The Road To Machu Picchu: Day Two

The Road To Machu Picchu is a four-part series that chronicles my exploits travelling form Cusco, Peru to the mountain of Machu Picchu, an ancient site built by the Incas that is preserved and protected by the government of Peru and UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Catch up on Day One.

I awoke early Sunday morning thanks to the machine-gun patter of raindrops crash-landing around me. Damn, I thought, I should’ve showered last night. The restrooms were outdoors in a separate area and two of the three showers available were showerheads installed in rectangular grass huts. I fell asleep again with visions of my flip-flops splashing through mud puddles on my way to and from the outdoor showers.

I awoke again a few hours later to an overcast but rainless sky and immediately took advantage of the situation. One cold, refreshing shower later and I was ready for breakfast.

Day two of the tour began with a lesson about some of the local critters, pictured below.

This little guy hated our guide Ricardo
A “jungle rat”
This dude loves to eat
He also hated Ricardo’s backpack

Afterwards, Ricardo informed us of the day’s activities: hiking, hiking, hiking, and hiking ending with a dip at the Aguas Termales (hot springs) of Cocalmayo and dancing at a nightclub or two (assuming one could still walk after a day spent hiking) at Santa Teresa.

Ricardo also gave us a lesson about achiote (bixa orellana), a plant native to tropical regions in America. The plant has a number of food and medical uses including sunblock. Ricardo opened a few seed pods, ground the berries into a paste in a small bowl and painted each of our faces with some Incan (and some not-quite-Incan) designs.

Facepaint and sunblock in one!

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