Giving Thanks at Machu Picchu

[ 3 ] November 25, 2010 |

Giving thanks in Machu Picchu

Happy Thanksgiving 2010! Who knew that I would be standing on top of Wayna Picchu (the mountain that watches over the ruins) giving thanks this year? I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate than to be taken with all its glory, to sit and wonder why I am so blessed in this life, to bow down to the young and ominous Andes in all their jagged rock and green vegetation. To celebrate living on this planet. That’s a reason to give thanks, a big thank-you for being alive. Pachamama (Mother Earth) is a great source of energy in all her majesty. If you attempt to tap in, you’ll feel it, experience it, relish it. She’s alive and kicking and we are all connected to her in a very big, big way.

Our fearless leader, David Wolfe

Our group (David Wolfe Adventures) wanted to be one of the very first people in line to get the stamp we needed to climb Wayna Picchu. They only allow 400 people access to this spectacular view of the valley, a very steep and windy trail that takes about an hour and half to climb but that is worth every breathtaking stone step.

So, all 40 of us were up at 2:30 in the morning to stand in line for the very first bus that left Aguas Calientes at 5:30am. Yes, it sounds a bit ridiculous, but I, like many of us, have waited a lifetime to visit the sacred site, so I was ready to do whatever it took. I was impressed with the determination of our clients — who, believe it or not, managed to be on time and prepared for the rainy weather that unleashed itself at about 3AM. Fortunately, we were able to wait for the bus underneath an awning. To tell you the truth, the rain felt good and cleansing. I have been in Peru for two months now and had not seen rain – even though it is the beginning of the rainy season. The farmers have been praying for a good downpour so they can finally plant their crops. Did I mention I hate lines so, so, so much? It’s what we had to do though. Other groups were right behind us and by 3:30, the line was four blocks long.

The drive to Machu Picchu is only about 20 minutes by bus up a very windy — and, I must say, ugly –road. I wish they hadn’t put the road in because I think to see Machu Picchu you should have to work for it, climbing the stone steps for the two-hour trek. I know it is not feasible as a business, but, damn, the road they cut into the mountain side is just plain ugly from above.

Celebrating the day!

It was still raining when we arrived and rushed to get in line. About 50 hikers were already waiting. It was foggy as hell, so much so that you couldn’t see a thing. You didn’t know how tall and gorgeous the mountains were around, couldn’t really see any of the ruins. Our group bee-lined it up to a watch tower – the perfect place to catch the sunrise, although this day it wouldn’t happen. Still, even without a visual, you could feel the magic. Since I’ve been practicing more of a barefoot lifestyle, the shoes came off and my feet instantly started taking in the energy of the Apus (mountain spirits) as we waited for the fog to lift. It was soo quiet, so serene, so spectacular, even seeing just a small portion of the terraced walls through the fog. A couple of us ladies decided to join hands and ask the universe for blue skies, for a better visual to experience this sacred site for all that it is worth on this day of giving thanks. Intention is a magical thing. Soon we had a big hole of blue sky and the fog started moving and lifting. Our entire group started “ooh”-ing and “ah”-ing as the grand ruins, the lost city of the Incas, introduced itself to us.

Sharing  and connecting

Time and time again I kept thinking, How did they do this? How did they manage such greatness on top of such a steep mountain? How did they choose this protected spot? Where did they go? Will they return? Photographs galore, smiles and hugs. Lots of tears — I couldn’t help it, I was so filled with emotion and ended up crying and laughing the entire day. Yes, I had seen pictures of Machu Picchu – it is the most recognizable sight in South America. But somehow a picture can’t capture the grandness or greatness. Not until you are fully present and surrounded does the magnitude finally seep in.

Then take it a step further. Take off your shoes and feel the energy of this sacred sight. Not kidding, about 30 of us did just that and I swear it is the only way to experience the full picture. If you are quiet enough, aware enough, you can feel the energy whizzing through your body, the energy of lifetimes before you, generations who existed and then passed, opening space for new cultures and  progression. Of course, all of our technology in this lifetime doesn’t compare to the brilliance of the Incas and the Atlantans before them. I wanted to run, to explore every inch of this holy place, but that’s not realistic with the amounts of tourists and tour groups filing in, so we all kept a fairly slow pace as we wove in an out of the terraces, walls and royal structures. Our guide explained about the three areas: one for agriculture, one for residences,  and a third, sacred area for ceremonies and astronomical uses. The set-up is astounding and I kept thinking, I want to live like this! Forget about the cell phones and computers — let’s create some more roofs and move here. It’s bound to be one of the safest places on Earth in the next couple years.

The gang loving life

As crazy as it sounds, I felt so at home, as if I had been here before, perhaps in a different life. What was life like? I could close my eyes and almost see the population walking around doing business. Machu Pichu was a grand trading station for all of Peru and beyond. To date, they’ve found more than nine separate, long trails coming from all directions that lead to Machu Picchu. So far, 45-thousand kilometers (30 thousand miles) of Inca trails have been discovered, which they believe is still only half. I mean, the information is just jaw-dropping. This empire was huge. The biggest fact that blew my mind was that the Incas did not build these structures but rather took over the area. There’s speculation that the people from Atlantis actually built the site some twelve-thousand years ago, then abandoned it for some mysterious reason. The Incas took over and inhabited the place for some couple hundred years until the,y too, abandoned ship. But why? Why would two civilizations both abandon what appears to be heaven on Earth? Why did they leave and where did they go? Will they ever return? Did they leave, or could they have just changed form? Maybe the gorgeous trees around the site are all Atlantans. Maybe they went inside the mountain to give strength to the Apu. Who’s to say? All I know is that I feel blessed as ever to afford the time to visit, explore and take in this ancient and mysterious site.

Sharing in the beauty

David and gang all made it to the top of Wayna Picchu, and although the group was fragmented on the way up, as we all are in such different condition, it was nice to meet at the top and celebrate together in all the glory that was laid out before us. No words needed to be spoken, but you can imagine the looks we all exchanged. My friend Kyra and I found a spot to sit and meditate just below the top and the rest of the group.

Again, I couldn’t contain the emotions I was feeling. I wanted to fly. I felt I could fly. I could look to the skies, the mountains, the river below and feel the energy of all of them. I was connected, so deeply connected to Pachamama. She knows I will do anything to save and protect her. I felt like I was floating most of the time.

Our friend Evyonne – who’s scared of heights – challenged herself to the top. We were so proud of her when she came tumbling into our laps. What success, what strength and determination! Such a glorious day. We spent most of the day way up top looking down on the ruins and taking in the mountains around us.

Rainbow over Machu Picchu

Blessed by a rainbow at Machu Picchu

On the way down, we decided on a different route that took us to these stone houses, almost still fully intact, perched on an outcropping. About 15 of us gathered in the house for some praise and some kirtan (call-and-response chanting). A couple of us girls wanted to take it to the edge, so we climbed down on this platform that literally hung over the river. This, I thought to myself, must have been a very special spot, but for what? It didn’t matter, it all was truly amazing.

Our group definitely was in a different realm than most tourists. One tourist came running up to the top, breathing so heavy he broke us out of our dreamy silence. I asked him to settle down and sit with us for a while. He responded that he had no time, that he had run up to the top. Then he grabbed his camera and did the most Rambo-like snapping I’ve ever heard or seen. Like a machine gun, he started firing off pictures. Talk about a jolt! His energy came at us like a serpent and we had to do everything we could to protect our own positive and nurturing energy. This is what is wrong in the world. People have no time to stop, to take in the beauty and to respect and honor our great world and all of its diverse beauty.

We spent all day on Wayna Picchu. In fact, we were escorted down by one of the guards who was trying to close up shop. My, what he must have thought! Twenty-five people, all barefoot and smiling, happy and full of hope. He didn’t seem to mind, and Sean, our spectacular photographer, and I made small talk on the way down. I’m sure we were a different kind of group for him, but I think somehow he was enjoying our vibe.

My nurturing side was fully present and I made sure everyone was drinking water and such, making sure we all knew there was only an hour before the last bus. Otherwise, it was a two-hour hike down. The group spread out as each felt the need to spend a couple lasting moments to themselves. I met up with David and a small group who were overlooking another soldier of a mountain. We sat on the terrace and shared mangoes, grenadillas and any other leftover food. The rain was coming our way and we could see a rainbow trying to emerge. It couldn’t seem to land, however, and instead floated in the sky. Peace, breathing, balance, gratitude — a slice of heaven.

Kirsten Gum making friends in Peru

Sharing the love

As we managed our way onto the bus, each buddy checking for our other half, an unbelievable scene started to emerge. The rainbow gathered itself and exploded across the sky. I’m not kidding about its strength. In Ecuador, I would see a couple rainbows a day, but this was unreal — the strength, the colors — as if Mother Nature were bidding us a farewell like no other. Cameras were going off when we managed to get the bus driver to pause for a moment. One rainbow turned into two, then three. They burst into the sky the entire way down the mountain. Stunned, the bus was filled with oohs and ahs. I was sitting next to David and we just kept looking at each other, smiling and shaking our heads. How could we be so lucky, so blessed to witness such greatness?

When we arrived at the bottom, tired, dirty and full of bliss, Sean, Yvonne, Justin and I split from the group to seek out the end of the rainbow. It was crazy. In Aguas Calientes, life seemed to be carrying on as normal. Could they not see the beauty above them? The rainbow was now fully across the sky, tears of joy raining down on us. All I kept thinking was I am so blessed, I am so in love with this world, I will never take for granted the beauty that has been created for all of us to enjoy. Thank you, planet Earth!

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Category: Blog, Conscious Living, Spirituality & Plant Medicine, Travel & Adventure

Comments (3)

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  1. Dear Kirsten, I LOVE YOU!!!!!!! You are the most incredibly exciting, funny, georgeous, personable and sexy lady I have ever seen. If your ever in the Boston Ma. area, please let me know, I would LOVE to meet you in person. I am a huge fan of yours.
    Yours truly,

  2. Jenna says:

    Kirsten, I stumbled upon your blog and loved reading through your experience and looking at your pictures in Machu Picchu! It really brought me back to the incredible memories we made on our trip with Inca Trail Tours.

  3. Jenna says:

    Kirsten, I stumbled upon your blog and loved reading through your experience and looking at your pictures in Machu Picchu! It really brought me back to the incredible memories we made on our trip with Inca Trail Tours

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