May 06, 2006 GMT
Magical Machu Picchu

The absolute magic of Machu Picchu. As SonGlenn would say, "It takes all my knowing!" just to fumble for the words to describe how this 15th century pueblo/citadel/university/astronomical observatory touches me. Resting in the col of an Andes montaña, its steep terraced slopes drop dramatically to the Rio Urubamba far below.

I arrive at 6 in the morning at the parque ingresso of Machu Picchu after a pleasant 4 kilometre bus ride climbing steadily from Aquas Calientes. The night before, as we rode the narrow gauge train to Aquas Calientes, I had talked several fellow travellers into meeting at the town plaza at 5 am and walking up the road in order to arrive before sunrise. As I passed my gang hiking about 3/4 of the way up the next morning, I nearly spilled my coffee trying to hide from view. Ah, the last minute whims of an old biker but really, my guide had convinced me late last moment to take the bus and so I did. Sorry gang. The cool thing is we still all get to see the yellow light of sunrise spill onto the ancient ruins.

Machu_Picchu18.JPG

My lovely wife Joyce gives some credibility to the theory that Machu Picchu is one of the few places on earth that have a vortex connection to the universe. I don´t know about that but I stay here all day, wandering about, sitting on high terraces overlooking the site, within the pueblo itself and on the high peak of Waynapicchu nearby. It is such a compelling, peaceful and beautiful site. I have a hard time leaving when the parque closes at the end of the dia.

Machu_Picchu_stairs_2_18.JPG

I take an organized tour with a very knowledgeable Quechua guide. It would be hard to read in a book what this man knows. In addition to the scientific, religious, agricultural and astronomical perspectives, he adds his connection to the mountains, to his peoples who once inhabited Machu Picchu and shares his own spirituality of this special place. Among many other details, he explains the use of the coca leaf to the Quechua and we all get to jam in a bunch of leaves in our mouths for a chaw. Placed between the cheek and gum, you swallow the juice produced, not the leaves, don´t you know. I take my ration and for the next hours savor its tea-leaf like taste in my mouth. I´m not sure if it helps when I climb the hour to the peak of Waynapicchu, but it sure doesn´t hurt. Must of been the Quechan substitute for oxygen in this high altitude town (although surprisingly, Cusco is higher than Machu Picchu - but then they´re chewing and drinking coca leaves there tambien). Waynapicchu is the peak you always see framing the backdrop in the classic Machu Picchu photos. Check out my first picture again.

coca_hoja18.JPG

As well as water pools to better observe the stars at night, los Incas were clever little devils in figuring out compass directions. Look at the image below. One might think at first glance the rock is the draft stage of becoming a kite without the laws of aerodynamics being fully thought through. But wait, my friends, it is really the shape of the Cruz del Sur. The Southern Cross is the equivalent in reliability for navigation as our North Star. Look closely at the rock face. Each of its four corners point to a cardinal direction, north, south, east and west. The guide places a compass on the top point to demonstrate. As well, when the sun rises on the summer solstice the combination of piedra and its shadow outline the head and neck of the sacred llama. Oh man, this is spooky how smart they were.

cruz_del_sur18.JPG

Not to mention the incredible stone masonery. How did they quarry, move and finish such huge granite rocks then fit them with such incredible precision that not even earthquakes have disturbed them for centuries? I am told the master Incas and Quechua people carved the granite with the only stone they knew harder than that: precious pieces of meteorites, heavy with iron. The more questions answered, the more that take their place.

Machu_Picchu3_18.JPG

The day before in present day Ollantaytambo, also the site of another great feat of los Incas, I met a vendadora by the name of Frida Vara Rado. After she realized I wasn´t interested in buying one of her muñeca dolls, she accompanied me on my walk around town. Frida is one of those friendly and intelligent people who will sadly never get a chance to live up to potential. Even with my limited spanish I was amazed at her unaffected story about her family life (many brothers and sisters and no father), her dream of working as a hotel administrator or elsewhere in the tourist industry, the proud history of the Quechan and Incas, the local geography and many other things. Although I use my kindergarten-dropout spanish everyday, it is the hour listening to Frida and asking questions that I am the most thankful for my "second" language.

Frida_Vara_Rado,Ollantaytambo18.JPG

Amigobob and I shake hands in Cusco, he to head south to Bolivia, me to head north to Columbia. Travelling solo is not my first choice but Katie and I will be fine. We will meet lots of excellent people along the way. The roads of los Andes norte are calling.

Road_to_Cusco18.JPG


Posted by Murray Castle at May 06, 2006 10:55 PM GMT
 


HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.


Renedian Adventures


Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!