Monday, April 7, 2008

Rounding the pinacle

Machu Picchu. Land most recently inhabited by gringos worldwide. Formerly one of the last standings of Inca culture. A peoples, it turns out, who are not so far removed from my own spiritual awareness inherited of the cascading Yuba River and her granite bedrocks. Each of these pre columbian ruins are built primarily of granite. Wall of endless wall, staircase, castle- massive constrctions of this magestic stone. So unimpressed was I, at first.

We began our trek from the town Aguas Calientes, on a rainy morning, and spent two hours climbing above the beautiful River Urubamba upon stair after stair of ancient purpose. The journey was constantly interrupted by buses zooming past on the road, which cuts through the Andean jungle in dusty switchbacks of exhaust fumes. No wonder the sweet Quechua woman, Sabrina, at our Hospedaje Wayana Picchu, insited we should leave out at 4 am rain or shine. I wish I had taken her advice.

As we succeeded the final flight of stairs, we stumbled into a shopping haven of tourists, parking buses, jewelry store and front entrance to the park. Closing my mind to the dispicable circumstance of clashing our steep jungle journey to this lazier, privelaged class, I stampeded to check in. The ruins were overwraught with brightly clad touristas of every nationality. Pulsating tour groups sat at every wall, and the entire middle day was spent in frenzy of annoyingly loud people with a lot of bug spray and little known intelligence. Tour groups edged up on us just as I was about to compose an angelic shot of photography. Tour guides made an example of me by firmly instrcting to stay off the walls. What good is it to visit a ruin if you can not climb around on it? We saught refuge in an area of the park where they only allow 400 people per day. I was number 243 at about 9:45 AM.

We took a short trail past steep mountainside and found some unrecconstructed ruins. Laying there in the sun too long, mariposas floundering around us, birds dipping through the sky below us, and We, scanning the adjacent mountain peak, for lack of people, before we continued on to the temple of the Moon. After a hearty snack of crackers and avocado, we climed downwards, only to walk back up the steep main trail of exhasted touristas, decending out of breath and wantan with exhaustion. The spiraling staircase ascended far above the Macchu Picchu ruinas, high above the Mountain of our midday feast, and into the clouds. At the top a sign stated well over 2,000 meters, and it very well could have been that distance, since we left the Rio Urbamba earlier in the day.

Sweat dripped from our brows, dousing all vertigo veiws of the swirling valley below. One rock after another, small springs of water welling forth out of the earth, plants both familiar and new bursting from the craggs with bright colors of life and floral smells. At last, the familiar outlines of squared mountainside signified agricultural turf, and I flung my heavyily exhausted body onto the green grass, which far below made yummy meals for the llama and alpacha herds.

We trotted along crumbling cliff banks, snapping photographs with what remained of my batteries lifeline. Then I ran out of memory, so gave up the endeavor of charging batteries in our armpits, as we so often have to do. There were a couple of equally scraggly looking, most often blundering, and protrusely sweating males, who had paralleled our jounery uphill. With a bit of a visit before the final small ascent over large boulders to the cave shrine of La Luna, we discoverd that fates had crossed us far from our territories. These two tired, hard core travelers such as ourselves lived nowhere else but humble Humboldt County.

The day grew late, and we were forced to spiral back dowwards. A spiritual feast of high veiwed wonders below. Immense concentration on the steep staircase created a indelible sense of the hardships won on course to the top. Now a most tranquil, fleeting existence of facing habitual fear of height and dangerous circumstance of falling off the side a mountain, sustained in my mind. Then, I realised the true importance of this most significant site of interest. Machu Picchu was not solely an attraction to be gazed after, and speculated about ancient cultural daily habits. It was a living, mountain sized tribute to tierra spirits, and evidence of the earthly understanding of a Pre Christian peoples, who still connected and associated themseles with Mother Earth. This Mountain is an overlooked ancient altar. It was not demolished, for how could the Spaniards understand the significance of this place, without first comprehending the importance of natural ways of life. With all sacrifices, offerings, and pictorial- superficial characteristics unintact, this was an overlooked spiritual quest, and power source left behind. For anyone willing to look, Wayana Picchu holds secret to the most balanced and true form of living existance, the understanding of the trials of mortality and a tribute to the evolutionary circle of life.

I spent the remaining hours wandering among the village ruins, which were much more vacant now that the tour groups had bussed back to town. There were pikas, birds, lizards, moths and butterflies scurrying under, and over toppled rocks. As I, myself, climbed over a boulder, I found my foot unexpectedly and comfortably placed upon a ledge. Swinging my other foot over so that I was in sitting position, I realised this was one of many carved piedras, put to the double use of road cornerstone and resting place. In my mind I felt the smells, sounds, animation of a culture long past. It seemed playful, harmonious, creative, and furtile. The Incas, who possesed a most expansive knowledge of beauty and artistic forms were master carvers of the powerful granite, which was querried far below in the valley. It is unknown as to how strength was found to lift such bolders. Though, I suspect it had something to do with force of will, and ingeniuty of the labor force of creative minds.

Too soon did the park guards begin blowing their whistles. My palm lay flat against a large boulder which a wall had been built around, as I tried to close my mind to the coming evacuation. I stumbled to one side, then another. Whistles were blown at me in all directions. Disoriented- I didnt know my way out- I trodded along the maze of stone houses, peaceful animals, boulder piles-and peaked though windows. I was one of the last people out, and as the night was coming in cold to my fatigued body, we caught the last bus to town with the Humboldt boys and found ourselves an excellent tipica dinner, with salad bar and crazy adventure stories to share.