Thursday, August 28, 2014

Turn Left at Machu Picchu

Four days on the Inca trail was gorgeous and rewarding: Machu Picchu is mysterious and beautiful.  What a funny feeling to stand on top of the world viewing this amazing place: standing at the pinnacle of the sun gate, gazing down as the sun rose on a place I had only heard about...only seen pictures of...for so long only a thought in my mind.

I love to travel and there are many places I want to go.  But honestly, there are very few places that I consciously remember a moment when I thought: "I want to go there."  Machu Picchu is one of those places.  I remember the first time I saw a picture and, not knowing where or what it was, I thought, "That is amazing!  I want to be there, I want to see that."  

To finally be where I had so long wanted to was a pretty amazing moment.  Happy and lovely.  Hiking the challenging trail in high altitude only made it that much better...a personal accomplishment shared with only so many people throughout the world.

We also toured Lima, Puno, Lago Titicaca and Cusco.  I was surprised and delighted to find Peruvian Spanish clear and understandable.  And the Peruvians wanted to speak Spanish with me!  So many of our drivers or tour guides would say to me, "Practicamos!" ("Let's practice!")  I loved it!  Cemented my desire to live in a Spanish-speaking country for a year on mission.  We met so many interesting people and saw so many beautiful things. 

Strangely enough my only stress was getting to Mass...which in a Catholic country sounds strange!  The first Sunday approached and since we had sight-seeing plans in the morning I set out to find a Mass for Saturday night.  After crashing several weddings (apparently August is a lucky month to marry in) I settled into a pew and stayed through the entire first half of one wedding only to discover that I was running out of time.  The next morning I found myself at the Cathedral and arrived just after the readings to attend the latter half of Mass.  Putting these two together...I hope I fulfilled my Sunday obligation!

The second Sunday of my trip I was in Lago Titicaca and managed to make the Sunday night was so sad...I was in the cathedral, they only have 2 masses on Sundays and it was empty.  I was told by 2 different guides that the Andinas (people of the Andes mountains) do not have 2 religions (Catholic and pagan) but rather one religion made up of the two.  It boggled my mind that these people could embrace two religions as true...because if they are both true than neither would be...  But again and again I saw this: the same people who attended the Mass were going to the Sharma and having coca leaves read.  St Theresa of the Andes, St Martin de Porres, St Rose of Lima...pray for us!

And now I am one day post-home arrival.  Still taking in my trip.  My pups aren't here yet so I am alone.  I am still turning over in my mind my experiences and what I can bring home with me and what is left behind.  Life is not clear.  But God is good.

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