When I went to Machu Picchu this past May, I thought I would find a meditative place to sit alone and think about my ancestral past — never crossing paths with dudebros who pose in front of the Incas' sacred citadel for their Tinder profile pictures.I thought this even though I knew they had to get those pictures somehow.The Machu Picchu selfie is such a cliché in dating app culture, I irrationally hated every man whose initial offer to me was a photo of himself making a strong-man pose before the place I've been taught to revere since before I could read. I felt like these people didn't deserve to mark it as a notch on their belts, especially before I could go there.
I come from the children of those Spaniards who destroyed "our" Inca Empire.
He, presumably, comes from a proud strain of Inca blood that managed to survive and rise up again after the conquest.
He wasn't the only one who thought I looked foreign.
Throughout the rest of the trip, people kept thinking they could upcharge me, or speak to me in English, German, Portuguese even.
I'm the one who learned in grade school about the might of the Incas and the tragedy of their conquest by the Spanish. To get to Machu Picchu, you have to go to Cuzco, an ancient city in its own right, packed with history and heritage and pride.
I was sure visiting this site meant a lot more to me than it ever could to them. Fifteen years after my family left Peru, I was making my pilgrimage, climbing the tallest mountain flanking Machu Picchu on my 27th birthday. Even decades after Machu Picchu was named a UN World Heritage site, and tamed enough to allow the massive passage of tourists, people get lost and even die in its Sacred Valley. And some people there thought I did not, in fact, belong. " a tour guide asked me in English, as I slouched in the back of the van to the Sacred Valley, wearing big shades and a hooded jacket. The rest of the group laughed and the guide replied, now in Spanish, too, "Sorry, miss, your complexion just doesn't look made in Peru." "No, señor, bien hecha en Peru," I told him.
It's a rugged mountain range, the Andes, and the Incas' roads are steep and unforgiving. Something like, "Really, made in Peru." How could he say that to me? When my family moved to Miami we must have been one of only a handful in our suburb.
I talk so much about Peruvian things and being from Peru, it must be annoying for my friends and coworkers. And even as I replied with my American-made snark, my heart sunk a little, because he was from Cuzco, and his ancestry was right.
And sure, I looked like a tourist, but it hurt like hell to think I was coming to the nest of my Peruvian heritage only to be treated like an outsider. Still, I started to accept it, because — children of immigrants, you understand this — every time I visit Peru, even in Lima, I do feel like I'm missing something.