On Saturday the sixth of August 2011, I began a trip 25 years in the waiting. It is a journey that I have dreamed of doing since I was a child. I'm off to South America, specifically Peru & Bolivia with a relax at the end in Buenos Aires. To say I'm excited would be an understatement.

This journey began for me in 1985 when I lived in Port Lincoln. It was a beautiful summers day, the sun a rich golden warmth that eradicated the edge that lingers in people after Christmas and New Years. Children were everywhere frolicking along the foreshore and through the waters, jumping from the Jetty and enjoying all that could be from the day. The morning drew to afternoon and my sister and her friends started to wander further than my mother wanted them to. She sent me to bring them back closer to her view.

I stepped into the blue water lapping the shore, took a few steps into the pitiful surf, and fell. Electricity shot through my body, screamed into my skull, nerves became alive like never before. I yelled, but not understanding the pain, thinking it was probably just a stubbed toe, I reached into the water and pulled my foot free and into the air. My mind went white, my voice pierced the golden joy of summer, the water darkened, staining with the rich blood pouring forth from my foot, opened like a baguette.

During my stay at the hospital where they repaired my foot as best they can, I received a gift from my Grandmother. It was a calendar with pictures of places around the world. In the calendar I found two that I had to see – The Pyramids of Giza and Macchu Pichu. I have carried a picture of Macchu Pichu with me since then, and finally on the 21st of August 2011, I will be there after having hiked through the Andes for the previous three days.

Below are the entries for the Peruvian leg of this trip.

August 21 2011 Machu Picchu

I have no idea what to expect from today. I have waited such a long time, as anyone who reads this blog will know.

The day starts early for most of the group, for me it's just another morning wakeup. 5:30am up, 6am breakfast, 6:30 out. We walk to the bus station to catch the bus up the mountain to Machu Picchu. The line is quite long with everyone wanting to see a glorious dawn bring the city from out of night. The thing is these people have read too many travelogues and do not get that there are few true sunrises in the Andes. For the most part, the sky lightens to grey then around the 8:30-9am mark the light changes to regular golden daylight as the clouds dissipate.

The bus journey takes around 20 minutes up the mountainside, winding its way slowly to the parking lot. At the parking lot the line is still long as security check each ticket to allow entry. There are a set amount of people allowed into Machu Picchu per day, and each day it's a sell-out. It's like the Inca Trail, only less rigorous. The Inca Trail allows 500 per day of which 300 are cooks, porters and guides. So the line takes around another 20 minutes to clear and then we are through for our tour.

The two hour tour takes us through the major features that everybody does here. The end of the Inca Trail, the Rock of the Southern Cross, the Sun Dial, the Andean Cross.

For me, what I wanted was to take my shoes off and touch the earth beneath my feet, and listen to world. After the tour I did just that. Then, I put my shoes back on and I ran. It must have been coming down from the altitude but I was energised. I ran to the Wina Picchu entrance to try and bribe my way through. It used to be free, but a month ago with the anniversary, they changed the rules. Only 400 a day, 200 at 8am and 200 at 10am. I tried to use US$20 to get through but the two guards would have none of it, they wanted 50 each and I couldn't work out if it was Sols or US$ so I turned around and ran again this time to the Inca Bridge, passing my tour group on the way. They said “slow down and enjoy the scenery”, to which I replied “I am”.

I ran, taking in the scenery, my camera flashing at the scenery as I went. I overtook all manner of Europeans and some Japanese, signed in at the security station, ran along the cliffs edge and made it. Sadly, I couldn't cross the bridge as it is deemed to dangerous. Considering it was designed to be dropped as invaders attacked, I'm thankful I couldn't cross it.

I paused slightly, then ran back, signed out at security and made my way to Machu Picchu mountain entrance. Once more, the rules have changed and you need to pay 145 Sols at the town hall to be allowed up – 500 a day. The funny thing is the ticket to Machu Picchu is 165 Sols. So, I tried my bribe again and was just flatly refused. So I ran again...

To the Sun Gate. The Sun Gate is at the top of the Inca Trail and offers a grand view. It took me 30 minutes to run up to the top. At the top, I sat on the grass and enjoyed the view, my shoes off again and gripping into the soil, reclining on a cliff face. The view was incredible and difficult to describe with any justice.

After another half an hour, I made my way back down to the city proper and found a nice little room to sit back and recline in, to enjoy my last hour in Machu Picchu. And here is where my brain went splat. Here's my great revelation:

If you feel the need to achieve something, let nothing and no-one stop you from achieving it. If it is important to you, then it will be important to those who share your life and they will do everything they can to ensure you accomplish this thing, the same as you would help them to achieve their goals.

It's a very basic understanding, and one we all now but I think often we forget. I know I do. I have a habit of forgetting myself for the greater good of those around me. So, now I understand the need to be a little selfish for personal growth because anything else is suicide by a thousand cuts.

So, what was I expecting from this place besides a brain splat? I'm not sure but the feeling I am left with is the sense of terrible loss for the world that these great thinkers and engineers have passed from the world. What a world could have been made if only Europeans had come not blinded by gold but with desire to expand their understanding of the world. The knowledge these people possessed of their world was incredible. If we can but decipher the limited writings of the Inca and anything of the pre-Inca, who knows what unique perspective might be added to our own?

Another sad thing about this trip to Machu Picchu, is that many may never have the chance to walk the green terraces and sit amongst the granite walls. Machu Picchu is becoming unstable apparently, and the damage hard to repair. So a platform is going to built whereby people will gaze down upon the city. Apparently this could be in as little as two years. While I don't believe they will permanently close the site, I think they will make the price so incredibly high that only a select few will ever be able to afford the experience.

Other Peru Articles:

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