By Mikey Beats
San Diego DJ Mikey Beats, and his nurse wife Jenny, decided to take a vacation to Machu Picchu, Peru. For the next few days San Diego Free Press will publish their daily adventures. Read parts I & II, part III and parts IV & IV.5.
Thursday 6/6/13 Day 5
My alarm went off at 6:30am and I was still awake. Jenny and I packed up our things, headed down to the lobby to catch our cab, got to the bus station and headed towards the train station.
My body was at war with itself and I was held captive. At every turn, bump and stop I writhed in pain. My mind was set though, I was determined to make it to my destination.
The bus ride went through the hills of Cuzco that looked similar to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Most buildings were half built and littered with old insignificant signage. Once or twice a block there would be a break in the buildings and we could see the houses slowly start to disappear on the opposite hill from us and turn into bare hillside.
Clouds crept over the mountains until we drove above the cloud cover. We drove over an hour and a half through small towns and mountainous farms. We drove past many mountains with farm carved terraces into the side all the way to the peaks. The Peruvians kept the farming legacy of the Inca alive.
Down a deep valley we drove towards the train station where we would jump on to the Vistadome, a train line dedicated to get people in and out of Aguas Calientes, the city dedicated to tourism of Machu Picchu.
At the train station I was at the mercy of my aching body and twisting stomach. It was cold and windy in that valley and I was miserable. Jenny gave me Zofran for my nausea, Advil for my back pain and I popped a couple of muscle relaxers. By the time the train showed up I was feeling perky and ready to go. I probably should have taken all that earlier.
The Vistadome had a sky blue paint job on the engine and cars with yellow lines running down the side and yellow lettering. Once inside, we had a great view of the outside with large windows on the sides and roof. The seats were set facing each other with a skinny table in the middle.
Unfortunately, Jenny and I didn’t have seats next to each other and my seat was facing backwards, a guarantee for motion sickness in my condition. Jenny’s seat was facing forward and her being the darling she is, offered her seat to me.
The guy next to her informed us that we should both sit with him and all would be well. His name, as we soon found out, was Mike and he looked like a tall Zach Galifianakis. As I sat down, I told him thanks and that he was great in Hangover. He laughed and I knew we would get along.
After a brief game of musical chairs, I sat next to Mike. Jenny was across from us and an indigenous looking Peruvian was next to her. Thankfully he didn’t speak English because Mike was on the same level of maturity with the toilet humor as Jenny and I. The three of us shared jokes, stories and traveling adventures for the duration of the trip.
The train ride to Aguas Calientes was breathtaking. We weaved in and out of valleys following the Urambaba River while we watched theAndes pass us by. We would see nothing for miles but trees and the river, and then out of nowhere there would be a house on the river with men fishing, women hanging clothes out to dry and kids playing. The thoughts ran through my head of what a simple life these people must lead without pop culture, traffic or pollution. The last half hour on the train my drugs must have worn off because I was in bad shape, again. Fortunately I didn’t have to use the rest room but I needed a pillow and snuggles from my wife like a diabetic needs insulin. The train station was unreal. It seemed like a part of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. Before us laid this train station built right above a rushing river at the bottom of a massive valley who’s sides jutted up 1,500 feet. There were hundreds of people coming and going, all there to see or make money off of Machu Picchu. We quickly disembarked the train, said our good byes to Mike while I saved his e-mail, rushed down the hill to the bus station where we bought our tickets and got on the bus to climb the windy road to Machu Picchu. Back and forth, higher and higher the bus driver took us as I was white knuckling my backpack, half because I was sick and the other half because it looked like we were going to fall off the cliff.
Across the valley from us was the mountain called “Happy Mountain.” It was massive and I thought it was the monolith that was in all the famous Machu Picchu pictures. It turns out it wasn’t but it was equally impressive. We got to the top, and there it was, Machu Picchu.
I was so happy for many reasons:
1. I finally made it to a place I had always dreamed of.
2. The love of my life was next to me.
3. I could finally get to a bed and sleep.
The bus dropped us off right at the entrance to Machu Picchu. There, next to the entrance, was our hotel. The Sanctuary Lodge was the only hotel on the mountain. The place wasn’t cheap and we weren’t rich, but we decided to splurge on this once in a lifetime experience. We grabbed our things, got off the bus, walked into our hotel, checked in and I was in my bed within 10 minutes. Sleep.
I woke up to the sounds of jungle birds chirping and Jenny telling me to get up. I opened my eyes and looked out my window and there I saw Huayna Picchu, the massive peak that over looks Machu Picchu. The entrance to the ruins was also right outside our window and about 300 people walking around. It looked like a theme park with lines and turnstyles.
The rest of the night for me consisted of rest, snacking on bread and drinking water and juice. I was determined to wake up before dawn and be one of the first people on the ruins for the sunrise.
Mikey Beats Beltran is a native San Diegan and veteran of the local music scene. He started off as a teenager working at Soma Live in Bay Park and he’s currently the co-owner and Vice President of Sleeping Giant Music. He has over ten years of DJing experience that has taken him all over the US. He lives in Pacific Beach, with his wife Jenny, where he was recently elected to the PB Planning Group. You can follow him on Twitter @MikeyBeats.