Machu Picchu–A beautifully Ugly Day!

The students are currently on service.  All are safe, and well!  Until we visit them and can provide more accurate updates and photos, we’ll be posting several journal entries from the last 6 weeks of study.

Posted by: Abby Banning; photos by Bekah Shrag and Lena Charles

I rolled over to turn off my alarm and the clock read 4:15 a.m.  I was so excited that I jumped out of bed and got ready in about 15 minutes.  People arrived to breakfast running their eyes groggily and I greeted them with a smile.  As we stumbled into the dark, rainy street, my mood was momentarily altered but I quickly sprang back assuring myself, “the rain will clear up soon.”  The bus ride was view-less due to the clouds, but I wasn’t worried.  My attitude was still positive as we waited in the long line in the rain, and I even smiled at the people who cut in front of me in line!

Once we entered the park, it was not at all what I expected.  For some reason, I had never expected that Machu Picchu was a place where people lived, I had only thought of it as a mountain.  As the rain persisted, my positivity waned.  I managed to laugh at the fact that we could not see a thing at the foto classico point, but more in a “laughing through tears” kind of way.

The more our guide David talked, the more it rained, the more depressed I became.  When the tour was finally over and I was able to eat something, I was feeling good enough to smile again.  A few girls and I decided to tackle the beast of a hike that is Waynapicchu, and I’m so glad we did.

The instant we stepped through the gate that starts the hike, we felt like we were transported to the heart of the jungle, an image aided by the constant drizzle.  Starting out, I was all smiles and laughs, and then the difficult stuff started.  Adventure mode clicked in and I loved it: the physical challenge, the beautiful landscape, the company.  That journey really made the trip worth it for me.  Although I was drenched once we reached the top, I felt refreshed and rejuvenated.  Climbing back down down the mountain was a bit of a different story, but still an experience I won’t forget.

Visiting one of the Wonders of the World is supposed to be such a picturesque photo op.  I went in with high expectations and was initially disappointed.  But rather than holding onto the negativity, I’ve decided to think of it as a beautiful metaphor for life.  Because, let’s face it, sometimes life sucks.  Sometimes it’s wet and messy and cold and you want to give up and go home.  But when you don’t quit and persevere, something amazing happens.  Those tough-to-beautiful moments are what make life worth living.

As the wise Albus Dumbledore once said, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of places, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”