That is it. After 20 days traveling by train or bus, and four days walking, we couldn’t wait to step into where it would be the apex of our trip. Expectations were high – but Machu Picchu didn’t disappoint.
We woke up at 4AM, had a quick breakfast, and headed out of our lodge in Aguas Calientes to start our final journey to the world-famous ruins. We walked 30 minutes on a dirt road to get to the bottom of a rock staircase; it would be an hour climbing the steps up. The beginning was dark and even a bit spooky, like Inca spirits were watching us, but when the day started showing its first clarity signs we could properly see the beautiful and giant stones that made up the steps. Sometimes our knees would have to go as high as our chests to ascend up.
Getting to Machu Picchu’s entrance before dusk is the best thing to do if you are hoping to feel the sacred energy of this ancient magic town. Going through the gates was seamless: our guide had our tickets and we went right in, unstoppable, moving in between empty constructions that were, at the same time, abandoned but beautifully kept.
I felt this good vibration in the air, a sensation that happiness had lived there. It is really hard to explain Machu Picchu; it is one enchanted place that you have to physically be there to understand.
From my 2005 diary:
We went up to a higher floor and sat down to wait for the sunrise. I was already feeling great, but when the sun came out it was real emotional. There was this sensation that the sun rose just for Machu Picchu, like a special presentation.
From the top of the hill, we saw the rays of light reaching the furthest mountains first, then coming towards us while lighting bit by bit the beautiful green of the grass and the entire ancient town. The stone buildings formed rooms, squares, and state-of-art septic systems that carried memories of lives of the real owners of this land. The civilization that lived in harmony with nature until the Spanish invasion forced them to leave.
True story: we saw the sun coming to us, and when its rays finally reached our faces, we all started crying. 8 of us, smoking a joint and just splashing tears out of our eyes.
That day was a milestone in my existence; my mind spiraled and I felt enlighted:
“(with the sun) ideas also seem to get clearer in my head: yes, there is a greater god, may it be Inca, Mother Nature, the Sun or whatever. I couldn’t follow the guide anymore; instead, I now wanted to feel the energy and try to understand things that don’t necessarily have a logical explanation.”
Although I haven’t studied about Machu Picchu, I spontaneously understood the mystical legend about the place. The site is way more than ruins of an ancient town. It was, or it still is, a miraculous temple of nature itself. The Inca constructions are so perfect that it was hard to distinguish what was natural and what was man-made. There was something really special about this place; how did an ancient community choose such a perfect mountain and on its peak build a small town, very well planned, in complete harmony, stone on top of stones that encase perfectly together without any binding agent.
The air was perfect, pure like crystal water. The energy is wonderful everywhere you are. It felt like Alice in Wonderland, or Peter Pan’s Neverland. Felt like paradise.
It was a unique experience. All that urban and material life seemed futile and senseless. I felt blessed for being taught a life lesson at 20 years old.
For two hours, we just sat there feeling the cosmic energy of the Incas. It was almost 9:00AM when we decided to walk around and get to know Machu Picchu. We were supposed to be at the meetup area no later than 10:00 to start getting back to Aguas Calientes, since our train to Cusco was leaving at 11:20.
When we were sitting down, Clá spotted out on the distance some people atop of this other very high mountain, and there seemed to be some kind of construction all the way up there. We decided to get a closer look to see if that was a hallucination or not.
It was Wayna (Huayna) Picchu, a mountain that overlooks Machu Picchu and its peak is 260 meters higher than the lost city. There was a small line up to enter the tough climb up that only allows 400 visitors daily. It was already almost 9:30AM, and it was going to take us an hour climbing the stairwell to get to the top of Wayna. That meant that, if we decided to do it, we would miss our train and would have to arrange another way to get back to Cusco. At the same time, we could not miss this opportunity. Who knows when we were coming back here? We obviously decided to stay and face the consequences.
Going up Wayna Picchu wasn’t easy. You had to be extra careful on the no-handrail stone stairs – after all, we were about 2600 meters above sea level and there weren’t many places to hang on to in case of a fall – but the sight was astonishing, impressive. We went all the way up to the highest peak, felt the freedom and the sensation of being on top of the world. Everywhere we were, in Machu Picchu, felt like a happy enchanted valley.
Vanessa, Clarissa and I can say that we really enjoyed the Peruvian Wonder of the World. After descending Wayna Picchu, we got our hair wet at the Inca’s water system (probably not allowed), then we felt this extreme need to hug a tree that was in the middle of town, a place that entering was forbidden (probably for preservation) and we just jumped the tape and ran for it. And we felt the love of the tree in our embrace.
I know, I know. We shouldn’t have broken the rules, but we were just three 20-year-old girls that were having the best experience of their lives. We were connecting with a cosmic field; we were living an enlightened state that was changing our concept of the world.
Now, 12 years later, I might have lost a lot of the energy I had then — but I still know that that moment was essential to make me the person I am. I can easily say that Machu Picchu showed me the way to live my Wonderful Vacation Life.
We were in Machu Picchu for about 6 hours – and it wasn’t enough! We just left because we were hungry and worried of how we could go back to Cusco.
Back to Aguas Calientes, I phoned my mom at my grandmother’s house. My grandma answered the call and my mom wasn’t home, so I related my magic experience to a 60-year old that probably thought her granddaughter went totally nuts.
—— okay, this post got way too long. I’m obviously very excited remembering that day. Machu Picchu, the mystic Nature temple, changed my life.