What a wonderful day to go for a hike. Samantha Sanchez hurried to get dressed and recheck her backpack for the eighth time before setting out on her journey to climb to the top of Machu Picchu.
She saved every penny she had for two years to make this trip. She felt called to visit the sacred sites around the world but her financial situation didn’t allow for it as frequently as she wished. At last, she made it to the town of Cuzco, Peru, the beginning of her journey.
Samantha opened the door to her hotel room and stepped outside onto the streets of Cuzco. The morning sun shone its bright light upon her face. She felt the warm tropical air around her. She wondered if the shady mountain jungle would give her some relief from the hot sun today.
She began to walk only a few blocks to the trailhead where she planned to meet the rest of the hikers in her group. Samantha enjoyed being alone but since this was a three-day hike, she decided it best if she hiked the trail in the company of a tour group although she planned to hang back a little, walk by herself and enjoy the scenery and quiet of the majestic Andes.
When she approached the meeting spot some members were already there. After last-minute hiking tips, somewhat to do’s and what not to do’s, the group started their slow ascent up the mountain that led to Machu Picchu.
After about an hour, Samantha, although in excellent shape, started to feel weak and lightheaded. She thought it might be altitude sickness but when a mysterious mist enveloped her, separating her off from the other hikers, she wasn’t so sure.
Fear worked its way into her mind. Where was everyone? She couldn’t see either side of the trail; behind her or in front. Samantha froze. She felt helpless and confused. She started to panic when she heard a voice.
“Camina, Mija”, “Walk, my daughter.”
Samantha struggled to see through the thick mist. Walk? She thought. But how?
“Sigue tu corazon.”, “Follow your heart.”
Samantha took a few deep breaths. She grounded herself and focused on her heart center, grasping her hiking pole, she began to put one foot in front of the other while her thoughts guided her to her Peruvian ancestry. Her heart swelled with love as she looked off into the distance at the sacred mountain itself, Machu Picchu.
The panic she felt began to subside. She hiked at a rapid pace and soon saw the other hikers about 500 yards ahead. Relieved to see them she continued to relay the words she heard. Follow your heart.
All her life she had experienced emotional trauma and displacement. She searched for peace and stability in her life. Samantha believed this peace she ached for could be found in holy places. Machu Picchu was such a place. She felt a kinship with it because of her ancestral lineage with Peru and the Inca people.
The group hiked the mountain trail until the jungle became denser as nighttime drew near. They decided to stop and set up camp. After some friendly chit-chat during dinner, she politely excused herself and retired to her tent.
Once snug inside her sleeping bag, Samantha gazed up at the starry sky through the tent’s mesh top roof. She had never seen so many stars. She wondered if the Incas of long ago saw the same stars she gazed upon now. She closed her eyes momentarily when she heard the voice again.
“Mira con tu corazon.”, “See with your heart.”
Samantha closed her eyes and soon fell into a deep sleep. Her dreams took her to the top of Machu Picchu. The scenery was magnificent but more so because she found herself standing in from of an Inca woman. The woman’s colorful dress caught Samantha’s attention with its bright red and purple embroidery on the hem, sleeves, and around the waist. She wore her hair in dark braids, her skin deeply tanned with visible wrinkles of age on her face. Samantha imagined each wrinkle signified great wisdom and knowledge.
The woman pulled her blue Alpaca shawl tightly around her shoulders and held out both hands to Samantha. Samantha stepped forward. She gently accepted the woman’s welcome and placed her own hands in hers.
The woman spoke. This time in her own language.
“You have arrived at the home of your ancestors. Our home is your home.”
A wave of love coursed through Samantha’s body. She finally understood. Her life-long struggle to find where she belonged, where she felt safe and protected, free to be herself without fear of criticism wasn’t in any place in the world. The answer lay within herself. Home was in her heart, open and full of Grace and Gratitude. Samantha thanked the woman who squeezed her hands with affection.
The clatter of dishes startled her. Samantha’s eyes flew open. Morning had arrived. The other hikers were sitting around the campfire drinking their hot coffee. She stretched and wriggled out of her sleeping bag to join them.
The leader of the group, a tall young man with blond hair, and friendly, green eyes walked up to her with an extra cup of coffee in his hand.
He smiled at her, handed her the cup, and said,” Would you like a cup of coffee?”
Samantha remembered her dream last night. She felt overjoyed with life, with what she was doing, and eager to see where it guided her next. She reached out to grasp the hot cup of coffee.
Roger moved a step closer to her, “By the way, I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. My name is Roger.” His eyes twinkled when he smiled at her.
Her heart fluttered. Still smiling, she took a sip of coffee and began the new day.