It was a sunny morning of November 2003.Weather was chilly, despites Spring was pretty advanced. Nonetheless, the Navel of the World was founded at 3.399 meters high above the sea level. 

The ambient at San Pedro Train Station was vibrant, filled with the rumor of people walking, chatting and laughing. 

I was so excited about the visit to Machu Picchu than I could barely wait for the train slowly leaving Cuzco, coming back and forth from east to west along river Vilcana to overcome the rugged orography of the Andes.

As we got deeper in the heart of the Sacred Inca Valley, plains dressed up in green and luxurious vegetation and mountains stood high again, wooded and powerful. We were reaching our destiny.

The air was full of humidity when we arrived at the crowded station at Aguas Calientes. The smell of petrol mixed with the odor of species from a near market saturated my nose.

We needed to take the buses to the ruins but first, we had to go through a street crowded with stalls, a kind of colorful and touristic street market full of people dressed in traditional costumes and trying to get a paid photography with them.

The buses followed a steeped, narrow road that climbed uphill bravely. A faint and mysterious mist covered everything when the first ruins appeared in front of my wide-open eyes. 

I began to send SMS to my family and selected friends (international messages were pretty expensive those days, especially for students like I was). I needed to share it. I did really need it.

It was cloudy, very cloudy, when the bus stopped. I was desperately searching for the famous panoramic view of the city. But I could only see a thick fog, hooked and intimately attached to the ruins. 

I was so desolated. I had travelled for more than 9000 kilometers just to watch a diffuse landscape masked by an impervious and inscrutable mist. Damn it!

But maybe ancient Inca Gods heard my curses and took pity on me, because the fog opened suddenly, freeing the peaks and showing that sacred place for a few minutes in full splendor. 

Citadel is settled on the hillside between the mounts Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu and surrounded by the river Urubamba. A breathtaking view of sharp green mountains, deep cliffs and lush nature.

I couldn’t speak for a while. I was able to feel the antique and primeval magic of the place sparkling in the air around me, sizzling on my skin. No matter how hard I try to find the right words, I’ll never be able to describe that feeling in justice, so powerful it was.

Centuries of history were showing up in front of me. Thousands of lives, an old empire, a whole world now vanished arouse again for a while to my amazed eyes and my hectic mind.

I almost run recklessly direct to the ruins, so huge my desire was, forgetting the vertical rocky walls and the dizzying fall. 

But when the guided tour started, that hefty feeling grew even stronger. The amazing Inca building ability was represented beautifully in those carved and smooth rocks, joined intimately with no mortar at all. Walls and buildings that survived over earthquakes, conquerors and wars, standing against the fierce bite of time and men.

From the most sacred temples, placed to receive the first sunray in special festivities, to the sundial, as big as enigmatic, or the startling landscape, taken out from my wildest dreams, everything linked me to a remote past that was still very present, alive among all those roofless buildings. 

Time flew without noticing it while I was pervading myself in the history of the ancient city. I didn’t realize a soft rain soaking my raincoat. My senses were focused on the sight of the landscape, the smell and sounds of the untamed nature around us and the touch of the soft, centenary stones on my fingertips. I was fascinated.

The visit finished soon but a painful farewell started. I came back to Cusco, Lima and ultimately to Badajoz. The return trip was kind of a dream, where it was difficult to discern what my feelings were and what my imagination had fabricated.

But even now, 16 years later, a significant part of me remains there, attached to the levelly and straight walls of the buildings, walking across its streets, drinking from the waters of past and living a live that I never knew in a world that’s long gone.

If magic exists, if it really does, I experienced that day in the streets and temples of the sacred city of Machu Picchu.

  • Ignacio García Hermosell
  • : I'm a Spanish biologist, tireless reader and always curious. I'm desperately in love with travelling, writing and catching the beauty of nature through my camera. I try to help young biologists through my blog, so they can find their way and to increase their chances of success when accessing their first job.
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  • : I'm a passionate biologist and scientific communicator trying to guide young biology students in the complicated but fascinating process to become biologist. Through the blog I talk about biology, science, work outings and the daily life of a biologist. Don't mind if you are a student, early graduated o just a biology fan, if you want to know about the work we biologist do and the infinite possibilities our profession offers, this is the right place.
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