Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Machu Picchu

We've been to a lot of places up to this point in our lives. We've had the privilege to travel all over the United States (just 4 more States to visit), visit 30+ countries and counting, tour some of the World's most exquisite museums, churches and landmarks, and watch the sun rise and set in both hemispheres. In our travels we have seen some truly spectacular sites. Despite all of this, we were unprepared for the magnitude and majesty of Machu Picchu. There is nothing underwhelming about Machu Picchu. It is enormous and surprising and astonishing. Machu Picchu rises up from what the locals refer to as the "eyebrow of the Amazon." Not quite jungle or rain forest and certainly not arid plain, Machu Picchu sits amongst several Andean peaks, like a floating island. When Machu Picchu was discovered, or rather stumbled upon, by the archaeologist Hiram Bingham in 1911, it had been untouched for nearly half a century. Vigilant preservation and accommodating visitors have ensured that the flawlessness of the buildings, terraces and walls remains intact for all to appreciate. Our first glimpse of this extraordinary city, whose origin and purpose remain a mystery, was from a bus as we drove up the switchback road to the top of the peak. Pictures of this city are recognizable all over the world and we expected the famous terraces and stone temples. But, what we didn't expect, was the seemingly gravity-defying construction of these structures. Our guide led us on a jam-packed tour through the fountains, the palace, the prisons, the cemetery, several temples, the guards' quarters, the main square, the caretaker's hut and finally the section of the Inca trail used to enter Machu Picchu. We took more than a hundred pictures (only a few of which are included below and none of which do it justice) and spent long moments surveying this amazing monument to Inca ingenuity. If Machu Picchu is on your list, and it should be, move mountains to get there. You will not be disappointed.


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