Machu Picchu is an Inca site built around the year 1450 and was pretty much unknown to the outside world until it was discoverd in 1911 by an American historian, Hiram Bingham. Machu Picchu is located 7,970 ft. above sea level on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley. It is still not known if Machu Picchu was a sacred religious site, an estate for an Inca emperor, an agricultural testing station, or even a prison. Although these theories are fascinating and amazing, what left an impression in my mind many years ago was the stunning beauty of Machu Picchu. Something about its architecture and the nature surrounding it endured in my mind for many years, and it has been always at the top 10 on my Bucket list. So on that last Thursday of the month of August, 2013, I would finally make one of my dreams come true, and I knew without a doubt that it would be an unforgettable experience.
When we boarded the Vistadome train that would take us to Machu Picchu, I was elated that the train had a luxurious feel with panormic windows that were much larger and better than my expectations. I sat right next to the window, and I couldn’t help but smile out loud! I was rewarded with stunning views of the countryside with snow capped mountains in the background, and as the train reminded me of my train ride from Rome to Florence, the scenery was more beautiful, which is hard to imagine and harder for me to write this since I never imagined that a train ride could be more beautiful than in Italy. The Peruvian music that was playing in the train somehow synchronized with the gorgeous views, and I was simply mesmerized by the beauty outside my window. The scenery was so serene and beautiful during the approximate 3 hour ride that when the train stopped, I almost forgot that I was there for Machu Picchu.
We had to take one more ride, a bus, that would take us on dirt roads up the mountains of Machu Picchu. It didn’t take long before we would witness yet another gorgeous, stunning scenery of unimaginable beauty. As all the passengers were in a trance at the beauty outside our windows, one tourist said, “This has GOT to be THE most beautiful place I have ever seen!” Everyone on that bus who heard him all nodded our heads in silence, in awe. The beauty made me believe for a moment that I was ascending into heaven, and I couldn’t help but take a breath as tears welled up in my eyes. I couldn’t believe that I was actually there to finally see Machu Picchu! Although the bus ride was shaky as it was on an unpaved, winding dirt road, the stunning beauty of ascending up the mountains surrounded by such lush green really, truly, felt like I was entering some kind of heaven. I wish I could describe with justice the heaven that I saw, but how can I justly describe something that is far more beautiful than I ever imagined possible???
About 25 minutes later, we would descend the bus and start our hike. I felt like a child again as the eagerness and excitement that I felt as a child always returns to me when I travel. I had to pinch myself and remember to stamp my passport at the entrance as I always wanted that gorgeous Machu Picchu stamp, and I considered it a trophy of sorts. As we started our journey with the guide, I couldn’t concentrate on his words as I immediately lagged behind the others in my quest to capture every photograph at every opportunity from every vantage point. When I saw the wooden signpost for Machu Picchu, my heart began to beat a little faster with excitement. I was wondering at what point I would see that iconic scenery that was imprinted in my mind, an impression that started some 8 or 10 years ago. I felt nervous somehow. After hiking up for just a few minutes…there…there she was! The majesty, magnificence, the sublime, the reminder that man and God worked together to create the lush beauty that I was seeing was…well, far too beautiful to describe with words here. And although I took gorgeous pictures, the wonder of Machu Picchu, as with anything of magnificent beauty, cannot be adequately conveyed in pictures with enough justice. However, I can try my best to express how I felt at the top viewing spot upon first seeing that iconic view of Machu Picchu that I saw for years in my mind. First, I had to take a deep breath. Actually, instead of taking the deep breath I felt like some force pushed up against me so that I HAD to take a breath to breathe. Then, I felt like I was meeting someone for the first time that I instantly felt attracted to, and that attraction was mutual. Then, I felt, truly, like I was at the TOP OF THE WORLD! Amazing. That feeling in my chest…of expansion…and love…was absolute PERFECTION. At that moment while the tour guide was babbling on and on, I didn’t hear him. Instead, I only heard silence. I believe my mind was trying to catch up with the sublime beauty that I was witnessing, and I believe at the moment I realized the true meaning of, “mind blowing!” Yes. I know this to be true…
Here is Machu Picchu…the closest thing to Heaven on Earth that I have seen!
I wish I could fly!