Here on the right is a picture of the general terrain, not dissimilar to the site that the Incas chose to start building M.P. You might expect them to have build in the valley floor, but there is usually a torrent there and it's harder to defend. However, the modern Inca has used up to date technology to accommodate the tourist in a less vertiginous environment. The height is still present, but it is above you. Gringo Bill's Hostel was our base for the visit to Machu Pichu, a charming establishment that sometimes couldn't decide if it was indoors or out. It looks like two rooms and a door at ground level, but as the mountain behind it goes up and back, so does Bill's, by the fifth or sixth floor (depending on your way of looking at it) it's about ten rooms wide with turrets and extensions. The Hostel seemed to be made of wood whenever possible and even has a pool (sadly empty when we visited) and a rooftop hot tub.
The builders of Machu Pichu, or their descendants, are still working on the main square of Aguas Callientes, it was a real pleasure seeing large numbers of workmen just getting on with the job, especially considering the altitude.
I never expected to be pleased to find a building site outside my hotel window, but this one was a pleasure to watch.
I think sometimes they used to run with wheelbarrows just to show how ill-adapted we were, although fewer smoked than one might expect elsewhere. It really was a hive of activity. We were told that the the three golden rules of the Empire of the Sun were:
Ama suwa, Ama quella, Ama llulla Don't steal, Don't be idle, Don't lie.
They seem to have stuck pretty well to that. Mind you the punishment for disobedience was being tortured and killed, so it would have been a steep learning curve. I was rather impressed by the general attitude of the Peruvians, especially the more rural, native people, we felt safe and unthreatened. They were not rich, but I don't think they see themselves as poor. Gringo Bill's had a delightful collection of murals on the bedroom walls, all very meaningful and spiritual, but unusually not at all threatening. Somebody also went to the trouble of folding the towels into origami type shapes of snails, swans, hearts, and the like. Breakfast was pretty good too. Go there if you get the chance