I’ve got so many pictures of our day at Machu Picchu to share (as soon as I can get an internet connection that can handle all those photos). But I wanted to share one moment from our day. This happened at the point furthest from the entry gates to the ruins . . . it was a pretty brutal hike to get there, and all of us were feeling exhausted and a bit daunted by the walk back that we still had to make. We took a little break in the shade, and a man and a little boy soon crossed our path.
I noticed them right away because we hadn’t seen any other children there that day. The man seemed equally interested, and introduced the little boy to us. His name was Chris. The kids tried to talk to him in Spanish a bit as the man explained that they were from Peru, and that he was Chris’s grandfather. He explained that he had always wanted Chris to see Machu Picchu. We told him we though he was a great grandfather.
At this point, the grandfather asked if he could take a picture with Chris and all of us. We’ve gotten a lot of picture requests but most of them have been focused on capturing the boys as a cultural oddity. This felt different. I thought he was sincerely happy that our kids made a connection – as the lone kids on Machu Picchu that day - and he wanted all of us in the photo.
As he sat Chris down next to me, I noticed that his face looked a lot older than I’d thought at first glance . . . too old for a boy to be carried. Though he was Karis’s height, his face looked about 6 or 7. I also noticed as he sat down that one of his shoes had a 3-inch platform on the bottom. After the photo, Chris stood briefly for a moment and seeing his posture and gait, it suddenly dawned on me:
Chris has spina bifida. He lives in rural Peru with spina bifida that has likely been only minimally treated and can only walk a few steps at a time. So his grandfather was carrying him. He was carrying him the whole length of the ruins so he could see Macchu Picchu.
Oh my heart. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what it. It was a beautiful picture of sacrifice, but also a gut-check for me as I’d grown so annoyed with my kids on this trek. Here was a man carrying his grandson the whole way.
It was sobering to witness this just after I had been so frustrated with my own kids. . . with their complaining and their tired legs, wishing they could be easier for me to deal with. This grandfather’s obvious love and patience was such a picture of the kind of unconditional love we should be striving for, and a conviction to try to do better by my kids.