Just thirteen degrees south of the equator I sat in the lobby of a hostel eating breakfast immersed in the sound of pouring rain striking the roof. So much for it being dry season in the Andes.
It’s early, and still very dark in the sleepy village of Ollantaytambo, Peru where the University of Utah cohort had arrived just hours earlier by bus, also in the dark.
We leave the hostel and walk the street, which now more closely resembles a canal, towards the town’s center of vitality, the train station.
Our journey shadows the Inka Trail through the Urubamba Gorge. In my mind I try not to invent scenarios of flooding, mudslides, or railway bandits as we chug along.
Hours later, we arrive safely in Auguas Calientes, referred to by the locals as Machu Picchu Pueblo. Different from our home-stays in mountainous Cusco, Machu Picchu Pueblo is a flourishing jungle teaming with banana trees and the sounds of unfamiliar birds.
Anticipation and excitement reign as we cross the threshold into the "lost city of the Incas”. "Old Mountain", the literal translation of Machu Picchu in the local language, Quechua, immediately becomes relevant.
Innumerous tour guides recount the same legends in a cornucopia of languages as they are followed intently by diverse hordes of tourists.