Machu Picchu


The clock read 5:15 a.m. when the alarm went off in our tiny hotel room located at the far end of a town in Aguas Calientes, Peru. My two siblings and I got out of bed with more spring in our step than usual considering the early hour as we were anxious to begin the day's adventure. I first started thinking about this trip nearly three years ago, and now felt like a young child getting in the car to go to Disneyland for the very first time. Would it be all that I dreamed it could be? Within a matter of minutes, we were dressed and out the door excited for all the possibilities that can come from experiencing sunrise perched atop a small hill overlooking Machu Picchu.

I have always been a fan of big adventures because, for me, they bring with them the realization of big dreams. I was told by many friends and acquaintances back home that it would be spiritual, humbling and simply incredible. I would realize just hours later that it was all that and more.

The clouds hung low when we first arrived and a heavy mist canvased the ruins that lie in a small valley surrounded by mountain tops and glaciers. Machu Picchu is full of mystery and intrigue at first sight. Our guide was full of stories as well as information and after three hours of talking and walking much of it began to jumble together in my mind. After all, I didn't have a chance to even grab a coffee before running out the door to meet our bus. What I do remember is that she started the morning by telling us that the Incas spent an estimated 70 years building their beloved mountain retreat and many historians believe they never had the chance to finish.

It seems almost unfathomable that it took 70 years to build one mountain town. In a world of fast flying airplanes, immediate access to a world of information via the Internet, cell phones that can display anything from restaurant locations to weather forecasts, and bosses that expect a completed project yesterday, to say we are constantly on the run is putting it mildly. A question dug in my mind all morning long as we traversed this ancient village: have we lost sight of the strength and power found in living with intention?

Each rock was handpicked before being carefully smoothed and shaped. The astronomy room enlightened and informed villagers using the language of the sky and even today can still speak the truth. Hard to believe that this place of wonder and beauty, according to many archaeologists, is well passed its 500th birthday.

There is so much to be said about a morning spent at Machu Picchu, and I wrestled for days with what would be the most relatable story "out of the gate.” My mind kept returning to a common theme; slow down and live with intention if there is to be any hope of leaving your mark on the world.

I tip my hat to those that labored for decades while building Machu Picchu. Their craftsmanship will impact me for a lifetime.  I can only hope that future generations have the opportunity to experience the same paralyzing awe and wonder that comes with watching the clouds move aside as the sun peeks through to light up the top of Machu Picchu.

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