Day 8 — Machu Picchu After the Rain

Friday — April 10

By the time we approached the gate to exit the sanctuary, the rain was coming down in buckets. After reclaiming the checked tripod, we hastened to find cover. As it was after 12:30p, we decided to kill two birds with one stone and headed to the terrace eatery where we took the last few seats that were still open. The shade umbrella wasn’t really designed to hold off the downpour, but we had enough protection to be able to eat in relative comfort. Though the sandwiches were expensive, eating at the café was still a bargain compared to the $33/person buffet at the nearby Sanctuary Lodge.

Waiting for the rain to end at the café outside the Machu Picchu ruins.
(photo by Vidal)

I don’t think it’s ever taken us so long to eat a couple of sandwiches, but we had an excuse — we were killing time, hoping the deluge would eventually end. By 2:00p, the rain was down to a drizzle and the sky was clearing. Encouraged by the number of people we’d seen taking the shuttle back to Aguas Calientes, we decided to stick around for a while. After seeing Vidal off on the next bus, we packed Mui’s tripod “inside” his backpack and headed back into the ruins. By this time, the rain was over, the sun was out, and it was getting quite steamy. Pulling off to the side on the narrow trail, we packed our plastic ponchos and removed our rain jackets before continuing on to the caretaker’s hut further up the site.

When we reached the hut, the filmy clouds that had been passing through the ruins were gone. The famous “postcard view” of Machu Picchu was finally laid out before us — definitely worth the wait and the cost of the expensive sandwiches.

The view we’d been waiting to see offers a good photo op.
(photo taken by a fellow visitor to Machu Picchu)

The Urubamba River provides perspective for how high up we are from the floor of the valley.
(Huayna Picchu [right] is mostly hidden by clouds, but we have a good view of Uña Picchu [Small Peak])

There were very few people in this area, so rather than return to the main body of ruins, we found a perch on one of the terraces and sat down to enjoy the view from this vantage point. Mui set up his tripod — in full view of a guard who seemed to have no objections — and every once in a while got up to take a few more minutes of video as the passing clouds and changing light conditions altered the mood of the scenery on which we were feasting our eyes. We noted that the trail to the Inca Drawbridge was nearby, but we were not inclined to leave our peaceful spot — of course, knowing that we had three more days to visit the ruins made it easier for us to put off further exploration for the time being.

When raindrops started to fall around 4:00p, we decided to call it a day at Machu Picchu. There was no line to speak of at the bus stop. After purchasing our shuttle tickets for the next day, we boarded the next bus going down.

Modern, well-maintained busses shuttle visitors from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu.

Twenty minutes later, we were in town and headed to the Machu Picchu Cultural Center just off the main square to purchase our entrance tickets for next day’s visit to the sanctuary. We would have stayed to wander around town a bit, but the on-and-off rain was “on” again. After browsing the stalls in the covered artisan market, we headed back to the Inkaterra to relax before dinner.

There was a slight chill in the room that we felt all the more because of the humidity. Turning on the electric heaters (we'd asked for a second one to be put in the room) and lighting a fire quickly solved that problem. Our next problem was to figure out how to dry our rain ponchos — in case we needed to use them the next day. Mui came up with an ingenious solution!

They say necessity is the mother of invention.

When we’d checked into the Inkaterra, we’d been told that complimentary pisco sours were served daily in the lobby. We’d been heeding the advice to abstain from liquor while we acclimated to the altitude, but now the time seemed right to try a sip or two of Perú’s “national drink.” (There’s some debate as to whether the drink originated in Perú or Chile. Each nation even has a “National Pisco Sour Day” — in Perú that day is celebrated on the first Saturday of February). The drink is based on a regional brandy — pisco — mixed with lemon or lime juice, egg whites, simple syrup, and regional bitters. And boy does it pack a punch!!! I’m glad the drink was served in a small glass; might not have stayed awake long enough to enjoy dinner otherwise!!!

(Note to Deb: tell George that I kept my promise to have at least one pisco sour while in Perú; he was right on the money with the recommendation.)


There’s more information about pisco sour here. And if you want a recipe, try this one.

We were a bit later going to the dining room where we found a bigger crowd tonight. Regardless, the service was flawless, and we enjoyed our meal at another two-top next to the glass wall overlooking the canyon. I ordered the crema del dia, which was cream of broccoli — very tasty — and followed it with another entrada in lieu of a main course. The purple corn ravioli, which Mui had said was wonderful last night, was indeed delicious and was just the right portion size. Mui ordered the smoked highland Andean trout, which was served with avocado salad and a citrus broad bean medley, and followed that with the beef tenderloin, served with elderberry sauce, glazed onions, and quinoa soufflé — one word to describe it: excellent. We finished dinner with a dessert called “la béte noir,” which turned out to be a flourless chocolate cake, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a mango emulsion. It was absolutely delicious and lived up to its name, which means "The Black Beast."

Purple Corn Ravioli (filled with dried trout and Urubamba cheese)
served in a yellow pepper and almond cream emulsion.

Beef Tenderloin, served with elderberry sauce, glazed onions, and quinoa soufflé.

La Béte Noir — simply scrumptious.

It was still raining when we left the dining room. Finding a wifi hotspot in the lobby, we checked our email on my laptop rather than going to the hotel’s internet room located in a building adjacent to the rail tracks. Satisfied that all was well with the world, we adjourned to our room to enjoy the fireplace while we downloaded photographs and prepared for a day of hiking at Machu Picchu.

Next Up: Day 9 — Hike with a View

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