Today is one of those special lifetime experiences. Lori and I shared it together making a magical place even more magical. Machu Picchu is one of the 7 Wonders of the World and rightly so.
It was on Lori’s bucket list and climbing Wayna Picchu (the significantly higher peak appearing above and on the right side of every MP picture you’ve ever seen) can actually bring you closer to the bucket than you might care to be. Despite being acclimatized – actually, Machu Picchu is 3,000 feet lower than where we are staying in Cusco, climbing 1,000 feet or so of switchback certainly can take it’s toll. Lori and I made it up and stood on the rocks at the mountain’s zenith.
A truly inspirational moment and for two non-mountain climbers we did pretty damn good.
Our guide Wilma, 4 foot 10 or so
showed minimal signs of fatigue. This was due to her Andean heritage of strong legs and large lungs (not those kind). Also, she chewed on coca leaves – Peru’s national sport. A pinch of coca leaves, wadded up in the cheek a la Sparky Lyle will provide an appetite suppressant, energy, and numbness to the cheek. Naturally, in the interest of cultural harmony and as a way of bridging the international gap, I reluctantly accepted her offer to join in this religious experience dating back centuries. My only reaction was a slight numbing of the inside of my cheek – a trait I am told that is similar to the experiences felt by those who are familiar with other products derived from the very same leaf.
One of the most amazing surprises that welcomed Wilma and us was the freak weather that we were greeted by this morning. We awoke at 5:45 to catch the bus that allowed us to be among the first on the mountain. It was sunny and warm. Much of our stay in Peru has been cloudy and cool. The weather changes quickly and often for the better as the day progresses but vistas appeared that allowed for panoramic spectacles featuring snow capped mountains that on a good day are shrouded in mist and usually completely clouded out of the scene completely.
We experienced azure blue skies as backgrounds which ultimately developed some shaving cream clouds, adding even more texture to the surreal scenery.
As the day wore on, the clouds descended, enveloping the mountaintops for those unfortunates who were only able to arrive for the late show.
History Lesson: Machu Picchu was built by the Incas within a span of about 150 years, commencing in the mid-1400’s through the time that Pizzaro and his Spanish conquistadors decided that raping and pillaging had it all over radically advanced architectural techniques, gentle spirituality and astronomy subtleties that would make John Glenn weep.
The civilization was wiped out by the mid 1500’s but Machu Picchu, re-discovered in 1911by Hiram Bingham – adventurer, Yale scholar, future governor of Connecticut (check him out on Google, not my job to provide more than the basics). This is the 100th anniversary of Bingham’s exploration and our passports now bear commemorative stamps marking the event.
The incredible stories surrounding MP add to the vibe. Mountain notches line up with summer and winter solstices, windows carved out in sun temples cast perfect shadows onto prayer rocks during equinoxes and solstices.
A rock carving in the shape of the Southern Cross constellation lines up perfectly with its celestial appearance every May 2nd – signaling the commencement of the harvesting season.
Many of the civil engineered miracles of the area are invisible; others are merely mind boggling. Irrigation systems, stones carved by using hammers made of harder stones such as quartzite produced brickwork that is seemless, jointless, uses no mortar, is earthquake proof as a result of the stones being slightly trapezoidal and canted inward, and are more perfect in terms of alignment than anything that could be done today with lasers and computers.
The Incas were absolutely astounding in terms of precision and complexity. Did I mention that they didn’t use wheels to schlep (old Incan term) these rocks up and around? On a good day, they would push 12 ton stones around over rough cylinders to help reduce the friction. You have to see this place. Its unfathomable!!!!
Anyways, today’s blog is akin to a Cream concert. Lori, in the style of Eric Clapton is going to showcase her stuff. We’ve decided to show the
THE PLANT LIFE
– mostly orchids that you don’t see in too many places.
Enjoy the Sunshine of our Love.