Marcos and I ran off to the place where we were presumably to have the best view: the Hut of the Caretaker of the Funerary Rock, from which the classic Machu Pichu pictures are taken. We gazed down and the ruins stood there, majestic and grand. Awesome. Mist hung in the morning light, like a feint veil layed over the past.
We waited for the sunrise…
After awhile of not seeing the sun rise, hoping it would and realizing it wouldn’t, Marco’s hunger took control of him and we went to eat breakfast. Marco was so hungry he wanted to eat everything. The food was opened and and I followed suit.
We had not slept much and were not thinking clearly. Obviously sardines and yoghurt don’t mix under the best of circumstances. Obviously this is not a balanced breakfast. It was clear to a reasonable person what would shortly happen.
We were not reasonable people. I had about two good hours before we started feeling the effects of sardine poisoning. Marco had about 20 minutes.
We set about exploring the ruins again which, for me, included sitting, drawing and writing. I sat in the sun and was finally warm. The only problem was that every time I got comfortable the Machu Pichu police would whistle to get me to move, or at least sit up straight. You may sit in Machu Pichu but you may not lie down. I had had little sleep and was exhausted and I excused my lethergy with “overexposure”. But Marco was beginning to complain of nausea. He got worse and I began to feel sick as well. We were both too tired and sick to climb anywhere.
There are many places that make no sense without a guide. But Machu Pichu is, perhaps, the most amazing and least understood Inca site there is. Everyone has a theory and the truth isn’t really relevant. I mean you overhear guides saying, “Oh and this is where they conducted the circumcision rituals.” But these guides could never explain why it was they thought that. They probably just thought: small dark room: circumcision rituals. Anyways, I don’t even think the Incas practiced circumcision…
The place was magnificent. But it was hard for me to believe that we had simply stumbled into this place of wonder. It was too clean to be lived in, to well built to be untouched, too half built to be a real city. I felt as if someone had found a wrecked house and, instead of rebuilding it, had polished every broken place until it shone.
It was not Disneyland only because it was authentic. But, though all the original stones were there, it was 80% (I am making this figure up) reconstructed and “authenticity” becomes an issue.
I climbed about the ruins for a few hours, trying to make the most of being at a wonder of the world. But perhaps the most interesting thing I noticed about Machu Pichu was the bathroom grafitti, with which I became intimately aquainted.
The grafitti was old, from the 1980s, pristine and untouched. It called for socialist goverment by any means, declared the previous election, stated that Oscar Valencia [the leader of the Shining Path terrorist group] was a true hero. It made me wonder, why was this grafitti still here, in such a public place, after all these years?
We were sick. But not too sick to walk back to Aguas Callientes, a feat with which I will always be impressed with. Marco went back to our hostal to pick up the things we’d left there (and to use the toilet) and, in no ability to walk to Idro and then to Santa Teresa, I went to inquire about train tickets back to Cusco.