I went from Lima to Cusco, meaning to visit some people there, but not intending to visit Machu Picchu because I thought it would be a bit too pricy and I hadn’t booked anything ahead. When nearing Cusco though I got this feeling after all that it might be good to visit now if there is a chance; even though I had thought I might go through there again after New Year’s and maybe do the Inca trail hike or something to reach the historic ruins, one never knows how things go.. and now I had the chance to try.
It was very easy after all, I just bought the visitor permit for next day, and then a train ticket from one village called Ollantaytambo to AguasCalientes, or also called Machu Picchu village, from where a bus takes the tourists to the site itself. It would have been possible to walk all the way of course, following the train tracks in the last bit of the journey, and only pay the entry fee – very cheap way to visit Machu Picchu. I knew that for me it would be a very quick visit; but well, AguasCalientes is not really the place to stay for extended periods of time – everything is full of tourists and touristic things and it seems that is what the village lives of, purely..In a way the atmosphere was also quite nice, expectant and things were made look rather pretty. This time of year it is rather quiet there; many stalls and restaurants were totally empty.
Despite that, waking up in a hostel at 5am and descending to the sturdy little buses in central village it was clear that there still would be quite a buzz on the archeological ruins. Buses go up and down every ten minutes or so.. The climb up is on a steep hillside, such a road that one anyway sees all over Peru and Bolivia I suppose – a clear fall on the other side, but such beautiful, beautiful landscapes to take your mind elsewhere from the drop..
I was extremely happy visiting the place. Even though there were lots of people, there were also places where you don’t see the others, where the only things you can be aware of are the air, plants and sounds around, the magnificent hills, and below you can see the ruins that are visited by thousands of people every week.. They are a beautiful thing, and more so, thoroughly extraordinary; they are built on the mountainside in such a way that only looking at them can make you feel dizzy..how, and why, did the incas build this fortress right here? And indeed, how did they manage to put stone over stone on practically vertical mountainsides..and make such beautiful, functional structures. Many things “known” about the ruins are only guessing. And it is fine so..mystery is in everything, no matter how much we wish to know things for sure sometimes..!
It is somehow lovely also to see that people still come to visit..some used to come for gaining life energy, lots of what is thought to reside in the place. Some would come for admiring the architecture..or just to visit a place they have always heard and seen pictures of. It is for many one very sacred place on earth. It connects people in this way; all those who have been there, heard of this place, or wished to visit there; they share a thought and admiration for something historic, that reminds us of people’s achievements, and falls. It is also just a breath-takingly beautiful place. There can be peace felt there, that arises from just being present in a place where so many people have lived and walked before..lived their lives. Now these visitors keep inhabiting the place, along with birds, rabbits, llamas and other animals..! That it has become so touristic doesn’t need to take away the awe and inspiration it may awake in humans.
After, I went to visit someone in Pisac village for a night and day. There are people we meet in this world, that from the first moment around them you feel ease, gladness and maybe, relaxation or liberation. This host of mine was such a person, and I couldn’t have been more honored and happy for this short encounter. They run a school in Pisac especially for children of the indigenous inca communities. The indigenous descendants in Peru, as in so many other places, have all through experienced discrimination, and it continues to this day. Schooling in any case is a thing that some have strong opinions of; how children actually are sort of programmed to live in certain ways, taught certain things and to become one sort of citizens of this world, so that they would fit in.. Surely children always need and will be raised, but the methods, and the values passed on in the school, are so important in determining how the person sees the world, what they see as accepted and good. This has been one intention in the school of my one day host, his partner and their friends who work there; to provide a place where love, openness and respect are the carrying forces all the way through, and where also the values and traditions of the indigenous incas are kept alive to an extent.
I never knew much about the traditions of the incas, but many of the old ones have amazing similarities with traditions of some other tribes in various places on earth that have pretty much maintained a traditional way of life through the ages. Little details, like the importance of serpent snake for the incas and aboriginal Australians..or importance of birds, though different meanings, in many cultures.. or bigger value structures and reasons for acting; especially valuation for life, love, respecting the spirits, the oneness and connectedness of all being. It does feel so inevitable and logic that, when people do not pay their respect to each other, to the environment, to all that is and the fact of being alive..the connectedness is lost, and feeling and understanding the effects of ones actions is inhibited. This has through the ages been humankind’s problem, like an illness. Always some have sensed the other way of being and always there have been a rich variety of ways to live..but so much damage is done and beings hurt due to loss of connectedness. All sorts of people are there and are needed, and what each could do is to respect each and every other thing and person. Yet I am thoroughly glad there are people who transmit peace, love and respect to all around them, creating waves of positive energy that make just the difference that is needed.
We went to the mountainside, far from the village where we could only hear the stream, birds and wind. I felt honored to participate in some ancient rituals to show respect to the mother earth; they did remind me of the value of thanking all around us, every day, for just being alive and able to be in the present. One needs to be able to connect with oneself and everything else wherever one is. For me and many I guess it is however often easier when feeling like one with nature, being in it, with it. Maybe because wind, trees and animals can teach us stillness, breathing and innocence..things that could help tremendously in our everyday lives and that help not being too attached to worries, but being connected, and respectful.
So..it is just these sort of moments, and they could and should be every day, that are quite precious indeed.. I am glad I could share these little experiences, and hope to share many other beautiful things along the way with different people.
Soon there will be some glad encounters in Cochabamba!