Two Days

Before my trip to Peru, I was well aware that this would be a trip of a lifetime. Even if I hadn’t already thought this, everyone I knew was sure to tell me.  As you all know, one of my life goals is to not have expectations set too high.  So this felt dangerous to me, to hear so many folks talk about bucket lists and dreams come true.

As a way to try to tamp down my expectations, I did not do ANY research on Peru or Machu Picchu prior to the trip. From our hotel in Cusco, we took a minibus to Ollanta Station (1.5 hours) and then took the Vistadome train to Machu Picchu City (another 1.5 hours).  Then there was the tourist coach up the side of the mountain (hint: if you are afraid of heights, always try to avoid the window seats on a trip like this).  On this last leg of the trip to the site, I reflected that I really didn’t know anything at all about Machu Picchu, with the exception of the altitude – 8,000 feet.

Turns out that there isn’t a massive amount to know. The pre-Andeans had abandoned the site centuries before it was re-discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and they left no written record.  In fact “Machu Picchu” is just the name given to the site in the local dialect and means “old mountain”.  Archaeologists and scientist are pretty sure what many of the buildings were for: homes, palace for the Inca when he visited, security look-out and even a temple (although they only believe this because on the winter solstice the sun shines directly through the main window of the building) but other than that, they don’t know much about how life was lived here.

As I stood gazing out over the stone buildings I was struck with a strong desire to go back in time for just a couple of days to see what life was like when Machu Picchu was populated. How did they live, what did they eat, what were their favorite past times?  Of course it would be nice to know why they abandoned the settlement, but if I only have two days, I don’t think I want it to be the last two days!

 Two days to visit a time in the past. Just two.  When and where do you choose?  (And an absolute guarantee you can get back home after the two days!)

16 thoughts on “Two Days”

  1. I’ve heard many people talk about going there. It really does seem like a bucket list place.
    Thanks for the background on it.
    But you didn’t really say if you liked it or not? Did you enjoy being there?

    I get wanting to go back and see how it was. I’m sorry to keep coming back to this, but I wonder so often how things looked when this farm first started. I’d love to spend a couple days back about 1940.

    But then wouldn’t it be cool to hang out with Queen about 1975, or a lady lighting designer named Tharron Musser; just be a fly on the wall in a theater with her.
    Or Michelangelo.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I supposed since this is the fourth post I put up about Peru that you all would probably have guessed that it was wonderful. It was way too short for what was available to be seen and done but I feel like I saw and did a lot. From holding a baby llama to Machu Picchu to finding an old book under glass in a museum in Lima that had my client’s logo on it. It was wild, it was fascinating, it was wonderful.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. RIse and Shine Baboons,

        I have been considering this answer since reading the post. While there are so many times I would want to experience, my mind always returns to settling the American West as a woman. What would that have been like? I can imagine some things, but there must be so many things I can hardly conceive of because I just don’t know about them. The things I do think about: managing cooking around a fire in a long dress, walking along a covered wagon and oxen over the prairie (I dream about that sometimes. HMMM); managing a menstrual period in completely primitive settings (not to mention pregnancy, childbirth, nursing a baby), hearing the quiet of an unsettled prairie. And on and on.

        Could I even do it for 2 days? I doubt it.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. I’m perfectly content to have read and seen films about early frontier life. No desire to witness it first hand. I’m not tough enough for that, I know it, not even for two days.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. The question to consider, given that you only have two days, is whether to go back for an event or for people you’d like to observe and perhaps meet.

    My choices all centered on people, though soaking in their surroundings and the social atmosphere would certainly be an important part. If your choice involves a group of people, it becomes more important to find an historical sweet spot where you would be most likely to find them all together.

    My first inclination was to go back to Concord, Massachusetts in the Fall of 1842. Emerson and Thoreau were vigorous. William and Ellery Channing were around. Margaret Fuller was living in Concord and editing the Transcendentalist publication, The Dial. The Alcotts were renting a house in town. In 1843, they would move to Harvard, Massachusetts to engage in Bronson Alcott’s communal utopian experiment, Fruitlands. Newly married Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife Sophia Peabody had just moved to town. I couldn’t expect to meet Hawthorne, who was notoriously shy and reclusive, but I might at least observe him on the street or walking the hill behind his house. In January of 1842, both Thoreau’s brother, John, and Emerson’s son Waldo died, so the mood might be still somewhat subdued, but, as I said, by the next year the Alcotts would be gone for a while.

    I would have also liked to meet Franklin B. Sanborn, but in 1842 he was ten years old and living in New Hampshire. It would be about 17 years before he settled in Concord. By that time, Thoreau was sick and Margaret Fuller was dead.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It was part confluence and part center of gravity, I think. Certainly Emerson and Thoreau and the Channings were native, but some of the others were drawn there by the vibe and for the association. I’m always on the lookout for those confluences of connection.

    Another such nexus of great interest to me, although many of the individuals represented there are not as widely remembered as are the Concord group, is a beer hall at 647 Broadway in Manhattan known as Pfaff’s Cellar. Pfaff’s Cellar was a meeting place and social center for a group of artists, writers and actors who were among the first in America to call themselves Bohemians. The most famous (now) of this Bohemian group is Walt Whitman, but at the time the group included numerous nationally recognized and celebrated figures, each of them meriting an in-depth biography, of which I have several.

    My two-day visit would hopefully coincide with the visit to Pfaff’s of Adah Isaacs Menken in the summer of 1860. She was a sometime actress and writer but mostly she was a celebrity in the way the Kardassians are celebrities. Her notoriety came from her performance in a play written by Byron, called Mazeppa, in which she played the title character, a young man who had been caught in an affair with a married noblewoman. The husband of the noblewoman punishes Mazeppa by stripping him naked and tying him to the back of a wild horse and setting the horse loose. He is found and rescued by the Cossacks and eventually becomes their leader.
    Menken’s portrayal, which was about 90% sensation and 10% acting, featured her in a flesh-colored bodysuit, to which she was stripped and lashed to a live horse. The horse would then climb a theatrical mountain comprised of a series of disguised ramps until she was high in the theatre. It was dangerous and thrilling.

    When the Civil War broke out, some of the regulars at Pfaff’s enlisted in the Union Army and some became early war journalists. The confluence was never the same after the war.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. At the moment I’m vacillating between whether I’d want my two days with people or places. There’s also the choice between people I’ve met or known, and the multitudes I haven’t. Likewise for places. Since this is an imaginary exercise, I’d perhaps combine them, but I recognize that as a rabbit hole from which I’d not likely return anytime soon. Fortunately, I don’t think of time spent in pursuit of fantasies as wasted. If I combine it with doing a load of laundry, then it isn’t unproductive either. My mind is in a quiet place today, just enjoying the stillness of a grey day.

    A couple of days ago I received VS’s list of top ten books she had read last year, (thanks, VS) and I was pleased that she, too, had a book by recently deceased poet Louis Jenkins in the mix. I would love a lazy summer afternoon, nibbling on a sandwich and sipping a beer, fishing from the end of a pier with him. We’d probably be on a lake somewhere in Northern Minnesota. I love how his mind works: slow, gentle, deliberate, but with so many unexpected twists and turns.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. First thought was that I’d like to see the world(s) my four grandparents lived in when they were young adults, maybe right before WWI – maybe a couple of days around when they met.

    Remember the book Clan of the Cave Bear? How in those 3 or 400 pages she discovered fire, tamed a horse… I’d like to be there for
    the first some some person intentionally lit a fire;
    the first time a group of people intentionally danced together;
    or put together a structure that could be called a house.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I think a visit to Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top for a couple of days would be as good an adventure as any. Sometime in the pre-WWI era when she was sketching and writing there.

    Liked by 1 person

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