“The more we learn, the more we learn that we really know very little.”
Today we start a one day descend to the Incan Empire called Machu Picchu. Yes I said that correctly…..descend. By looking at pictures of this amazingly beautiful Empire one might think, how does it get any higher? Believe it or not Machu Picchu stands at over 7,000 feet above sea level. Cusco, often spelled Cuzco, sits at 12,000. So yes our journey will be a descend to witness one of the new wonders of the world.
To see it in pictures is one thing…however to tour this amazing facility leaves one in awe. To have been able to build this empire that normally only housed 600 people leaves one to ask….How? Were the Incan people really that smart, and strong or was it built by aliens? Ask a hundred different natives and they will all give you different reasons. Regardless, so many skills had to be in play to have allowed this civilization to construct this magnificent empire. I can certainly see how Devine intervention was in place.
One of the things that fascinated me the most to learn was that as powerful as the Spanish crown was in their exploration and conquest, they could not find the Incan Empire. It is so hidden in the Andes and blended so perfectly that the Spaniards could not find it. Thank goodness because they probably would have destroyed it due to the different religious believes. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that an American professor from Yale University took a small group to explore these mountains. With the help of a local Incan and days of cutting through tough vegetation with a machete they were able to find the empire.
As we climbed a zig zap staircase to see the Citadel we came across several Llamas and alpacas. Despite that our legs were burning and lungs struggling to breath, some more than others, these creatures captivated us. To be honest they are quite spectacular and they roam along the Andes mountains. While many of these creatures might become angry because someone or something is invading their space. These Llamas are accustomed to seeing 2,500 visitors a day. Thank goodness because we all know what Llamas do when they’re mad. Just in case one does not, they spit a tremendous amount of saliva toward their target. From what I was told they have pretty good aim.
At one point we were asked to form a chain. We were asked to close our eyes and to put our hands on the shoulders of the person in front. We were carefully guided to a particular spot in the mountains and when we were told to open our eyes most of us yelled with excitement due to the sheer beauty that lied beneath us. A perfect view of the empire. To state it was a beautiful view is a huge understatement. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like this.
We learned so much information about this civilization however the one that stands out the most are the 3 principles the Incas used to build this amazing structure: Mita, Minca, and Ayni.
Mita, the willingness to work on behalf of your family and community.
Minca, the willingness to work for others. Especially for those who can’t work for themselves.
Anyi, the willingness to work for other communities in exchange for their service to be reciprocated.
I mention these principals because nothing really has changed in Peru. These three principals became apparent when during our service project we met four men who dedicated themselves to help build a dormitory for a school for young ladies who have been abused in many different ways or who often travel for miles just for the right to attend school. The most incredible thing about these four men is that neither of them have daughters who attend this school. Nor were they getting paid. Just pour sacrifice of love. Mita, Minca, and Ayni, what a wonderful concept to learn and apply. The more I learn the more I realize I have so much more to learn. Time and service really are really the greatest form of giving. This lesson was exactly what my students and I needed to hear.
Until next time. Pura Vida.