Back in Aguas Calientes I spend the last hour or so walking the streets and waiting for my train — the Vistadome, train 32 back to Cusco.
The train oozes luxury from the momentI board. It is lined with big beautiful windows and I find myself sitting at a clothed table with a small family. We are served tea and juice and vegetable pizza as soon as we leave the station.
Out of the big windows the sacred river passes by, rushing whitewater crashing and swirling against the rocks in the middle. We cruise by the ruins and the last campsite we stayed at on the night before we reached Machu Picchu. It’s beautiful.
Trains are incredible and this is quickly turning into one of my favorite parts of the whole trip, watching the river and mountains and valley wash by from the relaxing seat in this luxury train.
We pass through tunnels and around the hooks and bends of the lush valley. Always the green trees and whitewashed river by our side. The sun peeks through the granite mountain caps, sheer and jagged as if they plunged up from the earth only yesterday.
These mountains are young and the energy is palpable. The clouds curl and cover the granite caps, a dressing or fancy toupee for these baby giants, knife edges jutting from the green earth.
Boulders the size of buildings have found themselves in the middle of the river. They are calm and strong, unmoving and sturdy as the whitewater crashes around them. Glaciers fill the skyline.
History is alive in this place, that’s one reason it feels so special here. The ruins provide a glimpse into a time that once was. It was not a simpler time, it was just as deep and rich with knowledge and culture and live and pain and life and death. And even deeper in some ways: reverence for nature and life. Now we have faster communication and new technology and life-saving medicine, but at what cost? People are healthier and live longer, that’s certain. Most people in western societies live without fear of war and famine and drought, a boon for sure. But what have we lost? There is a hole in my soul as if something is missing, as if something is broken. I’ve felt it since I was very young…do you feel it too? It is a disconnect, and I fear it cannot be undone.
The blue train snakes through the valley along the river for miles and miles, undoing the progress of our hike, within hours we are back to the starting point of the Inca Trail. All of it washed away just like that. Life is momentary. Life is passing and ephemeral. There is nothing to hold on to, only a view as it passes by — pleasing or disgusting, it matters little. It is only in passing.
There is nothing that stays the same and every moment is a once in a lifetime moment. I will likely never be back here, and even if I do come back it will never be the same. You can never go back to a moment. You can never have any of it back and you never had it to begin with. This is not an explanation of why to do anything or not do anything else, it’s simply a matter of fact. The world is passing by and our lives and consciousness with it. We are floating down the stream. We are clicking down the tracks. To where? I certainly don’t know.
I do know that I would rather enjoy my time than be miserable and I will do anything within my ability to be happy.
And I’m never happier than when I’m moving forward…whatever that means.
Literally it means traveling to a new place or walking through the woods or riding my bike or relaxing on this beautiful train. Emotionally it means learning more about myself, my loved ones and the world we live in and with.
The granite facades are imposing. In them I see faces and figures. Like a cloud, I can see my future and past if I stare hard enough. The ledges and shadows tell the secrets of my psyche.
These cliff faces tell the history of these mountains. The river carries the story away. The clouds wisp listlessly, caressing the granite towers. The wind whispers through the tall grass and trees that dress the sides of the overgrown rocks.
Then suddenly out of nowhere a costumed devil climbs from the doorway and dances in a crazy mask and then with some of the ladies on the train. Everyone is clapping and laughing and this is of course the best way to travel: The trees out the window. Glaciers in the distance. The river forever our traveling companion.
I am content in this moment.
Dusk settles in to the sacred valley. Soon it will be dark. The valley will be secret and silent again. The sacred valley will sleep.
I can see the future in this moment and I know I will be back at a very meaningful time in my life. Or maybe I am only seeing the present through some strange timeless lens where the past, present and future are all wrapped up into one fleeting moment. The stream is alive. The stream is pervasive and yet nowhere at all. It is untouchable yet it is everywhere. It is indescribable yet everything in the universe describes it, from the vast miracle of human consciousness to the smallest pebble.
The energy flows through this valley with the wind and water. It flows and eddies around the boulders. It is invisible but absolutely present. This is a special place in the world and I’m happy to be here now.
See you soon friends.