Monday, June 28, 2010

Above the Clouds

I spent the last night of my Machu Picchu trek at Phuyupatamarca, an Inca word meaning "place above the clouds." We camped at 11,500 feet in elevation and looked down on a cloud rain forest. The photo above is of clouds spilling over the mountaintop.

Being above or within clouds is a mystical experience. There is something magical in being close enough to clouds that you can touch them. Several of my fellow trekkers commented on how awesome it was to look down on a sea of clouds spilling over the mountains as if being poured out of a bowl.

The next morning, we hiked up to a high place to watch the sunrise on Salcantay, a sacred mountain to the Incas. Our guide had each of us take three coca leaves, say a prayer and blow on them three times. This ancient ritual was moving when framed against the first rays of light on the high, snow-capped mountains. The photo below shows what we saw.

Ancient peoples expressed gratitude and awe at the sunrise and sunset, as well as many other wonders of the natural world. There is something so right and so very human about continuing this tradition.

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