Throughout the whole semester there had been the idea of going to Machu Picchu as a possible trip. It had been difficult to coordinate schedules as well as decent airfare, but in the beginning of June I bought tickets and made the trip final. The trip was planned for the last days of June until the 3rd of July (my flight home was July 5th). So after finals and classes were all done, we left Santiago to spend a few of my last days in South America in Peru.
We landed in Cusco and made our way to the hostel. It was a totally different world than Santiago. It was a shift from a fast paced city vibe to a small town in crazy high altitude. We stayed two nights in Cusco before journeying on to a town called Ollantaytambo, where we caught the train to Aguas Calientes (the town with the closest access point to Machu Picchu).
Bright and early the morning of Sunday the 30th, we began our venture up to Machu Picchu on a bus that literally winds up a mountain. We had tickets to hike up Huayna/Wayna Picchu (the big mountain in the background of the classic Machu Picchu picture), so we did that before we explored the ruins of Machu Picchu.
The hike up Wayna Picchu was a little challenging because a lot of it was just steps, but when you finally get to the top it is magnificent, and so worth it! We sat on some terracing at the top, took a ton of pictures, and stopped to just soak up the wonder and beauty of the view.
Instead of just heading back to Machu Picchu, we decided to do what is called the circuit and go down to the Moon temple with some really cool caves. The whole decent and path back to Machu Picchu took around 3 hours. We had the rest of the afternoon to roam around and check out the ruins.
Beforehand, we were unsure of whether or not we wanted to hire a guide to give us a tour of the ruins. We didn’t know if it would be necessary or worth it, but we ended up getting a guide and we had an incredible tour. We learned so much; he pointed out details of the architecture, advances of the Incans, and gave a ton of interesting facts. To top it all off, the tour was in Spanish and I understood it all!
I had a great time in Peru, it was a wonderful experience, especially coming from Chile and being able to see the contrasting cultures. Also, in general, Peruvian Spanish is much slower and easier to understand than the fast and chilenismos filled Spanish to which I had become accustomed in Chile.
Going to Peru so close to the end of my semester abroad was both a good idea and a bad idea. It made me appreciate the unique things about Santiago as a city I had grown to love. However, I also couldn’t help but feel like I didn’t want to spend time outside of Chile so close to the end. However, now I’m back home and leaving Santiago so abruptly was like ripping off a Band-Aid. But maybe it was necessary to soften the blow of leaving Chile all together.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">As a native New Yorker and a student at the University of North Carolina I'm psyched to journey even further south to Santiago, Chile for the semester. I'm a junior and a Global studies major hoping to improve my Spanish and meet a whole bunch of awesome people! Also, I'm a huge tea drinker, so I'm ready to experience Chilean maté!</span></p>