I’ve always heard about Machu Picchu and how incredible it is and how amazing Incas built it high in the mountains by hand and how it was lost for hundreds of years. It is all of that and much more. During my Peru workshop I am lucky to have local guide Fernando Baca Callapina showing us around the area. Fernando lives in Cusco, not too far from Machu Picchu and is of Spanish and Quechua descent, the indigenous people of the area. He speaks Quechua and several other languages but his pride is very much his Quechua roots, which means he’s a descendent of the Incas.
Machu Picchu, which translates to Old Mountain in Quechua, was built as a spiritual retreat, which was something new to me. It wasn’t a fort or built to hide from enemies, it was built to honor an Inca ruler and his spiritual advisors. Fernando talked about how the Incas worshipped the sky, water and particularly mother earth or Pachamama. He told about how Pachamama gives to people and how people are grateful to all things given by Pachamama.
Walking through the ruins it was hard to image 750 people living there and why and how they build a city up on a mountain. The terraces are spectacular and the buildings stunning. Of course they have been reconstructed but it is hard to imagine the work needed to build it 800 years ago.
As we neared the end of our day in Machu Picchu, Fernando gathered us all off to the side in a separate building. He gave each of us some essential oils and asked the 10 of us to hold hands and form a circle. In Quechua he proceeded to give thanks to Pachamama in a very moving ceremony. There we were, in an ancient city, mountain peaks protruding up around us, honoring Mother Earth and feeling deep energy emitting from the old stones. Fernando gave a special place special meaning.