If you could be something other than a teacher, what would it be?

Monday, July 5, 2010

A true tale from The Lost City of the Inca

 I am pointing at the Inca Sacred Mountain of Waynapicchu.  Directly in front of the mountain lays Machuu Picchu, The Lost City of the Inca.  See the elephant?

The four day Inca trail trek is not for the faint of heart!  The first three days involve hiking up and down the often dusty and sometimes steep rugged mountain trail for 8 to 12 hours each day. So when Jose, a young Peruvian guide was assigned to accompany a group of trekkers, he thought nothing of it.... until, he and everyone else in the group, noted that an 85 year old man had, at the last moment, joined the very physically fit group.  The old man seemed out of place with this fun loving group of young people.  He stayed to himself, and did not talk with anyone.

The first day, when the old man began lagging behind the group on the mountain path, Jose was given the task of staying behind to walk with the man. They walked slowly together as the sun rose and set, but the old man didn´t say much to Jose.  The first day out Jose and the old man arrived about 20 minutes late to the evening camp ground. No one was too surprised when the old man moved quietly off to the side of the camp and settled in for the night without a word.  By now, everyone in the group knew the old man was very withdrawn, as if he was carrying some burden that he wished not to share.

The second and third days along the Inca Trail, the old man slowed down even more,resulting in his and Jose´s arrving later and later to the evening camp site. 
By the end of the third day on the trail, the two silent hikers arrived more than two hours late.  All the while as Jose and the old man trekked along the trail, they talked little. The old man had no interest in talking with Jose or anyone.  Continually hunched over, the old man seemed weighed down by his 85 years.

The fourth and final day, was a much shorter hike... only about 4 hours.  Mid morning found the group of trekkers at Manchu Picchu. No more had the group arrived at this sacred Inca site, when the old man pulled Jose off to the side and whispered something to him. Jose was stunned by the old man´s  whispered request....! Jose thought to himself ... after all the slow, labored hiking he and the old man had done together over the last four days, the old man now asked that just the two of them climb to the top of Wayanpicchu. The old man had hardly been able to trek the Inca Trail and now this!  If the Inca Trail tests one´s physical stamina, Wayanpicchu is an extremely dangerous climb, that tested not only one´s physical endurance, but one´s mental capabilities as well. How did this old man think he was going to be able to climb to the top of the mountain, when many people a quarter the old man´s age refused to even attempt it? 

Wayanpicchu Mountain soars some 8000 feet straight into the air, with an extremely dangerous stone path that winds back and forth as it literally clings to the side of the mountain, most often with no safeguards to keep one from possibly slipping off, only to then fall straight down thousands of feet to the distant valley below. Surrounding Wayanpicchu are the stark, snow capped Andes Mountains that dominate the horizon as they trust themselves magnificently up into the blue sky.  Massive granit mountains that encirle and tower over the sacred Inca Mountain of Wayanpicchu.  The views of the distant mountains and deep valleys are spectacular, but can cause an overwhelming sense of vertigo as one slowly moves up the ancient path.

As the hours passed, Jose and the old man, slowly climbed the path, frequently stopping after just a few ardous steps so the old man could catch his breath.  Few words were exchanged as they slowly made their difficult and extremely labored climb up the 8000 feet to the top of the mountain.

Finally when the two accidental travelers, men of very different cultures, ages, life experiences, as well as physical conditions reached the stony top... the old man gently directed his young guide to take a seat on the mountain top.  The old man then quietly ask Jose, if he would assist him in a special ceremony. As Jose listened to the old man, he thought to himself .....  rather than the old man sitting on the moutain top, it seems the  weight of the entire mountain has settled on this old man´s shoulders.   Earlier too Jose had noticed the even as the two of them had walked the last few steps to the top, the old man seemed more hunched over, moving much more slowly, his breath extremely labored. There had been times when Jose had truly regretted his agreeing to accompany the old man on the climb to the top of Wayanpicchu.  Many a time Jose feared the old man´s heart would simple give out, as they inched slowly toward the summit.

As the two men sat on top Wayanpicchu and looked down at the spectacular view of Machuu Picchu, The Lost City of The Inca ... the old man slowly pulled a container out from under his jacket.  Holding the container with the care a mother holds her new born baby, the old man explained to Jose how he and his wife had planned a trip of a life time....  a trip in which the two of them would hike the Inca Trail and then visit Machuu Picchu.  His wife, however had become terminally ill and died before they could make the trip.  The container held his wife´s ashes. A silence fell over the mountain top as they each fell into their own private thoughts. Nothing more needed to be said between them.  As if divinely directed, the old man and Jose stood up at the same time, and moved to the edge of the cliff...

Together, Jose and the old man cried as they conducted a simple ceremony and poured the old man´s wife´s ashes over the sacred Mountain of Wayanpucchi and into the valley below.

Later that evening, the old man told his fellow trekkers his story..... and the old man along with the group cried all over again.   

With his story now having been told, the old man stood tall amoung the trekkers, as his voice was once again rang with laugher.....

The trek along the Inca trail had come to an end..... the ceremony on top the sacred mountain was over....... and the trip of a life time had been completed.

Machuu Picchu as seen from the top of the sacred Mountain Waynapicchu.

1 comment:

Frank K. said...

My, you are blessed. What a story, one you will remember and tell the rest of you life. I even cried reading it. I did know something was coming as you used the 'old man' to tell your story of the climb. Well written Mt. T. . .