Tuesday, May 26: Today we have the full morning to visit and enjoy Machu Picchu one last time on our own, if we wish, before packing up and, in the afternoon, returning by train to Olantaytambo. Then off to Cuzco where we’ll stay tonight and tomorrow night at the Ruinas Hotel. It’s a 3-star hotel with very good reviews. The location is said to be great, with internet cafes, shops, restaurants and other amenities all located on the same street.
The main square, Plaza de Armas, is but a short walk away. One of the biggest negatives I’ve read about our hotel is that it is a modern, comfortable hotel but has little charm, and with three levels, they have no elevator. And the air is thin, but that’s not the hotel’s fault. Still, they offer the medical administration of oxygen. Out of a group of 11, all of us past our 60th birthdays, what are the odds of one or more of us needing such a service? Be sure to cross your fingers for us and check back here for updates.
As for the weather, we are traveling in Peru’s dry and fall season, so like Goldilock’s adventure in the house of the three bears, it should not be too hot nor too cold, not too dry nor humid. Marta and her travel agent sister, Liliana, who planned the trip, being native Peruvians and knowing us comfort-sodden Americans all too well, have chosen what they consider to be the best time of year for our tour, and in the proper order that we adjust a little at a time to the altitude changes.
A quick check of weather underground websites shows a projection of daily high temperatures of 67 fahrenheit based on the last 20 years, with little to no precipitation in mid- to late-May. If I’m able to access one of those internet cafes in Cuzco and still be able to breathe and walk at the same time once I’m settled, I’ll try to update the actual with the projected.
As for what we can expect to see on this leg of our trip, my research shows that the Inca was the last culture to arise in Peru before the arrival of adventurers (to use a more polite term for some really bad people) from overseas. At the height of the Inca empire, Cuzco was the capital city with great stone buildings (built, I might add, by hand without labor saving devices of any kind), lavish palaces and temples decorated with gold and silver, along with ordinary homes for ordinary people.
Without getting into the blood and gore of numerous invasions the city suffered, the Spanish conquistadors came along in 1533 and began to steal all the silver and gold they could get their hands on. Some of the treasures survived, however, to become foundations and walls for new colonial buildings and temples. Tomorrow morning we will tour and see some of them ourselves.