It took four days on the Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu. When we arrived at the Sun Gate after the last uphill climb and caught the first glimpse, it was a spectacular moment. The ruins transformed my thoughts back to another time, while the setting among the surrounding mountains and valleys truly took my breath away.
It becomes obvious why such a place was not 'discovered' until 100 years ago. Hidden in forest and undergrowth, only an eager explorer’s desire brought it to the Peruvian government’s attention. And then a devilish deal was struck, leading all artefacts to Yale University in the United States. Instead of establishing a museum to display these wonderments, Peru sold themselves out. If that wasn’t bad enough, they also let wealthy members of some countries fly in and out right on top of Machu Picchu. The old obelisk that towered over the main square was moved for such an occasion and subsequently broke in pieces during the lift. That doesn’t sit well with me at all. Money is power, but stupidity can be the currency of choice sometimes.
Our tour guide told us that the legendary Incas respected, but not worshipped, the sun and the stars. Some of the city was specifically built in a way that made this an easy and precise practice. The temple, the sun dial, the condor and mountain carvings, certainly showed that the Incas were also artistic. You can sit, watch, listen and try to lose yourself in the past. Was this a mystical place or just another ancient city where people simply lived as was necessary?
The steep slopes of the many terraces, the fountains and the buildings are indeed impressive. I began to realize that this is an important place and visiting is well worth the extreme effort, even though one doesn't really understand why. Wayna Picchu stands on top of a mountain overlooking Machu Picchu, and the very fit and keen hikers can climb this for even more outstanding views of the city. The llamas posed for us on our way out; we took one last look back at the ruins and then it was back to reality once again. The time travel escapade was over.
Have you visited Machu Picchu? What were your impressions?