Raja Visits Machu Picchu, Peru!

Posted by Raja on September 5th, 2011 — Posted in interview

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In the top agricultural terrace above the citadel of Machu Picchu.

Raja went to Peru specifically to get a chance to see Machu Picchu, the fabled Incan citadel in the Andes… well, more accurately, we wanted to see Machu Picchu and he didn’t want to be left behind.  I have to admit, I wasn’t sure it could be done.  Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; it is heavily managed.   And this year is the 100th anniversary of the promotion of Machu Picchu by the adventurer Hiram Bingham and the Yale expedition that launched world awareness of Peru’s Inca heritage on a major scale.  So this is a banner year for a fascinating destination. 

You can’t just fly there.  You fly to Lima, the capital of Peru, sitting dark and gloomy on the Pacific coastline.  Then you journey about 750 miles to Cusco, the oldest city in the Americas, at way up over 11,000 feet.  You spend a couple of days trying to get accustomed to the thin air. Then you descend over 70 miles by train, bus or feet to Aguas Calientes, the town outside the Machu Picchu sanctuary at an oxygen- rich 8,000 feet.  (Enjoy breathing semi-deeply.)  

Contrary to what most guide books will tell you, rural Peru is extremely friendly towards dogs and is populated by mannerly pet and street dogs.  The Peruvians of the countryside take great care to make sure their dogs wear coats in the mild winters and to assure that street dogs are neither thin nor mangy.  For now, this is all we will say.  Next post we will share some stories about dog life in Aguas Calientes and Cusco, but for now, let’s cut to the chase about Machu Picchu and Raja’s visit. 

There is no doggie door.  If you want to take your small, well-behaved and quiet dog to Machu Picchu, you will have to demonstrate tremendous politeness and affability at the gate, and you will have to luck out with a sympathetic ticket attendant.  Still, you play the luck of the draw even given optimum conditions. 

Raja got inside.  He scrambled up the shortest of the Inca stairs and got carried up the higher ones.  He visited the central ceremonial center with the houses of the ruling Inca and the nobles and investigated the ceremonial facilities and the altars to the earth and sky.  He met llamas grazing in the public square.  He trotted from the lowest to the highest agricultural terraces where the Inca farmed in temperature microclimates. There he picked up a trail of the Andean fox, but he wasn’t allowed to track it far as the forest closed in heavily at the terrace’s edge.  Finally, he followed the high trail to the Inca’s back door to the perilous and defensible drawbridge, a gap in the ledge walkway built out from a sheer cliff face.  Being from Tibet ancestrally, he didn’t mind the altitude, but he did need to be shielded from the intense sun.  Water breaks were important.  His morning and afternoon ramble ended with a bath, a snack and a snooze in a street side restaurant in Aguas Calientes at the end of the day.

Love those Llamas!

  

Did it mean anything to him personally to have his hike in Peru?  Yes. He met hundreds of nice people with different voices and behaviors.  He breathed air that smelled different.  His trek the next day down the dust road, along the railroad tracks and up the mountain to the Aguas Calientes Jardín Botánico of indigenous orchids brought him in contact with a host of fascinating scents and physical challenges.  He got to represent for the hardy Shih Tzu breed, not couch potatoes but adventurers and athletes.  For days after the Machu Picchu climb, his little paws twitched at night as he dreamed of Inca roads and the smell of the elusive Vischachas, Peru’s long eared Chinchilla who nest in Machu Picchu’s rock crevices.  He came home happy and healthy with lots to ponder in his doggy mind and a sense of satisfaction in being a companion who didn’t get left behind. 

(What would I have done if he had not been permitted inside?  There are many other trails in the region where you can take a high altitude hike to an Incan ruin.  Machu Picchu is the best restored and the most nationalized, but it is one of numerous Incan sites, all connected by the lines of the sun and stars in the Andes.) 

Most sincere and heartfelt thanks to the officials at Machu Picchu Sanctuary for permitting Raja inside and special thanks to Gringo Bill’s excellent hotel for welcoming him in their nicest room.

I carried Raja near the edge and he hung on to his beloved blue bunny.

 

Next post we’ll give a report of dog life in rural Peru… not what you might have expected at all.  At the end of September we will, as promised, give a detailed post about ways to seek affordable, high quality and specialty medical care for pets as our US recession lingers.

3 Comments »

Comment by Mary-Alice

You guys knock me out! What a wonderful post — it’ll be the highlight of this week’s Chloe’s Clicks, for sure, and now I’ll be dreaming about taking Chloe with us there too.

Posted on September 5, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Comment by Pat &Buttercup

Raja & Helen… You are amazing ..honest! A great adventure beautifully written ! I can only dream of following in your paws Raja! Glad you are home safe and sound!

Posted on September 5, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Comment by Susan & Jesse

This is really fascinating! Thanks so much for sharing your adventures. You really are breaking new ground for travelling with our cuddlier family members.

Posted on September 5, 2011 at 5:14 pm

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