After the day’s long, snowy trek up Salkantay Pass our arrival at Wayra Lodge had been punctuated with “oohs and ahhs” as the Garbage Bag Brigade lowered their weary bodies into the steaming waters of the bubbling “yacuzzi”. As we settled in, feeling our tired muscles loosen, almost immediately, a single ray of sunlight lit up the pinnacled summit of Humantay.
The sunlight, the wispy clouds, and the steam filled air stole the breath out of the weary travelers, until one by one, with their mouths agape, “wows” were uttered around the tub.
As if the silence following the chorus of “wows” were a cue, the single ray of sunlight multiplied until the surrounding peaks were illuminated in a mosaic of dreamy yellows and oranges.
Puka Puka, Salkantay, Pumasillu, and Tukarway
The jagged edges of the magnificent Vilcabamaba Range were ignited in the early evening light, as if lit up by licking flames that could only have been sent by the Sun.
“C’mon. The clouds are gone. Ya gotta see the stars,” said Ricki, turning to me as we took the last few savory bites of our evening meal.
I excused myself from the table, grabbed my jacket and followed him to the center of the courtyard, careful to dodge the land mines of donkey droppings that littered the grassy knoll.
“Look over to your left, above the chimney of the Lodge,” instructed Ricki pointing up over my left shoulder. “It’s the Southern Cross. It can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere and for the Inca’s signified Cuzco, the center of the Incan empire.”
“And over here, at the very bottom of the Southern Cross, you can see Yutu, in English it means Tinamou, a bird that lives here, in Peru.”
The lull of Ricki’s voice, the crash of the river below, and ribbon of stars nestled deep into the navy of the night sky. I was lost in the ancient magic of the Incas.
Urcuchillay, Atoq, Hanp’atu, Mach’acuay. The Llama, The Fox, The Toad, The Serpent.
I was humbled at the enormity of it all.
Humbled in the meaning that can be found in the inky black sky in the midst of the ancient spirits. The honor in the education that I was being provided. And the fact that these constellations served as a map to lead others home in the dead of the night and as a method of teaching the young ones important life lessons.
I let the magic in the moment fill the inner reaches of my being; and my soul, my entire self, let go.
Photo Credits: Tommy Sims, Tommy Sims Dezigns