2. Machu Picchu...
...was everything I imagined it would be. Our tour director really wanted us to appreciate the moment, so she put blindfolds on us so we couldn't catch a peek of Machu Picchu. She told us on the bus that the reason why she does this with her groups is because you will only have one chance to see Machu Picchu for the first time, and she wanted it to be a special one.
I started crying even with the blindfold on because I really couldn't believe it was all happening. Once, I took it off the tears flowed. Here's a video of me just after that moment happened.
|The Incans sculpted this stone to look like the mountain Wayna Picchu (young peak)|
|Beautiful stone work.|
|Honoring Hiriam Bingham who discovered the Incan city in 1911|
|Marvelous stone work. Just look at that!|
|Walking through the city|
|So happy to be there!|
|Our tour guide for the day, Kosmo|
Climbing up the mountain was a way to experience what it would be like doing the Inca Trail without doing the 3 to 4 day trek. Boy was it tough!! It made me so glad that I was in shape, because it was physically challenging. I was soaked in sweat within the half hour. A few times I hugged the rocks because I was too scared to look down at the valley below.
While climbing the steep and narrow steps, I couldn't help to think about the Spanish climbing these chairs. They must have been cursing the day they stepped foot on South American soil. To be in a place they didn't know, tired and exhausted. How did they not just give up and go home? Meanwhile, the Incans who made the stairs could go up and down them no problem. I gained a new found respect for the Incans and had some sympathy for the Spanish who had no idea what laid ahead of them. It is so important for Spanish teachers to live the culture that they teach. There is nothing like first hand experience.
|Took this from the comfort of our train|
|Helping carry stuff for the hikers|
|You can see the hikers on the trail|
|My hat goes off to them! What an accomplishment!|
|Zoomed out so you could get an idea of the trail|
|My favorite picture! Couldn't have asked for a better day!|
|Heading out for the hike|
|I'm climbing to the top of that mountain!|
|Here we go! No turning back now!|
|Taking a breather. It was tough work!|
|This was my eye level. God, I love the Andes.|
|So worth the hike! Being in shape pays off!|
|I did it!|
|We are about 1,000 feet higher than the city.|
|A closer look|
|Talk about confronting your fears!|
|The hike down|
|How long it took to hike up and down.|
That wasn't it. Oh no, no. After making it to the top, I had a new found confidence. I had no fear going back down. I was ready for more. I pushed the boundaries, and I wanted to keep going. So after a hearty lunch at the lodge, two companions and I decided to do some more exploring. We decided to go to Intipunku (the sun gate) to see the hikers catch their first glimpses of Machu Picchu after spending 3 to 4 days on the trail. The views we got were nothing short of spectacular.
|We are heading to where the clouds are on the left. That's Intipunku|
|A closer look of the Inca trail.|
|That winding road is for the bus which we took after the long day.|
|Hikers celebrating their huge accomplishment|
The day at Machu Picchu turned out to be much more than checking something off my bucket list. I knew I was going to accomplish a professional goal, but I didn't expect I'd accomplish a personal one, too. There were more than a few times when I questioned what the heck I was doing climbing such a mountain, but I kept my focus and continued to put one foot in front of the other. I wasn't going to let fear and exhaustion win. I was so proud of myself for making it to the top, and the views were the reward for hard work.
It is so important for us teachers to have these moments too when we step out of our comfort zone. It helps us connect with our students who treat Spanish class as their own sort of Machu Picchu. It's one thing to say that they want to learn Spanish, but it's quite another to actually make it happen. They feel uncomfortable, they doubt themselves, and they grumble at the work we give them. They need us to cheer them on their way up to the top. We need to provide them with moments to enjoy the scenery on the way up because it gives them the motivation they need to keep going. Finally, when they make it to the top, they realize just how far they've come. To share in that joy with them is probably the best part of my job.
So, what's your Machu Picchu?