Our visit to Macchu Picchu had the potential to be either amazing or deflating. When we arrived we discovered that only the entry and a few meters past it could be accessed by a wheelchair. So we used the only reasonable strategy: divide and conquer.
Kasenya and Natalie formed a home base while the other three of us scouted out the paths of least resistance. If we carried Kasenya down several steps we could get her through a narrow walled pathway that eventually opened onto a terrace.
This is how we spent the afternoon. Stopping to take in the view, scouting for a new path and then pushing dragging and carrying Kasenya to a new vantage point.
Kasenya never did reach the “Visa” viewpoint which is probably the highest in elevation, but we did get her to the farthest point from the entry gate, which is directly behind us in the picture. We had done it in twos, threes and fours (Natalie being the fourth sherpa).
As usual we had gone until we were tired and then tried to figure out how to get back. We thought of several creative strategies including one of us faking a heart attack so that we could all be medi-vacced out. As has happened many times in our lives, help arrives when you least expect it and most need it. And it was right in front of us.
One of our strategies was to ask the security guards if we could take a short cut across a smooth grassy terrace instead of taking the path and stairs. These poor fellows had the mind-numbing job of standing in the sun all day and blowing their whistles at tourists who stray out of bounds. They looked grumpy and bored and had the vacuous look of people who are forced to do meaningless work.
We sent Natalie over to ask a couple of them about the shortcut since she is young and pretty and speaks Italian. We figured she had the best chance. When she couldn’t get them to understand, she brought them over to see our situation.
The guards were adamant that even for “la nina” we could not cross the terrace. So Dave asked them to help us. To our surprise they said yes. They grabbed the front two corners of Kasenya’s wheelchair with Dave and Devin grabbing the back. The four of them carried Kasenya from the far end of Macchu Picchu back to the entry point.
Almost back at the beginning, they stopped at a beautiful spot where they told us we should take a picture. We invited them to be in it. They were delighted. They had transformed from bored civil servants to men who were empowered by being of service to others.
The day had been wonderful. We had seen so much more than we expected we would be able to. And maybe by asking for help we had in some small way given the security guards a gift too.