Machu Picchu. In theory, that’s what this episode of “Takizawa Hideaki‘s Journey Cutting Through 4800km of South America” (滝沢秀明 南米縦断4800キロの旅) is going to be all about. If so, then to quote a favorite pun, this episode lies in ruins. But perhaps there’s going to be more to it.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 0002013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 001

When we last left Tackey-san, he was in the middle of a hailstorm, uncertain of how wise it was to drive up and down mountains in these conditions.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 0022013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 003

By night, though, he arrived safely in the old Incan capital of Cuzco – no longer anything like what it was back then, of course, since unlike Machu Picchu, the Spaniards found it.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 004

That does mean he gets a good room for the night:

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 005

The next morning, there’s no mystery about what he’s aiming for.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 006

To get there, though, he can’t take his trusty Jeep. Instead, he has to rely on public transit, on which he is joined by a flock of other tourists. This is easily the most touristy thing Tackey-san has done on his entire trip, which is sort of why I’m unenthusiastic about it. It’s too normal and expected.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 007

Worse for Tackey-san than being packed in with other tourists, it’s raining, so there’s some real worry about whether he’ll be able to see anything properly.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 0082013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 009

Reaching the site, they make tourists do a bit of hiking since the view is much more rewarding if you work for it.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 010

Tackey-san deems it necessary to wear a rain poncho. I guess his clothes must be worth protecting, ’cause I don’t think it’s ever crossed my mind to wear a plastic bag over mine.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 011

Up he goes . . .

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 012

. . . looking somewhat distraught . . .

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 013

. . . until he sees his goal:

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 014

And it turns out that despite the bad weather, the view’s pretty good.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 015

It’s pretty easy to see why the Spaniards couldn’t find it. It was unknown to the outside world until 1911, in fact. Thing is, they’ve been restoring it ever since, so it doesn’t actually look anything like what it was in 1911 – they’re trying to show what it was like originally (and I’m unsure by what standards they judge what it originally looked like, though plenty of archaeologists are doubtless employed as consultants). The Wikipedia page has a photograph of how it really looked in 1911, and it was rather a mess.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 016

So, as Tackey-san descends into it, I wonder if he realizes that the stone work isn’t all ancient.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 017

There is a note wondering how the Inca managed to build anything of any size without the wheel, saying that there’s no explanation. Actually, there’s a perfectly good explanation – hard labor and a totalitarian state with a huge population to mobilize. Unlike other civilizations in the Americas, the Incan Empire had only recently been active in subjugating neighbors when the conquistadors came – starting to really build up the empire in 1438. I think it’s reasonable to compare it to a civilization like Ancient Egypt and to judge the works accordingly. It’s not a matter of how they built this without the wheel, but rather what they could have built if they had it.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 018

Tackey-san hugs a stone in imitation of another tourist he saw, but doesn’t detect any inflow of power from it.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 019

The Intihuatana stone points directly at the Sun on winter solstice, calibrating the Incan calendar.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 020

It’s too bad the weather is miserable and Tackey-san has to do everything wearing that poncho.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 0212013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 022

Unexpectedly, the real fun is on the train ride back to Cuzco . . .

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 023

. . . where the passengers are treated to an in-the-aisle performance . . .

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 0242013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 025

. . . and a fashion show:

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 0262013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 027

They rope Tackey-san into doing a bit of the fashion show – having him model a sweater and scarf.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 028

Needless to say (though Tackey-san says it) that this is not the sort of thing you’d expect on the Yamanote Line in Japan. Of course, he also notices that a number of the passengers flock to the back to buy stuff on the spot, so it’s all about whether there’s that kind of consumer appetite on the train.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 029

For the first time in many episodes, we get a talk between Tackey and Tsubasa. Tackey-san has a gift for Tsubasa-san – it’s the sweater that Tackey-san modeled on that train.

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 030

Tsubasa-san’s “arigatou” was a bit iffy and tentative (微妙な – bimyou na).

2013.03.04 JJ Takki Trip 031

Well, there you go – another fine episode. Not great, I have to say, but at least there was the train scene at the end to make things a bit more memorable. Otherwise, it’s not really interesting to me to watch somebody walk through the ruins of Machu Picchu, since every documentary and travelogue about Peru eventually does so – I’d rather see the things that they don’t show in those programs, like the in-the-aisle fashion shows.

There’s a definite sense that Tackey-san’s journey is now winding down to its finish. Will it just fizzle out, or does it still have some more surprises in store for us?