05/08/12 – 08/08/12 – Cusco, Peru
The bus ride of nine hours was a fairly uneventful border crossing from Bolivia into Peru, nothing more than a dusty road, a bustling marketplace and a poor German girl on our bus suffering from altitude sickness. We arrived into Cuzco late at night and caught a cab with a French guy into the central tourist point and square – Plaza de Armas. A beautiful square in the heart of the Inca Capital with later churches built in the 17th century via the Spanish. Surrounding streets where cobble stone leading up the mountainside to residences and businesses and the majority of tourist hostels. It was amazing to see the change in infrastructure that the key Peruvian, some may say even South American, tourist drawcard had brought in – Machu Picchu. The luxuries and cleanliness was a welcome change to Bolivia.
However Cuzco had a much deeper past than just a few churches and its position as the start of the infamous Inka Trail to MP. Apparently way back in the 12th century, the first Inca was charged by the ancestral sun god Inti to find the centre of the earth and when he found this point, he would found the city. After planning and developing the city of Cuzco, the Spanish couldn’t help themselves (yet again) and in the 15th century marched in, laid siege to Cusco and killed the key Inca and his people. Nice. But now the city is the archeological capital of the Americas and now not only the Americans but also the French, Italian, German, Australian, New Zealand and lets face it, anyone with the cash to go see this Picchu business claimed one of the new seven wonders of the world.
The funny thing was, we stuck up a broken conversation with Oscar, a Cuzco resident that would have been approaching his 80s in one of the towns parks. Oscar told us that he went to Machu Picchu in the late 80s when it was barely discovered by the rest of the world, there were no tourists and the cost was 2 Peruvian Soles or around 60 cents to view the site. Today the cheapest rout is via train at $140 there and back plus $50 to go view the site and just a mere 2000 people view it each day. How things change in 20 to 30 years.
So the question was, how were we going to reach MP which was about 90kms from Cuzco?