|Machu Picchu||1 | 2 | 3 | 4|
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Note: For more information about these pictures, read about our whirlwind tour of Machu Picchu.
|Train to Machu Picchu — The backpacker train to Machu Picchu shakes its way through the Andes along narrow tracks and occasional switchbacks.|
|Roof Adornments —
These bulls can be found on nearly every rooftop as we drove through
villages on our way to Machu Picchu. Our guide the next day gave us the
story, explaining that it is a Quechuan tradition to place a these two
figurines on the roof of a home when the couple living there is newly
married. It represents a metaphor for the power of the animals, and
the strength of their lifelong bond when they work together. Bulls are
commonly used for hauling farm equipment in the fields, and they are
always paired up, starting at a young age. Once the bulls become
accustomed to one another, they work solely as a team, and can never be
broken up. If a bull is paired with another animal that isn't it's usual
"partner", it will actually try to attack it. Generally, this bond lasts
until one of them dies, at which time the other one usually becomes
A second guide, the day after, gave us a slightly different account, claiming that the bulls are more a symbol of physical strength than bonding, and that the decorations, which are often accompanied by flowers and/or bottles of alcohol, are to encourage the Gods down for a drink in exchange for a blessing. We like the first story much better.
|Road to Machu Picchu — The only road to Machu Picchu, starting at the town of Aguas Calientes (which, peculiarly, has no roads leading to it whatsoever, making you wonder how the buses got there in the first place). The dozens of switchbacks are a testament to its steepness.|
|Intimidating Andes — These are the mountains surrounding Machu Picchu. Seeing the site by itself may not be so impressive, but realizing that all those stones were carried through this can quickly change one's mind.|
|Machu Picchu — Keith and Erin standing over the Incan city of Machu Picchu.|
|Machu Picchu — Entering the ancient city of Machu Picchu from above. The tall peak in the background is Huayna Picchu, which you can climb during certain hours of the day (but we didn't, due to weather and the general notion that we're wusses).|
|Machu Picchu and Quarry — One of the quarry sites believed to be the source of the stones used to build the city. Carrying those stones here required descending several hundred meters, only to climb it again, which adds to the impressiveness of this engineering feat.|
|Machu Picchu and Huanay Picchu — Dozens of rooftops, once covered with thatch, line the center of the city.|