“Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”
Co-founder, Jennifer, looking out at Machu Picchu in Peru.
With the peaceful sound of hand carved flutes softly drifting from the speakers, I looked out the window as we snaked our way up the mountain. I woke up at 3:45AM, left all of my luggage (besides a small backpack) at the hotel, and wiped sleep from my eyes as I waited in line for the bus to head up the mountain.
Jagged, craggy edges of land surrounded the van on all sides and I could see the excitement in my fellow travelers’ eyes—we were here, slowly making the journey up to Machu Picchu. It didn’t seem real.
We made it to the top, waited in a short line to get through the gate by 6:00AM, raced around the corner, and finally saw it. There amongst the rugged landscape, that of its own accord was breathtaking, sat the infamous ruins of Machu Picchu.
After snapping pictures of the iconic view, we started wandering around inside the ruins. Making our way through organized streets, admiring agricultural terraces, and stepping inside homes that were inhabited long ago. There was an electricity in the air. This place was humming.
The place Inca kings stood to address the residents of Machu Picchu.
As I stood on a tall cliffside resembling a large stage, looking down at a patch of green grass below, the guide explained to me that this is where Inca kings stood to address the community. And suddenly it hit me. As I stepped closer to the edge, my mind flashed backwards and I was pulled into a different time. I saw a crowd of people below, rapt at attention as the king raised his arm in the air, an emphasis on an encouraging speech. I was there. Standing right in that same spot. It didn’t matter that hundreds upon hundreds of years separated us, I could almost see the past laid out vividly in front of me.
I so badly wished I could inhabit that time warp—I had so many questions and so much I wanted to learn from the inhabitants of Machu Picchu. I wanted to sit down and talk to someone who lived there, to become friends with them, to understand their relationships and culture and lives.
My new friend, "Gina" the llama.
That’s the beautiful thing about traveling, it doesn’t matter how many hundreds or thousands of years separates people, there is something so solid about taking a footstep you know another human has taken. There is something absolutely calming and transformational to realize that you are walking a path that ancestors, families, and friends once walked before you existed.
Traveling connects us to our history, it reminds us of our humanness. It sparks a fire in us that is, at times, insatiable. Learning about the past and different cultures are revolutionary concepts that, I believe, unite rather than divide. It is a special thing to open your heart to the possibilities of diversity, history, and culture; to be willing to learn outside of your boundaries and to connect with humans (past, present, and future) from different cultures and places.
Stay tuned as I share more insights and some great, colorful pictures from my adventure in Peru!