TRAVEL | WANDERLUST IN PERU - MACHU PICCHU

7.9.16

The dream has always been the West Coast of South America. I had lived and/or visited Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, the Caribbean and Eastern South America (of course), but had never ventured to the land that inspired me to become an anthropologist in the first place. The air was thin and filled with mysticism, just as I had imagined. Mostly honeymoon, part business, my time in this magical land was filled with explorations of culture and the mining sector, dinner with my husband and meetings with miners and geologists, and navigating the cities and the hills as if I had been there before--a poorly fluent non-native local in a matter of weeks.
For this trip, we were making three stops: Peru, Trinidad&Tobago and Guyana, so we had to pack smartly: for comfort and for style. Both equally as important as the other. The cardigan I packed for the trip was ideal for all climates, as I could layer. I knew I would be buying locally made items, so it was also a good excuse not to pack a heavier coat or jacket (with the exception of my waterproof). I had bought a pair of NOMADS trousers in a size larger for my trips into the field as they were both adaptable to climate, as well as to environment--i.e. I could pair them with my hiking boots or with a pair of heels and no one would be none the wiser. I brought my necklaces made by artisans from communities supported by AngloAmerica Mining Company, and paired them with almost everything I had--an ode to the complex and often tumultous relationship between the large mining industry in Peru and the indigenous peoples who are often displaced.

THE JOURNEY
The Peruvian roads only stretched so far. Cutting across the terrain, they left mountains in tact, posing views that will remain with you for a lifetime. The drive from Cusco/Cuzco to Ollantaytambo--the town where we would be getting the PeruRail--was made bearable by them, and at one point I was so transfixed that I forgot, for a millionth of a second, to where it was we were headed. When we arrived at Ollantaytambo, we were greeted by vendors who sold every possible piece of equipment one would need. We quickly grabbed a bottle of insect repellent and went our merry way. 
The train was NOT the way we had intended to visit Machu Picchu. I had elaborately mapped out our journey to include traversing the Inca Trail, but weather and time did not permit us (this time), so we settled for the easy way. However, we were there, excited to see the thing I had wanted to see since childhood, built by a group of indigenous people I was most fascinated--uhm, a culture that was gilded by their obsession with gold was enough to hook me. We didn't care about getting there, once we got there. 






THE DETAILS






THE GUIDE
We were rather fortunate. A friend of a friend had put us onto a small travel agency (the name I cannot remember) in Cusco/Cuzco who had arranged for us to be met by our personal guide. He was not just any guide. Born in the area, he had grown up speaking Quechua and Spanish, and learnt English early on in his life. He had worked with anthropologists and archaeologists from Harvard and Yale who used him as a guide to places further afield. He was not only knowledgeable about the history of Machu Picchu, but its significance. His brilliance was solidified when he took out an image of shadows that some of the strategically placed rocks made, before explaining at length the significance of their positioning and anthropomorphism. We talked at length about the coca leaf (not cocaine guys), as he showed us how to chew the mild stimulant, akin to coffee, using the leaf and an ash, which you put inside your cheek (not to be swallowed). He explained the centuries-old tradition, and how he relies on them during long expeditions to help surpress hunger and thirst. Other tourists and travellers who were within earshot would avert their attentions towards us, with some even coming over to look at his visual aids. A few even asked him questions--uuuhhhmmm, get back to your own guides you interlopers. 







MACHU PICCHU

The mist and clouds had engulfed much of the landscape when we arrived. Our guide assured us, based on his meteorological calculations, that we would have a clear view within a matter of moments. He told us to embrace the environment, the grass, the flowers, the alpacas, and the stones, and when the rock formations were ready to reveal themselves to us they would. So we waited patiently, climbing slabs of stone and rock, digging our heels into a history that is still yet to entirely reveal itself to us.
It is a stunning place. 
An enchantress.
A place that can only truly be described 
through feeling and
magnitude.
One that I have described through imagery.




Inca Trail








we shall meet again. with babies. elated that we finally reached our destination after days of hiking along the trail that the Incas once trekked. 

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3 comments

  1. Peru looks amazing. Funnily enoug I was looking at and admiring those exact same trousers from Nomads this morning!

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  2. Salkantay trek is the alternative to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was recently named among the 25 best Treks in the World, by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine.

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  3. Peru looks amazing. Funnily enoug I was looking at and admiring those exact same trousers from Nomads this morning!
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