After my recent post on Carl Sandburg was freshly pressed, two things happened.
1) I wasn’t sure what I should write about next, now that I had all these new followers.
2) I realized that many of them wanted to know why I chose Machu Picchu as my blog title and header.
Since I wrote that post, I’ve realized the best way for me to write is straight from my heart, from who I am. Because I think, somehow, you’ll understand it.
So from my soul to yours, here is what Machu Picchu means to me.
Ever since I could read, I’ve been fascinated by ancient places and mysteries. Things like Stonehenge
and the Great Wall of China. I would read books by Charles Berlitz about Atlantis and the Bermuda Triangle, and of course I was an avid Nancy Drew fan.
One of my favorite animated movies was El Dorado.
Discovery, mysteries, the past took hold of me and would not let go.
One day, after perusing my favorite bookstore, my love of ancient places came together perfectly.
I found the “The Atlas of Mysterious Places.”
The book featured all kinds of ancient places from around the world, from the Garden of Eden to Atlantis to the Forbidden City in China. It wasn’t saying that everything about these places was true; it wasn’t saying Atlantis existed; it was simply exploring the mysteries held by the common memory of humanity.
Out of all the places in the book, the one place that intrigued me the most was Machu Picchu.
Here was this place that–although the Spanish had conquered the Incas and laid ruin to their cities–survived completely intact. Nestled between two tall peaks, Machu and Huayna Picchu, it rested among the clouds with an air of calmness and serenity that said, “I know things that you never will.”
A turn of the century historian named Hiram Bingham was the one who discovered–or rather rediscovered–Machu Picchu in 1911. When he and his companions began to clear away the vegetation, they found stone houses so precisely made that not even a knife could fit between the stones.
They found what was–in the words of the Atlas–a miracle. A city that stood, despite everything that had happened around it.
Machu Picchu lay untouched. It was a hidden treasure, a secret city that survived safely between those two tall mountains, resting calmly among the clouds.
Today, it survives as a permanent monument to the Incas’ workmanship and intelligence. To me, it survives as a monument to what humanity is capable of.
No matter the onslaught against them, the Incas’ foundation was strong. They carefully crafted their greatest work. They did not worry about the world outside. I imagine they lived comfortably, in a hierarchical social system, where one of their chief duties each day was drawing water from the springs that flowed unhindered from the mountain.
What they created there in Peru has survived for hundreds of years. Those stones still speak, where the Incas cannot.
They whisper from inside the clouds, from the gusts of wind, ruffling through the green, green grass. Their spirits speak. Their message is simple.
“We were here.”
What about you? What is your favorite mystical/ancient place? Why do you think these ancient places are so fascinating to us?