More likely, it’s just my failing memory.
You see, I started thinking.
And, it finally hit me.
My thoughts started whirling when I received the following email from my cousin Martin:
“I’m emailing from a train going to Machu Picchu.”
What an amazing sentence! I was flabbergasted!
I mean, really.
Think about it.
He was emailing me ... from a train ... going to Machu Picchu.
What a time we live in! When thousands of miles away, I can “talk” with my cousin while he is traveling on a train (a fairly modern invention, but not compared to a smartphone) making its way to the palace of an Inca Emperor Pachacuti from the early 1400s — 600 years ago — or perhaps a sacred religious site, long forgotten and built roughly two miles above sea level in the mountains of Peru.
Oh. My bad. I’m a-guessin’ most people don’t know much about Machu Picchu.
I certainly didn’t.
Here’s a little more Reader’s Digest-sized info, according to my research.
The mountain Huayna Picchu overlooks the ruins of Machu Picchu, which is located on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley through which the Urubamba River runs. The Incas started building it during the pinnacle of their reign. It was abandoned about 100 years after it was started before the Spanish Conquest of the area. In fact, it is believed the Spanish never even found out about it.
Machu Picchu now is an important tourist attraction. Many of the buildings have been reconstructed. By 1976, 30 percent of Machu Picchu had been restored and this continues today. It was named a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
And here’s an additional tidbit.
It’s appropriate and right that everything has aligned properly for today because just two days from now, on July 24, is the anniversary of the rediscovery of this pre-Columbian 15th century, much debated Inca site. I only wish I had “discovered” this fact last year, because last year was the 100th anniversary on which Hiram Bingham, American historian, found the site again after around 400 years of it being “lost” to the world. Well, not precisely completely lost. The locals knew all about it. It appears — or rather, didn’t appear — to the rest of the world. That’s all.
Just the fact that he is in Peru is pretty amazing to me, but then again, my cuz has turned out to be somewhat of a world traveler. He’s been all over, mostly with some member of his family or two. He has four kids, after all. I don’t remember all the places, but I believe he went to Chile and then took a boat around Cape Horn and ended up in Grenada, if my memory serves. I know he took a church mission trip to Nome, Alaska, and then a trip to Norway or Sweden. Russia was another.
I know he’s been in Germany and Austria a fair amount as well. He’s part German and part Austrian with family still in both.
Where else? Where else? I’m trying to remember. As I said before, I should have paid better attention.
Africa? Oh, yeah! Morocco and the Northern Coast of Africa. May even have ventured onto the Rock of Gibraltar while there. I do remember he told me a story about seeing three ladies jogging together through the cobble-stoned streets in 100-plus degree weather. One had traditional sweatsuit garb on. The other, a hijab headscarf with a more Western top and pants. And the third jogger was wearing a full burka, traditional muslim dress for women, which covered her entire body except for her eyes — all in the color black.
And, of course, he’s traveled all across the U.S. already as well. Don’t know if he’s made it to Canada or Mexico, yet.
You learn a lot by traveling. I really envy my cousin this. But he made a point of doing it. Good for him!
You see, I just remembered that Mart must have traveled to dozens of other places because I believe he long ago told me he likes to take a trip every year. I could be imagining that, but it sounds familiar.
Now, getting back to my cousin’s original email. Imagine the Incas 600 years ago and wishing they had a train to go up to their newly built emperor’s lodge, yet alone a communication device being carried amongst the 600-year-old ruins. How all of these centuries and cultures have come together in one place is astounding.
The juxtaposition of it all!
But, back to my cuz. All of my cousin’s travels have made me think of him as a not-too-distant descendant of Phileas Fogg, the fella in that Jules Verne book. You know the one I mean — “Around the World in 80 Days.” This fella, Phileas, makes a bet with some members of the club he belongs to, London’s Reform Club. With a mixed bag of characters, Phileas makes it back to London — but after the deadline. Dejected and scorned, it takes Phileas almost a full day to realize he had returned almost an entire day early, thanks to having an extra day added to his timeline by crossing the international dateline.
Well, that’s the short of it. The long of it includes a myriad of colorful characters, nefarious experiences, harrowing adventures, lifelong friendships made, and of course, love and romance, as well as the sweet taste of snatching success out of the jaws of defeat.
Now Martin took a plane, as well as a train, and probably an automobile somewhere during his trip. Don’t know if he had any harrowing adventures or not. But I’m sure he loved just about every minute of it. He’s just that type of fella — a fella who emails from a train on the way to Machu Picchu.
I kinda, sorta feel like I’ve been there myself now, living vicariously through him.
And, getting back for just one more second to the 101st anniversary of the rediscovery event, I had a thought. Maybe I’m not really late after all. Maybe this is the 100th anniversary of the rediscovery of Macchu Picchu. I think I saw an international dateline sometime in September of last year. Didn’t you? Well, I can certainly give it a try. After all, it worked for Phileas.
Hey Mart, just had a thought. How about Popocatepetl next year? That’ll be another story.