I woke early, which is apparently a symptom of altitude sickness, and lay in bed for a half hour before I went down to eat breakfast. The free breakfast was huge, which made we wish I had more appetite, so I messaged Silvio but he came soon enough even if he didn’t get the message.
Once we had eaten as much as we thought we could safely eat, and Silvio took a pill for altitude sickness, we went to the town square to find that our guide was nowhere near ready. Instead, we sat around and waited. I was still feeling the effects of altitude sickness, but for most of the day I felt better. We caught a bus off the town square with a few other tourists, and before long we were following the fast glacial river and then climbing the switchbacks to the mountain above where we parked and the guide encouraged us to wait for someone who was likely our real guide.
We left him waiting and went in ourselves with an Italian couple and we walked up to the lookout where our guide was supposed to meet us. Machu Pichu is an amazing site. The rock work is not as incredible as it seems by photos, at least in the outlying area of the site, but the entire city is huge, and built on the top of a mountain. Huge boulders are incorporated into the building of the walls, and the crevices are painted with mud to join the stones. The walls that look like what people expect from Inca architecture are mostly those of the temples and other central special buildings. They are put together really well, and look like what we hear about the rockwork—so tightly placed that you could barely put a sheet of paper between them.
After we traipsed about on the lookout, and went for a detour to the Inca bridge, we had a choice between going much higher to the gate of the sun, or down into the city proper which had dozens of buildings largely intact. We went down to the city, and then, with hundreds of other tourists taking selfies, many many selfies, we went through the small houses and past the thick stone walls.
One of the most interesting encounters I had along the way was with Maclean, one of my students from the winter term. The look on his face was priceless, as he looked up and saw me coming around the corner. We chatted as he acclimatized to the idea, and discussed our travel plans, and then parted so they could continue the rest of their trip.
Silvio talked to several people along the way, for we had lost the Italians by this point, but perhaps the most interesting is the conversation he had with some Argentines who were standing beyond the cordon with some police. He went over to chat with them, and I kept moving, for he was getting tired and I wanted to see more before we left.
Once we met up again, Silvio told me how several Argentines, and some Israelis had crept into the park by climbing the mountain. They held them in the jail for a few days, and after that there were probably repercussions. One of the Argentines was not quite so lucky, for he has been missing since May 6. Apparently he was trying to sneak into the park as well and either slipped in the fast-moving river, or was bit by a snake or spider in the jungle. The Argentines that Silvio talked to were part of a team to try to find the—very likely—body, and when Silvio offered his drone, they slowly warmed to the idea although they had virtually ignored him at first. They can’t seem to locate a drone in either Argentina or Peru, so they called Silvio later as we were about to get on the train to come back to Cuzco, and then they met us at the station briefly so Silvio could tell them what the drone was capable of.
On the way back on the train Silvio sewed patches on his sweater, adding Peru to the many countries he had traveled to, and we talked about the drone possibilities. By the time we met Raul, the plan was beginning to solidify. We are getting up at eight tomorrow to have Raul pick us up, and we are returning to Machu Pichu to find the body. The argentine government is paying, since Silvio is doing a service for the country, and we will be there a couple of days to see if his drone work can find the body. The minister from the Argentine embassy is arriving tomorrow, and the search team passed on his contact information and Silvio called him from the car.