By the time we arrive in Paucartambo it is nearing midnight. We just want to find a hostel and get the skinny on how to get to Tres Cruces, the place with the amazing sunrises.

We find a hostel/hair cutting place. There are actually still wet hair cuttings on the floor of the entryway. We explain to the clerk/hairstylist that we want to go to Tres Cruces to see the sunrise. She looks at us sort of funny, shrugs her shoulders and begins her schpiel. The taxi leaves around 3:30 in the morning and the cost is 100 soles for the cab to transport us there, wait for two hours and then drive us back. Taxi? I explain that we don’t need the extravagance of a cab and are really just looking for a bus to take us there. We could hang out in Tres Cruces for the day if we needed to. She looks at us funny again.

After I ask the same question four times, I finally realize that Tres Cruces is not a town or a village. It is a lookout point only. There is nothing there. No town, no village and no busses to get there. The clerk assures us that there will be lots of clouds and most likely no amazing sunrise. She does, however, show us a wall calendar with a golden picture of the three-sunrise optical illusion that only occurs in June and July. Yeah, most of the time I skip using a guidebook, or else I might know these things – but the trip would also be a lot more boring. I crave the ups and downs of self-exploration.

But we decided that dammit, we came all this way in a rusted tin can of a bus, bouncing around on dangerous, rocky roads for eight hours to do one thing – go to Tres Cruces – and nothing, not even clouds obscuring that magical rising sun was going to stop us. We hired the cab. After a couple hours of sleep and we get into the cab at 3:30 in the morning and head off, Matt with the hostel’s pillow and blanket in hand.

We are pretty much delirious from bad planning and lack of sleep. We just laugh at the ridiculousness of our journey and decide to have a blast anyway. The cab drives at approximately 25 MPH for over an hour, slogging through thick mud and big rocks. The driver and his partner in passenger seat both comment on how ugly the road is and how a month ago a bus driver they used to know lost control of his bus and slid off a cliff. Now the dry season was starting up again, so there was less to worry about.

It is still the dead of night when we finally get to the Tres Cruces area, where our drivers stop at an abandoned security shed so we can pay the ten sole park fee. They bang on the darkened door, but no one answers. We drive onward, to another park ranger building. The driver’s partner gets out of the car and pounds on the door for a few minutes, until a sleepy-eyed ranger opens the door. He explains that some people want to go to Tres Cruces. The ranger shakes his head and demands a 50 sole fee to walk to the gate and open it so the cab could drive through.

“So, I guess no one comes here during this time of the year?” I ask the driver.

And just like an American with attitude would shrug his shoulders as if to imply that my question was ridiculous, the driver says in an incredulous tone, “No, nadie!” No, you crazy gringa, no one comes here in April!

The driver himself gets out of the car and talks the ranger into walking down to open the gate so we can get through. We drive down a neglected path for about another half hour. When we finally get to the coveted overlook spot, Matt and I laugh together as we stand on the simple concrete slab while freezing in the pre-morning light. We watch the clouds lighten and cackled to one another, “No, nadie!” every once in awhile.

But just knowing that we were standing on the lip of a mountain that plunges down over 10,000’ into a cloud covered jungle, whether we could see it or not, was enough. We watched the sun rise and it didn’t matter to us if the three suns were rising behind grey clouds or not. We were acutely aware of everything, appreciating even the smallest details of the obscured morning – first the infinite quiet, then the sounds of the earth waking up. Every dew-drop, every frog croak and every scrap of light that made it through the layers and layers of fast-moving clouds that engulfed us were sheer wonderment and excitement for us. That was the real magic of the morning.