Recommended Enrichment Reading: The Inca Trail: Cuzco and Machu Picchu, by Richard Danbury, is an adventurous book that takes you on the ancient Inca Trail trek. It also provides maps and information on the newer shorter trail and other treks in the area. Cuzco and Machu Picchu are magical cities waiting for you to visit!



Recommended Quilting Project: Kinetic Energy, piece together the mysteries of this quilt and be transported to another dimension. The unique geometry of Barbara Persing and Mary Hoover's design measures 60" x 68". Like the winding of the Inca Trail, this quilt's path is a wonder to see when it is finished!

Celebration: Oh! Machu Picchu


By Edgar Gaviria Sr.

The "Chaman" made us tremble, full of unbearable emotions, when he asked the "god sun" to shine over us through the dark angle formed by two tall mountains at 6 am on that frigid day in the Peruvian Andean ranges. It was the solstile winter day, June 21st . We were standing on one of the huge carved stones of the Ollantaytambo Fortress, making promises, renewing vows, changing attitudes and looking inside our souls. My grandson Mauricio, suddenly said, with his eyes humid with tears, "in four more days I will be twelve... If I celebrate my birthday in Machu Picchu, the Inca gods will bless me forever"...

The "Inca Trail" expedition was ready. In less than four days, our four U.S. gringo friends together with seven Peruvian executives, would conquer our dream of arriving to Machu Picchu from behind the huge Andean mountains. We would be helped by seven strong young indian porters, whom were also enthusiastic with the challenge of making the hike in only three days.

Our leader shouted "OK.. let's go.....move!!!....." an electric pulse shaked the whole group of eighteen expeditionaries. We started the three day journey as hunters, plenty of enthusiastic energy, chasing the porters who were really running like deers towards the high mountains of the "Inca Trail". The mountains looked pale dark blue on the far distance. They were huge, challenging and frightening. In less than thirty minutes we were already taking our reserves of confidence and strength. We were running and no trace of our porters on the narrow slopy and crooked trail. So we decided "OK, lets run faster..." and we did. But after two more hours of quick climbing we had to make a stop, regroup and ask the tired group of people:

  • Would Edgar Sr. (70), Edmundo (68), Nelson (66), Tommy (64), Edgar (62) and Camilo (60), do?
  • Would Mauricio (11) and Mark Jr. (12), do?
  • Would Vaughn (55), Edgar Jr. (44) and Joel (18), however strong, be able to pull us up in case of an emergency?
  • Finally, would Mark Sr. (60), with only one lung, and Edgar Jr. (44) be able to guarantee a 100% safety to their sons, Mark Jr. and Mauricio?

The decision was made to tie a nylon cord between the father's left hand and the kid's right hand. No return of both, was decided in case of a fall to the dizzy precipices.

The walking was renewed. The most beautiful nightmare was just beginning. We took a last glance at the frightening dark profiles so close to the blue sky, bent our heads and started running.... profound silence and deep breathing during the next few hours. No food, just some water.

We flew as we ran from 6,600 feet of altitude at 7 am to almost 14,000 feet by 2pm. But, to our dismay, we saw in front of us the deep canyon of "Pacamayo" which descended all the way to 11,300 feet via the most destructive trail of loose stones. Ready for camp and dreaming of a hot meal, we became desperate when we did not see our camp or porters. Then, somebody discovered our flag, our camp, across the canyon, at about 13,000 feet!!! So, regrouped, and duly re-motivated, we started climbing the opposite hillside dragging ourselves along those agonizing last minutes of daylight. What a beauty!!! We were camped by a small lake with a scenery of an enourmous circus of huge white crowned mountains.

We were camping on the eastern side of the lake. Pink clouds painted the mountains across the wide part of the canyon. Chilled winds coming down the ice mountains; a large seagull showing the art of quick flying among the high crests..... deep silence..... a shout... and we discovered a beautiful dark haired young lady swimming in those freezing waters... She was like a greek goddess.

We were happy, the bureaucrats alive, our two kids OK, Mark Sr. in good shape. We all fell into a profound sleep. Moaning from our aches and pains was heard all night... however, in our dreams, we were asking ourselves about the next day's combat. We had behaved as romans ready to keep on trying for the price of honor.

At 4:30 am the next frozen morning, breakfast was fixed and at 5 am our flag and tents were flying up the steep mountain on the porter's backs. Again we bent our heads and started climbing towards the gorge at 13,000 feet. How could such an overwhelming scenery exist? Tall mountains on the far distance with white crowns. Dark green forests all over; inviting precipices; incredible carving works on hard granite rocks along the narrow and croocked "Inca Trail" leading to forts and towns built on dizzying places.

After a quick hike, we went down to about 10,000 feet and camped by a small lodging. After a shower we changed to decent clothes and celebrated our accomplishments like roman legionaries. Late at night, we had many dreams and ideas about tomorrow's glory: arriving in Machu Picchu.

At 5 am we sang happy birthday to Mauricio, now 12 years old. What a smile! In the middle of an impressive scenery, as soon as the sun iluminated the mountains, we all confirmed that we had been blessed by our gods. Chanting and exhuberant we visited Wiña Waina (always young), a beautiful monument to the god of water. It was like an entree to the main course... Machu Picchu, awaiting us in just three more hours of quick walking by norrow and croocked "Inca Trails", carved on vertical precipices... it is so difficult to describe such deep emotions and frightening feelings. After climbing back breaking stairs, suddenly "Intipunco!" (the sun's door) and the most undescribable monument to human ability to create marvellous monuments like the Pyramids, Acropolis and the Chinesse Wall. At last, we were admiring those fantastic walls, towers, palaces, forts, temples and the "Intiwatana" (where the sun is tied up, a solar clock) in Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu

Your whole life will be deeply affected by such a grandeour... just come over!

That night, down at the small town of Aguas Calientes (hot spring waters), together with dozens of happy "Conquerors of Machu Picchu", we took a long bath, afterwards the serenade to Mauricio. Nine musicians wearing Inca attire playing "El Condor Pasa" and other beautiful Andean musical pieces. Could you imagine the sound of music, echoing against dark black huge mountains? We were happy! Everybody was OK! But, now we all were different, something not easy to describe was now in Mauricio's soul… in mine… in ours.

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