Serendipity. The Oxford English Dictionary defines serendipity as “the faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident”. As an aside, the word appears to have originated with a Persian fairytale – The Three Princes of Serendip (now Sri Lanka), wherein the princes are famous for making ingenious, accidental discoveries. A few more recent serendipitous discoveries that most of us know about include penicillin, X-rays, and Viagra! But I digress.
In May of 2013, I took my first trip to Cuzco, Peru, where I was serendipitously assigned a local guide by the name of Washington Gibaja Tapia. On that day, I made a lifelong friend of an extraordinary man who proudly traces his heritage back to the ancient Incas.
From my pre-trip research and what I subsequently learned from Washi, I know that Machu Picchu was originally intended to be the terminus of a spiritual pilgrimage. Because my personal mantra is, “If it’s easy, it’s not worth doing”, it didn’t sit right with me to arrive in Machu Picchu by train and bus. Instead, I set out on an arduous seven-day trek (albeit I enjoyed luxurious accommodations every night), a journey that forever changed me by awakening in me an awareness that the universe hums with the energy of a powerful, but unfathomable sentience.
I returned home and spent over a year reading everything I could find on the history of the Incas and the conquistadors, and then went back to Peru in 2015 in order to do first-hand research. While in Peru, I asked everyone I met three questions: Why was Machu Picchu built in such an inaccessible place? What was its original purpose? And how was it kept hidden from the Spaniards who most certainly would have destroyed it? The beautifully mystical explanations of shamans, historians, and astronomers compelled me to write a fictionalized account of the Incas’ version of what happened during the time of the Spanish invasion.
So, it was serendipity that brings me to where I am today – looking forward to launching my novel, The Serpent, The Puma, and The Condor: A Tale of Machu Picchu. Set in the 1500s against the backdrop of Pizarro’s conquest of Peru, the story is told from two points of view, weaving Inca history and spiritual beliefs into a tale of ruthless individuals who attacked and annihilated a highly developed society for no purpose other than to enrich themselves. While both perspectives have been thoroughly researched, it is the Inca point of view that prevails, lending the story a magical quality.
I look forward to creating future posts that will hopefully keep you interested and entertained. And I look forward to hearing from you. Rather than a monologue-blog, let’s make this a dialogue-blog!