Monday, July 11, 2011

On Machu Picchu

A trip to Macchu Pichu meant an early rise and an hour and a half train trip to the tourist town of Aguas Calientes. As we rode on “Peru Rail” along the Urumbamba River, we had both riveting vistas coupled with a complimentary snack that even Chris Farley wouldn’t touch (essentially flower covered in bad chocolate). The main plaza of Aguas Calientes consisted of several classy buildings alongside eateries, featuring a sign with an extremely racist cartoon depiction of a “chino” (Peruvians assume all Asians to be Chinese) basking in the sun with a bowl of noodles. After what seemed like a long wait in this Gringo oriented Hell hole, we began our climb up narrow switchbacks to Macchu Pichu via bus. Affected by queasiness and near death experiences at every turn, the 16 Groton students dismounted gratefully onto terra firma. Our guide introduced himself to us, but the mysteries he described about Incan civilization and the construction of Macchu Pichu didn’t match the mysteries of his dialect and pronunciation. He looked somewhat like a husky, short Peruvian version of Sean Connery and his voice conjured his inner Gorbachev despite his Peruvian and Spanish background. Understandably, about one in five words spoken could be considered English. As he trundled around the ancient ruins with his beautifully groomed sole-patch, we heard “Hiram Bingham”, “Macchu Pichu”, and “Inca” interspersed among mumbles that only a KGB trained decoder could fully comprehend. Due to the prominent language barrier, we quickly crafted a game of pure skill: a photography contest of our guide. Discreet shots ranged from goofiness to pure toughness not unlike a portly Vlad the Impaler. If you want to see award winning photographs, email or check the Facebooks of Mitchell Zhang, Bobby Min, or Nick Funnell.
Cynicism aside, the ruins of Machu Picchu are quite incredible. Using flawless Tetris skills, the Incans were able to construct a town full of architectural masterpieces perched atop a mountain using methods still unknown to us. Credible scholars say the Incans made the city using only manpower and other stones as tools. Less credible scholars, such as Sinclaire Brooks, offer alien invasion as the reason for the magnificent dwelling. Whatever the reason, extraterrestrial or not, Macchu Pichu could best be described as majestic.

Hugh McGlade and Nick Funnell


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