Machu PicchuWhen pure good fortune results in one being able to give one’s mom the trip to a place she has always dreamed of going to for Mother’s Day, you know it’s both great but problematic. After all, how on earth do you top that?

“Top” being the appropriate word, as my mom and I made our way via an unscheduled stop in Ecuador to Lima in Peru, to Cusco, to the rural village of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Our eventual destination? 7,710 feet/ 2,350 meters to the top of a mountain ringed by the Andes: to Machu Picchu.

My mom had dreamed about visiting this lost city of the Incas, and of course I have hoped to experience this place that so many say have a particular energy about it, in addition to its unique history and incredible architecture.

It is a special place, and no photo can do justice to it. (Although I hope that you will browse my photoessay when I put it up :0) Machu Picchu is a place of immense peacefulness and tranquility. Once you’ve explored the numerous crannies, it’s impossible to ignore the desire to find a sunny, enveloping place to sit, complete with a wonderful vista and an intimate atmosphere. Yes, it is quite easy to feel like you’ve cornered a personal spot to simply sit, sun and contemplate.

Researchers posit that Machu Picchu was a place for spiritual purposes, and it certainly reminded me of that calm and serene atmosphere of a monastery or shrine to which believers might pilgrim irregularly.

The myriad of steps and precipitous ascents and descents will leave you out of breath, as will the views. Oh yes, as might the altitude. But before you slow to a snail’s panting pace, just bear in mind that my septuagenarian mom will passing you (or at least be hot on your tail.)

Yes. Sans trekking poles (poor planning on my part), she scrambled, climbed and strode her way from one corner to the other. The whole experience left me awed over all: awed by the stunning location, but much moreso by my mom. Let’s hope I got those genes!

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