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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

MACHU PICCHU

It was a hundred years ago that Hiram Bingham, a  Hawaii-born Yale professor, became the first Westerner to view Machu Picchu.  After half a millennium since abandonment (possibly because of smallpox), the city had become a jungle, with a few locals farming the edges.  The  Spanish Explorers never found it, and neither did a swarm of other explorers.

Machu Picchu is one of the "new" seven wonders of the world.  This Globus tour I'm on took us to two more (there are 14 when you add the natural and man-made versions):  Rio Harbor and Iguassu Falls. They all deserve this ranking.  Machu Picchu met my expectations.

Of course, I'm doing this (world travels) to toss Pearl's ashes at sites she wanted to visit, but did not, mostly because I was reluctant.  Thus, I suffered through Yellow Fever and a few other shots, plus malaria protocols and spider bites to undertake this effort.  There are now more than a dozen such locations, but the big three were the Taj Majal, Mount Kilimanjaro and Machu Picchu.  Now that I've completed this mission, today, I felt a certain elation, not unlike gaining a PhD degree, where I'm now ready to start a new life.

The train ride to the base of Machu Picchu was the most relaxing I've ever had, with rapids on one side and views of snow covered mountains on the other.  The New Age Andean music was soothing.  The first view of Machu Picchu was spectacular:

The mountain in the background to the left is Machu Picchu, or "old mountain."  The Sun Temple is in the right foreground.

Olga, who appeared to have a different attire every day (but someone else brought 7 pairs of shoes--Olga just, in addition, had a hair dryer and expresso machine, but still kept her suitcase weight under 40 pounds--try doing that someday for a two week trip):

I laid Pearl's ashes at three spots:  at the entrance, just behind me next to some yellow flowers:

You will notice my high tech cane, which I forgot in a restroom, but bought a second one, which led to a subsequent stress test on how to get it back home.

The second was in the only area where a wide variety of flowers, including a coca plant, were growing:

And the third at the top, the Sun Dial:

Actually, I did not realize that a guard was watching me and was just about to ask me a question when the tour group showed up and I cleverly involved them in a series of photos that distracted him.

Machu Picchu, just under 8000 feet high, remains largely a mystery, although it is suspected that the city was built for Incan Emperor Pachucuti (who lived in the 15th century).  If the Spanish had gained access to the site, it would have altered or destroyed.

Finally, from the base of Machu Picchu, resting are most of the India contingent, all who arrived in the USA many decades ago, and are largely medical doctors scattered mostly throughout the Midwest (Upendra, Narendrakumar, Jashu, Ila, Rehka, Ansuya and Mulraj):

Richard and Rena:


To end the story, Bingham brought back to Yale a wide variety (5000) of collected artifacts, which are now being returned to Peru...at least in principle. This issue remains controversial.

A major flood closed the attraction last year for several months, where 2000 people needed to be airlifted to safety.  The roads are still being fixed, but all seems well today.  This is a sight worth seeing.

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