Matt and I and some friends recently made it up to the Pisac Ruins by an alternative – and free – route.

First, I must say that I don’t necessarily think that sneaking into any Peruvian ruins without paying is honorable. However, as I am living here for at least four months, I do believe that paying once is fair and then occasionally going again without paying is fine. That is because I am living here, connecting with the people here and spending my money here.

The last time I was in Peru, in 2005, I visited the Pisac ruins. And I learned then that they are very serious about tourists paying for the priveledge to view the ruins. A friend told me the price for visiting the ruins and said, “Make sure you don’t pay more than that – sometimes they try to gouge tourists at the control center.” So, when I got to the control center and the lady at the gate in the road quoted me a much higher price, I refused to pay it and proceeded to try to walk past the gate and on up the road to the mountain.

She didn’t like that very much. She put the arm of the gate down and called security. Then she and I got into a bit of a screaming match over the price. Thankfully, a taxi driver I knew from Cusco just happened to pull up right then and he helped straighten out the ‘misunderstanding.’ It was explained to me that my friend must be wrong and that her price was the correct one. I paid it and went on. That was then . . .

So, this time, when my friends suggested an alternate route, I was skeptical, but willing to go for it anyway. We walked toward the Royal Inka and found the path at the bottom of the mountain – and climbed straight up for about an hour and a half. We had to stop quite alot. The altitude here (9,800 feet) can really kick one’s ass. My friends were concerned that I might pass out and fall off the mountain at one point because they said my cheeks were ‘bright, bright red.’

We finally made it up and enjoyed a day at the top of the mountain, checking out the ruins. I was surprised that we didn’t get caught, to be honest.