My husband Gary and I traveled to Peru. Our main goal was to see, explore and hike the remote, ancient mountain village of Machu Picchu. It is truly a magical place. Finding the right words to describe it is not an easy task. It is beautiful beyond belief and worth the money, effort and physical expense to get there. But more than anything I want to tell you about an experience afterwards that left me thinking and will continue to impact my view of the world.
Let me give you the story of the journey. We traveled by train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. We spent the night, got up at 4 in the morning to ride a very comfy bus, up a very windy road, to the entrance of Machu Picchu. The day was so special. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about the ancient structures and showed us the most amazing details that made the place come alive. We hiked Huayna Picchu, the mountain peak you see in every shot of the abandoned village. I found a quiet spot to sit, meditate and take in the surroundings. I imagined life long ago, how these people farmed the terraces, used rain water and gravity to have running water, and built structures that defy belief.
We wrapped up our time by eating at restaurant located there at the site, the food was delicious. Finally, our day at the mountain was over, we headed back down to our hotel in Aguas Calientes. And then my world shifted. Gary went to exchange some money and I decided to take a long, hot bath. While waiting for the tub to fill I enjoyed the view from the balcony of our room. In this part of the city there are no cars. It is very hilly so the streets were busy with people walking home from a long day of work. Just outside of my luxury hotel room was a metal shack. I looked down on a local family gathering for their evening activities. The men started a fire for cooking and washing clothes. My hotel room quickly filled with the smoke from their need to exist. A woman arrived at this humble shelter and began hand washing clothes in a bucket with an old-fashioned washboard. Their home had electricity, which looked rather sketchy to me, but they obviously had no running water. The men carried the water up from the river that was flowing about 30 feet from their home.
I climbed in the tub in my beautiful bathroom, in my spacious hotel room and cried. I didn’t have to carry water much less heat it. I knew that I would emerge from that oversized bathtub relaxed and clean with no effort on my part. I knew that Gary would be back soon and that we would enjoy room service and a beer or two. Don’t get me wrong. I did not feel guilty, just grateful and aware. This was a trip of a lifetime. We had planned and saved and we darn sure enjoyed our two weeks in Peru.
I am aware that life is good, yet it has its trials and tribulations. As I watched that woman wash the clothes, hang them up to dry, prepare dinner and I hope at some point go to bed, I thought about how our lives are the same and yet oh so different. We all work hard, some harder than others. The ancient people of Machu Picchu carried out similar tasks, washing, cooking, gathering. We as people share this no matter what the culture or race or time period. I prayed for that women, that life would be good to her, that she would get a good night’s rest and share a laugh with a friend or the joy of a child’s accomplishment.
I pray for you as well. I pray that we all find purpose in this life, that we share one another’s joys and burdens. I pray that you have good friends to love and travels that inspire you.
Grace and Peace,