Make no mistake. Aguas Calientes, now officially known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, is one if the most beautiful little towns I've ever seen.
It is nestled into a little valley in the Andes, surrounded on all sides by giant green mountains. It has a river the runs through the centre of it, joining a river that runs along its eastern side.
The town has lovely fountains along its main roads, and interesting stonework along its walls. There are no cars. No taxis. No honking.
It is beautiful.
However, the town is completely unnatural. Almost every person who lives there works to feed us, shelter us, or sell mass produced artisanal works to us.
The first sight you are greeted with upon exiting the train (the only way in or out of Aguas Calientes, other than walking), is the Artisans Market, where you can buy the same t-shirts, jewelery, Incan vs. Conquistador chess sets, "real" alpaca sweaters and toques, that they sell in the stall next door. Or even the stall in the next city over. Or the next country over.
When you stay, you'll pay more for less whether it's hostel or hotel. My hostel featured no wifi, screaming kids who played with your belongings if you leave them unattended on the bed in your room, and a bar open late with loud music when most people want to wake up early to go to Machu Picchu.
And eventually, you're hungry, so you step into a restaurant. You'll have plenty of options, each street is littered with restaurants. All more expensive than anywhere else in Perú.
And that's just from the menu. When you receive your bill, you'll likely get hit with either a servicio charge, or an imaginary tax of anywhere from ten to thirty percent.
And it is all thanks to us.
Rich tourists who want to see Machu Picchu.
Prior to our desire to see one of the wonders of the world, there was no Aguas Calientes.
Just a beautiful valley surrounded on all sides by giant green mountains.
Photographic evidence is on facebook in the folder entitled Aguas Calientes.