This story is (mostly) fiction. But it’s quite entertaining if you use your imagination. And who knows? It could have been true.
After a couple of days of non-incidents, my guard was still up. But on Saturday, November 28, I was about to achieve one of my life-long dreams – visiting the city lost Inca city of Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu is an amazing place. First built around 1450, it was undiscovered by the Spanish during their conquest of South America. Yet, only 100 years later, the Incas abandoned it. It is unknown why they did this. As I toured Machu Picchu, it was pretty clear why it was never discovered. Its altitude is a mile and a half high and it is out of the way. It is easily defended. And other than the stone buildings I’m not sure why the Spanish would want the city as there was no gold to loot.
Machu Picchu is a village of stone, housing approximately (in its heyday) 700 people. One of the cool things about it is that the stone tablets upon which the walls are built out of have no mortar between them. The rocks are cut perfectly fine. But not only that, they aren’t just square slabs of rock; instead, many pieces have multiple shapes and angles (and corners) indicating that they spent a heck of a long time carving these things out.
I spent a good amount of time wandering throughout the city, snapping photos and shooting video. The tour guide was humorous and he spoke English (always a relief; why is it that the language of computers is English but the language of the rest of the world is not?). I went through the various stone houses, saw the sculpture of the condor and saw the King’s room. It’s an absolutely amazing city and I recommend that everyone check it out one day, if you can. It was the highlight of my trip.
Well, not everything associated with Machu Picchu was a highlight.
After about 2 hours, the group disbanded and we were given free time to explore the premises. My friend, who was still a little miffed at me for throwing his iPod into Lake Titicaca, decided to split up from me and take some pictures at another part of the grounds. I, on the other hand, decided to show off (for no one in particular) by climbing a high part of the city that was up on a hill. I wanted to see the high building at the top. Surely if something was built that high up, there had to be something worthwhile seeing, wasn’t there? That was my theory, anyhow.
Now at this point, the crowds had dispersed from that part of the city. There didn’t seem to be anyone up there anymore. Machu Picchu has tons of tourists and that was something I didn’t like so much. But I figured that the Peruvians had to milk their capitalism for all it was worth and if people were willing to pay to get in, who was I to disagree? I told my friend I’d see him later and started going up a very high series of hills. I didn’t think he would be able to keep up with me, what with the altitude and me being a super-fit specimen of humanity and everything.
It took about 20 minutes to get to the top of the hill. By that point, I was kind of tired and I needed a rest but decided not to take one. I was too proud of myself for getting to the top without stopping. But at the top of the hill, while it looks like a series of steps from one side, on the other it is a pretty sheer drop down. If you were to fall off of there, you could suffer a pretty severe injury. I walked around a bit and kind of stretched out from side to side and peered down. I’m not good with heights, not after my accident in Fiji a couple of years ago. I leaned up against the wall, hummed a tune of some sort for some unknown reason, and then went to peer over the side again. “Whoa, too high,” I said, and started to back away. A misstep there would spell the end of me. I took one step back, and then a second, when I heard noise to my left. I turned to look to my left and saw a pebble rolling further away from me. It had clearly been tossed from the other side of me.
Suddenly, I felt a huge thud plow into me, sending me flying forwards. In that instant, I knew that the pebble had been tossed to distract me, in order to misdirect away from looking back and to my right. “Oof,” I grunted, not exactly sounding particularly clever. The force of the impact hurt; I felt it in my shoulder and right hip and the throbbing pain caused by the impact was causing me to lose my focus. But that wasn’t the worst part. The crash landing into me caused me to stumble forward right to the edge of the cliff! I was trying to stop myself but it was no use; I had lost my balance and had flown through the air a little bit. I tumbled over the side and began to panic. Would this be the end of me?
I flailed my arms out to the side as I sailed over the edge of the cliff. I fell for what seemed like an eternity but in reality was only one second because beneath the edge of the cliff, there was actually a small step pattern ledge right beneath it. I landed on that, kind of grunted again and rolled. I hadn’t seen it earlier because I didn’t want to get too close to the side of the mountain. Now that I was rolling off of it, my momentum was carrying me forward and this time, I knew for sure that if I could stop myself I would definitely plunge over the side, most likely to my death.
I tossed out my arms as I started skidding over the second ledge. I felt my feet go over, then my torso and then my chest. I was starting to panic, big time. But at the last second, my hands grabbed onto a rock. I clamped my fingers down on the rock and gripped on for dear life. I evaluated my position; I looked down and saw my legs dangling over the edge. Well, at least I hadn’t fallen down. I was just a little stuck. So long as my fingers didn’t slip I would probably be alright.
Just then, I felt an incredible throbbing pain in the fingers of my right hand. “Argh!” I shouted. I looked up. Standing above me was a guy with dark hair and a somewhat darker complexion, but he was clearly of Caucasian descent. He had a contemptuous smile on his face. I glared at him, he had just kicked me in the hand (jerk). My right hand had come loose immediately. “What the eff?” I yelled. I then looked up at his face. On the right side of his head, just by his eye, was a red mark that resembled the shape of an iPod. The crazy motor boat driver had come to finish me off.
“This is not good,” I mumbled under my breath.