Searching for Words – Machu Picchu


img_3628This is the third in a three-part series on  Peru. The facts I provide are from the book pictured, Presenting Peru & Machupicchu by Saydí María Negrón Romero, or from the knowledgeable guides on my Go Ahead tour.

Anyone who’s spent a minute researching the Incas has come across the word, mysterious.

The Inca Empire was the largest pre-Columbian American empire. In the 1400s, the Incas lacked wheels to move carts, beasts of burden to pull carts, iron and steel to build carts, and a system of writing to order carts on … Amazon. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself)

But seriously, without the above-mentioned resources, the Incans were able to construct one of the most notable empires in human history.


From what I read, stones were moved using ramps and inclines. Lots of ropes and manpower did the rest. Over twenty different types of building materials were used. Think about this if you ever visit Machu Picchu with its perfectly shaped and positioned stones.


Thank you, Rolandomio Travel, for permission to use this lovely video.

  • Machu Picchu translates (Quechua) to Old Ancient or Elder Mountain.
  • Hiram Bingham officially discovered it on July 24, 1911.
  • 107 tombs with remains of 173 individuals were uncovered.
  • Although Machu Picchu had administrative and religious functions, the reason it was erected is a mystery.
  • It was built in the second half of the 15th century.
  • The city is positioned in relation to the sun, allowing for the greatest amount of solar light and heat during the day.
  • The town’s long existence is aided by a revolutionary drainage system which lessens deterioration by rain.
  • Approximately 500 people lived here.
  • No one knows why the town was abandoned.

I thought this would be my easiest post of the three about Peru. In the end, I had trouble finding the appropriate words.
While in Machu Picchu, I hiked to Inti Punku or the Sun Gate. The climb takes you to a breath-taking view of the city and surroundings. The incline is steep at places, but well worth the trek.

On the walk, I had plenty of time to think about what I wanted to write.  Instead, questions filled my mind.

How did the Inca find this perfect location to build a city for worship of the sun?

How many days, months, years did it take to construct?

What happened to the people?

What is it about this ancient place that beckons so many people, like me, to visit?

Machu Picchu is peaceful, sacred, mysterious. It’s a state of mind. It can’t accurately be described. To understand its allure, one must visit this mystical city.

I’ve travelled to more than a dozen countries (okay, one more) and many impressive places in the United States. Of these places, there are only a handful I’ll visit again.
So much world, so little time.

I know I’ll walk the Camino in Spain again. I can’t wait to return to the southern part of Utah. After this trip to Peru, without a doubt, Machu Picchu is on the list. It still beckons to me.

When I return to Machu Picchu, I’d like to walk the Inca Trail. I’ve been to a multitude of awe-inspiring museums, galleries and shops, but I’m happiest when my travel involves being in nature. The Inca Trail is a four-day hike ending in Machu Picchu. Hopefully, my adventurous sister will accompany me. I don’t know if she loves the all-day hiking, but I know she loves me enough to go with me, and to make me laugh out-loud more than any adult should. Heaven help our guides.

I can’t fully explain the pull of Machu Picchu. When I’m at a loss, I often look for quotes, hoping to find the words I search for, but can’t form with my own pen. I found these words written by a man I’ve always avoided. He made me uncomfortable. He was too confrontational. But then I read his words.  His passage below is exactly the words I wish I’d crafted about Machu Picchu. He was a gifted writer. I wish we could look forward to more well-worded quotes from him but, sadly, he died last week.

His words live on.

“It’s an irritating reality that many places and events defy description. Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, for instance, seem to demand silence, like a love affair you can never talk about. For a while after, you fumble for words, trying vainly to assemble a private narrative, an explanation, a comfortable way to frame where you’ve been and what’s happened. In the end, you’re just happy you were there – with your eyes open – and lived to see it.”
Anthony Bourdain, The Nasty Bits




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