Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Town Without Roads

Machu Picchu is the true reason we came to Peru, the basis for the entire trip.  As we arrive in Aguas Calientes, which will be the base for our Machu Picchu adventures ~ I'm surprised to find that it is a town without roads.

There are, literally, no streets here.  There are no cars or buses, 
because there are no streets for them to drive on.

Those of you who've been to Machu Picchu may want to correct me by saying there are buses that go up the mountain to that ancient Inca site; and you would be correct.  You catch the bus in town, but the bus does not actually run through town, if you stop to think about it.  The only thing that runs through town is the train.  And it's running just feet from your (expensive!) hotel room, your restaurant, your coffee shop.  It's the darndest thing!

That white building in the middle is our (very nice) hotel.  

Our room is on the other side, by the river, where the sound of the rushing water helps muffle the train whistle........but nothing can disguise the shaking of the bed as it rumbles by.

I learn that, until recent years, Machu Picchu was one of those sites that was remote enough to call to just the most adventuresome. Mostly trekkers of the Inca Trail; those who are happiest when camping or roughing it.  

Aguas Calientes is just a quaint little town that now happens to be the jumping off spot for what's become one of the new 7 Wonders of the World. And it's somewhere who's few hotels offer something besides camping or roughing it.

I found it to be plenty remote; and still a pretty rugged journey.  It was a 3 hour train ride, where luggage is  pretty much forbidden (we left ours in Cuzco);  

Hence the backpack for just the overnight necessities, which you cart for yourself (by foot, 'cause there's no cars or cabs, remember). 

Mr. C usually takes a backpack along when we travel, but it's a novelty for me.  I not only had to buy one, but I had to hunt for one that has a compartment for my laptop.  I absolutely hate it.  So of course he thinks it's funny.

After depositing backpacks at the hotel, then you still have to find the ticket office to purchase bus tickets to take you up the hill.  

We know that you can hike it; and we see a few hardy souls who are doing so to save their $24 per person.

But, OMG, the dust from these buses that are running up & down the one-lane dirt road -- how can they possibly breath?  And for all that time spent getting there, that's an hour or two you spend not being there.   We are happy to buy tickets for tomorrow.

Because there are no streets for motorized vehicles to make deliveries, everything comes in by train and then gets hand-trucked to it's destination. Much of which you just don't think about.  

And when I say everything, I do mean everything.

Everything from luggage (these people were evidently not on our
"luggage forbidden" train);

To restaurant and hotel and grocery store supplies

Everything from eggs

To bottled water 

To toilet paper (which you may NOT under any circumstances flush down the toilet.)

I have to say, I got so sick of those signs during our month in Peru......

Even construction supplies like drywall are hand-trucked.

Followed closely by the necessary concrete blocks.
Once I started noticing, I couldn't help but notice.  What an interesting way to live!

We see some of the same living conditions here 
that we have seen our entire time in Peru.

Here someone has set up their "laundry room" in this polluted river,
One hand-formed pool to wash, and another to rinse.

There is another whole section of this little town, which is just foot-traffic; and it caters heavily to back-packers and hikers.  

It offers hostels with hot water 24 hours a day.  That's nice.

There's a cute (very small) town square where the fountain lights
change colors every few seconds.

There are lots of little restaurants and eateries, all lobbying for you to stop here, all shoving a menu in your face.  We noticed a couple of things that they had in common (other than accosting you as you walk by); 

First, Happy Hour seems to be a big draw.  We saw this more than once, and I'm still not sure what it means. Pay for one drink and get four more?  
Surely not. 

Perhaps it's 4 Sol's per drink?  
That would be like a $1.27 US.

Secondly, lots of places had games on the tables like Jenga or checkers or chess.  I'm guessing that both these things are an enticement to those backpackers and hostel dwellers who don't have much else going on after the day's hike is done......Or where hot water is not available this time of day..... 

As night falls, we head back to our hotel, knowing that we need a good night's rest for our Big Machu Picchu Experience tomorrow.

Also knowing that the trains, which come and go at all hours of the day and night, may be at odds with that goal. Best just expect the noise, and try to embrace the experience of being in a town without a road.   It might be the only time!


  1. Wow How facinating and interesting each stop you make has become. I love to travel with you. You need to make a hard copy book of all your pictures and journeys. I feel as though I have been privy to sneaking along with you. I look forward to every adventure! Thank you so much, Deon

    1. Thank you so much, Deon! Your comments are taken to heart. That's really the goal of the travel blog, to make others feel like they've taken the journey with us -- But from your living room -- HA! I've thought about making a (printed) notebook of what I've been blogging ~~ just because it creates an offline "notebook" of our travels. So that's good advice, thank you. And by-the-way, you are never "sneaking" along ~~ you are an invited guest on every journey! Thanks for the input ~~


Join the conversation ... comment now!