Tawantinsuyu – The Four Provinces

December 2001
Kenda and Verdon give us a book as a Christmas present: 10 Places You Must See Before You Die’ which is a beautifully photographed series of places, amongst them is this image of Machu Picchu. I can remember during some of our stressful times running the office and working long hours picking up this book and imagining one day visiting Machu Picchu. Always afraid of Peru after a friend lost his sister there after she was mugged.
January 2017
Rising out of the clouds is a tremendous mountain range, far more prominent than anything else that we’ve ever seen. An early morning mist hangs throughout the valley after a night of rain, it’s cool and humid.
We enter from the side and the guide explains to us some of the general facts about the place, we walk along a pathway leading to a corner, as we turn the corner the most fantastic vista opens up in front of us, pretty much the image from the book; terraces of grass retained by stone walls striping their way up the mountain side to a cluster of buildings perched on the top of the mountain, like a fairytale scene, pitched roofs, terraced walls and winding steps. Courtyard gardens, framed trees and spiralling walls.
Nothing prepares you for this, photos and videos cannot show you the sheer scale and beauty of the place, one theory is that it wasn’t a village or settlement but more likely a palace for the Inca emperor. This I believe, as the way it is laid out and built with its hierarchy of buildings, terraces and walkways suggests that it was a special place.
Channels cut into the stone drain water through the structures, windows are placed to catch the sunlight at specific times, a compass rock tells the day and time, walls built from interlocking stones defy the logic of what we believe these people were capable of.
When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the late 1500s it is suggested that the Incas fled into the jungle, deliberately deserting Machu Picchu so that it wasn’t discovered and demolished which had been the case with other Inca settlements. It is thought that German and British explorers rediscovered it in the late 1800s and may have plundered it for its artefacts, however it was not until 1911 that Hiram Bingham III an American explorer made its location known.
You stand and look, try to imagine what it was like, what would have been happening here. So little is known about it as there are very few written records about the Incas.
It is a wonderful place, it leaves an imprint in your memory and there is no need for photos or videos.
Mark, Machu Picchu, Peru, 26 January 2017
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