Our Trip to Machu Picchu, Day Three (part one)

Morning came early for the bird watchers in our group: Sean, Nana and Sofia. They left at 630 a.m. for a walk around the property while the rest of us stayed in bed for a little bit more rest. (Or, a little bit more Minion Rush for Oscar.) I know that I was tired after our sauna in the eucalyptus lined sauna and dunk in the shockingly cold fresh water pond. It was so much fun to swim in the dark with the lights filtering thorough the trees and plants. After dinner at the hotel (and more guinea pig for Oscar) we all went to sleep. 
After the bird nerds returned from their walk (a success! Apparently the guide nearly cried because he saw a hummingbird he had never seen before. Sean said he saw more amazing birds in the hour and a half long hike than he has In his whole life) we all met for breakfast then geared up for Machu Picchu. We walked five minutes to the bus stop which took us on a 25 minutes ride twisting and curving up the mountain. The scenery was breathtaking enough for me to forget how close we were to edge of the mountain. 
There were hundreds of people waiting to get into the site. Upon the recommendation of our guide, Juan we immediately climbed to one of the highest points on the amateur hike. It was nearly 250 steps straight uphill to get to a spot where we stopped and took the quintessential photos of Machu Picchu, peak and ruins behind us. It was not an easy climb in the blazing sun on uneven rocky steps, dodging school groups and German tourists. I kept thinking of what my dad had said the night before: “Why are we taking a four day trip just to go on a three hour tour?”
Even though we took all the requisite pictures (and of course posted one to Instagram because if you don’t put your picture on social media, you weren’t really there, right?) I was feeling so disheartened about the trip. It felt like Machu Picchu was filled with people taking selfies with their selfie sticks and not even looking at the unbelievable scenery around them. It was like Disney World with everyone jockeying to pose in front of Cinderella’s castle. No one was really paying attention to anything other than trying to strike the perfect pose in order to brag about it later.
But, after all the photo ops Juan brought us to a slightly higher point above all the tourists and began to explain to us the history of the Incas and Machu Picchu. That was when it started to sink in where we were and why Machu Picchu is one of the wonders of the world. The stone work, architecture and the sophisticated layout of the town was astounding. The physical exertion of the walk (160 floors climbed according to my iPhone) tired all of us and we were happy to sit down for lunch at the Belmond Hotel (the buffet lunch wasn’t so good, if I went again I would spring for lunch in the actual hotel. We had drinks there after lunch while we waited for the bus to bring us back to town.) 
To be continued…..

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