In the foothills of Machu Picchu
[Aguas Calientes, Peru]
Our train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Callientes was spectacular! This was not the luxurious Hiram Bingham, but it was still roomy and clean, and we got snacks. The views, though, were what made it so magical. The Urubamba river was right next to us the entire time, and just on the other side of it were mountains draped in fog and mist. It started raining for a little while, even. Traditional Peruvian instrumental music was playing in the background, and I could not help but feel like I was in some sort of an enchanted land from a fairy tale.
We arrived in Aguas Callientes just before dusk. Or shall I say Machu Picchu Pueblo? In what I suspect is a marketing ploy, the city is being renamed to hopefully make more people aware that it is, in fact, the closest village to Machu Picchu. Most tourists still get here directly from Cuzco, which is a three-hour train ride. I don’t know why anyone would opt to do that rather than stay here and just hop on a 20-minute bus to the site in the morning, but I won’t complain – it means that Nathalia and I and the handful of other tourists here tonight will get Machu Picchu to ourselves for a few hours tomorrow morning. The town was draped in mist and fog as the sun was setting.
Aguas Callientes is so small we didn’t make arrangements for someone from the hotel to pick us up. We had to ask a few times for directions but we finally found it. It’s called Terazzas del Inca and its absolutely adorable. The lobby was open-air – it lacked a roof!
We went to get our bus tickets for the ride up to Machu Picchu the next morning, then we decided to finally try chifa food – a blend of Chinese and Peruvian cuisine. We ordered fried rice, a noodle dish and a chicken dish, and found it all to be much lighter than regular Chinese fare. Had we eaten that same amount of food of regular Chinese, we would have been full and bloated. Instead, we had a nice delicious satisfying dinner. We even got to try chicha – a home-made drink, usually fermented, made out of maize (corn), grape, apples or other fruit. We were a bit disappointed to get the non-fermented version, but it was still delicious.
Due to the rain we saw earlier on the train, we checked the forecast and it seems that we might get rain tomorrow. So much for coming here in the dry season!