After living in Cusco for about two-and-a-half months, I can finally say that I’ve been to Machu Picchu. Usually that’s an initial point of conversation when chatting with a Cusqueñan. I’ve surprised (and disappointed) a few cab drivers by saying that I’d been putting off Cusco’s greatest tourist attraction for so long. But, with Dave here last week we were able to hop on the schmancy PeruRail train and ride the three-and-a-half hours up to Aguas Calientes – or quite possibly the most expensive place in Peru.
What they don’t tell you about the lovely Vistadome train is that the distance to Machu Picchu is only 57 miles from Poroy and so you’re going an average speed of about 16 miles per hour. This was great for Dave who appreciated the sluggish pace because it was conducive to taking pictures out the window, but I found it a bit slow. Nonetheless, it was one smooth ride.
Like the rest of the tourist population in Aguas Calientes, which is to say just about everyone in that one-train town, Dave and I woke up around 4:30 on the day we were scheduled to enter Machu Picchu. After paying $18.50 American dollars to ride up the hill we scrambled to get in line and await our turn to enter. When we finally got to the head of the line I gladly pulled out my printed-out reservations only to be informed all I had was a reservation number, and not actual tickets. (Here’s where I made a mental note to stop making online transactions from internet cafes in Izcuchaca. Apparently they don’t go through very well.) But, of course, nothing is impossible for tourists in Peru. We found a guy, who called a guy, who was able to scrounge up two entrance tickets. Actually, all Dave and I had to do was just had to sit there and wait, and then pay a convenience charge. Not too shabby. The two of us were able to enter around 7 a.m., and the fog even lifted about an hour later.