Sacred Valley by Micah Schulman

Before we could take the train to Aguas Calientes and from there go to Machu Picchu, we took a bus ride for several hours through the beautiful landscape to Ollantayambo.

The bus arrived at around ten o’clock at our hostel in Cusco. From there we were off. Our tour guide, Gina, explained different facts about where we were driving through, the Sacred Valley. She told us about how the Sacred Valley began thirty-two kilometers northeast of Cusco in the city of Pisac and about how it was a direct extension of the city of Cusco, but you can all just look that up so I will focus on the bus ride itself and the scenery that came with it.

About twenty minutes after our departure from Cusco, thanks to a purchase from Chance Rhodes and Aidan Brown, we had music. For the next few hours we listened to Classic Rock and stared out the window at the never ending mountains. Some of which had snow at the top and all of which were covered by sheets of green. They were more full and rich and incredibly detailed than any of the mountains I had ever seen. For the majority of the bus ride we followed a path that ran parallel to a narrow river called the Celestial River. In the reflexion of the river, we could see the clouds above and the mountains beside. Eventually, we arrived at Urubamba, where we ate our first classically tourist lunch.

Unlike just about everywhere else we had been, we were surrounded by tourists, eating only semi-Peruvian food. I’m not gonna lie, there was something very comfortable and familiar about it that we all enjoyed. However, after all of the far-off, desolate, and completely new places we had seen and worked in, there seemed to be a decent amount of fake, or at least staged qualities in the buffet. Like the herd of llamas in the backyard and the overpriced shops out front. From Urubamba the bus ride was not too long to the train station where we began our journey of Machu Picchu.

The bus ride through the Sacred Valley and the buffet in Urubamba really made it apparent of our switch from workers to tourists. As we saw more Gringos than we remembered existed, it made me wonder (even though I think I know the answer) how many of these other tourists have done the work we have done? Changed the lives that we have changed? And how many have seen and lived in the real, poverty-stricken, beautiful Peru like we have? It is a very special experience all of us have lived through. And we are all very lucky to have walked this road that not many men have walked down.