Cuzco's greeting was cold and ungrateful.
"I'd still be in jungle paradise if it hadn't meant losing so much money on pre booked travel arrangement's to see YOU, and you greet me with altitude sickness and close to zero temperatures"
So on the evening I arrived I went straight to bed at 6.30... giving it the silent treatment.
It worked because Cuzco, the gateway town to Machu Picchu, tried very hard to impress me the next day. I took a bike ride through dramatic chizzled Andean mountain scenery to the Moray Inca site, where perfect terraced circles carved into the valley provided the kindling to a fire of respect and awe of the Inca's that unbeknownst to me at the time, would be set alight on Friday.
The views on the ride where epic, not a cloud in the sky or a dust particle in the air made everything feel like I was watching it in HD. Flat plains where met by glacial mountains, and little villages with colourful Peruvian fabrics where dotted along the way. The route was challenging in parts, and being the only girl in the group obviously meant I had to complete every hill without taking a break, just to beat the boys. Which I did, but I paid for it with a wave of altitude sickness that pounded my head and churned my stomach. 3,600 metres was perhaps not the right height to get my feminist hat on, but at least I gained some temporary respect points. I say temporary because I probably lost them when I was doubled over on the roadside...
I spent the next day walking around Cuzco town, which has some beautiful buildings divided by narrow cobbled streets. I went to San Pedro market, which sells every kind of part from every kind of meat, amongst skillfully made trinkets and colourful knitwork. I met up with Declan, the Irish guy from my hostel in Lima, and we went for a drink in the highest Irish pub in the world. I'd been told by several travellers that I'd regret not doing Machu Picchu, and Dec was no exeption, so when I got back to the hostel I dragged my feet into the travel agent, and half heartedly enquired into the likelyhood of getting a ticket to one of the seven wonders of the world just 12 hours in advance. Very small, but the woman seemed almost personally offended that Machu Picchu wasn't high on my to do list, and was determined to get me there. The only ticket she could get left at 3am the next morning, so in a blur of sleepy taxi, train and bus journeys I found myself at the base of the ruins at 9am the following morning. And boom - the fire was lit!
The ruins had an energy about them that demanded respect and made you feel insignificant. Learning about the place on the guided tour was interesting - but when the throngs of scuttling tourists calmed down at lunchtime, it seemed I had a whole section of this world to myself, and that's when I fully took it all in. Every brick and window placing had been thought through according to the movements of the sun and the stars. It would make one hell of a parkour playground, and making sure no security was watching, I stole a climb on a particularly tempting looking wall. Who knows maybe the Inca's where the original parkour pioneers, I might add that to the deep pool of theories about how they lived. That's all there is really, as they never wrote anything down, so all the information you get is educated guesses, which adds to Machu Picchu's misterious wonder.
So yes, I probably would have regretting being so close and not paying it a visit. But 4 days in Cuzco, as beautiful as it was, has left me very much looking forward to heading to the north coast for some warmth tomorrow. 20 hours on a bus will hopefully leave me in the surf town of Mancora, on the Ecuadorian border... watch this space!