We took a taxi Monday afternoon to a town called Pisac. We ate lunch there and shopped around a little bit at the open market under the huge, weird tree. I bought some gifts. (I shouldn't have because I didn't have room for them in my backpack. I had to carry them around in a plastic bag for the remainder of the trip. haha. Think ahead, amy!)...but I got them anyway. I got one for you, Jill. You're gonna like it. Some lady tried to cheat me...but I didn't buy it from her after all.
After lunch, we took another taxi to Ollantaytambo; a tiny town with a big name. It was a cool town, especially at night when we arrived. It reminded me of an old "ghost town" in an old western movie. There were hardly any people around when we got there. We hung out for an hour or so and then caught the 8:00 train to Machupicchu.
In total, we probably travelled for somewhere between four or five hours and arrived in Machupicchu at 10:00 or so. There were probably 50 people standing on the sidewalk when we stepped off the train, all holding up signs advertising their hostel. We found one who gave us a good (?) deal and followed her up the road to her hostel. Turns out it wasn't quite like she had described it. The rooms did not, in fact, have their own bathrooms. There was a kind of gross community bathroom in the middle of the hallway. And the rooms were not, in fact, the price she had originally quoted. They were a little more expensive. And this hostel's price did not include breakfast, which was odd. But...así es la vida. And at least the bed was super comfortable. And there were no bed bugs, Ann...so don't worry. We hung out for a while, had some dinner and went to bed.
The next morning we woke up and headed out. It was raining as we ate breakfast and then caught the bus up to the top of the mountain. But it was incredible anyway. What a view! It was amazing to look out and see nothing but other mountain tops around as we made our way up the jungly mountain side.
What I saw when we reached the top took my breath away. High walls, built hundreds and hundreds of years ago, the stones placed perfectly. Temples, fields, terraces; all tucked away, never discovered by the Spanish, left untouched for hundreds of years. It was absolutely amazing. The air was clear, the grass was green...and the view from the mountain was incredible.
We spent hours just slowly walking through all the different mazes of walls and temples and terraces. You could get lost in there! It was really cool to walk through, and imagine what life must have been like for those people. I imagine it was just as beautiful then, if not more, than it is now. The way the walls were built amazes me. Just tons and tons of stones piled on top of each other perfectly. They're still standing to this day! I wish there was more time to really make my way through each passage and doorway and look out each window. I know that's kind of lame, but when will I have this opportunity again? It's an incredible place! I wanted to see all of it; everything I could!
After lunch, we went up to a higher level of ruins and looked down on where we had already walked. It was so...I don't know...I don't have the words. I wanted to sit for hours and just take it all in; let my eyes wander where they would and just look. Not only were the ruins amazing to look at, but the surrounding mountaintops were so beautiful too. Everything was dark green! I wish you could have been there to share it with me.
We hiked up a long, winding, four-foot wide trail on the side of the mountain, with the mountain on one side and an abyss on the other! haha, and we ended up at a bridge built by the Incans on the side of the rock face. We couldn't cross it because a long portion of it was out. But it was beautiful, and worth the hike, nonetheless. We just sat for a long time looking out at the valley below. It was so peaceful!
We all kind of hiked back down at our own pace, and I walked alone. There was absolutely no other human soul around me for about 20 minutes. I felt like the beauty of it all was too much to consider. And it's no wonder God created us to be as relational as we are. We would not be able to handle life alone, with all it's wonder.
The last part of my afternoon was the best. I sat alone on a rock and looked out again over the ruins, from a higher perch, and took it all in. I brought my trusty cd player and listened to peaceful, pretty music in one ear and birds chirping and wind blowing in the other ear...and I just sat and let my mind wander.
The question that I asked of God was, "how did they do this? how did the Incan people accomplish so much? they did it without you! how was it possible?" how could a people group produce so much wonderful without the hand of the Wonderful Maker? how could a people rise up with such a force, and leave such a lasting impression on the world, without having known the God who created them? It makes me sad and scared and awed, all at once. But God's response is, "yes, they did something amazing without me. but where are they? and where am I?"
Daniel 7:13-14 says,
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."
The Incan people were an amazing people. And they did leave their mark on this world. But even in as much as they accomplished without our God, they could have done more with Him. Imagine what we can do with God, if these people could create such a marvel without Him. And they, in all their glory, have passed away. Their kingdom is gone, their culture almost lost, and they are only a memory. But God is still here. And He is alive in all of us, and we have the ability to make such a mark on this world; to awe people, to produce beauty that will leave people in wonder! If we will only tap into the power of Christ! Yes, people who don't know God can build amazing cities on mountaintops. But it's our faith that can move those mountains.