The day started abruptly for us, with a blaring phone ringing in our room and startling Nate and I. It turns out that checkout is at 9am – Yikes!, it was already 9:30. That put a major cramp in our day, as our train didn’t leave until 3pm, so what were we going to do in this little tourist town for 5 hours? First job, find a place to get breakfast that has good wifi. Found it — Cafe Con Pisco, located in the corner of the main square. There, we were able to get some egg sandwiches, and it was able to update my blog.
We hiked around town and along the Urubamba River for a while, which was great, except it was about 80 degrees and most of the time your walking along the road that the buses take people up to Machu pic hi on, so you’re eating a lot of dust). Just look at the joy on Nate’s face as he’s surrounded by the incredible scenery. And do you think he’d take off his sweatshit? Is funny that I can’t get him to take it off during an 80 degree day, but he fights me to put in on as we go outside at night when it’s 45 degrees – teenagers!
The Urubamba is an incredibly fast river, filled with these elephant sized pieces of granite that make it impossible to swim or travel on. The power is amazing, as we tested throwing throwing various natural things in to see how they’d fare. It was scary, as the river would just swallow up anything we threw in like a hungry shark, and we’d never see the branch or stick again. Quite scary to think what would happen if you fell in.
We were finally able to board our train to Poroy ( the closest station to Cusco) at 3pm, and 5 hours later pulled into the station. I’m not sure what the reason, but I don’t think the trains in Peru are capable of exceeding 10mph. I believe it’s not more than 60 miles from Cusco to Machu Picchu, but Peru Rail looks to create “unique experiences”. I will saw that our train coming back was luxurious, so spend the extra $15 a ticket for the Expedition train of you decide to go.
Once in Cusco, it was obvious that the city was primed for a big night, as people were already letting off fireworks and getting into the party mood. Señor Carlos was nice enough to have some pizza and treats to celebrate the New Year with his guests, but I knew we needed to get to the Aldea Yanapay restaurant. So we ate and ran quickly out to the restaurant.
After navigating our way to the restaurant through the Plaza, we were quickly greeted by Yuri, the program founder and director, who gave us both huge hugs. It was great to see him, and he was excited to have us there. We met other volunteers, who were also quick to hand out hugs to Nate and I. It’s such a great feeling to be accepted and part of a big group. We spent most of the time talking to Jane, Yuri’s girlfriend, since she spoke English and enthralled us with her stories. I later commented to Nate that she reminded me of Taylor Swift, and he quickly agreed.
We met volunteers from all over the world – Spain, Brazil, Canada, and a number from Peru. It was also great to see old friends from last time, like Jose Luis, a former student who now works for Yuri running much of the restaurant. We were all anxious to get out to the Plaza, but not befor we did our own countdown at the restaurant.
Once in the Plaza, memories from 2012 came back quickly, as the craziness of having fireworks explode all around you and thousands of people going crazy doesn’t leave your memory too quickly. Sure, there was the obligatory naked guy, and the strange sight air a llama being led through the crowd to take pictures (for a fee) with the drunk tourists. There’s also images of young kids, may 7 or 8 years old, selling beer to people on the street; or, the one kid who didn’t look more than 6 or 7 shooting fireworks aimlessly into the crowd.
I could only take an hour of it all, and we quickly split from the group to head back to our house. A ling day for sure, and one I hope Nate doesn’t quickly forget.