I’m heading to Peru to hike up the Ausangate Trail to Machu Picchu in a week and the magical aura is starting to dawn upon me. Everything I’ve heard has been nothing but positive. Am I tingling in giggly excitement or am I nervous in cold sweaty jitters? I think I am experiencing a bit of both. The positive promise, expectation, and forethought are as limited as the oxygen in Cusco at 3400m altitude; rave reviews, life changing experience, and personal enlightenment. Am I setting myself up for disappointment or am I harmonizing my pre-thoughts to a massive crescendo masterpiece upon arrival to the sacred Machu Picchu? I guess after hiking through a 10 day 5/5 difficulty G-adventures trail, I’ll have to live to tell the tale.
For the last few days, I’ve been quietly researching and superficially scouring through Lonely Planet books to orient myself to a trip of a lifetime. I’m trying to create that perfectly balanced preview trailer of this trip, doing my best not to spoil what remains as a remain itself (Machu Picchu), something of true mystery and intrigue, unknown to not only myself and its traveling tourists, but even to its indigenous natives, and to this day, unknown to all of mankind. The shock and awe will be automatic and expected, the anticipated allure of the unknown will still be unforgettable, the answers to the questions will still be questionable, and the oxymoronic memory of this place will be the biggest souvenir I’ll get to take back from any trip I’ve ever been on. The grandiose nature of this destination makes it almost impossible to think so highly of it, so can you really blame me for having such high hopes?
Anthony Bourdain says the older he gets, the more he travels, the less he knows. The more places he sees and experiences, the bigger he realizes the world to be, the more of it he becomes aware of, the more he realizes how little of it he knows, how many more places he has to go, how much more there is to learn. He says maybe that’s enlightenment enough, to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity, perhaps wisdom, such that it is for him, is realizing how small he is, how unwise he is, and how far he has yet to go.
Bourdain reaches this conclusion of thought after his trip to Machu Picchu…