Monday, August 10, 2009

Machu Picchu

Much has already been written about with ancient city of Machu Picchu. Its magical energy, breathtaking vistas, and harmonization of man and nature have been covered by many a scholar, and likely many a blogger. I'll spare these topics here, and focus on a few general impressions

It's widely agreed that images of Machu Picchu, or "the Mach" as Eyal calls it, fail to convey a sense of place. This is the beauty of the live experience- as each step taken reveals a new perspective.

I believe the heart of Machu Picchu lies in its most basic element: its terraces. Basking in their latent symbolism, one quickly forgets their agricultural function. Emerging seamlessly from the untamed jungles below, they might be taken to represent the evolution of man, now distinct from nature, but still very much a part of it.

In addition to the city itself, one of the site's most impressionable features is the adjacent mountain of Huayna Picchu. I stared blankly at Hauyna for about 15 minutes, pondering what exactly made this mountain so captivating. It is surrounded by mountains on all sides, which entropy has softened into worn, amorphous forms. In contrast, Huayna seems to defy nature with a sharp angularity that's withstood the ravages of time. Indeed, Huayna seems as timeless as the gods entreated at its summit, remaining eternally youthful.

On our way back to Cusco, Eyal surprised me with a trip on the Hiram Bingham, a luxury train managed by the Orient Express. From its dark wood panels to its highly mannered staff, the train lives and breathes opulence. Before we boarded, one butler handed us a moist towelette; 5 feet further, another butler collected them. This was our point of entry into a world of delicately calculated perfection. And perhaps best of all, a world of all-you-can-drink pisco sours! Here's me after three or four:

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