I highly advocate that everyone step out of their status quo onto the wild side to taste the joys of such a sight.
Machu Pichu (or Machu Picchu) and the Wayna Pichu (or Huayna Picchu) represent the "must see" of Peru. They are one of the Seven Wonders of the World. They are also the mecca of the country and one of the brightest spot of its history, crafted by the Incas.
For those unfamiliar with that page of human history, a brief insight from one who has just been enlightened about it, yet very superficially. Incas represented a superior race, elite of the society that bloomed, concurred and impacted civilization through a period of about 500 years. They saw themselves as messengers of their Gods and were deemed as higher beings by the mass populace of the region of that period. They were mighty people and to further discern themselves from others they, over time, from childhood, elongated shape of their heads and loops of their ears. They came at a time when their superior intelligence, knowledge of science, astronomy, agriculture, architecture, and engineering were sorely needed. They filled the vacuum, brilliantly. By their knowledge, and its enticing and anticipated benefits, they concurred minds and lives of the masses.
Their impact was multifaceted and breathtaking. Seems that they had taken control over people and all aspects of their lives. Judging by the ruins of Machu Picchu, such further accentuated by the bird's eye view from the Wayna Picchu, both acting as a testimonial to the vision, knowledge and aspirations of Incas, they were ambitious and powerful, not just intellectually but in all the ways to count. Those whom they were not able to enlist or persuade to join their empire, they eliminated. Given the signs of their sophistication and superior intellect, I can imagine the intricate ways this was accomplished. Anyway, at that historic time and the location and the state of affairs, theirs was the undisputed way, without any viable alternatives. And so they ruled, shaped societies in their own image, and governed them through an intricate administrative, political and economic and any other superior systems, for some 300 +/- years, referred to as per-Columbian period.
Then Spaniards arrived, more advanced, shrewder and even more manipulative than the Incas. Through force, propaganda and maneuvering they managed to win over the populous to their side and against the ruling, till then, Incas. Masses followed what they, shortsightedly saw as the path of the greatest benefits to themselves. Wars issued and Incas were either executed or forced to run into the highest mountains. And that was it. All that remains are the breathtaking sites of their former glory, and believe me, they are breathtaking, not just in their superior complexities, architectural proficiencies, city and time planning, agriculture, system of governance and taxation, and so on and on.
It takes about a couple of hours to ascent Wayna Picchu. The climb is precarious. Its not just that it is a steep mountain but the steps are narrow, small, and of ever shifting height, size, distribution and shape. Their is no room for goofiness, carelessness or missteps. Supposedly those who make a mistake are allowed a very brief period of time to make their last prayer to the gods, in which to request that they be welcomed upon landing down far below. This intensifies the effort of ascend. Oh yes, let me not forget to mention that the altitude of 7970 feet above the sea, can also take one's breath away, literarily. Climbing under such condition is seen by some as insane, while as a challenge by others. On the steep mountain top lived the Incan elite, administrating this particular region of their emporium, its stretching far down below. Some of the remaining boulders brought up there for the construction from down below, weigh several tons. Envisioning process of building at such high and perilous location is mind bending, so is the means of achieving it. And yet, they did. From what I hear, even till now, scientists are trying to figure out the how. The capital, where the mighty king and ruler resided, was in Cusco, yet till these times, another small yet impressive city filled with squares and cathedrals.
From a perspective of time and history, it is exciting to reflect on how certain aspects or milestone events evolving, or reverting, progress of human evolution repeat themselves. As we know, there once existed a Roman Emporium, monumental, powerful, advanced, aggressive, rich of plunging other nations and taxing them to their outmost. Then there were Greeks, which used less of a brute force but more of an intellect to impact human civilization and its advancement. There were also Mongols, Moors, Turks, Chinese and Japanese, oh yes, Vikings too. Later on the Austrians, Spaniards, Brits had their turns, theirs followed by the short yet bigger than life Napoleon Bonaparte. More recently still, we experienced the “supremacy” of the German Reich and Adolph Hitler, its devilishly twisted Fuhrer, a master of propaganda, and political manipulation. It took the Western, referred to as the free or civilized world, a few years to make up its mind to confront and actively oppose Hitler, instead of appeasing him at a cost to enormous human lost of life during such a making its mind period. But, more than 50,000,000 millions of lost lives later, they did come to their senses, joined together and abolished the mighty Fuhrer.
Each of these leaders, or conquering nations, had a turn to expand, impact, impose and exploit their neighbors. Each grew rich, powerful, only to then tumble, thus making room for the next contender to have a turn. In recent years, largely due to the Second World War, it was the American turn. America became the power to first save the world only to then impact it through thus advanced superior military might, economic, manufacturing and scientific boom inspired by the very war, and in the process acquiring financial and diplomatic supremacy and sway. The "American Dream", lifestyle bigger than reality, capitalism and “democracy” in our vision, shaped into the system which America has been eager to have other nations adopt, whether willingly or by imposition. Doing so, in the process, we often disregard diverse, timeless and unique qualities of their histories, cultures, politics, social structures, customs, religions, way of lives refined and solidified over thousands of years. America is not timid is avowing and insisting that ours is the best, it is the means by which we see the perfect world achieving its success, whether they like it or not. Such values are masterfully projected via various facets of American ways: culture, movies, music, arts, technology, auto industry, economic model, fashion, sneakers and other forms of entertainment, as well as culinary prostitution, so skillfully infected through corporate minds of Coca Cola, McDonald, Burger Kind, KFC, Pizza Hat and all the other similar delights turning stomachs, decaying health, spreading obesity, cholesterol and high pressure throughout the world. Maybe these simply represent more sophisticated, non-violent methods of taking over the world? They do say that the way to man’s heart is through his stomach. Maybe by programing human digestive system, causing dependency, we have learned to invade, or infect, the minds and lives of people around this planet, turning them from within onto the "dark side"?
But that is enough on this topic, at least for now. The world is still turning and, while it is becoming more westernized and monolithic, it continues to represent an exciting and a breathe taking a place to explore and ascertain. And so, I highly advocate that everyone ought to step out of their status quo and onto the wild side to taste joys of such sighting. It can be mind and eye opening, endowing and enriching far beyond the material wealth. There are many ways of voyaging through endless countries with little money, or even none, earning enough to cover costs and expenditure by teaching English or tutoring in other topics, or by doing social or humanitarian good in copious places starving of need.
Cuba: Part 1Previous Post
From Behind the Great Wall of China: Part 1