing him ill for his poor hygeine. Heading up the mountain, we see people wearing garbage bags hiking up and watch the rain hit the windows. After some unspecified time, the bus stops and the doors open. We’re there, apparently.

We stumble out of the bus and head to the front door. It’s still mostly dark out. We can see the very expensive hotel just to our right. Then we enter the park. For a while it kind of looks like Ireland – green and misty and hilly, with stone buildings. I don’t know exactly when it stops looking like Ireland or anyplace I’ve ever been before. ..But the sun is rising and the clouds are moving around us, obscuring some things and revealing others. The landscape is changing every minute. I look down and it's suddenly clear enough to see all the way to the valley and the river below. I look up and there’s another mountain, with a thin trail of stone stairs snaking up one side Nobody’s really talking, including me. Then I understand that the mountain I’m on isn’t really a mountain anymore. At its peak, it’s been dug out and flattened by hand. Plateaus were built for farming. Stones were hauled up and fitted together without cement or mud to build temples and houses. People lived and ate and fought had babies and died here. How strange that I ever thought getting in a bus before dawn was some big deal

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