Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Follow your Dreams...

One of the few pictures I was able to take...

Being there was a strange experience. I expected a huge rush of emotions and joy, a real sense that I was going to learn something from the rocks and the corridors of the old city. I was so exhausted from hiking the Inca Trail. I found a beautiful grassy corner to relax in. I discovered, the most beautiful parts of Machu Picchu go largely unnoticed by the 3,000 tourists a day. While they push over themselves to touch the magnetic stone, clearly marked "don't touch" there is peace and sunshine and trees and bugs and flowers and sweet smells on the wind to slowly absorb. I lay down in the grass for an hour. No one came near what I thought to be the true gem of this place.

In its day Machu Picchu was home to 750 people, mostly women. Machu Picchu, according to tour guide Victor Torres, means "old mountain" in Quechua. It is the only Inca city with a traditional name today, because the name was legendary enough to survive colonialism. All of the other nearby Inca cities were named by local guides last century at the time they were rediscovered. Today, the footfalls of daily visitors are vibrating the walls down. It is uncertain how long this 600 year old city built to withstand earthquakes will remain standing.

I did learn a few things. Getting there was more thrilling than being there. It took four days to walk from km 82 to the old sun gate above the ancient city.

My camera didn't work for much of the trip. I had trouble accepting that at first. I was sad that I would not capture as many memories as I had planned. Being a deeply spiritual person I asked "Patchamama," (Mother Earth) if she had any message for me. She responded by killing my camera. I took this to mean what I guess I already knew in my heart. Getting there and being there wasn't about the pictures and taking home a big bag of local crafts. It was more about the five dollars you pay for a cup of instant coffee at the concession stand. A cup of instant coffee at the top of a mystical mountain in Peru simply costs five dollars, because somebody had to carry it there.

The measure of the height of a mountain is different for everyone. In a manner of speaking, I have been climbing Machu Picchu all my life. Being there was an incredible experience that made me look back at the long hard journey of my life and measure it in a way I never did before. On the last day before I made it to the city my body was so hurting that I got angry. That anger brought up unresolved hurt from a life time of painful feelings I could never accept before. Being there for me was about accepting myself, that I haven't had a life of privilege and encouragement, that I had continued to speak to myself in the voices of my oppression, that it was time to forgive and let live. It is time for me to tell "my" painful story, because I actually have one to tell, even if it is one that I was trying to escape for so long.

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