Have you ever been to the edge of the earth? Have you ever been so high up yet felt so grounded that you forgot you were on the edge of a precipice? Have you ever seen the sun fade beyond the mountains and known peace? I have. Last weekend, with three amigas, I ventured up the 4000 meters to the volcanic rock formations of Marcahuasi to breathe the crisp air and to camp beneath the Milky Way. With every trip I take, I feel that I have entered a different world. How can one country be home to so many universes? The beauty here never ceases to astound me.
|San Pedro de Casta|
|In San Pedro de Castas|
Of course, the trip was not without its difficulties. Two combi rides, one wrong stop, and several ambiguous directives from well-meaning Peruvians—we finally made it to the bus station in Chosica where we were going to jump on and enjoy the 3 hour ride up to San Pedro de Castas. There was only one small problem. The bus had already left! Being the resourceful students that we are, we quickly entered into a deal with another mis-timed couple and contracted a colectivo with them. Seven of us piled into a typical (i.e. not large) taxi, and up the mountain we went, determined to make it to camp before dusk.
|Waiting for the engine to cool|
Photo by Melanie McGuire
But then…about two and a half hours into the journey our little red caboose just could not anymore. With steam seeping out of the gasping engine, we had to evacuate the vehicle for a half hour as it cooled down to a safe level. Our drinking water was donated to the cause of Operation Engine Cool Down. Once more we were off, and we finally arrived in the town of San Pedro de Castas, from which we were to embark on a 4 to 6 hour hike up to the camp site. However, trying to avoid trekking in the dark, we contracted horses for a quicker journey. Giddy yup!
|Photo by Kourtney Liepelt|
Finally, after a breath-taking ride up, we made it to the camp site. I can see why mystics believe that aliens placed the rocks there. In the stones’ gnarled knuckle curves and majestic spindles, hidden faces reveal themselves to the careful observer. It felt as though they had been alive before but now were so incredibly dormant, these sleeping beauties bestowed a sense of heavy peace upon the entire range. Nothing could disturb its dead slumber. When I sat on the edge of the mountain range, watching grace in the form of a sunset, I felt as though a magnetic field was keeping me anchored to the spot. Everything felt grounded and whole. Complete.
At night, we gazed upon the Milky Way, mesmerized. Marveling. How big is the universe. How small are we. Flickering flames of the fire licked at the wood as we contemplated and conversed. Sleep evaded our frost-covered bodies as we shivered through the night in our sleeping bags.
The morning sun greeted us as an old friend, warm and familiar. We hiked a bit more, headed down the path, and set off once again for Lima. Content with the pace of nature, I have been carried through the week by the serenity of Marcahuasi. Her beauty calls to all who are willing to listen.
|Photo by Kourtney Liepelt|