Lima Life #9: Final Thoughts and Machu Picchu (and Toews, too)

Hello from Lima! I’ve just arrived back at the beautiful Edificio Bolivar from our weekend in Cuzco and Machu Picchu. What a place! Cuzco is a great little city way up in the Andes that, I think, offers a more authentic Peruvian experience than Lima…or, perhaps, just a “different” experience of Peruvian culture and life.

Plaza de Armas - Cuzco
Plaza de Armas – Cuzco

Jim and I spent Friday night and Saturday exploring Cuzco, learning about the Incans, and trying not to have asthma attacks. Also, we ate an Alpaca burger (definitely recommended, but only once).

Sunday, we took a collectivo (a small van) to the town of Ollantaytambo, an Incan town, to catch the train to Aguas Calientes.

Main Square in Ollantaytambo
Main Square in Ollantaytambo
Peru Rail: Metra of the Mountains
Peru Rail: Metra of the Mountains

After spending some time on Peru Rail getting to know some awesome Indian-turned-Canadian Catholics, we arrived in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu, and settled in for the night.

Aguas Calientes: The Camino in Spain meets the Wisconsin Dells
Aguas Calientes: The Camino in Spain meets the Wisconsin Dells

We woke up at 4am on Monday and were in line by 5….people had been lining up for the buses (which don’t start until 5:30, by the way) since 3:30am! The early morning is one of the most popular times of day to get to the park in order to see the sun come up over the mountains.

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So yeah, we saw the sun rise.

Then we hiked and hiked and took it all in. If you want to see more pics, here they are.

Then, this happened. But you already know the whole story. (In case you don’t)

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It’s weird to think that Lima is almost over. As anyone who’s been following these updates for the last 9 weeks knows, I was not excited about coming and it was not all conejos and rosas. I was very sick for about 3 weeks and there just other “day to day” struggles that really began to take a toll. Before long, I was “at my wit’s end” as they say.

Non-coincidentally, the exact same thing happened in Rome, for the most part. By the time the last month rolled around, I was ready to pull my hair out (you can see that I did, in fact, attempt it). But then I went on pilgrimage to France with the other seminarians and our chaplain and experience a total rejuvenation of spirit, body, and mind. Something very similar happened while on the trip to Machu Picchu. God’s providence was obvious in so many ways. He protected us from harm, made sure everything went smoothly, but most importantly put people and experiences into our path that had a profound impact on me and really helped me to refocus and remember Who it is I love.

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him and to love Him we must know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces.” C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain 

God is love. He’s not just a nice deity, or a loving dude. He is love itself. And he loves us through his creation. God loves me through ice cream cones and fun nights at Chilis and beautiful nature. This week, he loved me through the Andes mountains, the two couples we met on Peru Rail, an Alpaca burger, and even a hockey star.

After this trip, I’m learning in totally new ways not to take anything for granted, but to see God and his will and his provident care in everything. I do not worship Him out of obligation or fear, but out of love…because I love Him and He loves me and I want to be able to love the world and the people of God I will serve one day as a priest as He has loved me: personally, perfectly, passionately, perpetually. This is my hope, and this my prayer.

Once more from Lima, may God bless you and guide, and be with you wherever you go.

In Christ,
RA