Creativity requires movement – in your mind, your house, your street, your city.
You don’t need to go far to gain perspective; just getting out of bed affords the opportunity for the day to take you by surprise.
However, the occasions I’ve been able to travel further for work and into new cultures is something for which I am endless appreciative. Finding this work/adventure balance does take time and energy and definitely is more about seeking out ways to combine the two than waiting for them to happen to you. I’m always pitching for the assignments that feel right and putting myself forward for projects in new places. I think the scariest (yet most common) beast of all is lacking courage to go for what you want in fear of not getting it. This of course happens, but everything, everything leads to something else. It was this thought train that was running through my mind as I stood high in the mountains amongst the Incan ruins at Machu Picchu.
First time for Peru, First time for South America
The reason I’m here is because I went out on a limb and applied for an assignment with Photographers Without Borders a few short months ago. Most of my time in Peru is devoted to working on a partnership project with non profit Awamaki where I’ll be photographing their social and environmental impact. With a couple of days off to explore I figured I couldn’t stay right in the heart of the Sacred Valley without seeing this wonder of the world in real life.
Dawn hasn’t even yet broken and on a cool Sunday morning I board the Peru Rail in Ollantaytambo bound for Aguas Calientes. Wiping away patches of condensation I watch the world outside the windows wake up and the Urabamba river race alongside. We arrive in the little town (officially renamed Machupicchu Pueblo) and wind a further few hundred metres to the entrance gate. The perks of reaching the mountain early afford a quiet entrance dotted only with a few people and the heavy climb up ancient slabs of stone to the Sungate is peaceful. I can stop and be alone at points, just birds and butterflies around me. From the peak, high above the ciudad the sky seems to have pulled up the landscape bringing it closer to the heavens, the sky, and Machu Picchu just exists there, a intricate labyrinth of stone amongst bright green grass that appears organic.
It’s near impossible to believe humans created such a wonder and I can’t believe I’m actually here.
Guideless, I catch snippets of history in earshot of tours near the Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Condor, Sacred Rock. On the other side of Machu Picchu is the less known path to the Inca Bridge. After the trail turns to rock face with a guide rope I understand why I signed an in/out book at the trailhead. How many people fell creating this? The cliff is so steep that it slopes out above and water droplets bleed from a precipice above and onto my skin.
On the way back I meet a couple from Canada – a women who once worked on the hot air balloons in Mexico, and two Peruvian girls who delight in helping press buttons on my camera, communication limited to my minimal Spanish.
A man on a ladder re-lays stonework on an ancient wall and it reminds me of the fragility of things; nothing lasts forever, not even this city here since the 15th Century.
It inspires to me to remember the now, not the what’s next, be present, be clear.
Curiosity to explore, to travel shapes the fabric of you. It actually doesn’t matter where you go; it can be a wonder of the world, or it can be an hour north of your doorstep. It is how you interact and move through a place, and the people you meet.
To be honest, the way the light and shadow play across the mountains here can’t quite be captured in a photograph, but I caught a few anyway…