Most of us have seen the pictures of the Citadel, the impressive citadel built by the Incas 600 years ago. It was discovered in 1911 by Yale Professor, Hiriam Bingham. The reason why it still stands is that the Spanish conquistadores who defeated the Incas never knew about the city sitting 8,000 feet above sea level, so they didn’t know to raid it. Instead the city was abandoned until Bingham discovered it on a trek into the Peruvian Andes with a team funded in part by President William Howard Taft.
Machu Picchu, meaning “Old Mountain,” is impressive in print. And in person it’s absolutely breathtaking (not simply because the air at that altitude is thin). To stand atop the mountain and watch water follow the perfectly planned irrigation system, to see the perfectly chiseled masonry-sans-mortar rise to form sundials and temples, to clap in the open courtyard and hear the echo, to walk the trails and climb the neighboring mountains to see the views, it’s something that one feels at a cellular level. Magical is what we say when there’s an element of wonder that transcends knowing. Machu Picchu is certainly that.
As if that’s not enough of an experience, on our way out, after climbing Waynapicchu, and after being coaxed by a restaurant manager to get a quick 30-minute massage before the 4-hour train/bus ride back to Cusco, our former Peruvian nanny who’s traveling with us realized that the man who gave me my massage was mystical himself. He’s seen UFOs, lots of them. He’s had 43 self-described miracles courtesy of sacred rocks he found in the river in Aguas Calientes (the village at the bottom of Machu Picchu). And he gave us both a sacred rock which has remaining in my fanny belt (not calling it a fanny pack) ever since. It’s keeping us safe. And maybe if I’m lucky, it will serve as a beacon and tell the friendly aliens where to find me.
Live long and prosper.
With loving gratitudes,