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Temple of the Moon, Waynu Picchu, off limits & irresistible


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Wednesday 13th November 1985
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Having camped the night before at the Gate of the Sun we are up with the sun, 5.30am. to enter Macchu Picchu several hours before anyone else. At dawn we approached through the mist with swirling views of the ruins as we descend gently along the ancient approach road. We pass the funeral stone apon which they may have prepared and dried the dead. A massive double door jam, and into the ancient town. This ceremonial route is bypassed by the modern approach up the agricultural terraces.
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The stonework is so skilful, plastic, fluid, beautiful, of nature. Identify Temple of the Sun with its sundial broken by the spanish, Princess's Palace, main temple, jail house and torture niches and rocky condor. Most of these descriptions are modern fantasy labels I suspect. They mould their stonework, carved fixtures and fittings sometimes in the natural rock sometimes in quarried stone, almost seamless, exploiting natural features where ever possible.

25,000 for a bowl of soup at the ugly luxury hotel next to the ruins, which has spoilt the view from Inktu Pinku.

The others go down to Aqua Calientes for a restorative hot bath. I return to the ruins with an American called Stephen to climb Waynu Picchu. A precipitous little stone trail leads up through the miniature terraces and small platforms. At the top the sun is hot, and we see a tantalising small trail down the north face, we know that way leads to the temple of the Moon. Off limits and irresistible. Ignoring the Peligrosa and No Passe signs we descend the sheer rocky face following tiny carved steps.

At one point where the steps have been carved into the rock face the entire slab has separated and slipped, making the steps an unsettling angle. It is very lush and rocky, small terraces, even here. After some time we reckon we have missed the temple in the undergrowth and decide to push on to the valley below.
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Suddenly we find it. A cave, carved, and added to, the rock tidied up by the neatness and precision of the inca. Wall niches and double jams speak of ceremonial grandeur. Spoilt by charcoal graffiti. Finding the cave means we are about half way down to the Urubamba. Scout around for further trail, and realise we will have to return the way we came and it is getting late in the day. Still this will mean we can sign ourselves out properly at the site entrance and get our backpacks back.

Chew on bamboo shoots, like raw runner beans, and drink from epiphytic bromeliads. My legs are wobbly with exhaustion which adds to the vertiginous effects of the steep trail. As we crest the peak the ruins of Macchu Picchu are completely empty. As we climb down from Waynu Picchu we feast on wild strawberries growing on the little terraces. Suddenly an armed guard in uniform starts blowing a whistle and we have to leave the strawberries and eat humble pie and look stupid. The register has already been put to away for the day, unchecked.

Descend by a rocky muddy path in the pouring rain to the valley bottom, a long way, and then along the railway for 2km to Aqua Calientes, having missed the last train. Curious place Aquas Calientes. The single track railway line to Cuzco is the high street, along which cheap restaurants and hostels cluster. We check into dorm at Hostal Machu Picchu, 15000 a night eat like pigs and sleep like we are dead. Phew.

Posted by 1985 trip 06:24 Archived in Peru

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