When we got to Ollantytambo, we booked rooms for tonight at a small, but comfortable hotel with a nice garden and a safe place to park the 4×4. We dopped off our landrey at a tienda near the main square. and headed for the train. All went exactly to plan and we were on our way to the town down the mountain from Macchu Picchu called Aguasclientes. My first visit here was about 14 years ago. The town is now about four times the size now with suvenier shops, resturants, internet cafes, and hotels everywhere. It is even a lot different since Kristina, Stephen, and I visited 4 years ago. I have always liked to go to the hot bathes that the town is named after, but this time Ron and I found it crouded with drunken South American college kids on their summer break.
This morning we got up at 4:00 AM to catch the first bus up the hill. After a leasurely breakfast, we walked down to the bus stop to find several hundred people waiting in line. But, It was well organized with more than enough buses and we got to the ruins just as the riising sun was peeking through acient Sun Gate. Eventhough this is my fourth visit to Macchu Picchu, I still fined it facinating and wonderful. The integration of design and materials with the physical setting is without equal. The engineering and fine workmanship on these huge pieces of rock is amazing.
Ron decided to climb Huaynaya Picchu which is the mountain behind Macchu Picchu. I fell from the path on my trip with Galen and Linda. I thought I’d climb up the trail until I got tired, but pressed on to the top. It took me 4 hours to go up and down. I was exhausted, but I make it. ron was surprised and none to pleased to see me on the top. His comment was “You stubborn old fool!”. But, the view was magnificent with the green landscape of the rainy season and the bright mid-day sun.
After we got down the mountain, I took a short nap on a grassy area among the ruins while the llmas grazed around me. Durng the day there are usually several thousand of turists that leave Cusco on rhw train early in the morning. They spend 3 hours at Machu Picchu and get back to Cusco in the evening. The guard told me that the farmers were protesting and no trains were operating today. This is a wonderful place, but had a 7:00 PM train with a hotel waiting for us in Ollantytambo. We had no idea what was going to happen.
At the stantion, Perurail advised that they were inspecting the track and repairing the damage caused by the protesters. Their plan was to get every one with a ticket out on a train tonight. The station looked like a refuge camp with hundreds of people sitting, sleeping, or playing cards with backpacks and luggage scattered everywhere. Some of them had been waiting since 5:30 in the morning, Our first choice was to just stay here for the night. But, Perurail advised otherwise since psotest were expecting to cancel all the trains tomorrow, too. We left the station for dinner and returned by 6:30.
At 9:00, they started boarding the train by departure time with the 5:30 AM passengers first. We were the next to the last group to board, but we got seats. The passengers on the last train rode for 2 hours in the dark asile with other passengers climbing over them to get to the toilet.. We decided to would continue tomorrow. on trains whold operated tomorrow as well. the train left at 10:15 and arrived in Ollantanytambo close to mid-night. The place was filled with buses to take the Cusco passengers on the 2 hour ride to Cusco, but not a local taxi in sight.. At least we had a hotel and beds close at hand. A half mile walk ended our 20 hour adventure.