We met Pablo outside of a restaurant in Aguas Calientes. I was climbing up the road leaving a lung on the sidewalk. Days of hiking and climbing and I can still feel the intense stretching of my lungs.
He asked if we wanted lunch in broken English, “Señora, pizza and oxygen inside!” We laughed. We told him we would be back later.
We did. He is a charismatic young man. Matt and I sat outside so we could talk with him as he was wrangling up customers from the walkway.
Pablo is from the jungle. The real jungle of Peru. He has a scar on his face and I didn’t ask why but I bet he wrestled a puma. He came to Machu Picchu two years ago to explore. He loves it. He asked about America. He asked about life and travels. I asked about the many dogs around the city. They are friendly and they are free to roam around. I asked about the free-range children…little ones everywhere while doing remarkable well. He said nothing happens in this town. Everyone keeps an eye out.
Through observation, Machu Picchu is an ancient gathering space brought into the modern world. Life is laid back. People are in no rush for anything. There is one school in the main square and kids walk home happy as can be. I felt as if I was transported back to another time. It has a powerful esoteric power that changes you. Pablo confirmed it. We talked about the fairytale-pull it has.
Then his co-worker arrived and he practiced his English while Matt practiced his Spanish. Pablo wanted to take us dancing later and we told him we were headed back to Cusco. The two men are charming and engaging. But most of all authentic.
On our way out of town my husband said, “We should’ve taken a picture with them so you could write their story!”
So to Pablo and Juan of Machu Picchu, thank you for the present of being present with us, sharing your stories, making us laugh and teaching us compassion.