A little over 36 hours ago I accomplished something I’ve always dreamed of doing. I hiked 2.5 miles up the Andes Mountains to Machu Picchu– the only still-standing village of the Inca Empire and one of the great Seven Wonders of the World.
A few of us did a quick yoga session before so my muscles were stretched and somewhat ready to go, but the hike was no joke. After walking from our hotel for about 20 minutes, we found a set of stone staircases leading through the jungle that became our only focus for the next hour and a half. The staircase was steep and I could feel my legs burn with every step I took. It was one foot after another as we all tried to keep each other going.
The hardest part of the journey was trying to catch my breath. At the high altitude, 20 steps felt like 150 and my heart was beating fast. Sweat was dripping down my back from the humidity, but I was driven to make it all the way. I kept my eyes on the prize.
About ten minutes from the top we found a small hut and a German Shepard lying beneath. Little did we know that he would be our travel companion for the rest of the trip. We named him Paco and he climbed with us all the way to our final destination.
Once I reached Machu Picchu I felt tears welling in my eyes. I was so proud that I made it up the mountain and so excited to be reaching one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I looked down and saw the road I walked from. It seemed so far away. I passed through the gate and walked towards the ancient ruins.
Finally I was seeing the same beautiful landscape that I had seen so many times on the internet and in books. It was absolutely breathtaking. Words can’t describe how satisfying it felt to snap my own picture of Machu Picchu. One click of the camera and everything became so real.
I’ll never forget that moment.
The Inca people were so peaceful and intelligent and went through hell once the Spaniards came to Peru and conquered their land. I’m so grateful that they never found this magnificent place and that it’s still standing today for me to witness.
Even when the rain started to pour and fog covered the mountains, it was the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen. The intricately laid stone walls, the irrigation system that effortlessly flushed out the rain water and the perfect, cloudy mountains that surrounded me in every direction.
I felt on top of the world.