Saturday February 28th and Sunday March 1st: Day 30 & 31

Saturday involved a long day of sketchy bus rides, walks along train rails, and a whole lot of silence. While the sketchy bus rides were NOT worth the money we saved, and the walks along the train rails were serene, the silence was breathtaking. There’s something grand about looking out a bus window or simply walking in the drizzling rain and saying nothing. Silence allows you to be present: to smell the air, to look at the butterflies, to let your mind wander to the depths of what you’re really thinking. Today was a practice of silence.

Sunday morning, 4:30 am, we got up. It poured all night, and I mean POURED. I honestly woke up a little grumpy today, whining at the idea of hiking for the day, in the pouring rain, with a backpack on, before the sun was up. Although once I had a bite to eat and bought a poncho for rain protections (I know I am betraying my fellow Oregonians) I felt better. And, off we went. Now, I never assumed Machu Picchu was easy by any means, by my god was it harder than expected. There are around 1,500 stairs, all at a perfect height to feel like you’re doing luges. My legs were shaking and I was soaked to my skin after a few hundred stairs. To be honest, at this moment I was concerned about how shitty my hair would look for my Machu Picchu picture, but I didn’t dare admit that. So, we trudged on for about a million stairs longer, panting, resting after 100 stairs, climbing, legs shaking, pant, rest, repeat. Eventually, the sun began to rise and for a moment of clarity amid my exhaustion, my breath was taken away as I saw the outlines of the mountains in the distance. It is so easy to forget our blessing when hidden among trials, but in that moment I was beyond previous definitions of thankfulness for my physical location and my emotional state of life. I am so lucky.

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Sunrise on Machu Picchu….please tell me how life can get better? 1/7 of the world’s wonders: check. The whole day felt unreal. Every picture looked photo shopped and everything felt like it was cut out of a postcard. It was surreal. After exploring the ruins and learning of the history (the Incans are indescribably cool), we embarked upon hike number two: Huayna Picchu. Now, if you have ever seen a photo of Machu Picchu (and I really hope you have) you will see a big mountain in the background. This is the mountain we climbed. It was hard after the morning hike, which left me tired of course, but it was damn well worth it. Machu Picchu was a tiny speck below us. Even the clouds floated what felt like miles below. We were on top of the world. Breathing in the air of Peru, letting my lungs rise and fall to the beat of a heart never more alive, was a moment that could never be exchanged.

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