Monday, January 7, 2013

A Llama Encounter on Machu Picchu

The day had finally arrived to go to Machu Picchu. This was one of the things I was most looking forward to, and I was finally going to have my moment alone to try to gain just a little bit of perspective on my quickly changing life. We all piled back on the bus and headed up the mountain to about 12,000 ft. through winding roads and snow-capped mountains in the backdrop. It was a truly beautiful drive. The houses were muddled architecturally with some having elements of a time long since passed. Others were made of nothing more than mud bricks. As we were winding through the streets, one of my fellow travelers noticed something on the roofs of the houses. It was a statue of two bulls with a cross in the middle. According to Victor, it is a Spanish tradition with one bull representing a husband and the other a wife, and the cross unites them. It is a symbol of the completion of the house and for future prosperity of the family. If one of the bulls is missing, however, it is a sign that there is trouble in the family.

There was a lot more traveling that day to get to, in my opinion, one of the wonders of the world. I won't go into all the details, but the train ride to Aguas Calientes was amazing. I highly recommend this three hour zigzag ride through the mountains. Fast forward several hours to the ultimate travel experience.

For many years, Machu Picchu was abandoned, and here I am about to spend my afternoon in this lost city. The Incas left to protect this masterpiece of nature and architecture, but it was later found by a professor who happened upon it from talking to a local farmer. While I was there I learned many facts about the Incas and their culture. I even took notes. And while they are very interesting from an anthropological perspective, those facts weren't what I deemed to be most alluring about this place.

Not the Dalai Lama, just me and some llamas.
Machu Picchu for me was not just a place, but a time for me to be still, to clear my head and allow new thoughts to enter. I had spent months making life-changing decisions, and this was my moment to take a deep breath and enjoy the view. I must have had some calming energy though because I was soon joined in my quest for balance by two llamas. We both determined the other to not be a threat, so my reflection and their munching continued. The moment drew a crowd, and I am now featured in many tourist photos and a couple videos, but I was at peace. I was completely relaxed, with no pain, listening to pan flute music on my iphone. As I watched the sun set through the clouds as tiny birds darted all around me, I felt unbelievably blessed. Had I finally found peace within my mind? Only time will tell. For now though, I have a memory that will live on for the rest of my life.