At several spots amid the ruins,
the drops makes your stomach turn inside out. The
topography dances on a Cyclopean scale. And there
you stand amid it all, at the heart of this great,
once-forgotten arena. Little wonder the Incas revered
their mountains as living beings, apus.
They carved the upper edge of the
stone at the main temple to echo almost perfectly the
surrounding mountains and the river coursing around
them. The 'hitching post of the sun', smoothed and weathered,
is so deliberate in its shape — yet, at first,
it jars with its surroundings. Until, one day at the
winter solstice, it all makes sense, and the sun rises
to hit the highest stone.
the 'sacred stone', more a megalith, perhaps seven metres
across, three high at its peak, but only one or so thick.
At that size, atop this hill, it would be remarkable
in itself. Special certainly, sacred perhaps.
But it's only when you stand back,
look up, take in the peaks in the distance, that you
realise the stone's upper edge echoes the shape of the
peak directly adjacent to it — but about a mile
away from it. It's not perfect. It's not exact. But
it suddenly brings the magic of the place to life. Suddenly,
invisible gossamer threads span the gorges, travel miles,
Suddenly, you're seeing the rock
and the mountain with the eye of the Inca, standing,
same as you, gazing to the eastern horizon where the
sun limbers into the sky. You're there.
With him, with
her. The same sun. The same mountain. The very same
And through that link, that invisible
century-spanning filament, you also travel back, inward,
to a spiritual place where all is alive — animated
with the same life force that drives the sap up the
tree, the river to the sea, Man to his grave. The Incas'
grasp, their concept of their natural world is irresitible
to us urban-bound, aseptic-malled 21st-century tourists.
Their affinity with Nature, their mastering of the elements,
their spiritual alliances with the forces at work around
them, all make you grieve for their lost civilisation
— while relishing the small part which we can
clasp to us and cherish.